I had a moment of reflection this past week during one of the WODs: AMRAP 10 Min: 50 DUs and 3 Snatches (80%). During the warmup, I decided to increase the weight from 80% to 85% to see what happened. However, what I noticed was that the increased weight caused a lot of doubt to creep into my head during the WOD and caused me to question why I was not more confident at landing a snatch under this load on a consistent basis.
During the WOD, I would finish the double unders and approach the bar. During the first couple of rounds, I would question my ability to land the snatch before each rep. I missed a few reps and stumbled on others. Later in the WOD, during my brief rest after the double unders, I tried to hype myself up. “You can do this. You’ve already landed 9 reps at this weight. You’ve hit more than you’ve missed. You will hit this rep too.” As soon as I stepped up to the bar, however, doubt started creeping in. “What if I lean onto my toes? It is so heavy. This bar feels heavy.” I pulled the weight and had no idea what to expect. Some I missed, some I landed with a stumble, some I landed perfectly.
Thinking about my performance later, I started to realize some truths about real Confidence. I was trying to answer the question, “How do I step up to a barbell (or any movement) and know that I will reach the goal, know that I wil be successful?” My first discovery was that Confidence is not knowing I will succeed based on prior performance. In other words, I cannot develop confidence by saying to myself, “I’ve done this before, so I can do it now.” That won’t work because every lift, every movement, every effort is its own individual experience. Just because I was successful or unsuccessful in the past does not mean I will or won’t be successful again in the future.
Next, I thought about my ability to will myself into success. If I tell myself enough times that I will be successful, then I should be able to achieve success. This would be the idea of hyping myself up. However, it should be pretty obvious that this won’t work. If I don’t have the strength to snatch 185lbs, then no amount of positive self talk will allow me to suddenly snatch 185lbs. Positive self talk is POWERFUL, but not that powerful.
At this point, I crossed two potential definitions off my list: confidence isn’t hyping myself up, and confidence isn’t looking at past performance. The bottom line is that I have no control over what is going to happen once I start the movement. The only control I have is over what I choose to do to prepare myself to be successful. We prepare for success through hours of skills and drills. If I know what I need to do to be successful, then I know the individual pieces I need to practice. Perfect practice makes perfect performance.
Therefore, confidence isn’t hyping myself up. Confidence isn’t baising future performance on past performance. Confidence isn’t trying to tell myself that I know I will be successful. Confidence is doing what is necessary in preparation so that when the time comes I know that I have done enough to be successful.