Mind over Matter: How to succeed in sport

How to succeed in sport – it’s not necessarily what you think

Many people believe that in order to succeed in sport – at any level – you need to train, train, train. And to an extent that is true. The principle that you need to do something for 10,000 hours to become an expert has its foundation in fact. But to be truly successful – and perhaps more importantly, to enjoy that success, you need put your mind to it. So, whether you are an elite athlete, a weekend warrior, or just enjoy a social game, the way you think will make a big difference to the outcome – and your enjoyment.

There are nine key mental practices that you need to work on to succeed at any level:

  • Positive Attitude – this is not something that just happens. It is a choice you make. The key is to aim for excellence, not perfection. Learn from your failures as well as successes, and to maintain perspective.
  • Motivation – it’s sometimes difficult to persist when the rewards don’t seem to be immediately apparent, but try to remember the benefits of participation, rather than constantly focusing on the outcome.
  • Goals – keep them high, but realistic. And they should be measurable, time oriented and both short and long-term if you truly want to succeed in sport.
  • People – appreciate the role others play in your endeavours. And show consideration and humility to your opponents.
  • Self Talk – we are often our own worst critic. Try and talk to yourself the way you would a good friend. Maintain positive and realistic conversations with yourself – particularly while you are competing.
  • Imagery – the power of suggestion. Imagine that little ball going into the hole on the green. Imagery should be specific, realistic and detailed. And if you find yourself veering off course during competition, use it to bring yourself back.
  • Anxiety – is a fact of modern life. But use the adrenalin that is caused by anxiety to fire you up. Use if to intensify your performance.
  • Emotions – there is no getting away from them. Accept them, recognise them and where possible use them to improve rather than interfere.
  • Concentration – resist distractions. It’s sometimes easy to put off doing what you know you should. Don’t. And when competing, stay in the present.

If you can learn these skills it will not only help you in your chosen sport. Life is full of situations where they can be used. Job interviews, auditions, presentations, exams. Your preparation and ‘performance’ on the day can be improved by maintaining mind over matter!

Research has shown that massage will help with many aspects of mental preparation – particularly with concentration and managing anxiety. If you would like to book a massage to help with preparation for your next competition – or audition or exam – call our Baulkham Hills clinic on 9639 7337.

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