Sporting performance, whether as an individual or in a team, can be broken down into four main components – the physical, the tactical, the technical and the psychological. For the elite performers, it is often the psychological aspect that separates them from the rest of the competition.
Read on for 10 tips for mental preparation.
1. Routine – develop your own pre-competition routine and repeat this each time you compete.
2. Cue words – develop your own words or phrases that are specific to your own perception of a successful performance, I.e. Explode with the ball, hit hard.
3. Imagery – visualise succeeding! For example, if you’re kicking for goal, visualise the ball going through the posts. Do not visualise the technical aspects of the task.
4. Focus – stay in the here and now. Don’t worry about the past or think of the future.
5. Breathe – spend a few minutes before training or competition, focusing on breathing to relax. This works great before bed to help sleep and in times of stress.
6. Goals – set process goals to help you achieve your end goal.
7. Relax – at times being pumped up can help, but most of the time, remaining relaxed and calm on the field of play allows you to think clearly, make better decisions and execute skills more effectively.
8. Be yourself – don’t copy others. Find your own ways which help you mentally prepare.
9. Expect the worst – expect that the game will be tough, that it will go into extra time or it will rain. If it does, you’re ready for it.
10. Talk to yourself – talking to yourself during hard competition, especially endurance exercise such as long-distance running reduces your perception of effort and pain. Use motivational statements such as “push through this” or “feeling good”.
Try some of these when you are next in action!