It's All About Mindset
Confidence - the simple answer to achieving success. Probably the biggest thing that I have learned from my last four months of training is that confidence and performance are concurrent; without one, you simply cannot have the other.
Four months ago, I split ways with my coach. Not permanently, but just for a period of time as he would be working with my training partners to prepare specifically for the Olympics in Rio, and our priorities would not be aligned during this time period. So, since the beginning of May, right after the Hyères world cup regatta, I’ve been working on my own, without any coaching. Interestingly, the first regatta that I did immediately after that, the Garda Trentino Olympic Week was without a doubt my best performance over the last year. Why? Confidence. I came to that conclusion by comparing the factors that influenced my state of mind leading into this regatta with those leading into my most recent regatta – the U21 European Championships, which was without a doubt my worst performance from the last year.
I remember that going into the regatta in Garda, I had high expectations in terms of the result that I would be able to achieve. This was partially due to the fact that I didn’t have any previous impressions of most of the competitors, so I assumed that I could beat them. I also distinctly remember that in my mind, everything was clear. My coach had left me with a very clear idea of the things that needed to focus on executing, and I had no doubt that these worked. I knew what I needed to do, I was confident that I was capable of doing those things and that caused a good result. Since the Garda regatta, my sailing performance, skills, and confidence have progressively spiralled downwards culminating in the performance that I had at the U21 Europeans this past week. It started with a couple of bad performances: I tried executing the same things that I had been doing but it wasn’t working. That led to doubt and diminishing confidence. Naturally, I tried doing things differently, but I just couldn’t get back on track. It was a progressive chain of events: bad performance = doubt/ lack of confidence = even worse performance. In the end, I was competing at the U21 Europeans and not only was I consistently at the back of the fleet, but I believed that I belonged there and that I wasn’t capable of doing better. The result? For the first time in my sailing career, I am looking back over the last period of time, and I have to acknowledge that I am a worse sailor today that I was 4 months ago. That’s tough… Even after my worst performances and biggest disappointments and failures in the past, there was always comfort in the fact that at least I knew that my sailing had improved.
Still, despite the frustration that I feel now, I know that it’s not all negative. Although I may not be sailing better today than I was 4 months ago, I know that, even today, I am a substantially better sailor than I was a year ago. Plus, although my sailing skills may have gotten worse over the last 4 months, I know that because I have experienced this slump first hand, I am more likely to identify and prevent it from happening in the future. Also, I’m sure that the things that I have learned about mindset and the role of confidence in performing will help me to perform better and more consistently in the future as the results start to matter more and more.
Now that the racing season is over, I’m heading home, where I will be for the month of September. My main focus for this month is to get both my weight and my fitness to a higher level so that I am prepared to handle what I am anticipating to be a very high on-water training load come October. In October, I will be heading down to Sydney to reconnect with my coach and really put in the hours on the water. I’m very confident that once I reconnect with my coach, we will be able to quickly fix the damage that I’ve done over the last four months, and get my sailing back on track and moving forwards again!
Thanks for reading!