Don’t get me wrong, confidence is a Mountain Bikers' gold.
It’s incredibly valuable, and it enriches your experience out there, but it can also be very elusive. Often when we’re broke and in need out on the trail, we can't seem to find anymore.
But what if we’re digging for the wrong thing?
You see, Confidence comes only after you’ve done something. It’s knowledge or skills that are gained through experience. Over time and repetition, we learn to trust these skills, and that is confidence. Trust in skills you already have.
So when you’re eyeing off a rock slab or a drop that you’ve never ridden before, it’s any wonder you feel a lack of confidence.
No matter how deep you dig, you’re not going to find any added confidence, because you do not yet have a reference point to draw on.
In reality, what you actually need is Belief. Belief is what's required to ride something new. When you have self-belief, you create energy that leads to action.
Even if you know deep down that you possess enough skill and adaptability to ride a new feature successfully, a lack of Self Belief will let doubt and fear take over your conscious mind, preventing you from accessing these skills stored in your subconscious mind.
So how do we build Self Belief?
We adopt the ‘Can Do’ Mindset. We consciously change our thoughts from what could go wrong to how can I make this go right?
Maybe you go away and ride some similar lines that you’ve ridden before and feel more confident riding, even if they’re less technical. Then you make an effort to think about how you can use these skills and experiences to ride the new feature. Think of this as one mental rep.
To increase self-belief, we need to be performing dozens, even 100’s of reps every time we ride. I can do this. I am doing that. Even when things don’t go exactly to plan, it’s ‘how can I do that better next time? Where can I improve?’
This is the Can Do mindset and it’s the most important factor in building self-belief among Mountain Bikers.
But here’s the catch, and thing point people often miss. This sense of belief has to be connected to something. It’s often connected to a teacher, a system, what a riding buddy taught us, etc. But as soon as we remove that thing - WOOSH - our self-belief disappears.
We might have great self-belief when we’re out there with an instructor we trust, but if they don’t teach us to connect that belief to ourselves, it will fade as soon as we leave the lesson and head out on our own.
Maybe our self-belief is connected entirely to our $10, 000 bike. We BELEIVE that we’re good at slowing down because we have the best brakes in the world, well what happens when our levers feel ever so slightly spongy? Bam, all sense of self-belief is gone.
You never learned to trust yourself and your inherent skill, you conditioned yourself to believe in an external situation or thing.
Instead, Self Belief needs to be attached to the self.
If we learn to build self-belief, in ourselves, it can never leave us.
Again, this is achieved by making a conscious effort to change the way we think. Use proactive self-talk to change statements connected to others. Instead of, ‘I ride great when I’m with my coach/friend/hubby’, it’s ‘I’m riding great today’. After all, your coach isn't riding it for you, you are. The more ‘additive’ can-do thoughts we layer on top of one another, the more energy we create that leads to action. Action leads to experiences. And positive experiences lead to more self-belief, and in the process, greater confidence.
Over time, you will condition your mind to inherently act out the habit of using a Can Do mindset, believing in yourself. This allows you to trust in the skills you already have, free of the clouds caused by doubt and fear. Hello Confidence.