Is Your Head Getting in the Way of You Playing to Your Potential?
So what kind of a head do you have on your shoulders? Are you competing at the level that you’re capable of? Do you regularly perform better in practice than you do in important competitions? Are there particular opponents who you consistently lose to who have no business beating you? Do fears and self-doubts paralyze you and prevent you from performing to your potential. Are you the kind of athlete who regularly steals defeat from the closing jaws of victory?
If some of these questions bother you, then you probably already know how critically important the mental part of your sport is. If you want to take your performance to the next level, then you have to be willing to take your training far beyond where most athletes stop. Most serious athletes in their sport religiously work on the physical part of the sport. They’ll work on their strength, fitness and quickness. They’ll work on the proper technique. Is this stuff important? You can’t become successful without “paying your physical dues” in this way. Hard work is definitely one of the main keys to your success.
Unfortunately, this is where most athletes stop. When they go into their competitions, they hope they’ll perform well, they hope that they’ll have their “A” game with them today, they hope that they’ll win. You would never leave your strength, conditioning or technique to chance. So why would you leave the most important part of your performance, the mental part to chance?
Think about this: Getting good as an athlete in practice is 95% physical and 5% mental. Translation: You have to work hard on your conditioning and “physical game” to make it happen. However, once you line up against your opponent, the percentages flip flop. Being successful in competition is 95% mental and 5% physical. You have the conditioning, technique and the proper strategy, now you have to make sure that you stay calm under pressure and keep yourself focused on the right things. For example, your concentration needs to stay in the moment, on responding immediately to the performance situation that you find yourself in and being ready to adjust at a moment’s notice to sudden and sometimes unexpected changes. If you let your mind jump ahead to the future, (i.e. thinking about winning or losing) or slip back to the past (i.e. a previous mistake), then you’ll end up getting yourself too uptight and distracted to perform to your potential. This means that you have to be able to rebound quickly from your mistakes and not carry them into the next moment.
You have to believe in yourself and have the self-confidence to focus on yourself and not your opponents when you’re under pressure. You have to be able to handle last minute negativity and self-doubts. You have to be able to master your fears.
With a little work, these mental skills as well as a few important others can be systematically trained to the point where you develop the reputation as a mentally tough competitor! My CD program, The Best Mental Toughness Training Program for All Sports (ON SALE NOW) will take you to the next level!
Are you struggling with performance anxiety or a slump? Do you consistently perform better in practice than when it counts?
Dr. Alan Goldberg is an internationally recognized expert in sports performance specializing in helping athletes overcome performance fears, slumps and blocks. As a Sports Performance Consultant, Dr. G works with athletes across all sports at every level, helping them develop mental toughness, better handle competitive pressure and perform to their potential. He has written on the subjects of peak performance and mental toughness for national and international publications and is the author of 20 books. Check out his most popular program for any sport!-Mental Toughness Training Package-Special Savings.