Staying Motivated and Building Confidence
by Yiannis Christodoulou - Zone3
Staying Motivated and Building Confidence
Many triathletes will admit to having struggled with motivation at one point or another during the season. In principle, staying motivated throughout the season doesn’t sound too difficult. However, as with all sports, facing defeat and failure during the season can have an adverse impact on an athlete’s confidence and subsequently their motivation levels too.
Feeling motivated and mentally prepared throughout the season is key to being able to achieve the best results in training as well as on race day. A lack of motivation will hinder your training and make it harder for you to meet your performance goals.
There is a fine line between success and failure and the margins on race day are usually very small. Both success and failure are self-perceived, so it’s important to train with confidence, race with confidence and finish with confidence. Recognising that self-confidence levels can fluctuate over the season and dips in motivation can occur to will put you in a better position to get back into the swing of things.
ZONE3 Ambassador, Yiannis Christodoulou, has put together some tips that will raise and maintain your self-confidence and motivation for when the season tries throwing setbacks at you.
- Remember that even if you don’t believe in yourself or your abilities, someone else does. Be this a coach, manager, fellow athletes or a family member. The team around you will have greater belief in you than you thought was possible. When feeling a bit low, seek them out for a bit of validation or reassurance in your ability.
- Positive mindset. Positivity is something that can often be overlooked, and its important to remain positive no matter your training or racing situation. Develop positivity by assessing each of your training and competition sessions. Assess how you’ve performed and take positive away from it. Thinking positively leads to a better mindset and body balance. Positive thinking enables the neural pathways in your brain to operate with clarity and purpose.
- Sometimes success is a process, and you need to embrace the journey and all the little wins on the way. Embark on each task as a champion, by having a clear and defined plan. Step by step tick off each task. Don’t take on a massive task and expect to achieve it straight away, or quickly. Believe in yourself and have patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your confidence be.
- Only control the controllable. Controlling the controllable builds self-confidence because it provides you with a sense of focus. Remember that you simply cannot control what others are doing, saying or thinking, but you can absolutely control what you are achieving. There are a range of variables within training/racing that can lead to loss of sight of the controllable. Negative external factors and influences will only hinder performance and must be beaten.
- Mentality is key on race day. You should work on encouraging yourself on each task you undertake. Mental preparation can manifest in many forms, including; mindfulness, imagery, reflective thinking, positive self-talk, goal setting, meditation and concentration training, among others. You should find a strategy that works best for you, and then use this strategy to provide you with an inner desire to build confidence. There has been plenty of evidence within elite sports of the use of mental preparation. Mental preparation is useful as it can massively support the levels of self-confidence you need to perform well.
- Recall previous success. Think about previous race day and training session successes that you’ve had. What did they feel like? What were your emotions like during that time? How confident did they make you feel? This can be a very effective positive mechanism used to build on your self-confidence.
- Consistency in training and routine is key. Successful triathletes build confidence because they are consistent and appreciate the value of success. Consistency is like a habit that is formed through experience of situations. In other words, the more you do the better you become at the task in hand. Elite Athletes will work hard and do whatever to achieve their ultimate aim.
- Constructive criticism during your self-evaluation is key to identifying areas of improvement. Through self-evaluation one can become more effective at building self-confidence. Building your own level of evaluation will enable you to become critical. But it also enables you to build on this critique to create higher levels of confidence. Famous Soccer Coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, suggested that he learnt more from losing than he did through success. This is true of most successful performers as they use defeat, steps backwards and rejection to fuel the fire to come back stronger.
- Continuously set short-term goals. Most triathletes suffer from low self-confidence because they allow the issue(s) to prolong and, as a consequence, fail to deal with problems head on. To overcome these issues, set short-term goals that will enable the flow of confidence (no matter how small) to start. Through constantly achieving your short-term goals, you will build your levels of self-confidence greatly. Short-term goals should be related to processes that can be achieved.
- Don’t be overly critical of your own performances and try to take something from every session. Life is about trial and error. Triathletes should learn from the many challenges that they face. However, you must not be too harsh on yourself and should take regular breaks when needed. You should eat well, sleep well and should respect your mind and body. It is through respect that athletes can learn to rebuild confidence.