In my opinion the most performance damaging behavior an athlete can have is to hang on to their mistake during a competition. Hanging on to your mistake will certainly take you out of the game.
Holding on to a mistake means you’re not mentally present and paying attention to the game or your cues to help you reach peak athletic performance. The only time you can achieve peak performance is now and the only place is here.
When you are thinking about the mistake you are not in the here and now. You are in the past the there.
Keep in mind that every athlete makes mistakes. The difference is the great ones know how to release the mistake during the competition and then use the mistake as feedback on what to improve on during practice.
There is no real perfection in sports, except for how you respond to your imperfections.
Your job as an athlete during the game is to forgive and forget. Forgive yourself and forget about the mistake. Then during practice work on improving your performance so the mistake won’t happen again.
You see, you get what you focus on, the more you focus on the mistake during the game the more mistakes you’ll make in the game.
Focusing on the mistake will only make your uptight, nervous and tense. Your muscles than won’t be able move and function properly and you’ll make more mistakes. This can be a death spiral for trying to reach peak performance.
Peak performance comes from being calm and relaxed; focusing on mistake does just the opposite.
Focusing on mistakes kills your self-confidence and give’s you a distorted picture of your abilities. For example, you’ve had numerous practices when you were in the zone. By focusing on the mistake this negates all those great practices and you end up thinking you’re no good.
Dwelling on mistakes sets yourself up to trying too hard to make up for the mistake. When you try too hard guess what? That’s right; you make more mistakes, playing frustrated equals playing poorly.
So what to do when a mistake does happen?
Here are a few mental strength tactics to help manage the mental and emotional side of making a mistake.
Step #1 – Awareness: When you make a mistake you must be aware that your focus of concentration has left the here and now and is in the past (on the mistake). Also you must become aware of the accompanying negative self-talk that comes along with the mistake. When you become aware you then can change your focus and negative self-talk.
If you don’t become aware you’ll end up in the performance death spiral. You need to know the mental cascade of thoughts that occur when you make a mistake so you can break the cycle/pattern.
Step #2 – Change Focus and Self-Talk: Once you become aware then you change your focus and self-talk. I went over the self-talk in a previous post that you can read HERE. As you change your self-talk you’ll be able to bring yourself back to the here and now. You might come up with a one word cue, like “focus” or “come back” to trigger yourself to refocus and shift your self-talk. Your job is to be aware where your attention is and bring it back to now (the game) so that you can achieve peak athletic performance.
Step #3 – Calm Down: When you focus on mistake you get nervous, when you get nervous you make more mistakes. When you’re too emotional about your mistake you don’t have access to all your mental resources and you’ll say or do some very stupid things. One tip to calm down is to immediately slow down, that is, deepen your breathing (slow diaphragmatic breaths) and go into peripheral vision (looking from the sides of your eyes/vision).
One method to control your breathing is to inhale to a count of 7 and exhale to count of 11. This will activate your “relaxing” nervous system and allow you to refocus and gain access to more of your mental resources. Doing this a few minutes of this daily will help you be prepared when you need it on the field.
Use the above in any combine that works for you and when you make a mistake immediately perform the ritual. What ever ritual you create you need to have all 3 steps in the process. Here are three examples, oh yea, when reading these it may seem like they’ll take too long to do during the game, and as you practice them during training and practice you’ll be able to fire off your ritual during a match in no time.
1 – When the play (mistake) is over, go pick up some grass, focus on the grass and say “Let it go, it’s over, it’s in the past, stay in the now.” At the same time breathe deep, go into peripheral vision then take the grass and threw it away (the grass is representing your mistake), turn your back on the grass and get back into the game.
2 – Find a physical spot, when you make a mistake go the spot, touch it say “let it go”, take a few deep breaths go into peripheral vision and then come back to the game.
3 – Imagine you’re holding the mistake in your hand, breath deep, go into peripheral vision, squeeze your hand and then let relax and let go of the mistake.
It’s important to work on your ritual during practice so it becomes automatic in a game.
Step #4: Act as if: Once you have performed your refocus ritual you then use the “act as it” technique. This is, right after your ritual you “come back” to the game and act as if nothing happen. Head up, shoulders back, breathing confidently, you have a focused relaxed look your face and you act positive, as if nothing happen. When you change your physiology (your body) you will change your internal picture of yourself.
Play around with these steps and come up with your own refocus ritual. When you do, you’ll be better prepared to reach peak athletic performance.
Want to start today to develop your mental strength for peak athletic performance? Pick up a copy of “Mental Strength Training for Athletes” by going HERE.
Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.