Athlete, do you think you can practice mindset training to accomplish more? Yes, you can! Let’s talk about Athletes, their struggles and how they can train their mindset to be better!
Athletes are perceived to have unparalleled will power, speed, strength and skills but at the base of it, they are just human. They struggle with the same kind of illnesses, problems and pressure as the common man. We all know that competition, continually striving to be better, extreme levels of training are all physically challenging but what we tend to overlook is the mental duress. It’s a combination of sport-related as well as general factors that can affect the mind of an athlete. The stressors an athlete faces could range from overtraining, performance expectations, injuries to more personal reasons such as media scrutiny, family issues or even financials.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are right.” This is true on so many accounts. Many a time, mental barriers manifest themselves in physical performance such as believing you can’t make it till the end of a workout session will slow you down, make you feel drained and the opposite will enable you to manifest the will power to take yourself there despite the physical shortcomings. In truth we are capable of doing more than we believe thus conditioning the mind is beneficial to boost performance.
While it seems that the most obvious approaches to improve performance are physical – such as conditioning and practice – today, we talk about mindset training and how you can practice it for increased and better performance.
Visualizing positive outcomes
Positive visualization has long been referred to as the secret weapon Athletes can use for better performance. When Athletes visualize successful outcomes, be it for winning a competition, improving their current performance or accomplishing something they have previously considered hard or impossible, they are stimulating the same part of the brain as they do when they physically perform that action. This mental imagery of accomplishing a positive outcome works in a way that conditions your brain to rehearse the outcome and eliminate the unknown elements that could create competitive anxiety.
Sports visualization for Athletes is a tool many trainers and athletes alike swear by. Take the example of Michael Phelps, an 18-time gold medalist and one of the most well-known Olympians. Phelp’s coach, Bob Bowman would instruct him to visualize all aspects of his races every day from the beginning till the end. The mental rehearsal and imagery would help in allowing him to optimize his performance and master aspects of it that would appear weak such as working on his attention deficit and remaining focused under pressure.
Intending a specific outcome of training, a competition or even just simply active resting can have a positive effect. In a nutshell, this is exactly what regular training does as well by creating confidence in actions and taking the unknown from any situation so the mind is prepared for every step.
Mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness and meditation have long been sought as the power tool to unleash the power of the mind, only today more and more people are implementing them on a day-to-day basis. Your body has the potential to do amazing things but sometimes what stands in the way is the mind. Prime examples are balance positions – your body can probably do the shape and hold you there but if you are thinking about falling or what your colleague told you at work, you may not be able to hold your balance. Science shows that mindfulness training and meditation improves your performance and movement precision by helping you be more aware, check your alignment and build your focus.
What new research has found out now, Buddhists and Yoga practitioners have known and sworn by for ages. Meditation and mindfulness can have a gargantuan impact on the life of everyone ranging from Athletes to corporate executives as well as everybody in between. While mental health and wellness become a major concern, many have started to flock to mindfulness practices and meditation to improve stress, mental well-being as well as to boost performance in many different spheres.
It is essential to set goals in order to maintain and enhance motivation for most people whether they are professional athletes or casual sports players. The acknowledgment of psychology playing a huge part in the success of Athletes has also taken a front seat with research illustrating the effectiveness of goal setting and motivation as giving just as much of an edge to Athletes as physical prowess can. Effective goal setting also takes into account many different factors as their specificity, measurability as well as how easily the goal progress can be observed. This relates to Athletes setting specific criteria as a measure of their success.
Coaches, many times, include specificity and measurability in goals such as instead of just vaguely referring to an improvement in the run time of a runner, they would rather set a goal of improving run time by X% and then measure the progress based on how much closer to the goal the Athlete is. Similarly, goals should be monitored at regular intervals so it is easy to identify areas where you may be lacking so you can make adjustments and ensure success.
This is also something we have implemented through the Skill Coach in the form of Athlete assessments where we combine three scientific tests to assess the mental well-being, flexibility and core strength into a single measure of an Athlete score. The assessment is designed to be completed every 2 weeks and gives a good measure of progress. You can check it out here.
As an end note, never underestimate the power of the mind to take your performance to the next level. Whether you are a professional athlete, or just someone hoping to improve their lifestyle, you can use many of these tools to improve your mental toughness and have a more present mindset.
Convinced? Get the Skill Coach for your personalized Yoga plan based on your goals with additional features such as meditation and Athlete Assessments to help you progress.