When those eight super athletes line up on the starting grid for the 100m the difference in physical ability between them is miniscule. 100th’s of a second will be the margin of who takes gold and who trails in 4th.
So with ability in the balance of these gigantic men of sport, what determines who will be in the medals?
As a performance coach, the answer is simple: The Mind.
What is going on in the head of an athlete in the 4 years before the Olympics begin, right up to the moment they are placing their feet in the blocks in the final, will increase the chances of the eventual winner.
3 Questions Every Athlete Should Ask
When I coach athletes I ask them the 3 following questions to ascertain how much emphasis they are placing on the mind and how important they view it with regards to performance.
How much time in percentage terms, do you spend on the following:
- Your physical fitness?
- Your particular skills (Needed to excel or perform at their peak)
- Your mental training?
The answers will come back with the following typical type of stats:
- Physical fitness 60%
- Skills 30%
- Mental Training 10%
When I probe the 10% for mental training they are referring to ‘thinking positive’. So although my earlier reveal above about the answer resting in the mind may have seemed blatantly obvious; it is not necessarily.
The answer to the 3 questions above should be of equal merit and more often than not, they aren’t.
All Performance Begins in the Mind
In fact everything begins in the mind not just performance. But in sport your mind can give you that winning edge. It can be that extra 100th of a second; the focus needed to pot that tricky frame winning black; the calm needed under pressure; reduced unforced errors and of course, the motivation to put in an extra run on a cold winter’s night.
Yes, your mind plays a critical part in how you will perform and whether or not you will go beyond what you think is your current peak.
3 Mind Shifting Techniques You Can Use to Increase Performance
There are many ways in which you can train and use your mind to increase performance. For example, building your self-confidence, setting clear goals, managing emotions and dealing with pressure.
One of the more common and well-known techniques is Creative Visualization.
Neuroscientists have discovered that when we visualize something, the same part of the brain ‘lights up’ or is activated, in precisely the same way as if we are performing the same task physically!
A lot of people associate creative visualization with sitting down in some weird position and chanting. But there is a far more powerful and effective way to use this immense power.
This technique goes deep into the unconscious mind.
Mind Shifting Technique # 1 Create a Mental Video
I get my athletes to create mental videos in their minds. I ask them to take a good 10 or 15 minutes creating this video. Once created, you will have access to it anywhere and at anytime you need it.
Picture yourself performing all of your game at peak performance and beyond. Start with a two to three minute video with you doing the most important aspects of your game better than you have ever performed before.
No doubting and no thoughts of its not possible for me to perform like this. Release the mental shackles of what is and what isn’t possible. Approach your video with the attitude of anything really is possible.
Your mind loves repetition. When you mentally rehearse over and over again performing your specific actions, decisions and appropriate actions happen naturally and automatically.
In this video you create yourself, you must be what is termed, associated. This means being in your own body and looking through your own eyes as you perform your routine. Make the video bright, colourful and loud. Ensure that you use all the senses. What do you see, hear and feel as you play this video?
For a junior go-karter I coached, I got him to create a video in his mind of driving the circuit as he would in a waking dream. So he saw himself cornering expertly, accelerating off the grid and successfully over-taking other karters. In this video, he would see and feel himself as being completely focused, calm and fast.
Together, we developed a short powerful version of this video so he could play it while sat on the grid when delays occurred.
Once created, play your video as often as you can. You can increase the length and intensity at anytime you see fit.
Mind Shifting Technique # 2 Control Your Inner Self-talk
That inner-doubting, overly critical voice in your head can be controlled. It is a matter of choice. Remember, it is only an opinion. Reducing that negative inner chatter is vital after you say lose a game in tennis or make a bad shot in golf.
That inner voice is likely to beat you up with such nonsense as, “That was really pathetic” or, “You are going to lose now” or, “I can’t do this” and other such drivel.
Instead, talk yourself up. Quickly remind yourself that you have played many more great shots and that you will improve in the next game or at the next hole or at the next bend or on the next service return.
Mind Shifting Technique # 3 Invent a Metaphor
Your unconscious mind, that part of your mind that does things for you automatically and without any conscious effort, controls 40% of your behavior. And it just loves metaphors.
Take Usain Bolt as a great example. You know his famous pose that he performs before and after racing? It’s called the Lightening Bolt. What he is telling himself over and over again is that when he is on that track he is as ‘fast as lightening’. That is an outstanding metaphor in action.
A goalkeeper might create for himself, ‘My goal is a fortress’. Going back to the go-karter, he created the metaphor of being ‘The beast: a fast and focused driving machine’. We anchored this deep into his mind and body; he would only say this to himself when he put his helmet on right before racing. Sometimes he would use it going down the home straight too, as a booster.
Create your own powerful metaphor
He went on and achieved the 4th fastest time in the world, 2nd in the UK Championships and reduced his crashing by over 85% (Much to his Sponsor’s delight).
For a senior tennis pro he became, “The Cyborg” when he walked out on court to start the match. He shot up over 300 places in just over 4 months and won 5 tournaments in the same amount of time.
What metaphor could you invent for when you are performing?
So how much time are you going to place on mental training now? Are you willing to increase it?
Whether you want to increase the amount of times you go to the gym, lose weight, build more muscle or become an Olympic champion these 3 powerful techniques alone will increase your performance and therefore your results.
Remember, everything begins in your mind.
If you want to increase your performance and start getting results beyond your expectations then do get in touch. Email me right now.