Have Trust in Your Skills

effort in basketball

Why Athletes Must Trust in Their Skills

What does it mean to have trust in your game? Trust may very well be the most important factor in peak performance. What is trust?

Trusting your game means you are performing or playing in the moment.

Trust is relying on your learned skills to perform to your level of ability in any circumstance. You are neither thinking nor analyzing, just doing.

For example, a baseball player who has trust in his ability at the plate, believes he can make solid contact with the ball and put the ball in play.

Trust doesn’t mean the player won’t strike out occasionally, nor does it mean he will get a base hit every time. Trust means the player can swing freely and rely on his training to produce at the plate.

How does a lack of trust affect performance?

When you lack trust in your game, you have a high level of anxiety, and you play tentatively. The uncertainty of what might happen in a competition, sets off a fight or flight reaction. Anxiety causes your heart to pound, the game becomes too fast for you to see opportunities and you make poor decisions and uncharacteristic mistakes.

How does having trust in your game improve performance?

When you have trust in your game, you can play intuitively–almost on autopilot. You compete with focus but you are not trying to make it happen.

When you have trust in your game, you play in the moment without thinking about what might happen or analyzing what you are doing. You play intuitively.

Your movements are fluid and efficient. You are immersed in the flow of the game. As you perform the action unfolds in front of you and the game slows down for you.

How do you gain trust in your game?

You gain trust through mental and physical preparation. You prepare as if it matters because it does.

Every repetition matters. Every drill matters.

You give your full attention to doing the little things at a high-level during training.

When it’s time to compete, you know you have done all you could to be your best for that competition and you let go of expectations and just perform in the moment.

Philadelphia Sixers center Joel Embiid had his best season in 2021. Embiid was considered by some as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Embiid has steadily improved since he was drafted third overall in 2014.

Embiid has slowly developed trust in his game, and it shows as he has led his team in scoring during the 2021 playoffs.

EMBIID: “I’ve come a long way, but I feel like this year the game just slowed down for me. The way I see the floor is completely different than previous years… I just try to make the best play possible. Even if I got to get a shot up myself, there’s so many ways I can do it.”

As seen in Embiid’s play, trust is the key to perform at your peak.

You can improve trust in your game. The work you do in the mental skills of trust will produce more consistent results.

How to Have Trust in Your Skills:

Trust begins with putting in hours or repetition in training. The most repetition, the more you refine the motor program of the movement.

When you compete, you have to remind yourself that your practice is now complete and it’s time to trust what you have. One of my athletes described trust as: “Use what I have today.”

Also, resist the tendency to analyze mistakes and try to fix your technique during competition.

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