Nicole Westlund, PhD Candidate
Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Mental Coach, Eclipse Performance
Being a competitive athlete myself, I know all too well the rollercoaster ride that is your confidence levels. I remember a few years back, when I found myself to be in a pretty big slump. There had been some major changes on my team and I ended up on the bench for the start of the season. I felt terrible and my confidence levels were next to zero. Nothing I did seemed to help and my play was awful. Commence the downward spiral: the worse I played, the less confident I felt; causing me to play worse… you know how it goes.
As a sport psychology student as well, I knew there had to be something that I could do to help break that vicious cycle. There has been a lot of research documenting how imagery can be a useful tool to improve the confidence of athletes and help them perform better. In looking at the research, here is a summary of scenarios you could imagine to help improve your confidence levels in your performance:
• Picture the feelings and emotions associated with being confident
• Imagine feeling relaxed
• Go through your pre-shot routine
• Always visualize complete performances – whether it is a full shot (start to finish)
or an entire race.
• Only visualize successful outcomes
• Practice how you would recover from a miss or a negative situation
• Visualize your best (past) performances)
For me, I found that using imagery to remind myself of previous performances where I played my best helped the most. Evoking those feelings of determination and confidence really reinforced to me that I am capable of performing to my standards and that I can get there again. It takes time, but with repeated practice, I know you can get there too!