I have explored in an earlier blog my thoughts around what it means to be competitive, and one of my 10 key qualities in this is our ability to demonstrate body language that shows confidence, fight, and a 'I can handle anything you throw at me' attitude. Let's just look a little further into this.
As coaches we talk so often about the importance of body language on court and for good reason. We know that thoughts (self talk) move our feelings (emotions/ attitude), and feelings move our behaviour (actions/performance), but it's also important to recognise that this works in reverse as well, so when we act out the appropriate behaviour, we can in turn move our attitude and thinking.
So in this, we need to develop great 'acting ability' as performers. Great actors get us to 'buy' in with our emotions, because the emotions they display are real. There is a direct physiological response to a well acted out behaviour. Therefore, acting out body language that shows confidence, fight and a 'I can handle anything you throw at me' attitude will in turn engender those feelings and thoughts. Walking tall, shoulders back, a clench of the fist or slap of the thigh – these are simple tools to help get those competitive juices flowing, especially on a day when they are not coming naturally.
The best performers, those who meet their own expectations under pressure, are also the best actors. They are so in touch with their own emotions and feelings that they know just when to increase or decrease arousal levels. I would suggest that more often or not this is achieved through well acted out behaviours - body language and breathing being critical in this.
Of course this is not just an 'on the sports field' deal. We can use this day in day out to help lift our attitudes and spirits on days when, well, we just don't feel like it...