The past can sometimes haunt athletes. For example, past mistakes, missteps and missed opportunities can prevent them from playing their very best right now. I call these “mental scars.” Reliving or revisiting bad plays high-jacks your confidence — and your focus. Thinking about how you messed up doesn’t give you feedback on how to play differently.

What you or your athletes focus on is a choice, so choosing to dwell on mistakes is like purposely and personally fracturing your confidence and programming more poor play. Have you ever been overtaken by negative thoughts? Did those negative thoughts motivate you to perform better? Did those negative thoughts raise your level of play afterwards? Furthermore, has negative thinking ever enhanced your confidence?

If you want to improve confidence, you must make a choice on what you will focus your mental energy on. You have three choices: you can focus on the past, future, or present. Only one option will lead to peak performance and that’s the present! I

f you want to have a break-through game or season, stop dwelling on past mistakes and focus on what you can directly control: your effort, execution, and focus on the present moment. Let go of the past by reminding yourself that you can’t get a do-over or get it back. The best thing is to move on and focus on a strong finish. If you make a mistake, say “that’s over” and refocus on the next, play, pitch, or touch. Don’t waist your mental energy on past mistakes. Save them for the next practice when you can use them to learn and grow!