Do you want to be the best, but thinking about settling on mediocrity? Don’t! Turn it around. Take you ordinary mind and make it superlative. There is no demise and termination more commanding than a negative and distrustful mind. Allow your faith to carry more authority than your fear. If you’re an individual who’s been waiting for a major competition, understand a superior competitor is able to focus. Focus allows mastery of your environment.
Lack of belief is detrimental. Wasting time looking ahead or overanalyzing the past is hurtful to consistent performance. There are times when we question our readiness to compete by magnifying our opponents’ abilities while minimizing our own. Athletes’ often create imagined obstacles that hinder their potential.
Tournaments, ideally, are what you look toward all season. Use major competitions as a reward. Let other competitors employ a mental strain. Let the competition become filled with anxiety and doubt, compete with a mental parking brake on, and deal with the weight of hesitation. Let the competition question and fatigue with non-stop mental tension.
Much like physical training and conditioning, you can also improve and condition your mind; make this part of your program. Many athletes experience mental struggles but do little to change their state of mind. Most hope their “mind” will work itself out, but it doesn’t work it’s self out, and the evidence shows up in our performance or lack of.
Our thinking, a never ending “in-house” conversation, will always be with us. There is always something on our mind and our thoughts are cunning. What occupies your mind is important. Understand, thinking cannot be stopped, but it can be changed. Say it and see it the way you want it. You can mentally rehearse victory or you can court defeat. Overcoming uncertainty is a battle you can win, but you have to confront your thinking and get involved with your thoughts. It’s important to know you can have doubts and still prevail.
The daily battle is between what you know you should do and what you actually do; win these battles. The more persistent the fight the more likely the victory. However, when it comes to your mind, you can’t open a flower with a sledge-hammer. So take it easy, trust, relax, and take deep breaths; slow your breathing down, and see “it” the way you want it; this course of action makes a difference.
As major tournaments approach, many athletes tense up, hold back, or shut down. They refrain from what produced previous victories. They stay safe, over analyze, and wait; when it comes to succeeding at a high-level, safety, over examination, and waiting is a trap.
You can manage your mind in major competition. Nothing changes! You are still competing under the same rules and principles. Only your thoughts can change for or against you. Since you control your judgment, you hold the key. What will you allow to speak loudest, doubt or self-belief? You have been great before, and you can and will be great again.
The athlete who deals with pressure will triumph. A venue does not change you. A crowd does not change you. Nothing changes except what you allow. It’s responsibility on your part. Responsibility is a choice not a burden.
It is natural to be nervous; you can perform with nerves and you can prevail with uncertainties. Be in the moment. Do not fear something you’ve done consistently well. Relax, take a deep breath, and focus. Tilt the odds in your favor through daily mental preparation with your physical preparation. You will function at an optimal level when the body and mind are in unison.
We all have trepidation and disbelief, but we also comprise courage and conviction. Both exist in our mind. They do not live in harmony, so you have to decide; this takes awareness and persistence but pays substantially. You will get what you think about, so maximize belief and minimize doubt
Hold nothing back, and compete to be triumphant. Performance is not random; it’s related to your thoughts and expectations. Somebody who is not supposed to win will. Someone who is supposed to excel will not. The determining factors are focus, conviction, and consistency.
How to grow confidence and a focused tournament mind
- Awareness of your thoughts-Identify situations where negative self-talk occurs, interrupt the negative and replace with positive.
- Manage self-talk and you will manage performance
- Expect to succeed
- Body language indicates attitude and attitude dictates behavior. Maintain strong and positive body language.
- Only concern yourself with the controllable.
- Focus on specific behaviors not winning or losing
- Manage your breathing. By slowing your breathing you conserve energy, in-control of your movements and function at a higher level.
- Play your strengths during competition
- Basics win
- Keep everything simple. Simplicity during competition. Analysis during training.
- A win is never certain and a loss is never final. Stay focused!
The Guillotine will be featuring motivation by Mark Schwab throughout the season. Look for Mark’s advice every other Monday.
Mark Schwab is an assistant coach at the University of Northern Iowa. Schwab has a Masters Degree with an emphasis on Sport Psychology and is currently writing a book entitled “Opportunities to Succeed-Common Sense but Not Common Practice.” Schwab also gives a 40 minute presentation on opportunities to succeed. To know more you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.