Do you perform better in training and practice than you do in competitions? Do you feel like you just can’t “put it all together” when it matters the most? Do you often finish events feeling frustrated, down or pissed off at yourself for underperforming?
What the hell is going on here?
1. Training intensity – Are you pushing yourself in your training regularly? Do you train with others who help you dig deeper and push harder? Or, do you find that you’re working hard in practice, but it fails in comparison to what you feel on competition day?
Train with others who are better than you, or near the same level as you but who work their asses off. Travel to work with other training partners or coaches who can challenge you. Seek after competition in your training so that you can get used to pushing the intensity as much as possible.
2. Competition experience – Have you competed in many events throughout your athletic career? Have you put yourself in a variety of competition scenarios that challenge you in different ways? Have you been intentional about sitting down with a coach after events or games to go over crucial learning lessons and then creating plans for how to improve in those areas?
If you’re feeling like your nerves get the best of you, or you mess up your execution during competition, it would be helpful to get some coaching and more experience.
Just because you compete a lot, doesn’t mean you’re getting better at competing. You have to learn what areas you can improve on and HOW to get better.
Sign up for a variety of competitions (outside of your sport, within your sport, partner or group competitions, local or national competitions, etc.) and take notes about hurdles and takeaways. Review your plan and your post-event thoughts with a coach to eliminate making similar errors in the future.
3. Mental performance – Do you make a mental prep plan before competitions? Do you know what thoughts and actions will help you when you begin to feel flustered or upset in a competition? Do you practice controlling your body language, facial expressions, breathing and communication strategies? Do you know how to dig deep when it matters most?
You may know that the “mental component” of competition is important, but you’re not sure exactly what that means or how to train it. To perform your best in an event, you have to mentally prepare, develop strategies, practice composure, build confidence and instill mental toughness. You gotta practice this BEFORE the competition comes so that you know what works for you and can make it more habitual. You don’t just get the mental edge, you have to DEVELOP the mental edge.
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