Tag Archives: mental preparation

Mental Preparation is the Key

8 Feb

joey-votto-smi2[1]Every athlete knows that physical tools are important.  Strength, speed, agility, and athleticismand the commitment to the development of each — are integral to success in virtually every sport.  Factor in sport-specific skill development (for example, basketball ball-handling and shooting), and you’re on your way to building a strong foundation.

Equally important is your mind, and its ability to drive your body.  Mental preparation, focus, and confidence are all implicated in your success and attainment of your goals.  Generally, your limits will be those you set for yourself.  Here are some tips to improve performance and push through those self-imposed limitations through mental preparation.

Have a plan

I’m always surprised by athletes, especially at the higher levels, who “just play.”  That is, they don’t really have a game plan.  Situational preparation leads to successful execution.  A baseball player should go to the plate with a plan, depending on the score, inning, opposing tendencies and trends, number of outs, baserunners, pitch type and location, etc.  Having a plan — and working your plan — will help build your confidence, which fuels a positive mindset.

Stay positive

A negative attitude and focus won’t help you or your team.  When I train athletes, we don’t talk about the negative.  Sure, there will be times when you face less-than-desirable circumstances and conditions (inclement weather, an injured teammate, etc.)  Your attitude is contagious and it will impact the people around you.  Do your best to maintain positive words and body language.  Expect to win.

Be adaptable

There’s a lot you can control, but not everything.  You have to practice being adaptable, and believe you can do anything.  Train yourself to overcome obstacles, and not concede to them.  For example, a basketball point guard should anticipate the defense taking away his/her strong hand, and should practice and develop capable ball-handling skills with his/her “off” hand.

Focus on small goals

Rather than focusing on winning the game, direct your focus on each individual at-bat or offensive possession.  Your goal should be to win each inning, quarter, or period.  Successful attainment of each small goal will lead you, ultimately, to your larger goal.  Looking too far ahead to the outcome can dilute your focus.  Do your best to impact the present and the future will take care of itself.

Talk to yourself

Positive self-talk is a strong motivator.  External motivation is great, but it’s also inconsistent — you can’t always count on others to motivate you.  Find quotes, sayings, or slogans that motivate you.  Visualize yourself succeeding (and celebrating).  Learn to communicate with yourself in a way that is positive and motivating.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Think Positive, Avoid Injury

16 Dec

136973873_crop_650x440[1]One of my favorite quotes (attributable to no one in particular) is, “Work hard, stay positive, and good things will happen.”  I truly believe that, in order to achieve success, you must first expect success.

Recently, the power of positive thinking has been further supported by new research from the United Kingdom.  According to this research, optimistic athletes are less likely to become injured, and they bounce back faster if they do get hurt.

Researchers believe that positive thinking athletes may simply be more conscious of injury-prevention practices, or they may experience less stress during competition, reducing their susceptibility to injury.

Try turning your negative thoughts into positive, performance-enhancing ones.  Don’t let your pre-game jitters overcome your mental preparation.  Instead, interpret these feelings as a sign that you’re excited to play.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can’t Do It All in the Weight Room

1 Apr

Speed-Resistance-Training-Parachute-1[1]Strength and speed development start in the weight room.  Stronger and faster is the foundation for athletic performance improvement.

But you can’t do it all in the weight room.  What you do outside the weight room will also have an impact on your performance.  Speed and agility training, sport-specific skill development, nutrition, rest and recovery, and mental preparation also complement and play an important role in your development as an athlete.

Speed and Agility Training

Speed development involves a combination of 3 components:

  • Technique — running form and mechanics
  • Assisted and resisted sprinting
  • Strength and power training, including plyometrics

Agility training utilizes exercises and drills that require acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Sport-Specific Skill Development

Strong and fast is important, but it won’t help you overcome weak ball-handling and shooting skills.  Regardless of the sport(s) you play, skills practice — with proper technique and lots of repetition — will be critical to your progress and success as an athlete.  Time spent on the court, in the batting cage, etc. should focus on quality, and a knowledgeable, experienced coach or trainer can be a valuable resource to make the developmental process more efficient and effective.  Video is also a great tool for performance development (the camera never lies).

Nutrition

Eating the right foods — quantity and quality — is important for two reasons: energy and recovery.  Before you exercise, practice, or play, your nutritional choices help to ensure that you will have adequate energy to perform optimally.  Afterward, the proper balance of nutrients helps with your body’s recovery process, preparing your body for next time.  You should aim to get most of your nutrients from whole foods, and nutritional supplements (multi-vitamin, protein) can also be helpful — especially since active individuals and athletes have a considerably higher need for nutrients to support an active metabolism.

Rest and Recovery

When it comes to strength and speed development, more is not necessarily better.  The goal should be to avoid burnout and injury caused by over-training, doing as much as you need to do to reach your performance goals, and not necessarily as much as you can (please note this does not mean do as little as you can).  Since training places physical and metabolic stress on your body, rest and recovery is necessary for your musculoskeletal system’s regenerative process.  Generally, there is a correlation between the intensity of your training and the amount of rest required by your body to continue to perform at an optimal level.  Make sure you allow for adequate rest during and between workouts, and get a good night’s sleep.

Mental Preparation

In addition to preparing your body, you’ve got to prepare your mind.  Elements of effective mental preparation include goal setting, visualization, focus, confidence, and commitment.  Be a smart athlete — a student of the game.  Be positive and adaptable, and utilize positive self-talk as a motivator.  Expect success and prepare accordingly.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Mental Preparation is the Key

25 Oct

joey-votto-smi2[1]Every athlete knows that physical tools are important.  Strength, speed, agility, and athleticismand the commitment to the development of each — are integral to success in virtually every sport.  Factor in sport-specific skill development (for example, basketball ball-handling and shooting), and you’re on your way to building a strong foundation.

Equally important is your mind, and its ability to drive your body.  Mental preparation, focus, and confidence are all implicated in your success and attainment of your goals.  Generally, your limits will be those you set for yourself.  Here are some tips to improve performance and push through those self-imposed limitations through mental preparation.

Have a plan

I’m always surprised by athletes, especially at the higher levels, who “just play.”  That is, they don’t really have a game plan.  Situational preparation leads to successful execution.  A baseball player should go to the plate with a plan, depending on the score, inning, opposing tendencies and trends, number of outs, baserunners, pitch type and location, etc.  Having a plan — and working your plan — will help build your confidence, which fuels a positive mindset.

Stay positive

A negative attitude and focus won’t help you or your team.  When I train athletes, we don’t talk about the negative.  Sure, there will be times when you face less-than-desirable circumstances and conditions (inclement weather, an injured teammate, etc.)  Your attitude is contagious and it will impact the people around you.  Do your best to maintain positive words and body language.  Expect to win.

Be adaptable

There’s a lot you can control, but not everything.  You have to practice being adaptable, and believe you can do anything.  Train yourself to overcome obstacles, and not concede to them.  For example, a basketball point guard should anticipate the defense taking away his/her strong hand, and should practice and develop capable ball-handling skills with his/her “off” hand.

Focus on small goals

Rather than focusing on winning the game, direct your focus on each individual at-bat or offensive possession.  Your goal should be to win each inning, quarter, or period.  Successful attainment of each small goal will lead you, ultimately, to your larger goal.  Looking too far ahead to the outcome can dilute your focus.  Do your best to impact the present and the future will take care of itself.

Talk to yourself

Positive self-talk is a strong motivator.  External motivation is great, but it’s also inconsistent — you can’t always count on others to motivate you.  Find quotes, sayings, or slogans that motivate you.  Visualize yourself succeeding (and celebrating).  Learn to communicate with yourself in a way that is positive and motivating.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Think Positive, Avoid Injury

16 Sep

136973873_crop_650x440[1]One of my favorite quotes (attributable to no one in particular) is, “Work hard, stay positive, and good things will happen.”  I truly believe that, in order to achieve success you must first expect success.

Recently, the power of positive thinking has been further supported by new research from the United Kingdom.  According to this research, optimistic athletes are less likely to become injured, and they bounce back faster if they do get hurt.

Researchers believe that positive thinking athletes may simply be more conscious of injury-prevention practices, or they may experience less stress during competition, reducing their susceptibility to injury.

Try turning your negative thoughts into positive, performance-enhancing ones.  Don’t let your pre-game jitters overcome your mental preparation.  Instead, interpret these feelings as a sign that you’re excited to play.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Everyone Wants to Win, But Not Everyone Wants to Prepare

19 Nov

“Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is.” – Zig Ziglar

Winning is not an accident.  Neither, for that matter, is success.  Look at a winner and you see the surface, the “tip of the iceberg.”  What you don’t usually see is the effort that was responsible for, and contributed to, the end result.

Winning, at every level, is the result of preparation.  Work ethic, achievement drive, innovation, communication, and teamwork are essential components of the process.  Preparation is the key to success – winning – in sports, school, in business, and in life.  Success typically comes to those who are best prepared.

Physical Preparation is training the body for successful performance.  “Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievement.” – Unknown

  • Sport-specific skill development – blocking and tackling (football); ball-handling and shooting (basketball); hitting and fielding (baseball); etc.
  • Strength and conditioning – improve performance by developing strength, speed, agility, and athleticism.
  • Nutrition – fuel your body for optimum performance.
  • Sleep – proper rest is essential to the recovery process.

Mental Preparation is training the mind for successful performance.  “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

  • Goal setting – motivate yourself with realistic, challenging goals.
  • Visualization – use your imagination to train by creating a mental image of success.
  • Focus on execution and practice to eliminate distractions.
  • Have Confidence in your skills and prepare to cope with adversity.
  • Commit yourself to your game plan or strategy.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Sports Psychology, Part 4: Psychological Management Strategies

21 Sep

Mental preparation is an important part of athletic performance.  According to Baechle and Earle in The Psychology of Athletic Preparation and Performance, “Applied sport psychology involves the employment of techniques to gain control over psychological factors, which influence sport performance.  The validation of such techniques is one mission of the scientific discipline of sport psychology.”  There are several strategies that can help athletes and coaches work together to improve athletic performance outcomes.

Goal Setting

Coaches can potentially improve athletic performance by incorporating appropriate goals for their athletes.  Coaches can instill a sense of success, achievement, and self-efficacy through positive and negative reinforcement.  Goal setting involves a process that pursues progressively challenging standards of performance in an attempt to increase the likelihood of perceived success.

  • Process Goals can be achieved under the athlete’s control.  If the athlete puts forth the effort, success is likely.  Weight loss could be considered a process goal.
  • Outcome Goals are those over which the athlete has little control.  Winning a game or race might be an example of an outcome goal.
  • Short-Term Goals are those that, while challenging, are close to the athlete’s present ability level.  They increase confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy.
  • Long-Term Goals are “big picture” goals, like winning a championship.  Athletes may see more relevance in short-term goals if they understand how they contribute to long-term goals.

Long-term goals and short-term goals are interdependent.  Long-term goals provide a sense of significance for pursuing short-term goals.  The attainment of short-term goals provides a progressive sense of mastery and success that builds self-confidence.  Athletes should define process goals to focus on elements of their performance over which they have control.

Relaxation Techniques are intended to reduce physiological arousal and increase task-relevant focus.  These techniques are critical when attempting to execute complex, difficult-to-learn tasks.  Examples of relaxation techniques are diaphragmatic breathing, muscular relaxation, and visualization.

Diaphragmatic breathing, referred to as belly breathing, focuses the athlete’s thought on breathing to clear the mind.  It requires that attention be directed away from the chest and instead to the abdominal region, as the source of conscious breathing.

Muscular relaxation is accomplished by going through a series of alternate muscular tensing and relaxing phases.  This process can help athletes learn to become aware of somatic (voluntary) tension and thereby control it.

Visualization is a skill in which the athlete uses all the senses to create a mental experience of an athletic performance.  The perspective of the image can be internal (the athlete himself or herself) or external (another person).  Visualization can help an athlete to reinforce a particular behavior or skill.

Coaches and athletes can improve performance and increase the enjoyment of competition by understanding and embracing the mental aspects of performance.  Positive, goal-oriented coaching is a powerful contributor to psychological preparation for sport.  Physical and nutritional preparation should be the foundation on which performance potential is based.  An adequate understanding of the mind-body relationship can help athletes to manage emotion and arousal.

Your thoughts?

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