1. Don’t focus on opposition.
“Winning a competition depends first and foremost on you – on your skill, preparation, concentration,” says David Fletcher, a sports and personal performance psychologist at the University of Lowborough.
The advice seems strange, because the point of sport is precisely to compete and win. But Fletcher insists that the most effective tactic for athletes is to focus on themselves rather than competing with others. “Michael Phelps, the most prolific Olympic champion in history, was eventually removed from the podium as well,” recalls the psychologist. “If he gave too much importance to always be first, this feeling would crush him.”
2. Set achievable goals
Motivation plays a key role in our psychological readiness to go all the way. “If we feel that we are strong in something, we will definitely want to continue doing this,” David Fletcher is sure. – The secret is to find a balance between ambition and achievability of goals. If you set the bar too high, you run the risk of wasting energy without getting the desired result, and ultimately disappointed in yourself. If you set yourself a sparing regime, you will not be able to reach a new level of achievement. “
3. Love the “chill in the stomach”
Physiological stress is unnerving before important events. But with a certain mood, this feeling can be useful. “Tension is a sign that the goal is important, that you are tense and ready to go,” says Fletcher, adding that you need to get it right.
4. Remember the taste and smell of victory
According to David Fletcher, some athletes can learn to evoke a winning attitude through smells and sounds – even outside of competition. For example, some athletes associate this feeling with the smell of lavender or a particular song. Smells and sounds evoke a strong response in the associative areas of the cerebral cortex. “This is the best way to quickly evoke a memory or experience of triumph,” explains the expert.
5. Know yourself
“The main advice I give any athlete is to get to know yourself as best you can,” says Andrea Faull, a sports psychologist at the University of Worcester. – To perform the exercise cleanly, you need to have a good idea of your level, your capabilities. This is the only way you can be sure that you are ready. “
6. Talk to yourself
Many athletes memorize and scroll words in their heads to help them focus. “They convince themselves of their own strength, remind themselves of what they have done in the past,” explains Andrea Fowll. “Doubt can erode your self-confidence, so there should always be success stories ready to bolster your self-esteem.”
7. Prepare yourself for “force majeure”
To be truly prepared for the challenge ahead means to think through all the options so as not to be caught off guard. “A good athlete always knows what to do if his laces break, his glasses break, or his cap goes off,” emphasizes Andrea Faull.
8. Work in a protective bubble
“I often use the bubble analogy when I work with athletes,” says Andrea Faull. – You need to imagine as if you are inside a bubble. You decide what can penetrate the wall of this bubble and what remains outside. ” This exercise helps you focus on what is needed and discard everything that distracts from the goal and prevents you from moving towards it.
9. Use visualization
Before the start of the competition, athletes need maximum concentration – but how to achieve it if there are thousands of people in the stands, and millions on the other side of the camera? In such an atmosphere, you need to be focused, and visualization helps to achieve this state. Athletes often imagine in detail the movement on the race track, the opponent’s lunges in the ring or court, the throw of the ball into the basket. This tactic can work in everyday life too – for example, when you need to hold an important event or give a presentation.
10. Stick to the plan
“We often focus too much on intermediate indicators and on whether we have enough time,” says Andrea Faull. “But it can distract us from the goal and make us nervous. It is not for nothing that they say that a kettle that is constantly being watched will never boil. ”
11. Love frames
Many people do not like to work under strict requirements and lack of time. But, according to Andrea Fowll, the pressure of circumstances actually helps us to be on our toes. “Many people – whether they are top athletes or office workers – achieve high results in conditions of restriction and control,” the psychologist emphasizes.