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Confidence and Winning

by Tim Laskis, PhD

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Cooper Webb has shown he can win in the 450 class no matter what the circumstances. He has less experience compared to most of his competitors, yet he has found a way to get on top of the podium. How did this start?  How does confidence play a part in all of this?

Let’s break it down.

It’s almost like the chicken or the egg scenario. Which comes first? Do you need to win to prove you can win and then suddenly become confident to win again? Or, do you need to have the confidence to make it happen before you ever see the podium?

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If a rider trains hard but never truly believes in himself, he most likely will always find himself far away from a podium position. He will struggle and not put himself in positions to win. He will feel that nothing he does matters and will not put in that extra effort to do well. Then after each race in which he finished poorly his idea of self is only validated. He will see his bad results as proof that he doesn’t belong with the front runners. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand if a rider feels strongly that he belongs up front even when he has never done it, he will look for ways to make it happen. He will put in the extra effort believing that it will make a difference. He never gives up and keeps on believing regardless of his results. Finishing mid pack does not change his mind that he belongs up front. This means he will train harder and keep at it until he reaches the podium.

Once he does win or finish in the top three, his confidence is reinforced. Then he becomes even more consistent at doing well. His confidence now becomes so solid that nothing can shake his belief in himself and his abilities.

Regardless of your finish at a race, never allow that to define you as a rider. It does not matter so much if you finished 1st or 10th when it comes to YOU as a rider.

More than likely the later was the case with Webb. In a January 2018 Racer X interview with Webb, he admitted that injuries and low confidence were hurting his results. However, the 2019 Supercross season started out much differently. He was injury free with an off the charts level of confidence coming into the season.

Here are four tips for developing confidence

  1. Honestly analyze your level of confidence as a racer

    Too often we overlook our own struggles and level of confidence. We try to put on a show for others and ignore what is really going on inside our heads. This is what I recommend. Take out a sheet of paper and write down your level of confidence on a scale from 0 to 5. Zero means absolutely no confidence to five being the highest level. Next write out why you believe it is at that number. If for example it’s a 3, what makes it a 3? What areas of your training or racing do you struggle with? Go through a list of areas to include conditioning, bike skills, starts, long moto’s, triple jumps, whoops etc. Before you know it you will have a realistic picture of where your struggles are based on your confidence. Then, begin to work on those areas and your confidence will increase.

  2. Stop self-doubt and negativity quickly

    Self-doubt and negativity is like a virus, it can spread easily and really bring you down. If you find yourself thinking bad thoughts about your abilities, your bike or the track, stop it quickly. Being aware of your mood can help you have a better day and improve your results. The more you let it linger in your mind the more it will take hold and possibly ruin your entire day. First recognize that you are doing it and then shift your thoughts to something else. Think about something not related and upbeat.

  3. Focus on positive thoughts

    Just as self-imposed negativity can bring you down, negative energy from others can also impact you. Have you ever been around someone who was having a bad day at the track? All they do is blame everyone and everything. If you hang around that person too long you risk bringing yourself down too. It’s very easy to fall victim to this so I recommend that you stay away from them. Don’t try to correct them. Just stay away. Walk away and limit your contact with that person. That way you are limiting the chances that their mindset and negativity impacts you and you’re confidence.

  4. Never allow poor results to define you as a rider

    Regardless of your struggles with the track, other riders or equipment, always turn it around and focus on the positive aspect of the situation or day. For example, take a quick notice of how you need to improve in a certain section, set a plan and move away from it in your mind. Stay positive and make positive self-statements. For example, after a poor start, analyze what happened, come up with a plan to improve and stay positive about the situation. Tell yourself “I got this.” Or, “I will figure this out.” This way you don’t get stuck on your struggles and limit it from bringing down your whole day.

    Too often riders cross their fingers that everything goes right on race day. If so, they will perform well. If not, they throw their hands up, get upset and start telling themselves how much of a goon they are. When this happens you go from being in control to out of control. Regardless of what happens, you have to always stay positive. This gives you and your team the best chance of success.

    Regardless of your finish at a race, never allow that to define you as a rider. It does not matter so much if you finished 1st or 10th when it comes to YOU as a rider. Things happen on race day, some that are in your control and other things that are not. The most important thing is what you LEARNED from that event.

    What did you take away from the race? Where were you fast and where did you struggle? Take that information and apply it during the weekly training sessions to improve. Everything you do while training is measured on race day. The race is just a gauge of how well you are improving and nothing else.

    If you only focus on being a bad rider by finishing outside the top 10, you will continue to have similar results. But, if you rid your mind of how you feel and stay with what you can learn, you will have a clear idea of what to do to improve. It’s that simple.

All of this will keep your confidence up and help you to improve each week! And, who knows, you just might be the next Cooper Webb.

Best of luck out there and let me know if you have any questions.

About the Author: Tim Laskis holds a masters and doctoral degree in clinical psychology from The California School of Professional Psychology. He also graduated with honors from Rutgers University with a bachelors in psychology. In addition to his work as a clinical psychologist, podcast host, professor and author, he works as a Motocross Mental Performance Coach at ClubMX. Since 2014 he has worked with amateur and top pro riders on factory teams in the 250 and 450 classes. He offers individual and group mental performance coaching sessions. Have a question? Email Tim.

Tim developed a NEW online Motocross Mental Performance Coach Certificate Course. This is designed for riding coaches, fitness trainers and parents of riders who want to develop a new arsenal of skills to help their riders reach their goals. Take his free Intro course today! Click here

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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Discussion

  1. Gravatar
    Gary Semics March 01, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Well said Tim. The mind is the limit!

  2. Gravatar
    Tim Laskis March 05, 2019 at 12:42 am

    Thanks Gary! I appreciate it.

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