Sometimes, in the heat of competition, athletes struggle to stay present. The further we make it in our athletic careers, the faster the games become, and the more quickly we must be able to calm ourselves to remain in the moment. A commonly overlooked characteristic of an athlete is how much they believe in themselves. When the moments are flying by and pressure is mounting on the field, believing in yourself and having faith that you can accomplish your goals is often all that it takes to succeed.
It is all too easy to succumb to adversity. When calls don’t go your way, or an opponent is giving you their A-game, it is always easier to give up and let the moment get away. Whether you’re on a team and you pass the pressure off to your teammate; or you are playing an individual sport, and decide you would rather deal with failure than fight to succeed. It is always easier to give up. Truly believing in yourself is the only key you need to take adversity head on.
It is easier said than done. The pressure of competition when you don’t believe in yourself is a lonely, scary thing. It can become hard to control your breath, and you may start sweating or even shaking. The truth is that once you’ve hit that point—and anyone who has felt it knows—you are too far gone in that particular moment. That game and opportunity has eluded you once you realize that you have stopped believing in yourself. But how can you work to heighten that belief?
Start believing in yourself and stop caring about everything else
A google search will lead you to psychology lectures and studies of the subconscious, but digging deeper into your mind is not always the answer. Many athletes find the “who cares” philosophy to help a great deal in developing their mental game.
Your confidence has wavered and you’ve begun questioning whether you are good enough—who cares?
You get nervous in performance and are scared to make mistakes—who cares?
Your opponent is bigger, faster, and stronger than you—who cares?
Convincing your brain that it needs to believe in you, when you are already struggling to do so, is nearly impossible. It’s not a switch that can be flipped on and off, and if you’re in that lonely space of not believing in yourself, you’ve got to start trying something new. Saying “who cares” could be perceived as negative, because every coach and team want players who care, but we’re not talking about giving up your care for the game. We’re talking about giving up your care about failure.
Bad stuff happens to every athlete at one point or another. Maybe you can’t get your fastball over the plate, or you get nervous at the freethrow line. There are a million different reasons to stop believing in yourself in sports, and a million more to suggest that you should. Who cares if you messed up once or ten times in a row. Who cares. Give up your fear of failure by giving up the expectation to succeed in every moment. Loosen up your mentality and you will start believing in yourself again.
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