Contributed by Kurt Young

Confidence. Fear. Nerves. Elation. Stress. Discomfort. Anger.

Performing to your greatest capacity will undoubtly bring about a range of emotions. Indeed, the more importance you place on an event, the more intense your emotional experience is likely to be.

For many individuals, a significant barrier to improved performance is the conscious (or even unconscious) belief that your ability to perform is dependent on the emotions you experience prior to an event.

The requirement to feel ‘confident’ to perform well is commonly held by many athletes. At an extreme, the desire to bring about confidence can lead athletes to practice a skill repeatedly just before an event to the point of physical fatigue.

Consider what practical benefit confidence brings to your performance. In an AFL match, will confidence provide your body fuel to move? Will it improve your hand-eye coordination or kicking ability?

Take a moment to stop and notice what beliefs you hold about emotions and their influence over your behaviour. If you notice that you may have fallen into the trap of believing that specific emotions are a requirement for performing well, then consider trying the following experiment.

Step 1. Write down 3 keywords that relate to specific behaviours that are important to implement in your performance field.

Step 2. Choose to implement these behaviours no matter what emotions are present. Be ruthless in this endeavour.

Step 3. Keep a diary and after each time you perform, note down the specific behaviours you committed to implementing. Rate how successfully you performed each behaviour out of 10 and ask a trusted person (e.g., coach, parent) to do the same.

Step 4. Reflect on the emotions you were experiencing while engaging in each behaviour and rate how intensely you felt the emotion out of 10.

If you consistently practice this experiment, you will eventually destroy the lie that emotions are in control of your behaviour. If you can learn to set your mind on the present during your performance and commit to helpful behaviours in the moment, you will put yourself in the best position to achieve success, no matter what emotions arise.

If you would like to know more about how to manage your emotions, call or email us here.