6 Successful Preparation Techniques Employed By Athletes
Being an athlete is a serious business where marginal gains are usually the difference between everything and nothing. How athletes mentally prepare for an event is often the difference where ability is so evenly matched, and sports psychologists have become the norm. Here are 6 intriguing ways in which elite sportsmen and women get ready for action.
Focus on technique, not the objective
One of the common themes running through these preparation activities will be the ability to limit and control stress. The most stressful thing you can you in a pre-event moment is start to focus on the enormity of what you want to achieve: from an athlete going for a gold medal to a high school athlete wanting to throw a shut-out, for example. Focusing on what you want to achieve will simply exacerbate the stress you are feeling – imagine thinking this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as you step up? That is hugely detrimental, so instead athletes focus on the technique or method that will get them to the goal, without focusing on the goal itself. That means running through well-rehearsed routines right up until the final moment – think a golfer practicing his or her swing.
“It is technique which gets the athlete to that position in the first place, nothing else. It is true that in the moment, psychological barriers can be the difference between success and failure, but it is the athlete that best executes the technique in the clutch moment that wins the day,” points out Rand Chatterton, a psychologist at Revieweal and Essay roo.
Use stress to your advantage
Stress is natural – if you didn’t feel it you wouldn’t care. So, it is not about eliminating stress, that is nigh on impossible, but it is about controlling it, and using it to your advantage. There are a host of sports where stress can actually be a positive thing because of the physical effect is has on our bodies – for example stress can actually help us run faster, or can negate the effects of pain. Using this stress, and the hormones it releases into the body, positively is what drives athletes to excel.
Visualization has been a buzz-word in sports psychology for quite some time, and that is because it works. Before the event itself, see clearly in your mind how it will play out. For most athletes, it is the same situation, just a different day, and so the activity itself is not unfamiliar – visualizing yourself succeeding in an activity that you have performed so many times before will simply increase the likelihood of you executing your trained technique in that precise moment.
“Visualization techniques also help athletes prepare for the unexpected. What do you see yourself doing in that exact scenario? Play it out in your mind, and then the scenario itself does not become so unique or fear-inducing. Often it is the athlete who deals with hurdles the best that will ultimately succeed,” argues Sarah O’Coughlan, a sports writer at Academized and Writemyaustralia.
Pick your perfect pre-event environment
If you watch top athletes closely before an event, all will be doing something slightly different. Chances are that is not an accident, but instead an indication of the fact that every individual responds differently to the moment, and therefore his or her pre-event routine will have been carefully honed to suit the needs of that particular athlete. From listening quietly to music, to laughing and joking with competitors like Usain Bolt, there is no right way, only the right way for you. Identify it, and stick with it.
Enjoy the moment
Very often you will hear athletes talk about going out and enjoying the moment. This is not an easy thing to achieve of course, but if you truly want to control your stress levels than try to actually enjoy what you are doing – athletes who hate every moment of it are rarely successful. Try to stay philosophical – it is not the end of the world. You are privileged to be able to do what you do so well, so everything else should be a bonus. Winning is a reward, losing is an education, but taking part is the true pleasure.