Self-Doubt Makes Competition Harder at a High Level
When you sap your own confidence, your potential is limited…
Even though you might be a talented athlete, doubts can weigh down your confidence and not allow it to grow.
However, one thing compounds the problem–listening to other doubters. When your ears are open to the naysayers, you may be tempted to adopt their words as true facts.
When you have doubts, it becomes easy to tune into what others say about you. By listening, you give power to the negative opinions of teammates, coaches, friends, family, and spectators.
Even positive criticism from others can be taken the wrong way.
* Being told, “You have a lot of potential,” can be misunderstood as you are failing to live up to your potential.
* When your coach tells you, “You did well, but you could have done better if you finished stronger,” this can be interpreted as you failed.
* When your parents tell you, “You should not get upset during a competition,” you may feel as if you are being told you are mentally weak.
Many athletes try to ignore doubts as if they will go away on their own. The problem with that strategy is that you are the ONLY one that knows you are doubting…
And thus you are the only one to counter doubts with a positive statement of your ability.
The key to overcoming doubts is to recognize the negative thought, then counter it by rationalizing with yourself.
Reframing doubts is a mental game strategy that can help you cope better. With this strategy, you recognize negative thoughts to put a stop to further unproductive thoughts. The next step is to question your doubt, “Is this true?”
Then, approach it what a rebuttal statement. For example, you may experience a string of negative thoughts such as, “I’m a horrible athlete. I have no talent and mess up every time I play.”
Start by recognizing the initial negative thought, “I’m a horrible athlete.” Then counter the doubt, “I have accomplished a lot in my athletic career.” Follow up with a positive statement, “I’m a hard worker. I will continue to push and strengthen my game further.”
James Wiseman was selected as the No. 2 overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2020 NBA draft. Since being drafted, Wiseman has not lived up to the hype and has seen limited action.
WISEMAN: “I have been through a lot of hard times. I have seen the negative side of social media in terms of myself. I don’t entertain that stuff anymore because it is negative, and it is all gossip. I just focus on my priorities, getting in the gym and getting better, working on stuff so I can be ready for the games.”
Wiseman doesn’t accept others’ doubts as reality. Instead, he focuses on self-affirming thoughts.
WISEMAN: “But I feel like I can do anything, though. I am confident in myself.”
Three Steps to Managing Self-Doubt
1. Write down your most recent doubts from a previous competition.
2. Rebut or reframe each doubt on paper: What would the most positive teammate say to me right now if he know what I was thinking?
3. When you recognize your doubt, make the right choice to reframe it and move on with the competition.
Note: If you have any self-doubt, you are not fully confident in that moment.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- How to Recognize and Overcome Self-Doubt
- What is Your Self-Doubt Comeback Statement?
- How to Turn Self-Doubt Into Confidence
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