From a very relaxed body state, you can begin to set goals for your sports performance or your life. Goals need to be stated in a positive way for what you want, not what you do not want. Goals are a process initiated and maintained by you. A better goal is to “do your best,” than to just “win.”
You can be in control of doing your best. There are too many variables and factors beyond your control in “win.”
It is important to state when and where we want to reach the goal. It is also important to ascertain what the external obstacles and internal resistance are that interfere with goal obtainment. Asking yourself how is it you do not have this goal now will uncover the internal excuses and the external obstacles you use to explain it. Part of your long-range goal is to have a strategic plan for overcoming the short-range excuses and obstacles.
With the body relaxed and a clear goal established to work toward, we can begin to train and discipline the mind. Mental rehearsal is one of the best tools for building a positive performance future. Research validates that mentally rehearsing an act will establish both the intellectual and neuron pathways necessary for successful execution. Just as demonstrated earlier, what you think in your mind is manifested in your body.
The first step in mental rehearsal is visualization. The three primary sensory representational systems, which we use to code information is visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinesthetic (feeling).
First, establish a clear picture of your goal. As if an external spectator, watch yourself go through the desired behavior perfectly. If you do not have a clear picture of yourself, you can substitute an image of someone else doing the goal behavior. Watch and modify it until from that spectator position you like what you see. Then make the picture bigger, brighter, clearer.
Make the picture into a color movie. See it directly in front of you. Now step inside the picture and look out from inside the goal behavior. What do you see? What are the external visual cues that let you know it is time for this goal behavior? What are you thinking? Are your thoughts different from the ones you currently use? What do you hear? How do you feel? What are the specific feelings within your body of performing the goal behavior perfectly? Looking back from that perfect goal behavior performance, ask yourself what you had to do to get there. This will become part of your training plan.
Affirmations are an important technique in sport and performance psychology. In fact, they are an integral element in almost any form of psychology, self-help or self-improvement program. An affirmation is the self-talk done inside your mind. Affirmations are the auditory (hearing) track. Take a moment and listen quietly inside.
How do you usually talk to yourself? The rule of thumb for effective affirmation has to do with the three Ps; personal, present and positive. In line with the goal setting that is initiated and maintained by you, an affirmation is a statement that states out “I.” To make the affirmation present tense, the structure is “I am.” To make it positive, the affirmation continues, “I am relaxed and focused.”
Affirmations are a great way to psyche yourself up, not out, before a big game or meeting. Combine affirmations with deep breathing and you have an unbeatable combination.
There are other techniques in sports and performance psychology. Some help develop, access and have available positive motivating subjective internal resources anytime in any place.
Now, relax, breathe and enjoy yourself.
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for having positive performances in all aspects of our lives as we share the journey.