Posts Tagged ‘mental performance’

Mental Skills Of Sports Performance (And How You Can Improve Them)

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

 

Mental Skills of Sports PerformanceSustaining high sporting performance requires more than simply putting in time at the gym, or on the field, every single day; it’s just as much about maintaining a high level of mental toughness. Psychological studies continue to show just how important a developed, or natural, psychological edge is when it comes to sports performance. It is imperative athletes develop and receive support for the following key components to mental toughness:

1. Believing In One’s Self

One of the toughest obstacles that athletes in every sport face is negative and self deprecating thought patterns. A missed goal or a loss of points can quickly undermine an athletes belief in his or her abilities, which has a negative impact on how well they perform. By having a strong self belief, an athlete won’t be so easily shaken when they do face a difficult situation. He or she will maintain a secure trust in the unique abilities and qualities they possess that they believe make them better than their opponent.

Improvement Tip: Keeping a training log will provide an athlete with evidence on how they’ve improved over the days, months and years of training.

2. Maintaining Focus

There are so many factors that can affect an athlete’s focus, from a roaring crowd, to the performance of other athletes, to their very own “self talk” or internal voice. It’s key for an athlete to be able to regain focus as quickly as possible when they find themselves distracted or when an unexpected event occurs.

Improvement Tip: Positive self talk as well as verbal, physical and visual prompts and queues will help athletes control their focus.

3. Conquering Pain

Every athlete is confronted with some sort of mental or physical challenge at some point in their career. In order for an athlete to grow and improve, he or she needs to be able to push through any painful barriers that may potentially block his or her success. This mental toughness also goes a long way to helping athletes overcome any feelings of failure.

Improvement Tip: Creating opportunities for athletes to work for longer or harder in a secure environment will help them build both mental and physical endurance.

4. Dealing With Pressure

Pressure plays a role in any sporting performance, as each sport involves some level of competition. Fortunately, pressure can be utilised in a way that will allow an athlete to thrive and use it to their advantage against the competition (i.e. use it as motivation).

Improvement Tip: Getting into a performance routine will bring a sense of familiarity, which will help an athlete stay calm and focused at an event.

 

3 Benefits To High Mental Fitness

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

 

Physical fitness is a “must” for professional athletes and champions, but what may be even more important, and a better predictor of their success, is their mental fitness.

How mentally fit an athlete is will benefit individuals in a variety of ways, such as:

Goal Setting

Goal setting Confidence Coping with DifficultiesSeveral studies have shown a clear correlation between how mentally fit an individual is and their ability to set challenging yet obtainable goals. Athletes who tend to have a more fixed mindset or believe that they’re born with a natural or true ability tend to be weaker mentally. They’re more guarded about their deficiencies and are less or completely unwilling to try and improve them and are more focused on masking or hiding them. As a result, they won’t set the goals necessary to overcome the hardest challenges or hurdles.

Mentally strong athletes, on the other hand, are continually striving to improve their game. They know where they may be falling short, or where they need to work harder to knock the competition out of the park. So what do they do? They set goals. And they don’t just set a final goal, they’ll create milestones and steps that need to be reached so that they will get to that positive final outcome.

Confidence

The athlete whose brain fitness is just as high as their physical fitness is going to always be more confident than the weaker. Weaker mindsets are more focused on proving their ability. When they perform poorly, or when the competition is proving themselves to be the better, that athlete with a poor mindset will gradually begin to have feelings of self doubt and failure. Mentally tough athletes, however, have greater confidence because they recognize that there is always room to grow. They know that they aren’t “stuck” in their current state and can always become better.

Coping With Difficulties

Not surprisingly, the weaker athlete is mentally less able to cope with and handle setbacks. Athletes who suffer from mental weakness will immediately chastise themelves and beat themselves up emotionally when they don’t win a race or score a goal. The result: their performance immediately begins to decline, which leads to more negative self talk and self loathing, which leads to a cycle of further performance decline.

Those who have trained themselves to be mentally tough won’t let such things bring them down. In fact, not only will an individual with a high level of mental fitness then take charge of further improving their skills, but they will also take control of their motivation. They stay interested and committed to their growth and success every step of the way.

The Art of Journaling: the Secret Weapon of the Elite Athlete

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Assess and Analyse – What are you Forgetting to Remember?


Historically people have developed the ritual of writing diary entries to keep a record of their feelings, their daily activities and documenting significant events for posterity.

For an athlete or coach, the disciplined and pragmatic habit of keeping a journal can be a vital tool when assessing performance, analysing strategies and developing an effective structure to their game.

Once you have initially set up a strong foundation by designing an order and sequence of recording specific information, the practice of journaling your career has far reaching applications.

In my first contact with a new client, I encourage them to start keeping a detailed journal and spend a fair bit of time in the beginning educating them on the benefits of, not just keeping a regular diary, but a journal that plays a key role in their Mind Coaching programme.

When looking back through journal entries with athletes where we have been working together for a couple of seasons, the results have been both prophetic and astounding, especially in those who have fully embraced the journalling ritual. It’s so rewarding for an athlete to see, especially in some who previously wrote no more than a shopping list on a post-it note prior to our coaching relationship, the time spent reflecting on their own words in their journals is paying them back 10-fold.

The science behind this is quite simplistic: when we ‘think’ something or we ‘commit’ something to our memory, unless we assign it significant importance, it often becomes lost in the diverse, endless pieces of information and events we store in our minds. So the likelihood of us instantly recalling that specific memory when analysing or becoming aware of a cognitive pattern that could significantly impact performance is very low.

Think back to your last training session and try to recall everything you were told, you told yourself, you experienced and observed – how much detail can you truly recall?

Now think back to as little as one week ago or one month ago – how much detailed information can you recall from those sessions? I bet there are massive gaps in your conscious memory? What if the one piece of information that could make all the difference to your next game was lost in the chasms of your memory?

Detailing each session… each recovery… each thought process… each technique… and so on enables you to not only build an accurate picture of how you are going, what is and isn’t working but also enables you to pick up on patterns and emotional triggers long before they become an issue. By creating an effective recording process you will automatically both search and recall in a specifically designed manner, highlighting both abnormalities and learning efficiencies.

The biggest benefit I see in athletes who journal is the motivational boost it provides. A regular read-through of their journal feeds them with instant feedback on how far they have come in such a short space of time. These chronological markers of success breeds greater success – see previous post on feeding the motivation engine for more detail on how this works.

Clearly the secret isn’t only in the way the information is recorded but in the way it is deciphered too, so what are you forgetting to remember!