The others just haven’t gotten the message yet and continue to turn in subpar or inconsistent performances.
Knowing and using the power of your mind to enhance your athletic performance doesn’t guarantee peak performance, a scholarship to a Division-I college or being drafted by the pros. What it does guarantee is that you will have consistent performance inline with your athletic ability.
Over the next several weeks I’m going to layout specific steps for you that will:
- Demonstrate how important mental strength training is.
- Give you tools and techniques to help with your mental strength training to enhance your athletic performance.
So let’s get to it…
Step 1: Being Aware
This may sound obvious but most athletes that are struggling are not even aware of what’s going on inside their heads.
This step is short one and the most important of them all. If you are not aware of what you are focusing on and your self-talk you’re doomed to continue to turn in poor performance after poor performance.
Of course, the assumption here is that your technical athletic skills are at the level they should be.
In this step you begin to be aware that the power of your mind can enhance or derail performance.
This awareness shows up when you are struggling at your game, despite having the physical and technical abilities.
You are focusing on what NOT’S important and all the things you can’t control.
You worry about doing well in the event, but this leads to you getting tense during game and your performance declines.
You inner conversation is mainly negative self-talk.
Desperate attempts to get out of slump you actually reinforce the slump by focusing on what’s not working.
These are the mental mistakes that are made before and during event which negatively affect your athletic performance.
So, once you are aware the “something’s going on” and it’s not our physical or technical ability we move on to the next step.
Step 2: Getting Back In Control
Getting back in control is to know when you are in a mental slump and how to easily move out of it.
You get back in control by understanding the power of your mind and the role it plays in either undermining or enhancing your athletic performance.
Two Key Mental Mistakes
There are two mental errors that are at the core of diminished athletic performance:
- Engage in destructive self-talk
- Area (focus) of concentration (before and during event) was is all the wrong things
To improve your mental strength in sports you first have to be aware of these two critical factors. These two factors play an integral role in other mental strength skills that affect your athletic performance such as:
- Ability to stay cool in the clutch
- Abel to let go of mistakes
- Avoid sike-outs
- Master positive thinking
- Maintain motivation
- Use failure constructively
- Properly prepare for up coming events
- Build self-confidence
To better help you understand how the mind (your thoughts) play a critical role in your athletic performance let’s look at the “death spiral”, that is how slump happens and how most athletes stay in it.
The Cycle Nature of A Slump and Poor Performance
- There is a trigger or event that touches them off. This can be a myriad of things, a dropped pass, miss shot or generally a bad performance.
- Then you engage in negative self-talk about the event. You run the event over and over again.
- This in-turn leads to deterioration in your confidence.
- You begin to worry – focus on – that “it” might happen again.
- This creates an expectation of failure, of “it” happening again.
- So before and during performance get nervous about “it” happening again.
- Getting nervous increases your muscle tension and creates a distraction.
- You try to compensate for the tension by trying harder and continue negative self-talk of focusing on “I hope it doesn’t happen again.”
- This negative self-talk disrupts concentration from focusing on the right cues to achieve your peak performance.
- All this leads up to and resulting in a poor performance. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The funny thing is that this happens so fast you’re not even aware of it. Then each time to cycle is played it reinforces itself, each bad performance can lead to another and another…unless you get back in control.
Just as there is a “negative loop” (described above) there is also a “positive loop” that reinforces good performances.
This is done by:
- Engage in positive self-talk
- Giving your focus and concentration on the right cues. Especially before and during the event. However you post-game dialogue is equally important as it sets up your expectation for the next event.
In sports and in life…you get what you expect.
The race is won prior to and during the event, not when the event is over. By then, it’s too late.
This is why your attitude and mental strength is so important during your practice sessions and before as well as during the event.
There is an interrelationship, a direct connection, between your mind (what you are thinking) and your body (how well you will perform).
If you use negative self-talk you’ll start to get nervous, your muscles will get tight, your heart rate will increase, your blood pressure will go up, your breathing will become shallow and your stomach will start to feel funny from the digestion shutting down, and your hands and feet will begin to get cold as blood is forced into your “core.”
This WILL affect your athletic performance in a negative fashion.
Let’s look at two of these components:
Tight Muscles: With tight muscles your timing will be off and will produce the opposite effect of being in zone…that is, tight muscles are the kiss of death!
They will produce:
- Slow you down
- Improper body mechanics
- Increased fatigue
- A Chance of injury
Cold Hands and Feet: Since most sports involve the use of hands and feet this can have a devastating effect on athletic performance were “touch” and feel are crucial, such as football, soccer, basketball, etc.
Remember that self-talk either works for you or against you. Your athletic performance is self-fulfilled based on you what you focus on and your self-talk.
So, how to you get back in control?
You build an awareness of your mindset before a performance.
Here do this…think of a time when you really had great performance.
Now, what did you think about and focus on before and during that performance?
OK…now think of a really poor performance.
What did you think about and focus on before and during the performance?
Now compare. What are the differences between the two, that is, what was your self-talk and focus before both these performances?
I hope you now see and understand that how you perform is directly related to what goes on in your mind.
Get in control of your thoughts, self-talk, focus and your performance will improve.
Take time right now….yes right now and review several other good and bad past performances…in detail. Become aware of patterns of self-talk for both performances.
Remember if you can’t become aware of them, you can’t break off the negative self-talk and focus that contributes to your poor performances. And you won’t be able focus on the right self-talk that will enhance your performances.
Next week we’ll continue with the next step creating mental strength for peak performance.
If you’d like to get started today on controlling your self-talk and focus pick up a copy of “Mental strength Training for Athletes” by going HERE.
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