Have you ever witnessed an athlete with tremendous talent that somehow couldn’t manage to fully perform at their best? There are usually glimpses of promise, but consistency and mental toughness are nowhere within their abilities. Certainly physical ability and talent are a must in your sport, but many games have been won by the player with less ability and a stronger sense of self-confidence, or rather lost by the player lacking mental focus and weakened by an absent confidence in their game.

Building confidence is essential to overall mental toughness and superior performance, but also eliminating any thinking that destroys confidence is also critical. It is not just about building up your beliefs in your abilities, but also analyzing thoughts to make sure there is nothing that diminishes your overall confidence and focus.

Any behavior that does not assist with the achievement of your goals is considered a self-defeating behavior. This means it is not your opponent on the court you should be intimidated by, but rather your own creation of a thought process. Notice, there must be a goal in place before you can determine if a behavior is self- defeating, so it is imperative to maintain goals, both short and long term. Without goals, how will you know if you find success? As always, negative language is not allowed within a goal. Effective goals are specific, measurable and encouraging.

Once you determine your goals, the next step is to determine if your behavior allows for the achievement of these goals. An example would be the athlete who wants to be better conditioned so they maintain peak ability throughout the game. Do they find ways to improve conditioning and cardio, or do they simply work through their same daily workout routines? If they are not finding a way to achieve their goal, then their behavior is self-defeating, and limiting their ability for success.

Their opponent is not who they are concerned about, but rather their own inability to commit to the necessary work ethic to achieve their best. They must decide what they want to achieve, and then create several plans of attack for success. What about their nutritional consumption? Are they willing to eat in a way that allows their body to reach full potential, or is that hamburger with the super-sized fries worth more to them? These are the questions to ask when determining self- destructive behaviors.

Another example of a way to lose confidence is by self- induced intimidation. This occurs when an athlete constantly builds up their opponent and worries of failure until they limit their own physical abilities. They basically make their opponent stronger by their own lack of self-confidence, which in turn causes poor performance. Self- induced intimidation destroys confidence and mental toughness. The key is to make sure your focus is on YOUR abilities, YOUR plan of achieving your goals and YOUR execution on the court. You cannot control your opponent, but you can control your mindset and focus.

Constantly align your behaviors with your goals, and you will build confidence and Reach Peak Performance

Visit sportspsychologybasketball.com and download the free mental game assessment and get started on improving your Mental Game.

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