If you believe that you are NOT ready for a competition, then everything in your body and mind will act that way too. A lack of confidence will make your technique crumble and your race day miserable. So what can you do to be ready?
Performance confidence comes from feeling prepared for the big day and by knowing that you deserve the opportunity to be there. As you already have the power to control these two factors completely, you therefore have the power to control your level of confidence too. Don’t just wish for it… know what is needed and commit to getting it done.
Be Prepared – Training makes you prepared for the physical action of performing. Mental training makes you prepared for everything else. Your technique gets better through repetition and knowledge so apply that same method to everything else. If you don’t know something than ask someone or look it up. Never assume that you can just hope for the best because that creates a little bit of doubt in the back of your mind. Erase that doubt by knowing the answers.
- what do you need to perform (inventory, set up)
- what to do if anything happens (loss, stolen, broken)
- check the weather/ venue and have tested options (sun, rain, air conditioning, heaters)
- know that your performance uniform moves/ reacts correctly (sizes, condition, temperature, replacements)
- food & drink
- crappy food gives crappy results and it weakens your recovery too
- take what you need with you (know how to pack it)
- test everything in training so you know how your body handles it
- time to get there (shuttles, transfers, parking, check points)
- the place to be (access pass, security, distance to start line)
- know how jet lag and long rides affect you (sleep, digestion, mood, movement, warm up, recovery)
- know the variations by country, level, experience (scorecards, bibs, IDs, clothes, marshalling, check-ins)
- know what to do if a problem comes up (medical, alarms, violence)
Deserve It – Your level of commitment to your training matters every single day. When you know how hard you have honestly worked at something then the desire to prove it increases too. But the catch is that you must work hard on the things that matter. Training smart involves planning your workouts based on quality not quantity. Even if your time is limited, you can still feel that you deserve to be on that starting line if every session had purpose, excellence and was applicable to your performance.
- every sport/ movement has its order of operations
- chunking – break down your sequence into pieces then evaluate them
- strengths – just because you can do it now does not mean you can forget about. Always train the basics as they are the foundation for everything else.
- weaknesses – if you know something is not working then try every trick in the book to fix it. Specialised coaches, video analyse, patience… it might not become perfect but it can become incrementally better if you acknowledge the gap and work on it. Don’t give up. Ever.
- you must know how your strength and weaknesses combine to form your movement – absolute perfection in absolutely everything is not necessary to have a successful performance. Give yourself some slack on this.
- how to mix your training
- plan your training days in advance
- if it is planned then do it – make a habit of doing it even if the weather sucks, your energy is low or your mood is off. Knowing that you can perform despite these obstacles matters on race day. This is how you build your grit!
- know how to mix hard days with active recovery days so you don’t burn out, get injured or ill and most of all so that you keep loving what you are doing. It is better to be healthy and undertrained than to be aching and overtrained on race day.
When you get anxious about something and repeat negative scenarios over and over again that is called worrying. If you learn what to do about it and repeat the solutions over and over again it is called visualisation. Your brain is capable of so many things so let it help you by focusing on the the things you can control. Your performance confidence will constantly grow if you work on it in the right way. It is not about magic fairy dust rather it is about making the right preparation choices and doing everything possible to be ready for all the controllable choices on race day.