06-24-2010, 04:27 PM #1
Five Keys to Pregame Mental Preparation
I think it is a good topic to discuss. One of my favorite . I have to honer to work with one of the best sport psychologies in our times, so here I will give you one of updates from him. I have publish it long time ago in badmintonplanet.org, but I saw that many people here are also interested in it.
Your goal every time you step on the field, court, arena, track, or course is to be mentally ready to compete, not just physically ready. For some athletes, this means performing without the mental handcuffs of worry, anxiety, lack of confidence, or self-doubt!
Mental preparation prior to competition should be a goal for every athlete. I'm referring to a specific type of mental preparation; the mental preparation you or your athletes do just prior to competition. The warm-up period before you compete is much more than just a physical warm-up. You also want to use this time to get your game face on and embrace a focused and confident state of mind.
Many of the athletes I work with sabotage themselves with an ineffective mindset prior to competition. But this is the exact time that athletes need to be mentally ready to compete. Some athletes focus too much on having the perfect performance or fixate on how they will appear to others (such as teammates, parents, coaches) when performing. Their need to execute flawlessly or to look good in competition undermines performance in competition.
Other athletes are ridden with anxiety, tension, fear, fear of failure, and worry about what others think prior to competition. Some of my students don't have a full tank of confidence before competition. Somehow, their confidence dwindles from practice to competition. They don't have the same level of self-confidence in competition as they did during practice.
I could go on and on about the mental game challenges that athletes have prior to competition. But the main point I'm trying to make is that athletes get in their own way with lack of confidence, distraction, and anxiety and tension--just at the wrong time. All of these mental game no-no's don't allow you or your athletes to perform well at the start of competition.
First, how might you (or your athletes) worry or have excess tension prior to competition? Each athlete has their own source of stress or anxiety prior to competition. Below is a list of the top six sources of tension or anxiety for athletes:
Focus on outcomes
Excess mental chatter
Fear of failing
Worrying about what others think
Not feeling fully confident
Worrying about the quality of ones warm up
If you identify with any of these mental game challenges, you would benefit from better mental preparation during your pregame warm-up routine. Your warm-up routine prior to competition is the perfect time to expel doubt, anxiety, tension, and bolster your confidence, composure, and trust in your skills.
Five Mental Keys to Warm Up Your Mental Game
1. Expel pressure-packed expectations - I've written a lot about how expectations can be your undoing. Expectations you have toward your game and expectations you feel from others often cause you to feel more pressure on your shoulders when you compete. One goal for my students is to help them manage these expectations so that they don't turn in to pressure. How do you manage your expectations? Expectations are usually about results, such as scoring a specific number or obtaining specific statistics. Most expectations cause you to focus on results, judge your performance, and become frustrated when you don't reach your expectations. You have to identify the expectations that cause you to lose confidence or become frustrated when not met. Then, you want to replace your strict expectations with simple objectives you can accomplish readily, such as picking a target before you serve.
2. Don't leave confidence for chance - many athletes don't manage or control their level of confidence prior to competition. They are more reactive with their confidence instead of proactive. They leave confidence to chance and can only feel confident when performing well. One goal of your pregame warm-up routine is to take full responsibility for your level of confidence. Also, as mentioned previously, many athletes lose confidence when they don't perform well in their pregame warm-up. Do not allow the quality of your pregame warm-up to influence your confidence, which is based upon years and years of practice and play.
3. Focus your mind in the now - as stated previously, a lot of the tension that athletes feel prior to competition comes from focusing on negative outcomes or worrying about what others will say or think if they lose. For this reason, it's extremely important for athletes to focus only on the process and their preparation prior to competition. You don't want to get too far ahead of yourself. For example, I instruct golfers to only think about how they're going to prepare for that first tee shot and not worry about the score they want to shoot that day.
4. Prepare to trust in your skills - another mental key to good preparation is to prepare yourself to trust in your skills. Trusting your skills means that you're going to rely on your practice. You should let go of technique, how to perform, and rely on your athletic abilities -- the abilities that you have to train in practice for months if not years. When you prepare yourself to trusting your skills, you're in a mindset to react and let it happen rather than over control your performance.
5. Embrace the pregame butterflies - pregame can be a tense moment for some athletes. When the pregame jitters or butterflies strike, they assume that something is wrong with them. If you do this, you become stressed over what might be just a normal reaction to competition. I do believe that there are two types of pregame jitters -- positive and negative or helpful and harmful. You want to embrace the positive pregame jitters because they indicate that you're psyched or excited to perform. Some athletes who have positive pregame jitters don't understand that these jitters are helpful to their performance and thus become more anxious prior to a game. Embrace the butterflies because they are telling you that you have the proper level of intensity to perform well.
My personal experience during the years shows that one of the most effective strategies for optimizing the performance is consist into point 3 - focus on the now. Many players can't monitor or control their thoughts, so to focus only over one single rally becomes very hard staff.
The players who are much more prepared in the tactical games (specific tactical exercises) are much more stronger in applying of the mental strategies in the game. Of course they as well have the jitters before the game, but it is easier for them to understand and control the situation, as far as being prepared in tactical area mean being aware of your strong and weak point and understanding how to use them.
Last, I will mention a comment to Andre Aggassi, after one of the most beautiful matches in the history of tennis. The interviewer asked "What do you think about your game?" and Andre answered "We both knew what we have to do. He just did it better than I did. I am very happy from the match, not setisfied, but happy".
What great awarness!!!
06-26-2010, 05:17 AM #2
Thank you for the tips.. It is really detail and helpful.
I always find myself under pressure trying to perform well in competition.
06-26-2010, 06:09 AM #3
It is not only you resistor. Many players even coaches are having trouble with understanding the mental skills and being able to use them perfectly.
Normally the coaches don't work to develop the mental skills, but the mental skills are everywhere and affect everything what we do and of course and our badminton training and performance.
By mental skills here I am mentioning specifically the mental skills for athletes and coaches described by Robin S. Vealey in Handbook of sport psychology p. 289 (book which I think is a must have book for coaches):
- foundational skills - achievement drive, self awareness, productive thinking, self-confidence;
- performance skills - perceptional-cognitive skill, attentional focus, energy management;
- personal development skills - identity achievement, interpersonal competence;
- team skills - leadership, communication, cohesion, team confidence;
Don't forget as well that you need to have be a "little nervous" to perform, otherwise you will be too relax. Here at bell's curve you can see the optimum anxious which you need to perform well.
To get there you need to understand yourself and to be honest with yourself:
- if you are too tense - just put some classic music or any relax music with lower beat - even if you don't like it so much. If you fine some that you like - better; Also you can use many relaxation techniques;
- if you are too relax - put some heavy rock music, techno or anything that is fast enough to prepare you. As well there are a lot of mental preparedness techniques in the case of being too relax;
Wish you all best in your preparedness!
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