Confidence: How to Perform at the Highest Level

During my career as a professional athlete, I have had to perform on all kinds of stages.

Whether you need to perform in front of 70 or 70,000 people, these four strategies will help you build your confidence like a pro.

Confidence is not found, it is created.

We have all felt those nervous butterflies in our stomach before, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?

Well, there is no need to worry since that anxious feeling you get right before the moment of truth is simply a sign that you care deeply about what you are doing.

And even if you don’t care much for what you are doing, the thought of the potential outcomes based on your performance always hold weight.

You may not feel overly confident right now, but with a positive perspective and enough hard work, you can learn how to will yourself to success at a very high level.

During my career as a professional athlete, I have had to perform on all kinds of stages. I have played in championship games when any second could be the one that decides the fate of an entire season. On the other hand, I have also delivered presentations as a brand ambassador to a room full of business owners and professionals. Believe it or not, these situations can be equally nerve-wracking.

Over time I have learned that the size of the audience doesn’t make much of a difference. The tactics that I am about to teach you can apply in any situation. Whether you need to perform in front of 70 or 70 000 people, these four strategies will help you build up supreme confidence.

4 Strategies to Build Confidence

Understand Your Body
You are the pilot of a very sophisticated vehicle, but you don’t really know how to drive it yet.

Your body has an amazing ability to shift into “high-performance mode” when you are in danger. In this “high-performance mode,” you can literally become stronger, faster and more focused automatically.

Instinctually, your body does this so that there are more resources available for functions that can help keep you stay alive. Of course, this is an awesome survival instinct when you need to perform in a life or death situation, but it sucks when you need to perform in just about every other case.

When you enter a high-stakes situation, your body gets ready for action and you can feel physiological changes throughout your body. No matter what you do, you can’t help but notice your heart rate climb and your palms begin to sweat as show time ticks closer and closer.

This is usually when your brain starts to work too much. You can read into those physical responses too much and begin to draw conclusions from them. You speculatively assume that you must be nervous. Why else would your palms be sweaty? Right?

Not always.

Instead of panicking, you should already expect your body to respond in certain ways. You can always reframe the nervous conversation in your head to something more empowering and confident.

Here is an example:

Negative thought: “Wow, my stomach is going crazy and my palms are kinda sweaty. I’m nervous! I hate this feeling. I wish I didn’t have to do this. I hope this doesn’t get any worse, I already feel like this is going to be rough. I should have practiced more. Everyone is going to know I’m not prepared.”

Positive thought: “Wow, my stomach is going crazy and my palms are kinda sweaty. I’m excited! Whenever I get this feeling I know my body is getting into the zone. As long as I focus on what I came here to do, nothing can stop me. Stay in the moment. Trust your preparation. Take a deep breath. Let’s do this!”

If you could ignore those feelings you would, but it’s tough. Instead of ignoring that excess energy building up inside you, embrace it and use it to focus and execute!

“There is power in a positive thought.” – 22

Study Your Game Plan
If you didn’t know how to play football it would be impossible to win any games. So, why do some people think that they can give a presentation without a full understanding of their subject matter? Why do we hate high-stakes tests? Well, it’s because we don’t know what we don’t know.

The best way to remedy this situation is to go find out what you don’t know.  Do some research, put together a plan, and study your plan. Your plan might be in the form of a speech outline, a playbook, a business proposal, a resume, a spreadsheet, or a dance routine.

Think about giving a presentation, for example. When you have to focus on what you are doing, you cannot focus on how you are saying it. Memorizing a speech is just the beginning, you have to internalize the story so that you can tell it naturally, from the top of your mind. This is where creativity is born.

Similarly, I cannot go into a football game unless I understand the plays we plan to run thoroughly. This way I can be prepared for all kinds of situations.

Learn to master the process so that you give yourself the context to problem solve if you get off track.

“Preparation precedes confidence” – 22

Get Lots of Practice Reps
There is no substitute for practice. Confidence is developed as you prove to yourself over and over again that you are capable of doing what you need to do to be successful.

When I build my offseason training programs, there are a few components that I always have to include because they are so crucial to the way I play.  One specific thing that I always try to work on is my catching skills.

For years I have been working on my hands and they continue to be something that I try to stay on top of all the time. Of course I can catch a ball — anyone can. However, over the course of an eighteen-game season, I will play around 900 – 1000 plays of defensive football and during that time I may only have six or seven opportunities to catch the ball all year!

What’s the lesson to learn here? Opportunities come few and far between so you have to stay prepared to capitalize on them when they present themselves.

Practice winning. Envision the ideal outcome over and over again until you can see it crystal clear in vivid detail.  The better you can lock in on what you really want, they less room there is for your mind to wander off on distractions.

Visualize, practice, repeat. I can’t stress this enough. Consistency is a major ingredient in the Formula for Success.

*”Why wouldn’t I want the last shot? When I know I’ve already made it.” – Carmelo Anthony

Lock In
Ignore everything outside of your control and just zoom in on the task at hand.

You have a limited amount of energy, so you need to spend it on the things that matter the most. This means only focussing on the things that are under your control and doing them to the best of your ability. Controlling your “controllables” is a great way to build confidence.

Two variables that you can always control are your effort and your attitude. You would be surprised at how many professional athletes have created successful careers for themselves based on this simple idea.

Let me give you an example. An average player will cruise through practice all week and then try to turn up their performance on game day. Then, when the lights are on and it’s time to perform during a critical moment in the game, they get nervous because they are doing it at full speed for the first time.

On the other hand, a superstar player will practice hard so that they are confident playing at a fast pace on game day. Also, great players are always accountable for their own outcomes because they realize that there is always room to grow, win or lose. This approach allows average players to become superstars by always give a great effort and always keeping a positive attitude.

You can’t control the rules, the weather or the decisions that others make. What you can control is your approach to preparation, your focus and your willingness to persevere. In every situation, you can be guaranteed to face some adversity. Knowing this, you should immediately release yourself from the guilt or apprehension brought on by a fear of failure.

Sometimes things are going to happen that will upset you. No big deal. As long as you offer your best, then you can always take something positive from every situation.

Before your next big game or presentation make a commitment to put your best foot forward and let the chips fall where they may. In the end, whatever is supposed to happen will happen. Knowing that, you can feel good about your performance regardless of the outcome because you know that you were well prepared and did your best.

 – 22

*P.s. –

Thanks for reading the article. Here is the 2006 commercial that our Carmelo Anthony did for Jordan Brand. It visually sums up confidence in an artistic way that only Nike could. Listen carefully to the quote at the end. Think about it. That’s confidence.

Opt In Click Here

Author: Courtney A Stephen

From Brampton, ON, Canada. Professional Football Player & Founder Overtime Football Club Inc. Wilfrid Laurier University & N. Illinois University Alumnus

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