Mental Prep: Gain the Edge Before You Compete

Spending hours on the field and in the gym are certainly going to help you improve, but one of the most neglected areas of training is the mind. So before you step into the arena, spend some time preparing away from practice. Here are two areas to focus on:

Composure

“Butterflies” really do exist for everyone and are completely normal. What’s important is how you manage them. Physical strategies such as relaxation or deep breathing techniques can work, as well as mental ones like self-talk, an inner dialogue to remain positive and confident.

The way we think, feel and speak to ourselves is impactful on our performance. Be aware of your own inner dialogue and use statements that are confidence-builders.

  • “I am prepared.”
  • “I am knowledgeable.”

Avoid statements that add pressure or lead to worries about the outcome.

  • “I have to nail this!”
  • “If I don’t do well, then…”

The key to composure is to keep your thoughts focused on the present and what is within your control.

Visualization

Confidence does not come from the absence of pressure or adversity, but rather knowing you have the tools to perform well despite these challenges. Your confidence level stems from a variety of sources – past performance, preparation, goal achievement, feedback from others, and self-talk.

Another chief confidence-building tool is visualization.

Just as a driver in the Indy 500 will imagine the opening laps of the race before their ignition is even fired or a quarterback imagines the routes the receiver will run before the ball is snapped, you, too, can visualize the scenarios in which you will perform.

Imagine yourself performing calmly, assuredly and successfully. What does your goal look like? Visualize yourself performing in a way that achieves it. Highlight what you did to make that happen.

Most importantly, have a plan for how you will practice and implement these skills!

Your perspective ultimately determines how you “perform.” When the pressure is on, mastering these skills will allow you to be better composed and more confident, which will set-up the success that follows.

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