As an athlete you spend countless hours perfecting your physical training in preparation for a competition, but are you ready to face the challenge mentally? Focus is important. Without it, it will be challenging to remember what you’ve practiced during physical workouts. Learning to manage stress properly and even controlling excitement can help improve your mental game when it's time to compete.
Be your best with these 6 tips for getting in the zone before a competition:
1. Focus On Technique
If you become consumed thinking about winning or losing, you'll get distracted from the actions you need to perform physically. It’s important to learn to ignore the factors the you don’t have control over, such as weather or terrain. Focus on the details you need to execute during competition. Instead of visualizing the outcome, identify the individual steps you need to take to get there.
2. Understand How Stress Can Benefit You
Heading into competition, you may feel stressed. Recognize stress as something that can work for you or against you. A small amount of stress can help benefit your performance by energizing you and giving you a rush of adrenaline. What’s important is not letting stress consume you, or turn into anxiety. Learn to accept the presence of stress and use it to your advantage.
3. Visualize Your Performance
Many talented athletes practice visualization before a competition. They envision potential scenarios that they could potentially encounter and determine how they will respond.This helps athletes react quickly when presented with the same scenario on the spot.
4. Pick the Right Pre-Event Environment
Some people like to get pumped up by listening to loud, fast-paced music. Others feed off of encouragement from their fans. Some choose to find a quiet space and listen to calming music, or meditate. Find out which method works best for you and make sure to create replicate that environment for yourself prior to the competition.
5. Practice Positive Self Talk
The narrative in your head before competition should be mindful and purposeful. Set yourself up for success by talking through the event in a positive, uplifting way, as a coach would motivate their team.
6. Self Awareness
It’s good to be in touch with yourself. Understand how you typically respond to certain stress triggers and create a plan for dealing with them. If it helps, you may want to keep a journal with you to log your thoughts. You’ll also be able to review the thought processes you've written down and learn from them.
In conclusion, it’s about putting in the training ahead of time, both physically and mentally. Preparation can make all the difference when it comes time to compete.
What’s your favorite way to mentally prepare for competition? Share in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.