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How to be more confident

In both sport and life, we’ve been told that confidence is key. When I was an athlete I can remember my coach constantly telling our team to be more confident. Telling us to be more confident in our team, in our skills and in ourselves. As lifters, you may have had the same experience. Being told by coaches or fellow lifters that if you were more confident then you’d be a better lifter. But the problem with this advice is that it simply points out the obvious, but how can we actually improve our confidence?

Luckily, people way smarter than me have looked at what impacts our confidence and what we can do about it. Robin Vealey and colleagues researched and created a model that outlines the different sources of confidence an athlete has. It’s important to know that factors that have a big impact on your confidence may be different from a fellow lifter. This is simply because we are not the same, we are unique as individuals, which means factors that we value for our confidence will differ.

The several sources of confidence are:

  • Mastery Experiences

  • Watched Experiences

  • Physical and Mental Preparation

  • Coach’s Leadership

  • Social Support

  • Luck

  • Demonstration of Ability

  • Environmental Comfort

As there are quite a lot of these, I’ll address a few of these and give examples of how you can make use of them to help improve your confidence.

One of the common sources of confidence are Mastery Experiences. In layman’s terms, these are just past experiences where you have mastered or progressed in the execution of a skill or performance. For example, deadlifting at RPE 8 with a neutral spine, or squatting 100kg with your heels staying in contact with the ground throughout the whole movement. These experiences where we have performed and executed well can help us believe we have the ability to succeed in our task. What we can do to make the most out of this powerful source is to have a collection of our best moments. These moments are there to remind us of times where we have mastered a skill and performed at our best; such as clips of PB’s and moments where we have squatted with near perfect technique.

Another source of confidence is Watched Experiences. This suggests we can experience an increase in confidence simply by watching others performing well. More specifically, those similar to us or those we connect with. For example, watching your friends compete in the British and seeing them get 9 for 9 in their lifts. Seeing them succeed makes you feel like you can succeed in your own performance endeavors. What we can do to make use of this source is allow ourselves to watch other people’s training and performance successes. This can simply be through watching other people’s PBs or being in a training group and hearing about your fellow training partners progress.

Social Support refers to the view that you have people around you who are available to provide some level of support to you when you compete/train. This could be viewing you have other lifters who can provide encouragement or having a coach who’s available to give you words of wisdom and reassurance. Viewing that you have a network of people around you that are there to support you can positively influence your confidence. I’d recommend taking the time to write a list of the people around you that can provide you support. Note down who is in your life and what kind of support they provide. This can be used to remind you that you’re not alone when performing.

Physical and Mental Preparation is the degree the lifter feels physical and mentally ready/focused to perform. Quite self explanatory. Put simply, are you ready to execute the lift. For those who find this important for their confidence, such as myself, I’d recommend engaging in a pre-performance routine. These are structured ways of thinking and acting that you engage in before executing a lift. This can be visualising the task ahead and performing it successfully or it can be slapping your knees and shouting “LET’S GO!”. These routines can be unique to you, but what’s key is adding structure leading up to your lift to help you feel confident.

Finally, we have Physical Presentation. This source is focused on how you physically look. Essentially, if I look good I feel confident. A simple example of that is wearing a singlet when performing. If you’ve bought a singlet that makes you feel like you look good, then you may experience an increase in confidence. To address this you could buy certain training or competition gear that makes you feel physically good. For example, buying those lifting shoes you’ve had your eyes on for a while.


  • Take the time to consider which of these sources of confidence play a large role in your level of confidence when training or competing.

  • Keep a collection of both your PBs and lifts where your technique was great.

  • Note down who is in your social circle and what support they bring to you.

  • Allow yourself to view other people’s successes.

For more psychology tips and tricks, make sure to visit

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