Almost all high-performance athletes of any sport have similar skills and abilities that allow them to compete on the highest of levels. These individuals are strong, fast, and skillful, yet the difference between top level performers and the winners are those who mentally prepare themselves for the pressures of the game.
How does an aspiring athlete improve these skills? The answer can be found by improving mental skills and personal traits that are required to succeed in your sport.
The mental skills required for most athletes include:
- Being calm under pressure
- Having control of your emotions
- Being confident
- Staying mentally alert
- Being positive
These qualities improve a performers level of consistency. The higher level of consistency will boost a performer’s ability to maintain focus on the competition, while being able to ignore internal and external pressure and being able to effectively apply their physical skills to the game.
The top-level competitors welcome pressure situations and challenges; they understand that pressure and anxiety are a part of the game, and they accept that as part of the game. They choose the perspective of looking at challenging situations and rising to overcome them.
Regardless of the skill level or experience, no body from the top athletes of all time and the novices of the world can perform well under pressure. Competitors at all levels have to get into their correct mental state to enable to shine when it counts. The best performers have developed the ability to change their perspective on pressure to perform in an ideal mental state.
How do you know if you’re in the “ideal mental state”?
- You are relaxed even with adrenaline in your system. You convert this energy into another resource for you to tap into.
- You feel nervous but you feel your confidence and have calmness. You interpret that feeling as excitement instead of anxiety.
- The decisions you make are without conscious thought. You make these because you have a strong belief in your ability.
- You feel like it is meant to be. You are in the right place, at the right time.
- You maintain a broad focus of what is happening around you. You are aware of your environment and your place in that setting.
- You are in control of your emotions in this state. You aren’t bothered by what usually bothers you and you don’t get ahead of yourself.
By getting into this mental state, you will decrease pressure which would otherwise prevent you from performing.
Here are a few skills to help you reach your ideal mental state?
- Relaxation- Gathering your thoughts and focus. **Use the autonomic nervous system series!
- Concentration- Not losing focus on the game and being efficient with your thoughts.
- Visualization- imaging what you what to see happen
- Emotional Control- be positive!
- Awareness- Yourself and of the environment you are in.
- Affirmations- Positively reinforcing your skills and your goals in your sub-conscious.
Pre-match mental preparation is critical to achieving this ideal mental state. Here are a few ideas on what you can be focusing on to prepare yourself.
- Visualize yourself succeeding in every situation, ideal and not.
- Do mental rehearsal every day.
- Look forward to the pressure you will feel on game day, let it fuel you.
- Anticipate that you will have fun during the game, you will perform well, you are in control, and you will handle every situation.
- Manage emotion!
- Write down your tasks for training and game day.
- Have a positive mental attitude!
W.I.N. the day!