So, have you ever heard a coach or parent tell you right before a game,“Go out there and just relax and have fun!”? Guess what? They’re absolutely right! If you want to play your best when it counts the most, then you have to make having fun your main priority!
One of the more basic, yet most often overlooked ingredients in peak performance is that very simple word, FUN!
When you’re having fun, you relax, learn faster and perform better. If you’re enjoying yourself, it’s much easier to concentrate on what’s important. However, when you get yourself too serious about a game or performance, you end up focusing on all of the wrong things, tightening up and then choking.
Far too many athletes have a backwards notion about having fun. They think, “Let me have a great game, score 20 points, go 4 for 4, pitch a shut out or win the tournament and then I’ll have fun!” Unfortunately if you wait for a great performance to happen before you allow yourself to have fun, then you’ve got it backwards and will end up waiting a whole long time! You have to have fun first, and then those great performances that you so badly want will come naturally.
So what do I really mean by having fun? We’re not talking about goofing around, blowing stuff off, being out-to-lunch or not paying attention fun here! What we are talking about is getting in touch with the joy and passion that originally attracted you to your sport. All the stuff that used to make you happy and kept you coming back for more. What did you really love about practicing and competing? What used to drive you to play all of the time?
This kind of fun can be the intensity of close competition, the delicious uncertainty of a really close game, the physical and emotional feelings you had from going all out, the constant repetition of the skills and strategies of your game or any number of other things. It really doesn’t much matter exactly what brought you to that love and passion. What does matter is that you get yourself back in touch with it whenever you practice and compete. The anecdote to performance problems and slumps is fun! If you’re struggling performance-wise, then I can guarantee you that you are totally miserable out there and here is no joy in what you’re doing.
So let’s change your priorities. Stop making winning, proving yourself, beating a particular opponent or not screwing up your main focus whenever you go to play. Stop taking things so seriously and allow the fun back into your athletic performances. Without fun, you can’t get to peak performance. Without fun, you’ll never be a consistent winner!