Are GREAT performances an accident?
Is it possible for a great performer to have an unusally poor day?
Do the BEST performers deliver their best on a consistent basis?
No. Yes. Yes.
In high level sport most of the people I have worked with would agree that most of their performance hinges on their mental state of mind.
This is the cornerstone of my work as a sports psychology consultant.
Many would also argue that what separates great performers, successful athletes at the top of their game is their psychology.
It is the same in all walks of life. Most people I have talked to accept this.
But how many of us truly know how to get the best out of ourselves consistently?
What surprised me the most when I first started working within elite sport was the lack of knowledge of how to maximise their own mind.
Even though most athletes would agree that the mental piece is imperative, they would also concede that they don't really understand the tools to influence their mental state.
It is not a case of being idle.
These athletes push their bodies to the limit nearly every day. Some of them are extremely disciplined.
Yet even with all of this work, they still suffer with nerves, lack of confidence and failing to perform in the crucial moments.
A simple technique
The mind is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
Just like when you train your body in the gym, you can take your mind to the mental gym.
This comes in the form of positive visualisation.
And just like the first time you go to the gym, it takes some work to build this up.
For the majority of people, fear and negative thinking is a natural part of our make up. Especially when it comes to high stakes situations like competition and performing on the biggest stage.
The fear of losing, of failure, of looking stupid and making mistakes is heightened.
This is deep rooted within our brains.
So, when you first begin this technique you have to build up the mental muscle, just like you would in the gym. The more you do it the stronger your mind will become.
Here is a great technique you can use straight away. I call it the sandwich.
Before you go to sleep each night you spend at least 10 minutes imagining in your mind the following day going to the perfect plan.
Remember, this is imaginary so there are no limits. You can imagine whatever you like.
You are not exactly going to imagine performing badly if you are in control are you?
One part of your brain might be fearful and imagine negative scenarios but this time you are the pilot.
Whatever the day entails, whether it is training or competition, you imagine it going exactly the way you want.
You spend a good 10 minutes minimum playing it out in great detail. You feel the feelings it gives you seeing yourself perform so brilliantly.
Then upon wakening in the morning, maybe when you are eating your breakfast or even before you get out of bed, you do the same again.
The mind is the most susceptible to influence early in the morning and late at night. This is because the brain starts to slow down and it accepts information easier when it is tired.
Start using the sandwich today to create stronger mental muscle and bring some of those imagined performances into reality.
For more sports psychology methods check out this video.
To your greatness...
Martin Robert Hall
'Motivational speaker and sports psychology consultant'