Top techniques to keep your head in the game
While sports need physical skill and technique, they’re just as much a mental game. Too often athletes find themselves psyched out, distracted, and unable to perform at their best. It’s important that alongside training for your sport, you work hard to keep your mind clear and your head in the game.
Psychologists claim that in elite level sports, mental skills are responsible for 50-90% of variance in performance. It pays to put time and effort into making sure your mental state is the best it can be.
Let mistakes go
You can’t expect everything to go perfectly every time. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but try not to let them affect you going forward. If you’re spending the moments before a race revisiting everything that went wrong before, you won’t be in the right headspace to do better this time.
Ignore what you can’t control
It’s easy to get caught up in the decisions or actions of others. But there’s no point giving energy to what you can’t control. If an opponent annoys you or you disagree with a judge’s call, you’ll bring yourself down by focusing on it. You can’t change what other people think or do, so focus on yourself and what you can do.
It’s important you manage your expectations and avoid piling on the pressure before events and competitions. Don’t spend your time overthinking what the result will be, whether you’ll win, or whether you’ll make a mistake. It’ll just distract you. Approach each event with a calm, level head and you’ll perform better for it.
You can’t give an event your all if you’re too busy thinking about the past or what’s going to come next. Try to stay in the moment at all times. Approach each event as if it’s the only thing that matters. If you do, your focus will improve and you’ll perform better. It might be worth trying some breathing or meditative techniques. Mindfulness is a great way to focus on the here and now. These can help you to block out your surroundings and focus better on the current moment.
Learn how to relax
You want to perform at your best when you need to, but this involves properly switching off when you don’t. Learning how to truly relax when you have downtime will help keep your mental state ready to go. Your mind gets tired like your body, so give it time to rest and recuperate. Make time for things you enjoy outside of your sport that’ll distract you and give you a temporary escape. The last thing you want is to burn out before a big competition.
So before the next big race, it’s important to train your mind as much as you’d train your body. A toxic headspace could ruin your performance as much as an injury could. You want to keep your mind clear and relaxed before any events and competitions. You’ll notice big differences in your performance if you do.
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