Overcome the Imposter Syndrome

Improve Your Mental Game

Have you ever wondered, “Can I compete at this level? Do I have what it takes? Everyone is so much better than me”?

Even though some athletes achieve a certain level, they doubt their ability to compete at the next level. At the very foundation of confidence is the question, “Do I belong here?”

Sometimes, you may think it was a fluke to make the roster, or you were lucky in a competition. You may dismiss your successes because you feel your competition just had a bad day. You may view a personal best as a one-time event.

We have a name for those times when you feel like a fake or lucky: the “imposter syndrome.” The imposter syndrome occurs when you doubt your successes and feel like a fraud.

The impostor syndrome is the belief that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. It’s the feeling of being a phony. You think you are not talented and fear your teammates will come to the same realization.

Common signs of imposter syndrome include:

* Attributing your success to luck
* Frequently putting yourself down
* Fear that you won’t live up to expectations 
* Sabotaging your success by putting in less preparation and effort

To counter the imposter syndrome, you can:

* Steer clear of perfectionism.
* Put in the necessary work.
* Don’t be afraid to ask your coach for help improve your skills.
* Work on your mental game.
* Challenge your thoughts. 
* Stop comparing yourself to others. 
* Know that you belong and chase down new goals.

To understand the issue at hand, let’s look at Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Brandon Marsh…

Marsh was a second-round pick in the 2016 MLB draft. After five successful years in the minor leagues, Marsh was called up to the big leagues.

In 70 games with the Angels, Marsh struggled with a batting average of .254. Though he had difficulty early in the season, Marsh found his stride and hit .297, with two homers and 17 RBIs in his final 46 games.

Marsh credited his turnaround to changing his perspective and simplifying the process:

MARSH: “I don’t want to feel like I’m not supposed to be here because then I’m already out. The game is already hard enough. You don’t want to make it any harder.”

“We just have to keep it simple, don’t try to be a Superman. We have a phenomenal lineup, top to bottom, and depth, guys who are going to make the big plays, so stick to yourself, play your role, and do you.”

The first step to overcoming the imposter syndrome is recognizing that you belong where you are. Since you achieved a certain standard or performed at a high level, you have earned your place in your sport.

How to Overcome the Imposter Syndrome:

The first step to overcoming the imposter syndrome is awareness. If you think you might have imposter syndrome, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you attribute your success to luck or outside factors?
Do you feel you will eventually be “found out”?
Do you downplay your skills and successes?

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