Individual sports performance consist of three elements; fitness, technical ability and mental approach. Whilst many athletes at all levels spend a great deal of time on the first two elements, the mental aspect is often forgotten about.
Yet our mindset may actually be the most important of the three? The ability to relax. To visualise your game plan, ‘mental rehearsal’. Self-belief, motivation, and focus. And this aspect is something that should be cultivated off-field/court, not when you are in the middle of the match, frantically trying to change approach. We can even sabotage ourselves before we start? “I’m tired”, “I’ve not played for a week”, “work is stressing me” etc. Negatively forecasting your performance will have predictable results.
“In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”
We all know what it’s like when the pressure is on? Getting in the way of ourselves, trying too hard. The result? A short putt is missed or an easy volley put into the net.
When we work on guided imagery and preparation, it’s much easier to create a state of ‘flow’.
But first, we start with how you are in general. How full is your stress bucket? Usually, a dip in performance can be down to life problems as opposed to a loss of form. Relationships, work, stress, anxiety, worry. So we have to work through things holistically and make sure your life, in general, is performing as it should be and making any changes to get you back in the state of flow.