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Finish First Insider, Issue #40
January 09, 2009
Welcome Back

HAPPY 2009!

Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.


Increased Self-Confidence for Better Performance

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Listen to an interview of an elite athlete after a successful competition and you will almost never hear him/her say that they were completely shocked or surprised at their success. It is very unlikely that the athlete will say that victory was never expected. Instead, you will usually hear that the athlete was confident about his/her skills and that he/she was well prepared for the opponent.

So, what does this mean?

This means that the successful athlete had a specific level of self-confidence before the competition. And, research has proven, over and over again, that athletes with optimal levels of self-confidence are more successful.

What is self confidence?

According to the textbook Advances in Sport Psychology (3rd Ed, Horn, p.66), “self confidence is the belief that one has the internal resources, particularly abilities, to achieve success.” Self-confidence consists of physical skills, resilience, and cognitive efficiency. (Horn, p. 82)

Research has shown that different types of confidence relate differently to athletes’ performance. A study done in 2002 with elite swimmers found that physical skills were a strong predictor of success early in the competitive season (after pre-season physical preparation), while resilience and cognitive efficiency were stronger predictors of success later in the competitive season. (Horn, p. 82)

Researchers also found that self-confidence is a crucial component in mental toughness. International-level elite athletes identified self-confidence as the most critical mental skill in defining mental toughness…U.S. Olympic champions, their coaches, and parents,…,identified self-confidence as a key mental skill in successful performance at the elite level. U.S. Olympic coaches indentified self-confidence as an important influence on their athletes’ performance at the Olympic Games, and junior tennis coaches rated self-confidence as an important mental skill for young tennis players. (Horn, p.81)

Another study showed that athletes and coaches believe that self-confidence is significantly related to performance, and it is a key discriminator between successful and less successful athletes. (Horn, p. 81)

Unlike most keys to success in sports, self-confidence is fragile. Too little will result in less success AND too much will result in less success. An athlete needs to have an optimal level for optimal success.

According to Mia Hamm, “the thing about confidence I don’t think people understand, is it’s a day to day issue. It takes constant nurturing. It’s not something you go in and turn on the light switch and say, ‘I’m confident,’ and it stays on until the bulb burns out.” (Horn, p. 66)

So, what does it mean to have optimal self-confidence?

All experts agree that optimal self-confidence is attained through proper sports preparation (I don’t like inserting shameless plugs, but remember, the mission of Finish First Sports Performance is to PREPARE athletes to perform their best when it matters most!).

Preparation is critical to nurturing optimal self-confidence.

Optimally confident athletes are competent and prepared. They have all the necessary physical and mental skills to achieve their realistic goals. They develop competence by being well-conditioned, mastering their sport’s fundamentals, developing and executing effective strategies to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, and excelling at the mental skills necessary to create and maintain a flow mind-set. Optimally confident athletes play within themselves: They feel successful when they perform at the upper limits of their current capabilities but don’t worry about achieving goals that are unrealistic for them.

Optimally confident athletes are also well prepared. The conditioning that athletes do to improve their flexibility, agility, speed, strength, power, endurance, and cardiovascular ability should improve their capabilities and prepare them to execute skills and strategies successfully in competition. Moreover, the harder they work in practice to develop and automate skills and accomplish performance objectives, the more prepared they should feel for important competitions. Athletes can’t fool themselves. If they haven’t done the preparation, their confidence will fluctuate and often plummet when they can least afford it.

Confidence in the clutch requires that athletes pay the price in the off season, in the weight room, and on the practice field or court, preparing sufficiently to create an optimal level of confidence. (Sport Psychology for Coaches, p. 189-90)

As a reciprocal effect, self-confidence also motivates athletes to work harder. An elite athlete explained “when I feel confident, it just drives me on more and makes me try harder, raises my game and the intensity of my effort and preparation.” (Horn, p. 84)

Take a careful inventory of your self-confidence. Are you optimally confident? Or, are you setting yourself up for less than optimal performance? The expert sport psychologists all agree that through proper preparation, optimal self-confidence can be achieved, resulting in optimal performance in sports.

What are you doing to optimally prepare?

While there are many ways to become more self-confident, the intent of this article is to emphasize the relationship between self-confidence and success in sports. Self-confidence is an element of mental preparation, which can be cultivated through proper physical and technical/tactical preparation (for more on this, check out some of the past newsletter issues). Future newsletter issues will address techniques and strategies for improving self-confidence.


Tackle Germs This Season with Immune-Boosting Antioxidants

By Heather R Mangieri, MS, RD, LDN Finish First Sports Performance Sports Nutrition Advisor

Trying to stay healthy during the winter months can be challenging. Good hand washing, avoiding those that are sick, and spraying the house down with disinfectant will help, but at some point you are bound to come into contact with germs that might cause a cold or flu. Rather than relying on washing, avoiding, or spraying germs away, prepare your body to handle them with a diet rich in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other chemical compounds that protect the body from harmful, excess free radicals, stopping them in their tracks before they can cause damage. Not only are these substances helpful in the prevention of heart disease and cancers, but they also help to keep your eyes, mind and immune system sharp. The best way to obtain an antioxidant-rich diet is through a combination of whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

Try adding a few of these power foods to your daily regimen to keep your defense strong.

Tea- whether you choose green tea or black tea, recent studies show that both are beneficial. The catechins in green tea are oxidized in the manufacturing process of black tea, forming free-radical fighting theaflavins.

Flaxseed- easy to add into shakes and smoothies, this power food contains lignans, compounds converted into biologically active phytoestrogens. Some early evidence shows some positive effects on reducing blood pressure and fighting cancer.

Tomatoes- full of lycopene and vitamin C, tomatoes can be added to salads, sandwiches or even eaten plain.

Carrots- not only good for the eyes, carrots contain the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene to boost the immune system. Cooked carrots have higher levels of antioxidants than raw carrots.

Berries- these little fruits come out as one of the top antioxidant-packed foods based on their total antioxidant capacity (TAC) per serving.

Walnuts- or any nuts are full of vitamin E and easy to consume. Try adding them to salads, topping fish or eating with dried fruit.

If you can’t get enough antioxidants in your diet by eating fresh produce, consider taking a multivitamin that contains minerals, too. But be cautious about taking individual immune system supplements to boost immunity. With antioxidants, as with most anything, moderation is key. Vitamins A and E, for example, are stored in the body and eliminated slowly. Getting too much can be toxic.


Motivational Sports Quotes

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.
-- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.
-- Henry Ford

Talent alone won't make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: 'Are your ready?'
-- Johnny Carson

Luck favors the mind that is prepared.
-- Louis Pasteur



The Store is Now Open For Business!

Finish First Sports Performance Logo Apparel and Items

T's, Athletic T's, Coffee Mugs, Mouse Pads, Hoodies, Jackets, Hats, Stickers

All for sale online!

Take a look at the logo apparel store.


Good Luck to Miss Pennsylvania

Please join me in wishing Finish First Sports Performance athlete and current Miss Pennsylvania, Ms. Kendria Perry, all the best at the upcoming Miss America pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 24th, 2009.

You can show your support by watching her on the world's stage on TLC. Check your local TV listings for times and specific channel information.

Break a leg, Kendria! (That's how you wish good luck in the pageant world!)



Finish First Sports Performance Becomes the Official Fitness Training Provider of the Miss PA Organization

Yes, it's official.

Finish First Sports Performance is the Fitness Training provider of the Miss Pennsylvania Organization. We are proud to be a part of such a great organization with a history of excellence and look forward to preparing future Miss PA's for their shot at the Miss America crown!


Kick Some A, Tony!

Please help support Finish First Sports Performance athlete, professional MMA fighter, Tony Abbate, at his next fight, January 17, 2009. Tony will be fighting in the King of the Cage, at the Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown, OH. Ticket information can be obtained by calling Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

Break his leg, Tony! (That's how you wish good luck in the MMA world!)


Coming Soon

Finish First Sports Performance Athlete Spotlight: Connor Ford

Finish First Sports Performance Discovery Days
Curious about what we do or what we can do for you? Attend one of our Discovery Day presentations and have all of your questions answered AND learn about preparing for sports success.

Summer Speed and Acceleration Camps

Sports Performance Seminars for Coaches, Parents, and Athletes


ATTENTION: World Headquarters Training Center Under Construction

PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY.

The Finish First Sports Performance world training headquarters is currently under construction. As you know, the headquarters is located in an aged building. As a result, some issues have arisen that needed immediate attention. As I write this, a crew of workers are hard at work trying to remedy the situation. However, there is no guarantee that the issue will be resolved quickly.

We are making every effort to be continue business as usual, with no changes to the hours of operation.

It is important that you call to make sure there are no changes in hours of operation over the next week or two.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience and will notify you of any changes that need to be made.

Thanks for your understanding and patience regarding this issue.


Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at jhoy@finishfirstsports.com. Please visit www.finishfirstsports.com for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance
jhoy@finishfirstsports.com
866-468-2231
412-787-5070

For Finish First Insider backissues #1 - 29, click here

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