One of the most important attributes that contributes to success in athletics is confidence. Some might argue that it is as important as physical competence in reaching the higher levels of any sport. One of the ways that athletes obtain confidence is to draw on their memories of past successes. Unfortunately, many athletes have a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of their performance, or what they did wrong, following competition. Particularly following a poor performance or a loss, athletes may become extremely negative, even to the point of catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when thoughts become extreme and unrealistically negative, often excluding any positive aspects of the situation. This makes it much less likely that they will register the positive experiences and therefore be able to draw upon them in the future, thus affecting their confidence levels.
So, how do athletes deal with a loss without losing confidence? One strategy to maintain confidence is to use a self-evaluation after training and competitions. Following these performances, athletes can ask themselves 3 questions:
1. What did I do well today?
2. What do I want to do better next time?
3. How will I improve?
This technique can help athletes maintain a balanced view of their performance, registering both the positive and the negative. It also helps them maintain a future focus and set short-term goals for the next competition. Answering these three questions could help athletes rebound from a poor performance and increase their confidence for future competitions.