Training is both mentally and physically exhausting for all athletes. As athletes it is very important to come mentally prepared even when you are physically tired. Being mentally prepared for every training session will allow you to take advantage of every single session in the gym or on the field! When it’s time to train, consider these five tips to help you mentally prepare for performance training:
1. Focus On Your Technique (cues)
Focus on the details and your form every single rep. Instead of visualizing the outcome, identify the individual checkpoints and steps you need to take with each repetition to get there. To help athletes with this, I like to tell them to go through a mental checklist of cues when performing a particular exercise.
2. Understand Your Stress
It’s natural to feel stressed but what many athletes fail to recognize is that this stress can be positive for you or negative for you. A small amount of stress can help benefit your performance by energizing you and giving you a rush of adrenaline. If you let it consume you, that anxiety can weaken your performance. Learn to accept and embrace the stress, put the situation in perspective, and use the extra adrenaline to your advantage.
Imaging is a technique used in sports of all kinds, it is the role of positively visualising your journey to success. It goes beyond the glory of winning, and forces you to rehearse and clearly think about the steps that are required to get there. Imaging is a powerful tool that is used by athletes everywhere, especially ahead of a big game.
Set time aside in your training programs to improve your imagery technique, allowing yourself to develop it utilising all of your senses. It is something that will continuously improve over time.
4. CHOOSE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
Some people like to get motivated by listening to loud, fast-tempo music. Other people feed off of encouragement from coaches and peers. Others choose to find a quiet space and listen to calming music, or meditate. Find which method works best for you and use it!
5. PRACTICE POSITIVE SELF-TALK
The narrative in your head before competition/performance should be mindful and purposeful. Set yourself up for success by talking through the event/exercise in a positive, uplifting way. Understand how you typically respond to certain stress triggers and create a plan for dealing with them.
Utilizing these tips will not only help you improve at training, but will also improve your performance on the field or court. Young athletes often overlook the importance of mental preparation, but once you find out what works for you and apply it to your game, you will take your game to the next level.