How to Grow Competition Confidence 

How to Grow Competition Confidence 

How Do Elite Athletes Compete with Confidence?

Elite athletes are most confident when they focus on their strengths.

Too often, athletes worry about making mistakes or messing up during a competition. These athletes fear that their weaknesses will be exposed and they will be the reason their team loses.

When you focus on your weaknesses, you approach the competition from a “try-not-to-lose” mindset. You will be consumed with worry that your focus will be divided between the competition and your fear of making mistakes.

For example, if a quarterback is worried about their lack of mobility when playing a team with an aggressive, blitzing defense, he will rush his passes and make bad decisions.

If he relied on his strengths or knack for reading defenses and his quick release, he would be better able to react to defensive schemes and make accurate throws. 

Rather than worrying about trying to avoid sacks and potential turnovers, he would be focused on positive plays and pushing the ball downfield. Focusing on your strengths is the key to competing confidently for all athletes and teams.

Aggressive soccer teams should game plan around hustling for the ball and making timely tackles instead of fearing mistakes.

A hockey team whose strength is speed and finesse should focus on their style of play instead of retaliating against a team known for taking cheap shots.

How do you take advantage of your strengths?

First, you must know your strengths. What do you do really well? What component of your game can you rely on from the start of a competition?

These strengths can be physical, technical, or mental (such as staying poised under pressure or mentally immersed in the game.)

Secondly, make your strengths stronger. Instead of always focusing on improving weaker aspects of your game, try to build upon your strengths. This doesn’t mean ignoring your weaknesses. 

For example, if a 220lb running back has explosive power, he should still work hard in the weight room to become even stronger. He should still try to improve his footwork or speed, but the focus should be on taking advantage of his strengths.

Lastly, create a game plan around your strengths. In other words, how can you highlight your strengths in a competition to give yourself an edge?

Through the first 11 games of the 2023-24 NBA season, the Indiana Pacers are scoring more points per game than any other team in the league.

The Pacers implement into their game plan the strengths of guard Tyreses Haliburton, who likes to run, get out in the open floor and put pressure on defenses.

The Pacers’ focus on the strengths provides an identity and boosts the team’s overall confidence when competing.

HALI BURTON: “It’s our biggest strength. Teams don’t want to run with us. Nobody. I don’t care who it is. Nobody wants to run with us. I’m relatively young, but that’s just the way I play basketball, and this organization has done a great job of allowing me to spread who I am throughout the organization and how I play throughout the organization. I want to be the best team in the league. But teams know when you play us, you have to have your track shoes ready. Like, you got to be ready to play us. So that’s a good identity to have.”

Playing from a position of strength builds confidence and gives you a strategic advantage and mental edge before an athletic contest even begins.

Focusing on your strengths enhances confidence. To play to your strengths, you must identify and emphasize those physical, technical, and mental skills.

Review past performances and take note of the aspects of your game that you performed successfully. With some introspection, you will begin to see your strengths.  

After you identify your strengths, create a 3-step plan for making your strengths even stronger, either in practice, physical training, or through mental training.

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