San Diego Figure Skating Communications
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Mental Strategies for Training
Consistency in training leads to more performances with less errors
The key to sports psychology is a consistent mental preparation that builds to a strong pre game focus, followed by a crescendo with a great performance. Champion athletes generally have the ability to perform consistently in every championship performance.
A consistent pre game
routine helps to establish the positive mindset for success. Athletes
should go through a pre competition checklist prior to stepping foot
onto the playing field to compete.
An excellent place for
pre game mental preparation is during the normal scheduled warm up.
Think of the warm-up routine as your as a mental tune-up prior to
competition. The mental preparation has four important purposes
including, but not limited to:
The pre game routine
should include putting on your "Game Face" and becoming fully immersed
in the "Now" experience, while excluding all not essential thoughts. A
pre game routine should not become a superstitious ritual.
Superstitions are based on the belief that specific behavior resulted in luck, repeating that behavior will bring you more luck. Superstitious rituals are irrational, but in the mind of a believer, the promote a sense of confidence until the ritual doesn't work. Pre game routines are based on science or reason. Superstitions do not have any scientific basis.The pre game routine should allow the athlete to exclude daily problems, deadlines and chores. The goal is to become fully focused on preparing to compete. The strategy decisions should have been developed prior to the competition and influence pre game warm up. A coach of team sports usually develops the strategy and prepares the best plan of action for the team to respond to possible coaching strategies of the opposing team and how well each team is playing during the actual competition.
Some times athletes begin to doubt themselves at the worst possible times – during the pre game warm up or suddenly in the game or match. Positive self-talk can help the person feel that they have worked hard and are just as deserving of winning as their opponents.
Coaching a Mental Game Plan
Athletes, with the assistance of a professional sports psychologist and coach, can develop an individualized plan to enhance the mental and emotional environment to maximize practice and competitive performances. Such a mental training plan should be constructed using proven strategies that have helped athletes of all ages and abilities acquire the skills necessary to perform consistently well in competition.
The priority of a mental game plan is to focus on the process – not the outcome! Focusing on the result places expectations on the performance. In your warm up routine, make sure to focus your attention on the execution required to accomplish your objective to perform to the best of your ability.
The pre warm-up routine is a good time to rehearse your performance by visual, kinesthetic, auditory cues to feel or see the successful execution you have trained to perform.
The pre game warm up or routine should not involve working on technique or mechanics of the performance. The purpose of this type of practice is to improve for a future competition. The warm up is all about performing what you have been training in the practice sessions. Trust what you have trained and focus on the performance!
Start by looking at your
strengths and weaknesses as an athlete
All one-on-one sports psychology programs include:
Think like a coach and trainer and learn the mental game skills that are commonly shared by champions in any sport.
Every athlete looking to improve their performance must learn to:
It is human to make mistakes. Even
the greatest athletes
fall short of their goals. After a poor performance or loss, athletes
may initially feel disappointed in response to a poor performance or a
loss. However, if athletes do not view it as a personal disaster or an
indication of personal incompetence, a poor performance or a loss can
teach athletes a valuable lesson.
2nd: Identify Aspects Of The Performance That Are Controllable
When athletes expect to do well and do poorly instead, it is very important to determine whether the reasons for the loss are controllable or not. For example, two volleyball players were asked why they performed so poorly. One player commented: we could not play well because we did not play as a team and we made too many errors on serve reception.
The second player felt that the audiences were too loud and the opponents were too strong. Only two of these four factors are directly under the athlete's control. According to theory, effort and mental preparation are factors that are controllable, while factors such as style or skill level of the opponents; playing conditions or environment are things that athletes can not control. It is obvious that service reception techniques can be improved by daily practice and 6 players on the court can work as one by setting common goals and obtaining a better understanding each other.
Studies show that those athletes who view their effort and performance as main contributions to their outcome can do better in the future than those who attribute luck or other external factors to a poor performance. So when examining the reasons for a poor performance or an unexpected lose, attention should be focused on the factors that are controllable.
3rd: Examine Competition Goals
There are two types of goals in sport. One is focused on the outcome or the result of the competition. To beat the opposing team or to win a race are the examples of those goals. Studies in sport psychology have indicated that setting outcome goals alone does not enhance motivation or performance. Focusing only on the end product distracts the athlete's attention from the task at hand.
In addition, outcome goals are frequently out of the athlete's direct control. Research indicates that athletes' goals should be based on the process. Examples of process goals are improving one's percentage of passing accuracy to a target or serving the ball to a certain area of the opponent's court. Process oriented goals are more effective, because they can help athletes to concentrate on each play or action. Athletes know exactly what they need to do in order to be successful without worrying about the outcome.
So, after a poor performance or an unexpected loss, athletes need to determine if their goals for the previous competition were properly set on the performance. An old Chinese proverb states "A thousand miles' journey depends on each single step." In other words, one by one process goals can lead to a successful season.
In summary, an unexpected poor
performance or loss need not
negative impact. Athletes who apply proper strategies and draw positive
things from such outcomes will gain insight, control and motivation
from the experience.
Gill, Diane L., (1986). Psychological Dynamics of Sport. Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. Champaign, Illinois.
Goldberg, S. Alan., (1998). Sports Slump Busting: 10 Steps to Mental Toughness and Peak Performance. Champaign, IL
Human Kinetics Moran, Aidan P.,
(1996). The Psychology of
Concentration in Sport Performers - A Cognitive Analysis.
Press, Taylor & Francis. UK
Management Strategies in Athletic Training - 3E Athletic Training Education Series by Richard Ray An excellent resource for athletic trainers who want comprehensive knowledge of management theory and practice. The book's organization strategies can also be applied beyond athletic training to a variety of fields related to sports medicine.References:
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.