The slippery side to being confident

Being confident is something everyone wants. In the past I have touched upon how to build confidence and what a lack of confidence does to an athlete, however, it is important to also look at the flip side. What happens when an athlete becomes overconfident. This too can have a negative impact on performance.

Professional athletes tend to fall more on the spectrum of becoming overly confident as opposed to under confident (though there are professional athletes who are under confident as well). I have also seen athletes who are afraid at becoming overconfident and cocky, which often times can hold them back from developing the confidence needed to excel. The line between confidence and cocky is very thin, and it really comes down to having that internal confidence in yourself while still being humble and understanding you can’t take your foot off the gas. That is what I want to talk about today, how to be confident without it becoming overconfidence.
The image above illustrates the path one can easily take when they become overconfident. First, as someone feels more capable in their skills sets their confidence rises, eventually becoming confident in what they can do. The trick is to stay between these two stages. If confidence becomes comfort then someone is on the path to problems.
Let’s look at an example to see how this can work. Say you have set a goal to really dial in on what you eat to help you perform better. We all know what you eat has a direct impact on how you feel, think and perform. So you have set this goal and you work really hard at cleaning up your eating and stay clean throughout the off season to come in strong the next year. You go through training camp and crush camp. At this point you are feeling pretty good about things and yourself. This is the tipping point, this is where things can go wrong. When you start to feel good about what you have done it is easy to start to think maybe I don’t need to be as strict about my diet as I was. This can then lead to getting comfortable cheating a bit on your meals, which can easily become a slippery slope and before you know it you are back where you were, and eventually your performance suffers. Part of this is because you became complacent with where you were at, instead of setting new goals and always reaching for better.

Tips on how to have healthy confidence

Let’s look at what you can do to help you stay between capable and confident.
1. Always challenge yourself to be just outside of your comfort zone. This can be through creating new goals, finding ways to push yourself, to become better each day than you were the day before. If this is difficult for you, find someone who can push you.
2. Write out what you need to do to perform at your best. I call this optimal performance behaviors. When you list out all the things you need to do to be at your best, from what you need to eat, to recovery, sleep, mental training, etc, and look at it each day and check off the things you did, when you miss one or two it becomes more evident, and can increase the motivation to get back to doing it.
3. Be humble. This is a very important one. Finding ways to stay humble, to stay grounded, knowing that if you take your foot off the pedal and stop doing even the small things you need to be successful your performance will suffer. A couple professional athletes who I think show this are Drew Brees and Sidney Crosby. Both are stars within their respected sports, but they have found a way to continue to do the work, to stay hungry and not let the success they have had distract them from what they need to do to continue to grow, become a better athlete and stay successful.
To your success,
Kate