1. The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.
2. The state of feeling certain about the truth of something.
3. A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s abilities or qualities.
Confidence is a funny thing. Sometimes a little confidence can make a difference in the outcome of an event. Having confidence in yourself can give a you enough of a boost in performance to do better than you would have without it, but a lack of confidence can very well have the opposite effect, and cause you to do less than your best. There can be times when overconfidence comes into play, and you overestimate your abilities and or preparedness, setting yourself up for failure. Like many things in life, there is often a fine line…
For a little confidence boost before a race, I like to go and ride the course in advance. I did this for the Ohio State Time Trail this year. I got up at the time of morning I would have to for the race, ate the same food as I would on race day and then drove down to the course. I rode the course, pushing as hard as I could, with my set of training wheels, wearing a normal bike jersey and carrying an extra bottle of water. Afterwards, I downloaded the data so I could see just how many watts I could push throughout the course. On race day, I managed to hold the watts I wanted. I had to remind myself that I could do it during a couple of the climbs. Riding the course two weeks before gave me the confidence to just dig in and push. Being prepared by riding the course, driving the course, and/or studying the course on paper before the event is a good way to build confidence by knowing what to expect, such as where the curves, turns and hills are on the course.
When it comes to racing triathlons, I often lack confidence in the swim, especially when I feel like my
training has not been where it should be. I can find myself unable to push the pace in the water, which
causes me to push harder on the bike to compensate. Since I’m consistently strongest on the bike, my
issue has been saving up enough energy to have a strong run. This wouldn’t be an issue if I was more
confident when it comes to the swim. I would still be able to have a strong bike without sacrificing the
Sometimes we can cause others to lose their confidence. I have been really noticing this when I go
watch my son run cross country. The same kids run together day after day, week after week, and there’s
definitely an order to the team. When one runner is having a particularly good week, and this order is
disrupted, the ones left behind can really have their confidence shaken. It’s interesting to watch this play
out. I see it in my own son quite a bit. When he’s feeling good and confident, he runs confidently. If he
has a bad week, it takes a toll on his confidence and it can be a struggle to get it back. It’s hard to watch
sometimes, especially since his bad week might not even be bad, it could just be that someone else was
having a better week than usual.
I’m sure we can all think of examples of someone being overconfident. I can remember a time I was to
give a speech at a function. In my job as an Army recruiter, it was not out of the ordinary for me to
speak publicly once or twice a week. I was confident that I did not have to write anything down or
practice for the special event. I showed up and when I got up to speak, I froze up. I just repeated the
same words over and over, and it was very short. I forget how long I was supposed to speak for, but I
only made it through a fraction of the time. I am sure it looked rough to the audience. My
overconfidence caused me to be ill prepared, and to choke.
I often hear people say that competing in endurance sports is 90 percent mental, and that an athlete
should spend time working on their mental game during their off season. So many experts say to do this,
but don’t say how to do this. I’m sure confidence is not the whole mental game, but it’s a big part of the
foundation of the mental game.