What is athlete self confidence and how can it be fostered?

If you had all the confidence in the world – then imagine what you could do? Imagine what you could achieve. Imagine what you would DO. So why then do some athletes have a higher self confidence than others? Why can some athletes push themselves to exhaustion, to near failure, to the depths.. While others take the other road? Some would say the ‘easier’ road? It all comes down to self belief, and the self confidence that comes with that.

No one would argue that self-confidence is the cornerstone of all great sporting performances. But self confidence is made up from both self belief AND evidence (ie proof). We all have varying levels of self belief, but the level of self belief in athletes can vary widely. So to improve an athletes self confidence, we look at an athletes self belief and marry that up with EVIDENCE so they can improve their self confidence. As soon as you do that – PERFORMANCE will improve.

Self Confidence = Self belief X Evidence

Self belief on it’s own is hard to change. It is an athletes core beliefs, their values, their character. Ultimately it is who they are as a person and how they feel about themselves. This is established from a young age. The environment and early experiences shaped our individual belief systems.

So athletes with strong self belief often require little evidence to create self-confidence. They have an innate belief that they can do anything, achieve anything and can perform when needed. They believe that they can achieve the goal they set out for regardless of what they hear, what others say, and any other obstacles that may be impeeding their way.

Whereas athletes who lack self-belief require more evidence to prove to themselves that they can. They require ‘evidence’ from their preparation, or even past performance to BELIEVE before they actual do perform to their full potential.

I had an athlete who over the last season (maybe longer) starting doubting her ability. She would train consistently, hit great numbers in training, but come race day, was falling short of what she was capable of. She didn’t believe that she could race to a certain level – to a certain power number, or hit a pace target we set. And having those targets were actually causing anxiety around trying to hit them. So to begin with, we took away the expectations, to lower the pressure she put on herself. But that in itself didn’t help. So another change was needed. She needed a shift in her mindset….

So this season she has taken a step back from racing, to take away the pressure, and the feelings that were coming along with that and so in the background, we could work on mindset. So to do this, I started working again on the EVIDENCE for her. Without her necessarily realising, I wanted to create more evidence (proof) for her that she was capable. That she could achieve. So I set about writing a program for her that would allow her to SEE that evidence. We had repeatable, progressing sessions over weeks and months. Ones that she could see and ultimately feel the improvements. I’ve been throwing challenges at her in other ways, including virtual races. But NO expectations. To simply go out and RACE.

Well she had a breakthrough race last weekend: “I’ve got my belief back that I can push myself on the bike… a lot of that comes down to you. Thanks!”

It did not matter at all where she came in the race (although as a side note she came 1st) 😉 what mattered is she believed in her ability. She believed she could push herself. Because the EVIDENCE was there. The numbers, the data – it was all SHOWING her she could. So her CONFIDENCE in her own ability increased to a point here she was able to perform the way I knew she could… 🙂

THIS was a very proud Coach moment. As it was an area of my coaching that I have been developing and working on. Coaching isn’t simply about developing the best training plan, the best periodised programs, or the ultimate individual sessions. Of course, that is all part of the process. But a Coaching environment should be about developing real self confidence. Genuine, resilient self-confidence, which, when pushed (like in a race scenario) can withstand the pain, the pressure and the fatigue of both the training preparation and the race performance. As a Coach, we CAN improve an athletes self confidence, through the high performing culture we foster.

So – as an athlete, if you feel you lack self confidence, maybe you just need to right environment to shift that. Feel free to reach out if you want to learn more..

Athlete in Profile: Rachael Dols

New to triathlon, but not new to hard work. Growing up a high level swimmer, she has turned her sights to triathlon and set herself some big goals and ready for the challenge. But when she’s not training, you will find her hanging with her family, cuddling dogs, camping – and is never too far away from water!

Name: Rachael Dols

Nickname: Dolsy, very original!

Age / Age Group: 25-29

Lives: Watsons Creek, Vic

Targeted Sport: Triathlon

Years in the Sport: 2

How did you get started: I grew up playing/ doing sports pretty much every day. I swam competitively through high school, my poor, amazing, mum would drag me to training 8 times a week before and after school, she would take me to races on the weekends and I was also playing basketball. When I left school I moved to Alice Springs to work and did very little sport due to my job, just the odd run or swim here and there. When I came back to Victoria I missed sport, I’d never been out of that competitive sporting lifestyle for that long and I needed it again to be honest. So I took up long distance running. This naïve swimmer didn’t understand the impact running has on your body and thought she could just run and run and run. (Overuse injuries aren’t that common in swimming.) So I quickly over-trained and within 6 months I had a femoral neck stress reaction after my first half marathon. Obviously this halted running for a while. The physio I was seeing had competed at Kona and he said your already swimming and running, why don’t you add a bike in and start triathlons. I honestly didn’t know what I was missing out on and I wish I started triathlon years ago! !

Why I choose CPC: I’ve been looking for a professional coach for a while. I want to take triathlon to the next level, and while winging it is great in theory, it’s not really practical. Suffering overuse injuries and getting sick before races has made me realise if I want to take triathlon to the next level I can’t do it alone. I asked around and was directed to a few coaches, but I decided on CPC with Sarah. I think you need a coach that has been there, done that and that you can relate to. Someone who has started off with similar experiences and excelled past that to a really high level in the sport, that’s the person I want to learn from. Also the added benefit of understanding us females helps! I’m excited to learn and develop with CPC and get to that next level!

What I ‘get’ from my sport: It keeps me sane, when life and reality can be pretty stressful, it gives me an escape. When you are racing and doing hard training sessions you are completely immersed and “in the moment”, there’s no time to think or focus on the past or future, it’s a way of meditation. It gives me goals and a sense of accomplishment. When you can go to races and talk to almost anyone because you all have a common interest, it’s pretty awesome!

Ultimate Goal:  There are a few! 🙂
Qualifying for ITU Age Group Worlds.
Finish an Ironman 140.6
Rottnest Channel Swim and I recently discovered Ultraman, so that too! ;-p

What I couldn’t live without: My family, dogs included. Activewear. Sunshine.

Biggest love: Summer, camping and water!

Pet peeve!: When someone wants to have a conversation first thing in the morning. Terrible time to ask me how I am, you definitely need to wait until I’ve eaten my breakfast before that 😂

Interesting fact about me: I used to take tourists on multi day 4×4 camping tours in the desert.

Socials: Feel free to follow me – Instagram

Athlete in Profile: Suzanna Barry

Introduced to running a few years ago, Suzanna quickly fell in love with the joy of running and how it made her feel. She’s met a whole new community of positive people, and in the process created her own running community ‘Running Sisters’. But her biggest love? Read on to find out !

Name: Suzanna Barry

Nickname: I don’t really have one. A couple of people call me Suze and I don’t mind that!

Age / Age Group: 50-54

Lives: Echuca

Targeted Sport: Running

Years in the Sport: About 5

How did you get started: My introduction to running was training for Run Melbourne in 2015 as part of Echuca’s Johnno’s Run team. I’d never ran before so I was pretty happy to make the distance after 6 months of training. After this I ran on and off for a few years, and ran the 10kms in Melb and the Gold Coast in 2019. Last year during COVID I trained with my sister, over a few months, to run (and walk) 21kms, something I never thought I would do.

Why I choose CPC: I’ve been in awe of the achievements of some local Echuca Moama athletes that Sarah coaches. When I heard Sarah had moved to Echuca I saw this as a great opportunity to get some help with my running technique and become a stronger runner. I reached out to Sarah and became her first new client in Echuca. 🙂

What I ‘get’ from my sport: Running is a great way to challenge myself and to improve my health and wellbeing. I particularly enjoy running with my sister. We never run out of things to chat about. Through running I’ve met a whole new community of positive people. The social connection has been a real highlight. I’ve also pushed my personal limits and confirmed a favourite quote of Janine Shepherd’s ‘if you never have a go, you never never know’. Prior to meeting Sarah my routine had mainly been to run 5kms, 2 or 3 times a week. Now I love the variety of the CPC training plans.

Ultimate Goal: To run 5kms under 30 mins and to run a half marathon at an international event just for fun.

What I couldn’t live without: My family including 8 month old grand-baby Will

Biggest love: Vietnam! (I’d love to live there at some stage for 3 or 6 months)

Pet peeve!: Forgetting to hit the start button on the Garmin

Interesting fact about me: I established the Running Sisters social media series to inspire others to discover the joy of running. I’ve been inspired too, after interviewing so many driven, strong and amazing women.

Socials: Running Sisters: Facebook Instagram

Athlete in Profile: Louise Organ

An off-road junkie, you will find Louise searching for new trails or mountains to explore – both on two feet and two wheels. Not shy of getting her dirty outdoors, but the same can’t be said at home… don’t date leave your dishes in the sink! 😉

Name: Louise Organ

Nickname: Don’t have one! (maybe that is a sign for us to make one for you?!) 😉

Age / Age Group: 30-39

Lives: Melbourne

Targeted Sport: Running (mostly trail) and cycling (again mostly gravel and cyclocross based adventures!).

Years in the Sport: 10years running and maybe 6years on the bike?

How did you get started: I moved to Melbourne for uni and had to stop competitive horse riding so took up running to fill the gap. This evolved during uni to join the aths club, then my husband who was a cyclist got me a basic road bike and I decided to try triathlon.
In 2017 though, I moved to the UK, and got much more involved in the running scene, and started fell running (its a British thing in the mountains) and trails, looking to develop in thr long distance/ultra space. I also started racing cyclocross and doing more gravel based cycling events, both of which I have wanted to keep up back in Australia. I don’t really see myself going back to triathlon but who knows!

Why I choose CPC: As someone who has really burned themselves out training, it was important to me to have a coach who looked at a more holistic approach and balancing training into our lifestyle, and supporting hormones, health and happiness.

What I ‘get’ from my sport: I love the challenge that comes from pushing myself in long distance running and finding mental resilience and exploring my ‘edges’ – getting up a big mountain when you are already well into the race. I also love exploring the locations and amazing places these events take me – cycling through Forrest’s in Europe, climbing Mt Buller -its awesome to see some untouched areas of the world !

Ultimate Goal: I am still wanting to work up to longer distance Ultras and would love to do a 100km event and maybe a multistage event in the mountains.

What I couldn’t live without: Coffee and eggs/cheese – the basics to any good meal!

Biggest love: My husband and little French bulldog

Pet peeve!: I am a bit of clean freak – so anything like dishes in the sink can annoy me

Interesting fact about me: I played violin for a long time, and I was orchestra captain at school. 🙂

Athlete in Profile: Janine Coppi

A long distance runner, that credits her training to an improved physical and mental health. She was one of the first in Australia to be struck with COVID 19 and is now on a mission back to health and her big running goals! Ultra anyone?! 😉

Name: Janine Coppi

Nickname: JC or J9

Age / Age Group: 35-40

Lives: Manly Vale, NSW

Targeted Sport: Long distance running

Years in the Sport: 10 years

How did you get started: It was a new years resolution with a couple of friends to run the Great Ocean Road Half Marathon that started it all. After that race I was hooked, joined a running club and did a few more Half Marathon events, then was encouraged by my coach at the time to sign up for my first marathon – City to Surf Marathon in Perth!

Why I choose CPC: I experienced training with Coach Sarah at a couple of other clubs when I started competing in Triathlon and found her to be very knowledgeable and have always enjoyed her coaching style in the past. So when I decided to get a coach to help with my running my first thought was CPC.

What I ‘get’ from my sport: I like the structure of training for an event and having a purpose for every day (to train, to rest, to stretch etc). It improves my physical and mental health to no end and gives me a goal and something to look forward to!

Ultimate Goal: One day I would like to complete a 100 plus Ultra marathon race and it would be great to tick a full Iron Man off the list eventually too. 🙂

What I couldn’t live without: Coffee !

Biggest love: Travel

Pet peeve!: When people speed up to overtake then go slow again in front of you (applies to cycling, running and driving)

Interesting fact about me: I was one of the first people in Australia to have Covid 19 (unfortunately)


Athlete in Profile: Elise Fookes

Fun and freedom on the bike (oh and puppies!) are what she loves, but want a competition, then self professed competitive person Elise will be up to the challenge!

Name: Elise Fookes

Nickname: Someone needs to make one up for me !

Age / Age Group: 30-34

Lives: Melbourne

Targeted Sport: Cycling, but also dabbling in a little bit of triathlon occasionally

Years in the Sport: Around 5 years for cycling. Maybe 4 for triathlon but I’ve also just had a 3 year hiatus from tri racing thanks to injuries and uni studies! Oh, and COVID cancelling everything last year.

How did you get started: I used to play somewhat competitive basketball, but after work and uni studies got in the way of training I found the bike for fun and fitness, and haven’t looked back! Some of my friends had recently bought road bikes, then naturally I took it to a more obsessive and competitive level 🤷‍♀️

Why I choose CPC: I can’t organise myself 😂 but really I love the approach of fitting training around work/life, and having a more flexible approach to a training program.

What I ‘get’ from my sport: I’ve always loved challenging myself through different sports. And I’ve met heaps of people through cycling and triathlon, it’s just fun to be part of a supportive crew with a common interest!

Ultimate Goal: To have fun and try to stay injury free! I’ve got some smaller more specific bike and tri goals, but I think I’ll keep them secret for now 🤫

What I couldn’t live without: Bikes and puppies. I’m a simple person.

Biggest love: My dog (Kobe) and cat (Finn) 😂

Pet peeve!: People who can’t accept a female might ride faster than them, so they need to play the good old game of leapfrog 🙄

Interesting fact about me: I can turn basically anything into a competition. Or in to a conversation about dogs. Try me.

Socials: Instagram