If you’re an athlete, or find yourself around athletes often, you may have heard of something called “mental performance.” While you might expect a mathematician, scientist, or a professional chess player to be at their peak mental performance, you probably wouldn’t associate mental performance with athletes; after all, athletes are not focused on mental performance, but rather on their physical movements.
What is mental performance? It is a combination of things, but it essentially revolves around relaxation, concentration, imagery, self-talk, and a strict mental routine. These five aspects of mental performance translate into a higher physical performance for an athlete. If the brain holds full control over the body, it stands to reason that athletes should spend just as much time developing their mental skills as they do their physical skills.
RELAXATION is largely a mental game, and it’s absolutely vital for athletes to avoid feeling tense or apprehensive about a performance. CONCENTRATION is probably the most important point to reaching peak mental performance. Avoiding distractions and focusing on the task at hand is exceptionally important in anything you do, and it’s doubly so in the world of physical performance: without concentration, you won’t be performing at your peak.
SELF-TALK is also an important factor when considering peak performance. Negative self-talk, such as “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do this,” significantly lowers an athlete’s chances of success. However, if an athlete’s self-talk is positive and encouraging, such as “I am the greatest” or “I can win this,” he or she is all but guaranteed a better chance of success, especially in comparison to an athlete practicing negative self-talk.
One of the more interesting parts of mental performance is the concept of IMAGERY. Say, for instance, an athlete is recovering from an injury, or for some other reason is able to physically practice. The athlete can still practice, but instead of physically completing the activity, they simply envision themselves doing the activity. This mental vision of activity activates the same cognitive areas of the brain that are activated during the actual physical activity, and at times can even match the results gained from physical practice.
All of this is summed up in one point: develop a firm mental routine . A strong mental routine will accommodate all of the aforementioned points: relaxation, concentration, imagery, and positive self-talk. This article: Higher-Faster-Stronger, is so spot on in pointing out what every athlete should focus their energy on, which can also apply to women from every walks of life.
If anyone is serious about reaching their peak, they must seriously consider creating a strong mental routine to complement their physical routine.
Mental Training for Peak Performance, Revised & Updated Edition. Mental Training for Peak Performance teaches you that sweat isn’t enough. Before you can win on the track, court, links, or slopes, you have to win in your head. Revised and updated for the first time since 1996, famed sports psychologist Steven Ungerleider, PhD, looks at the mental aspect of sports performance today, revealing the mind exercises champion athletes use to outshine the competition.
Coaching the Mental Game: Leadership Philosophies and Strategies for Peak Performance in Sports – and Everyday Life. Coaching the Mental Game offers coaches of all sports a definitive volume for effectively understanding an athlete’s mental awareness, which in turn will help drive success. Author H.A. Dorfman details appropriate coaching strategies aimed at perfecting the player’s mental approach to performance.
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