Training

Confidence


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By Chad Wesley Smith

As I begin this week, the week where I will compete to win my Strongman Pro Card, there is one thing on my mind, confidence. Regardless of sport, age, or gender, all great competitors share the trait of confidence. A feeling that they will succeed in the face of competition, adversity or anything that may try derail them.

This past weekend, I attended a grad party for one of my favorite clients, a high school linebacker who is headed to the University of Washington this fall and his mom thanked me for all the work I’ve done with him, increasing his speed, strength, physique but more than anything she thanked me for improving his confidence. She said that he would always come home from training excited about how “Chad told me I can do this… or Chad told me how when I get to school I’m gonna be able to do that…”. Now I didn’t try and go filling this kid’s head with lofty unachievable ideas, I told him things I truly believe he is capable of, things that he didn’t think he was previously capable of and this helped him become more confident.

Instilling athletes with confidence is an essential part of being a good coach.

I have always considered myself a confident person and particularly a confident competitor and while I think much of this for me is a product of a supportive family and lots of success, there are certainly ways that you can actively help yourself cultivate a more confident outlook on competition. Here are 3 tips that will help you become more confident when entering a competition…

1-Be Totally Prepared:

Now this seems very obvious but it is the foundation of confidence. If you know that you did everything in your power to prepare yourself to compete, then you have nothing to worry about, you will perform to your expectations. This tip starts weeks maybe months before your actual competition and requires focus and sacrifice, don’t let yourself have what ifs. You don’t want to be walking off the platform, court or field and thinking to yourself, “what if I hadn’t gone out drinking with my friends last weekend”, “what if I hadn’t skipped that set of abs,” “what if I had paid more attention to my nutrition”. When you prepare to the best of your abilities you can rest assured and be confident that you will perform to the best of your abilities.

Another step in being totally prepared, is having everything in line for the day of your competition, from your meals and supplements to your equipment. Nothing will take you out of the right frame of mind like being hungry or scrambling to borrow something like chalk or wraps from someone. Take sometime the prior day to fill all your various shaker cups, lay out your clothes, belt, shoes, etc. Make a checklist and double check it. It may sound a bit OCD but it will save you headaches and allow you to focus on the task at hand, winning.

2-Set Yourself Up for Success:

Success builds confidence, plain and simple. In your training, you will be well served to take 10 pounds off the bar and smash it and be able to walk away telling yourself you had 20 pounds more in you or 2 more reps, rather than going to an absolute maximum in the gym and potentially missing reps or grinding through something that was a ‘10’ effort. Missing reps doesn’t make you stronger, making them does and missing reps is a bad habit to get into, it will ruin your confidence. I am very conscious about (usually) approaching lifts in the gym with a calm mindset, not feeling the need to put on certain music to fire me up or beating my chest, sniffing ammonia, etc because I know that if I can make a weight calmly in training, it and more will be easy in competition with adrenaline flowing.

Do you think that Bill Kazmaier ever had a doubt in his mind about whether or not he was going to make a lift?

3-Surround Yourself with Positivity:

Training partners, friends, parents, significant others are all an important part of your support system to help you succeed. When you are successful, there will be many people who try to bring you down, when you have ambitious goals, there will be many people who will try and tell you they aren’t possible. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you, who are honest with you about your strengths and weaknesses; not yes men.

The most important way to surround yourself with positivity, is to be positive yourself. Think about your strengths, not your shortcomings, visualize completing a PR lift or making a huge play and don’t let anything besides the idea of total domination enter your mind.

I am a firm believer that people tend to live up or down to their own expectations and perceptions of themselves. Do you think that an Olympic Gold Medalist is surprised when they win that medal? Of course not, they have expected that win for months and years. Do you think an NFL All-Pro defensive end thinks about how the tackle across the line from them is bigger or stronger than them? Of course not, they think they are the biggest, strongest, fastest, baddest dude on the planet. During high school, I several times attended a throws clinic run by Tony Ciarelli. Tony has coached countless high school champions, as well as several Olympians in throwing and Olympic lifting. Each year he told us that throwers were the biggest, strongest, more powerful athletes on the planet and that we should act like it. Know that you talented and capable and strong, act like it and fulfill those high expectations you have of yourself.

The idea of building self confidence is complex and goes well beyond the scope of my abilities or this article, but these are some simple ways to build yourself up and help you be a better competitor. Prepare yourself totally, set yourself up for success and cultivate positive mental imagery and you will be more confident and successful in whatever endeavor you undertake.

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