Mark’s Musings – Confidence and its impact on our performance



When I first started full-time triathlon coaching some 10 years ago I thought that to be a good coach you had to be a good athlete. Even a World Class athlete to be a really good coach.

And it’s fair to say whilst I have had some reasonable results at age group level and achieved some reasonable results also at running none of my results were really enough to write home about.  I was certainly not an elite or professional standard and never would be.

At that time when I started my coaching business, there was only a handful of coaches and squads in the Brisbane area. And the two biggest squads had coaches that were both ex-elite and very accomplished world-class triathletes and were running successful age group squads.  I was constantly questioning myself and lacking confidence in my coaching ability because I was naively comparing myself to them in a negative way.

My thought process was that these guys were former World class elite athletes and I was just an average age grouper. How could I possibly coach as well as them?  This was further emphasised early on when I had an athlete say to me, “why would I get you to coach me when I go to those guys.”  And who was I to argue?

However deep inside I knew I had the ability to be a very good coach. I had come from a background of coaching in swimming and running plus had spent time teaching at the Police Academy. Although all through those times I still lacked confidence and I definitely think it held me back.

But over time and just by doing my confidence improved. I started to believe in myself more and started to think I could be a good coach.  Coaching on a daily basis, learning from my numerous mistakes and having athletes under my influence achieve results all lead me to have more confidence in my ability.  Familiarity breeds confidence!

I see triathletes of all levels suffer from this lack of confidence. You can see that deep inside they know they can do it but whether it be comparing to others and not just exposing themselves more to uncomfortable situations their confidence never really improves like it should.

On the start line of a race if you’re feeling confident you can guarantee that your race will more often than not go to plan. However, if there is a lack of confidence the negative thoughts can take over the process.  And then it becomes a true battle between the good and the bad.

Start doing, don’t compare and constantly challenge yourself. It’s amazing that such simple actions can have a profound impact on our confidence and then our ability.