Self-Image and Performance

The difference between an athlete who is good and one that is amazing may be as simple as their self-image.

What is self image anyways…

Self-image is the idea one has of one’s ability. The tricky part is that self-image is based on one’s perception of one’s ability NOT reality. So when our perception becomes inaccurate based on a number of different factors, we see performances that don’t match up.

So what can hurt one’s self-image?

Any number of things such as focusing on the outcome (winning or losing), injury, self-doubt, believing inaccurate feedback, disappointment or failure in other areas of life can bleed into everything we do.

I remember losing one particular running race. It was sectionals and I was undefeated up to this point. I finished the race fourth and I was devastated that I didn’t win. I was so embarrassed by this loss that I avoided any thought or talk related to this race. It affected my performance at state and while I still got a medal, my performance was below my ability. It wasn’t until more than 20 years later that I looked up this race to see how poorly I had actually run. To my surprise, my time was really good on a difficult course, 17:30 for a 5K girls varsity race. This was nothing to be ashamed of, yet it haunted me continuously and led to much self-doubt and failure over the years; and eventually, I quit running all together thinking I never had any talent to begin with.

To this day I regret my lack of insight into how to evaluate each performance. Had I realistically and objectively looked at my performance more than finishing 1st, I would have seen that my performance was on target and right at my ability. It was only after my change in perception from this race that I actually started to run slower times. Had I maintained a healthy self-image, my performances might have continued to match my actual ability and my enjoyment of running would have continued.

I love working with athletes so they don’t fall into the same unhealthy patterns I unknowing fell into. I love to see athletes perform at their best consistently and without all the mental struggles that are common among athletes.

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