Hi, everybody. I’m Coach Rebecca Smith, here for day three of our confidence sport re-entry video series. Thank you for hanging out with me during this time. I’m excited that you are here for this third day and I’m feeling really excited about this topic. It’s funny – I always know that I have important work to do when I get a little butterfly nervous thing going, and I’m currently feeling that, so that’s a good sign.
Day three is all about confidence. I would like to start with your big dream. Athletes, take a second. This may just come right to the top of your mind, you know exactly what your big dream is, but if it doesn’t, take a second and think, “What is my dream? If everything fell into place in my sport, what would that look like?” What’s the end game for you? Is it college gymnastics? The Olympics? Is it a certain level or a certain skill? Now, I’m not judging your dream. Your dream can be as big or as whatever you want it to be.
My Sport Dreams
While you’re thinking, I want to tell you a little story about when I was a gymnast. I started late. I didn’t really get into competitive gymnastics until I was around nine, and I was 14 by the time I quit. So I was a little bit on the older side, and I thought, “Well, I’m never going to be able to go to college. I’m definitely not going to go to the Olympics, I’m not that talented, I’m too tall and too old… but what if I could at least get to a level where I got to pick my own floor music? That would be amazing.” That’s all I wanted. I did compulsory gymnastics and we had the same music over and over and over. All I wanted was to be able to pick my own floor music.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Now fast forward – it’s the summer before my first level seven competition, which is the first level back then that you could pick your own music. I picked my music and it was West Side Story. My mom was in musical theater and I love musicals and we’d watched them together. We chose this really cool West Side Story mashup that my dad had edited and it was so awesome. I was so excited, and I ended up retiring from gymnastics that summer before I went back. It taught me not to sell yourself short. I reached my dream and I got my own floor music, but I never competed that routine. I got that leotard. They probably paid my meet fees. I did all the things that I thought I wanted, but my fear and my mental blocks made me stop believing in myself.
Fear Held Me Back
I was scared. I was scared of some of those level seven skills to the point where it actually pulled me out of the sport. So imagine if I would have had tools to get through the mental block, to start believing in myself, to start feeling more confident. What my real dream would have been was I wanted to be one of those upper-level gymnasts. I thought, “I want to be with them and I want to be doing that stuff. Oh! I want to do that on the bars.” I loved bars. I hated beam, but I loved bars. I’d watch them on the bars think, “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool.” That’s what I really wanted. That was my actual dream, to be a level nine, maybe a level 10. But I sold myself short, mostly because I didn’t realize that I could do more.
Your Big Dream
Now, with that all in mind, I want you to think about your big dream. Take that dream and ask yourself, “If I really believed in myself, what would be possible?” I’m going to share a quote from one of my all-time, favorite gymnasts. If you’re young, you haven’t heard of her, but I’m obsessed. My goal is to get her on my podcast. If any of you have any connections to the great Shannon Miller, send her my way. Here’s her quote. She says,
There is always going to be a reason why you can’t do something: your job is to constantly look for the reasons why you can achieve your dreams.
I want you to rate yourself on a scale of one to 10 on your unshakable belief, in your ability to achieve your dream. If 14-year-old me was thinking about wanting to be a level nine or 10 by the time I graduated high school, I probably would’ve ranked myself, realistically, at a two or a three. Now rate yourself on a scale of one to 10 for how much you believe that’s possible for you now? When I say belief, I mean unshakable belief where you believe and nobody’s talking to you out of it. Even if nobody believes in you, you believe in yourself and you’re going to make it happen no matter what.
Reaching Your Dream
Come up with your number and then grab a pencil or a pen and something to write on or open up a note on your phone or open up a Google doc. I want you to do the following – write down three reasons why you do have the ability to reach that dream.
Goals You’ve Already Reached
Then you’re going to write down three examples of reaching your goals in the past. Something where you decided, “I want to qualify for regionals,” and then you did. Or, “I want to make state,” and you did, or, “I want to get this skill by this date,” and you did it. Write down three examples where you set out to do something and you did it.
The reason that I dig into this unshakable belief concept is that there were studies done on a whole bunch of national international and Olympic level athletes, and there was something that the top athletes all had in common. When they went out and they won their Olympic gold or they won worlds, they had unshakeable self-belief. When Simone and Aly walk out on the floor at the Olympics, they have unshakeable self-belief. They walk in and they are already the world champions. They just have to finish the job.
Here’s a quote from Venus Williams. She says,
You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there.
If that’s not true for you yet, that’s okay. You can get there. If you’re at a five on the self-belief factor, you can climb it. If you’re at a 9.5, we can get you to a 10. Let’s do it.
It’s Time to Brag
The next thing, and this one is this one might be the hardest part of what we’re going to do today as we continue to dig into that unshakable belief, is I want you to have the unshakable belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your opponents. So you’re going to have to brag a little. Those of you who are perfectionists might have trouble with this because nothing ever feels good enough. Those of you who have a little bit lower self-esteem, or just don’t feel very confident, you might have a little trouble with this. I personally found this to be one of the most challenging exercises ever had to do in my personal growth journey having to write down good things about myself.
What I want you to do is write down 10 unique qualities and abilities that set you up for success. Just start writing what’s great about you. We already talked about why you’ll reach your goal, but what is it about you that actually sets you up?
Recognizing Your Strengths
I was laser-focused on the fact that I was too tall, I was too old, I had a late start, and I wasn’t that strong. I had all my focus on the reasons why I couldn’t, which kept me insecure. It kept me doubting myself and it kept me failing. If I were to look back at the things that I did have in my corner, I was a hard worker. I worked harder than anybody else, even though it was harder for me. Doing two pull-ups was my max. I was a nice teammate, I loved my little ducklings came along behind me, I was a leader, and I had a really great attitude, except when I was in tears and frustrated. That was my weak spot.
How Others See You
As you’re writing down 10 unique qualities and abilities that set you up for success, if you get stuck, think about what your mom would say? If mom’s sitting right there, you can just ask her, “What’s great about me, mom?” She can rattle off 17 things, I’m sure. Or what would your coach say? If you overheard your coach and your mom bragging about you, what would they be talking about? What would your teammates be jealous of?
For me, I was so flexible. I could do my splits anywhere, no problem, and I wasn’t that good at pushups, but I was flexible! Also, I wasn’t that strong or powerful but my lines were so clean and so pretty. My dance was beautiful, but my block on vault wasn’t that strong. You want to be focusing on the good stuff right now.
If you still can’t come up with 10, think about what your best teammate would say to you when they were trying to cheer you up. As you finish that up, here’s another quote from Picabo Street who’s an Alpine ski racer. She says,
To uncover your true potential, you must first find your own limits, and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.
Next, we’re going to dig in just one more layer of writing things down. That’s going to help tap into that self-belief that I think can be in there. In order to have an unshakeable belief, this study on international level athletes saw that you have to have the ability to push through discomfort. I want you to write down three situations where you were uncomfortable, but it didn’t stop you. For me, that was all those times when I was afraid and I somehow was able to settle myself enough to trust. There were also times where I didn’t want to say something to my coach and I just really wanted to just do it, but I communicated. I got it. I excavated my thoughts from the depths of my fear and said, “I need help,” and it was ok. Those communication moments can be so challenging. Also, those moments where you’re thinking, “This is so hard,” but you just kept going. You did not let it stop you. So write down three of those and then three examples of hard times that proved you’re stronger than you thought.
It’s easy to look at those hard times and think, “I can’t believe I did that. That was so horrible.” An example of a hard time might be being injured, or even the COVID-19 quarantine is a hard time that we all get to chalk up to as a hard thing – getting through it, staying motivated, staying happy, staying excited, that was hard. You can write down times where you thought, “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. This is too hard. It’s too scary. It’s too big,” and it doesn’t have to be in sport, but if you can come up with sport examples, all the better. Another hard time might be, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to survive this class. I’m going to fail. I’m not going to do well on this test.”
Pushing Through the Struggle
Think of a situation where it was just too hard, but you proved that you’re stronger than you ever thought you were. I have a couple of big ones in my life and I bet parents, you have some doozies, as well. Once you get past the teenage years, you get some hard stuff in life. Not everybody gets to just skate on through. I don’t think anybody does. We all have these trials that we go through, and those are the ones that really show you what you’re made of. There have been moments during the COVID-19 quarantine where I was thought, “I can’t do it. I don’t want to feel like this. It’s too hard,” then I ugly cry. “This is too hard on two little kids. What am I going to do with these kids all day? How am I going to run my business?” Then cut to a week later when I’m saying, “Okay. This is great. This is fine. We got this, I got this.”
Once you’re finished with this exercise, it might be hard to look back and think of those hard times, but what we’re really focusing on here is the fact that you did it! You got through it. Now, anyone who’s ever had a mental block and you got to the other side of it and thought, “Why was that? Why did I think that was so hard?” It’s because you did all the work to build back that confidence and then you did it. Graduate school, for me, was this trudge. It was so, so hard. Then, one day, I was done. I had made it. I earned a master’s degree.
Rating Your Unshakeable Belief
After looking at those things that you wrote down on a scale of one to 10, how strong is your unshakeable belief in your ability to achieve your goals, to achieve your dream? Put that number in and maybe it didn’t go up. Maybe it did go up. I’m not going to judge you based on whether or not your number went up, but just notice for yourself – if looking back at the positive things, the strengths, the successes, those hard things that you conquered, see if that makes a difference in how you believe in yourself.
What I’m showing you in these three days is just quick, simple ways to change the way you look at yourself, to change the way you look at your past, and to change the way that you focus, because that can change everything. It can change your confidence, just like that.
Here are your action steps. On day one, I asked you to love and accept yourself no matter what progress you were able to make as you return to practice. Day two we were going to view the re-entry to sport as a challenge, and then rise to it (which hopefully gave you a little bit more fun if you’ve already been to practice since then). Today I’m going to ask you to take some action towards your dream. If you want to go to college, if you want to go to the Olympics, what can you do today to make that more likely first?
For anybody who is dealing with fear or anxiety, I wanted to put this out there to the group that we’re doing a free webinar today called How to break the fear cycle and build lasting support confidence. If you enjoyed some of the stuff we talked about this week, I strongly encourage you to sign up for that training. We will go over the three biggest mistakes that people make that end up making fears and mental blocks worse. We’ll also go over the three-step framework to break through fear and build lasting for competence. There are three different times being offered. Click here to sign up now!
Thank you for hanging out with me. I’m going to be back doing another live video next week. If you have specific questions or topic requests, I would be happy to honor them. Please email them to me at [email protected] and I will do my best to answer them. Thank you so much for being here and I will see you around soon.