Self-belief doesn’t come easily.

In the age of the social “highlight reel” fuelled by filtered Instagram photos and 15-second stories of athletic mastery (that took 115 takes to get right) it’s easy to feel like you suck. In fact, even though social media has provided a platform for people to celebrate their bodies, develop self-confidence and share their message, the data is unequivocal: major depressive episodes for adolescents and young adults has increased significantly since 2005.

So it is easy to feel like everyone is doing a better job than you and it’s easy to get stuck in the comfortable rut of being at the top of your local comp but not “good” enough to take the next step. While there can be a million different reasons for your lack of belief in yourself, there are two things that you absolutely need before you can be your best.

Those two things are consistency and progress.

Consistency is the difference between “I think I can” and “I know I can”. It is the pillar that you lean on when the going gets tough in a game and it’s the reason that you’ve gotten this far in the first place.

Consistency is your rock but it can also be your anchor.

Have you ever heard the saying “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got”? Well, that quote is talking about consistency. It’s talking about consistency without progress. As a developing athlete, progress is the caveat to consistency. So how do we get a handle on both?

The 3 best ways to ensure consistency are:

1) Have a goal. You are going to need to make a lot of decisions through your athletic career, that’s a lot of chances to be inconsistent. If you have an overarching goal that you can relate each decision-making process to you will put yourself in the best position to stay on track. Think “How does this decision help me to get to where I’m going?”

2) Have a plan. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. This rolls on from number 1 nicely. Your plan is the road to your destination. There will always be hiccups (injuries, losses, self-doubt) but if your plan is laid out before you it is that much easier to pick yourself up and carry on.

3) Routine. This is the boring part that you never see your athletic idols burying themselves in. This is the kindling before the flames. Without routine, there is no success. I will be blunt with this point – eat like you know you should, sleep as much as everyone tells you to, and no, you can’t skip that boring training session your coach meticulously planned for you!

How do I make sure that I keep progressing?

1) Stay uncomfortable. If you are comfortable you aren’t getting better, I can promise you that! Those cold, early mornings on the field are the difference between you and the old you. They aren’t comfortable, but man they are necessary.

2) Be firm but fair on yourself. Something every athlete hears from me during our first week together is “you are not allowed to get mad at yourself for not being good at this stuff right away, I could give you everything you’re good at but that won’t make you better.” If you kick yourself too hard when you are down progress will be too hard. And we all know you are your worst critic.

3) Surround yourself with a good team. You can’t do it alone and no one expects you to. That plan that we talked about earlier, make sure it includes your friends and family, good coaches and the best training environments that you can find for yourself. Having the right support is paramount to your long-term progression.

There will be a lot of twists and turns throughout your journey as an aspiring athlete, but if you can control and implement these 6 points for yourself you will be in the best position possible to take charge when it matters and to have the belief in yourself to keep pushing even when it all seems hopeless. Now get to sleep, tomorrow’s early morning session won’t wait for you!