All In the Head – Building Confidence

In our new series we talk to Elite Performance Mind Coach Denis Coen who gives us insight and tips each week into simple practical mental skills and effective coping strategies to allow you to unleash your true potential in sport. 

Are you looking for that competitive and mental edge against your opponent? If so, there is no doubt that you will need unshakable confidence. Confidence is one of the primary functions of your mental make-up. If you don’t believe that you are prepared properly and are not confident going into a performance then you are less likely to try harder. From my experience of playing and working with athletes, the more confident you are, the harder you will try.

Suppose you are an athlete who has lost confidence – It’s obvious that this is not good news for your game. Athletes that lose or lack confidence avoid playing poorly because they don’t want to look bad. Therefore, if your confidence is shattered you will start to lose your flow, you will tighten up and your performance will continue on a downward spiral. You may start to talk yourself into a new comfort zone, a comfort zone that is well below your capability of performing. In a nutshell you won’t express yourself. You may even start to convince yourself that you will never get your confidence back and a vicious circle starts to emerge in your self-talk, self-image and behaviour. As the downward spiral continues to get worse you will also take on the physical attributes that are involved and contribute to this lack of confidence.

Your body language and attitudes begin to change for the worst. Simply put you step into the character and role of a non-confident athlete. This is your choice and your decision. This obviously is not good for trying to get the best out of yourself and reach the goals that you have set for yourself. But the great news is that you can increase confidence when you decide to do so. It starts with the decision that you really want to become confident. Then you have to go about putting a plan in place. And the funny thing is that if you follow the steps that we outline over the next few weeks, you’re not only helping yourself in developing a new unshakable confidence – you inspire can inspire team-mates around you who may have fallen into the same trap. 

Here is the first of five simple steps to help start you to achieve unshakable confidence again.

The steps I am about to outline are often used to the detriment of some athletes. Athletes and teams use these simple foundations but they often draw on them from a negative point of view. Here is how to make them work to the advantage of you and those around you. 

1. Preparation

The key to confidence is preparation. How do you prepare? Do you practice, practice and practice? Do you practice the fundamentals more than your competitors. When you become so good at something you will become so confident in your own ability that doubt will never set in. If there is something that you are not confident about at practice, the starting point has to be whether this is a mental or physical trait you need to develop. If you have a weakness, practice at least until it becomes a very strong weakness. Don’t wait til you wake up some morning and expect to be good at something. Mathematically that is impossible. As Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists of all time said, ‘If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.’

Confident athletes are disciplined to work hard and practice longer, harder and smarter than their competitors. Therefore, you need to practice harder, smarter and longer than your competitors. It won’t cut it though if you wait until a few weeks before a championship or big game to start getting serious about preparation. There is only now and you need to realise this so get into the “Do It Now Mentality.” The key question you should be asking yourself everyday is, “what will I do today that will make be a more confident and better athlete.

We will bring you Step Two next week so stay tuned to 

Denis Coen has been involved with, amongst others, the St Jude’s Senior Hurling team in the past two seasons and as a player reached the All Ireland Club Football Final with Ballina Stephenites . You can find more from Denis here at

Be your best with the brilliant Home Gym Equipment sale now on at Elverys Intersport


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