In Sports, Mind Can Matter
Visualizing success is one of the most common mental training techniques used by elite athletes. Here are some other "mind games" sports psychologists recommend:
* Focus on doing your best, rather than on winning. Fixating on the score is likely to make you tighten up. It's better to concentrate on the task at hand.
* Recite mental cues like "balanced and centered" or "breathe" to help banish unsettling thoughts and redirect your mind to the process of playing the game.
* Concern yourself only with what you can control. You can't change the weather or who comes to watch, so let those thoughts go.
* Use positive reminders: It's better to think "arms in tight" rather than "don't let elbows stick out."
* Treat unwanted thoughts like smelly, rotten potatoes and mentally throw them as far away as possible.
* Remain inwardly focused. Imagine background noise as tap water, and if it bothers you turn off the tap.
* Have faith in yourself. Continue to play as if you're going to win, even if all evidence is against it.
* Train properly. Mental techniques won't help you if you lack skill.
* Don't be worried about being worried. Most great athletes get nervous and learn to love the challenge of testing themselves. Nervousness is what releases the adrenaline to help you perform your best.
* Keep the game in perspective. It's exciting, it's important, it's fun--and it's a game. The sun will rise again tomorrow no matter what happens.
* Remember, the thrill of competition is one of life's peak experiences. If you want to feel ordinary, stay home.
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