The Mind of an Athlete (Part 2)

The best athletes have inner confidence and the ability to see situations in a way that help them reach their highest level of performances. Confidence is not a fragile state that can be lost at any given moment, even though many people use the phrase, “I just lost my confidence.” People might lose their focus, temporarily feel poorly, or feel nervous, but confidence is built on a series of past experiences and takes time to develop and time to lose. Inner confidence is not lost on one weak performance or one missed play. For example, if a man was to ride a horse for the first time, he would not feel “confident” because past experiences were not established. However, after riding a horse for a few months, that same man would begin to feel more relaxed, more secure, and more confident. This is why it takes years to become a professional athlete. After years of practices and competitions, inner confidence is created.

How an athlete sees a situation is based on that athlete’s perceptions. Perceptions are how athletes see themselves, events, and others. Perceptions are the source of their every thought, feeling, and action. It is the basis of making a lasting change in the mind. An example from my second book, Play Better, Live Better, presents a deer in the woods and standing next to me is a hunter, a farmer, and a little girl. The hunter sees the deer as a trophy and would like to kill the deer and put its head on his wall. The farmer sees the deer as a nuisance and is fearful that the deer will come and eat all his new plants and vegetables. The little girl sees the deer as a cute animal and wants to give it a hug. This is the power of perceptions – it is the same deer, but with three very different perceptions that will shape each of their thoughts, feelings and actions. The cool thing is that perceptions are a choice and an opportunity for athletes to choose perceptions that will help them perform at their highest levels.