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Mental Preparation

What does Mental Preparation Involve?

      Mental preparation is a very broad topic within the arena of sports psychology. Elite national and world class athletes work with sport psychologists to develop a pre-game or warm up routine that includes various mental game strategies, such as focus, confidence, trust and creating a game plan.

      Coaches of youth teams and individual athletes routinely use mental preparation techniques to reduce the apprehension of their athletes. At this level professional intervention is rarely required and could be an "over kill" initiated by parents who in all likelihood are the cause of stress.

      The goal of mental preparation is to create a positive mindset that allows the athlete to consistently perform up to their physical, mental, and emotional capabilities in tests and competitive situations. Mental preparation includes two main components.

      The first component begins weeks (or even months) before a competition and includes learning the strategies such as working on their focus, confidence, composure and other important mental game strategies that instill greater mental toughness.

      The second component of mental preparation is applying specific pre-game routines designed to help lift performance levels. These routines should incorporate strategies that create a positive and confident mindset before and through a competition.
    
      Pre-game routines are designed to instill confidence, focus and a success oriented mindset when the moment of the actual competition event starts. Pre-game routines must be customized to the needs of each individual athlete, taking into considerations of the sport, individual preferences of the athlete and if the competition site is at a familiar facility or in a different geographic location or foreign country.

      Components of a pre-game routine may include:
  • Taking ten minutes before competition to review different situations you may face.
  • Listening to music that pumps you up and helps you transition into a competitive mode.
  • Reviewing the performance strategies and visualizing yourself executing each element successfully.
  • Checking your equipment and making sure everything fits comfortably.
  • A final talk with the coach to review of the game plan.
Recommended Reading:

PDF
Mental Preparation  Chapter 8. MENTAL. PREPARATION. Putting It All Together ... mental preparation, read on as some research findings related to characteristics of elite athletes.

Mental Preparation for Sport | Psychology Today   Sept. 17, 2010 ... Are you prepared to perform your best in your sport? By Jim Taylor, Ph.D..

Mental Preparation - The Basics  The Basics. If you wish to excel in any sport, a Mental Preparation Program is a key ingredient of any sports enhancement program.

Mental Preparation | Sports Psychology Today April 6, 2011 ... Mental preparation is a very broad topic within the arena of sports psychology. The purpose of mental preparation is to create a positive mindset prior to competition (practice, workouts, analyzing the competition or course) prepares them to compete.

References;

Sports: On Mental Preparation for Sport | Psychology Today Sept. 17, 2010 ... Are you prepared to perform your best in your sport? By Jim Taylor, Ph.D.

Mental Preparation in Sports - Sports Psychology Today April 6, 2011 ... Today, the world's top athletes work with sport psychologists to develop a pre-game or warm up routine that includes various mental game exercises.

Types of Fear of Failure in Sports   Fear of failure is a constant source of stress or anxiety and a huge barrier to an athletes’ mental game and performance. What is fear? In sports, fear commonly relates to the athlete’s perception of the significance of their performance and what they assume others (parents, coaches, teammates, and friends) think about their performance.

Composure in Sports In order for athletes to excel in competition and tap into “the zone” they must be in control of their emotions, and remain in control after mistakes or setback. Composed athletes have the ability to remain calm, persistent, and in control under pressure situations or after mistakes. These athletes are “gamers” who thrive under competitive pressure and are able to raise their level of performance during competition. They have the ability to quickly let go of errors and control their emotions after setback or committing a mistake.

Athletes experience more pressure and anxiety before big games because there is higher significance attached to their performance. It is important that athletes maintain a balanced level of anxiety when preparing for and during an important event. Too much anxiety will limit athletes’ ability to reach peak performance and no anxiety can lower athletes’ motivation to prepare efficiently.

Keep Big Games in Perspective It is natural for athletes to experience some anxiety, nerves, or butterflies before a big event. This is a sign of intensity that can be used to enhance athletic performance. I refer to this as a sign of intensity because it heightens athletes’ level of awareness and excitement to compete. A balance between high anxiety and low intensity is what athletes need to achieve in order to perform their best.

How to Prepare Mentally for a Big Game All the hype and distractions leading up to a big game can be overwhelming for athletes, coaches, and even parents. In order for athletes to perform their best when the stakes are high they need to avoid:

1. Getting caught up external distractions

2. Conjuring up self-limiting internal distractions

External distractions can become a challenge for some athletes. Worrying about the expectations of others, personal relationship, your opponent, school, and the media are all examples of external distractions. They distract athletes from focusing on the steps they need to take to achieve their mission.

Everyone's Game Should Include Course Management (golf)    by Patrick J. Cohn

Smart Golf Begins With Practice (golf)     by Patrick J. Cohn

Avoid Putting Other Racers on The Pedestal    by Patrick J. Cohn

Mental Preparation for Hockey Players (hockey)     by Patrick J. Cohn

Mental Preparation for Sailors (sailing)    by Patrick J. Cohn

Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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