Imagine two boxers waiting in their corners for the boxing match to begin.

The bell rings. The nervousness is noticeable on both boxers, as they shake their legs and arms. They meet at the center and hit their gloves as a salute. They start to fight. After a short while the other boxer gets to make a good hit. ”Yeah.”, he thinks. Only after a dozen seconds he’s able to deliver another heavy punch. A heavy left right into the upper stomach. ”There!” He immediately noticed how the opponent was visibly stumbling for a short moment. ”Now he’s in trouble! YEAH!” And now the boxer is chasing. He’s chasing the opponent -and the big hit- to end the match. He delivers a couple of good punches again. ”BAM!” He feels like he has all the energy in the world. He feels his whole body is acting effortlessly and without hesitation. He sees a number of opportunities for the final hit. ”I’m going to put this guy down! NOW HE’S GOING TO LOSE!” 

If you picture yourself in a context of your sport doing repeatedly successful things, you’ll notice how much your confidence is rising. Just like after each successful punch, the boxer’s confidence level rose higher and higher. Punch after punch. The boxer believed that he’s going to win. Even more precisely, the boxer not only believed, but knew he’s going to win. It was the inevitable, absolute truth for him at that time. The uncertainty and nervousness had left his body without leaving a trace. He was in a perfect flow.

So I ask you, would it be good if the boxer had that level of confidence already before the bell rang?

Building on success is obviously relatively easy and natural. Nothing wrong with that. But during a game, if you need some successes in the beginning to convince yourself, it might be too late. Perhaps you have only one try. Or only few minutes. Or only just few seconds. So I ask again: why wait for it? Why not now? The fact is that we don’t know in advance who is going to be the winner. That’s because the game will end in the future, and it hasn’t happened, yet. Even the boxer when he absolutely knew he’s going to win, it was not an universal truth. But surely it made him perform totally in a different way, with no hesitation. It was a belief.

Understanding the nature of beliefs

It’s extremely useful, sometimes even crucial, for an athlete to have beliefs and values that support his game.  I’m sure you have encounters where the athlete’s own beliefs were not purposeful. (”I’m not going to make it…”) Surely sometimes such athletes may surprise themselves and perform really well. To me, that’s bad planning. Wouldn’t it be so much better to believe in yourself to start with? Perhaps you could have pushed even harder, as you just knew that you can do it. However, it’s good to understand that a belief itself, without a supporting value, creates only very little action. For example, if winning is not a value for the boxer, believing that he can win doesn’t do too much.

When creating a  winning mindset we can examine different mental characteristics. In the light of this article, we focus on the beliefs. So the question is: How to find out damaging beliefs and change them into something more purposeful?

People are experts in maintaining and protecting their own beliefs and not to change them. And yes, we do it very effectively; we easily notice the events if they support our exiting beliefs. We also dismiss the evidence if they are not supporting our beliefs. So in a way, our internal beliefs are self supported. The more you believe something, the more you see evidence that it’s true. Fascinating, isn’t it?

The self-supportive structure of beliefs is the reason why it’s so important to understand and study our beliefs and…wake up! As you might have guessed, the beliefs are mostly unconscious.

Just try this yourself

Now, as starting point, complete the sentences just to see what you think about..things.

  • The fact that I’m doing this sport means…
  • People who compete in this sport are…
  • If I’m under heavy pressure I…
  • During the game I…
  • When I make a mistake I…
  • And last one (This is my favorite): Life is…

Did you notice anything that isn’t really good for you? Would you teach your sentences to your children? Are all the sentences purposeful and supporting you? If yes, congratulations! If you found some limiting beliefs about yourself, a good starting point is to understand that it’s not actually a fact, but a belief.

Changing the athletes limiting beliefs and boosting up the good ones is one part of mental coaching I do. And as you can now understand, such changes are very powerful and effective. Luckily, the change process is easy and fast.

So what does this all mean?

The fact is that we see the world through our own lenses. The way we see the world, how we behave, and what we think we should do, is, for one, based on our own beliefs and values. Your brain is always looking for the proof of your own beliefs in all situations. And it finds the proof. Yes. Forget objectivity. Your brain finds the proof.

Even if it’s not there.

So what does that mean to you? What should you believe?