“I can do it” Mindset

Hello, everyone.  I’m Coach Rebecca and I’m here today to talk about the “I can do it” mindset and how to switch it on.  Everything that I teach here on the Complete Performance Coaching blog, Podcast, or in the PerformHappy community is all evidence-based.  I’m not just making this stuff up.  Everything that I teach is based on proven science.

“I Can Do It!”

Today, I’m going to give you six ways that have been proven by science to improve your confidence and to get you into that type of confidence that’s skill-based confidence, meaning that you set out to do one thing and you know, “I can do this.”  It doesn’t mean you can do everything and you’re going to walk out into traffic because you’re so brave.  It means this specific thing you can do.


Now, these six key elements are based on a theory called self-efficacy by Bandura (just in case any of you science nerds want to look that up). I’m going to talk about what his studies showed.  Before I dive into what these elements are, I want to talk about this a little bit in terms of star Wars.  Now, I am not the biggest Star Wars buff, so forgive me if I butcher anything here, but basically there’s a dark side and a light side.  There’s the force and then there’s the dark side, and with each of these six things, these things can switch off your “I can do it mindset” or they can switch on your “I can do it mindset”.  So you have these six powerful things that you can use for good, or you can use for evil.  I’ll give you some examples of each one.

1. Verbal Persuasion

The first one that Bandura presents is verbal persuasion.  That’s basically spoken, “you can do it” type language.  That’s someone saying to you, “I believe in you, you can do this!  I know you’re ready.  Think about all the preparation you’ve done.”  These are actual words that go into your brain that say, “You can do this!”  We’ve all had a moment where somebody’s fired us up.


Now, we also are all actively involved in verbal persuasion constantly in our own minds.  If I’m sitting here saying to myself, “I’m going to be really weird on the live video today.  I’m so nervous.  Do I even know this stuff?”  That’s me using it for the dark side.  If you have a coach that’s really negative who says thinks like, “Why are you even here?  Do it or get off my beam.  I have someone else who would love your spot on the team,” that’s negative verbal persuasion.  That’s taking that “I can do it” mindset light switch and flipping it off.  You want to flip it on.  The way you do that is by making sure that all of the verbal persuasion that’s coming at you is going toward the light side.  That’s number one.

2. Past Performances

This one is huge.  If you did the last one successfully, you’re going to go, “Okay, I can do it.  I proved it.  I have proof right there that I just did a good one, so that means I can handle this.”  If you’re on a team sport, you need to be aggressive.  Think of the last game where you turn it on you when you were totally fearless and aggressive, then you’re thinking, “Okay, I can do that.”

Negative Verbal Persuasion

In the meantime, your coach is going, “You can do this,” and your teammates are saying, “We saw you do it!”  All of that is going to be revved up, but on the dark side, what if the last one was horrible?  What if you blew it and you were thinking, “What’s wrong with me?  I should have been able to do that.”  That’s negative verbal persuasion.  You’re talking yourself out of it.  Your past experience is negative, which is making you feel like you can’t do it.

3. Vicarious Experience

This is you being inspired by others.  The light side of this one is that you watch a teammate who trains just as many hours as you, who has the same coaching, who love is just as much as you do.  They go and they get a skill that you’ve been working on, and you’re like, “Oh, if she can do it, I can do it.”

Inspiration vs. Jealousy

Then, there’s the more classic adolescent teenage reaction, which is, “Oh, what?  I’m not as good as her.”  That’s the light side and the dark side.  If you can be inspired and go, “Oh, if you do your series on the high beam, I’ll do it,” or whatever it is.  It’s you being able to say, “Oh my gosh, you did it.  All right, I’ll do it.  If you can do it, I can do it.”  That’s the good side, but a lot of young athletes use the dark side more often.  They see other people succeeding and it crushes them and it makes them feel worse.  It makes them feel like they’re not good enough or they’re not talented enough.  Make sure that you’re using the light side.

4. Emotional State

Basically, this is your mood. Being in a good mood has scientifically proven abilities to make you feel like you can do it.  If you walk in to practice and you’re thinking, “I feel good today.  I think I can do this,” versus walking in tired, bummed out, or you haven’t eaten well, it just makes your mood kind of funky.  That is going to flip that switch off again.  You’ll be saying to yourself, “I can’t, I don’t feel it.  I’m not happy.  I don’t want to do it.”  So here, light side, good mood, dark side, bad mood.

Fun fact: playing your favorite song in the car on the way to practice is a scientifically proven method to get you more confident

When you’re bopping around, you’re feeling good.  You’ve got something going that puts you in a little bit better mood.  You’re better off sitting in the car on the way to practice, thinking about your favorite things than being in the car, thinking about, “Oh no, what if it happens again?”

5. Imagery

You may have heard of imagery before, or you might’ve heard visualization.  There’s are a lot of different words for it, but imagery and visualization are pretty similar.  If used correctly, imagery has been proven to have the same reaction in your brain as a success.  This one’s fun because if you get really good at imagery, you are actually giving yourself past successes.  Do you remember how we said, If you failed yesterday, what can you do?  Well, you can succeed in your mind if you do it the right way.  It gets your brain feeling like, “Oh, maybe I can do it.”  You can change your perspective and find past successes to pull from.

However, negative imagery will kill your confidence.  When you get up to do a scary skill or you’re getting into an aggressive pass, or some kind of challenging, critical moment, and you flash an image in your head of falling or getting hurt or things going badly, it’s going to flip that switch off again.  What we want to do is train your mind to be able to see the images you want on command.

6. Physiological State

If your heart is pounding and you’re sweating, you don’t feel good, and you’re having society, that’s going to make you feel like, “What’s wrong with me?  I don’t think I can do it.”  Whereas, if you’re relaxed, loose, and warmed up and you’re feeling good, that’s going to flip the switch on.  All of those elements are part of your mental game plan.  You want to have a mental game plan in place that gets all of those boxes checked.  Choose light vs. dark.

Those are the six elements to achieving the “I can do it” mindset.  If you have any questions you can always reach out.  Email me at rebecca@completeperformancecoaching.com.  I’ll see you again soon.  Thanks for joining me.


Achieving the I Can Do It Mindset

Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.