3 simple ways to train your mind for competitive sports
Do you remember the time you played hide-n-seek with your friends? If you recall all the games you played, you know that it is all about having fun and living the moment.
But when it comes to sports, the idea of victory becomes essential. In sports, there exist rules that you are supposed to follow and goals that you are supposed to reach.
You must train your mind to focus on the sport and push your limits to up your performance.
Here are 3 simple ways you can improve your on-field performance by training your mind.
Train your mind by setting goals
For playing any sport, you need to work on your ability to work towards the goals you set. Imagine a scenario in which your running speed is 6 miles per hour. To up the running competition level, you must set performance goals and work towards achieving them. Performance goals are objectives like increasing the running speed from 6 miles per hour to 7 miles per hour.
At the same time, you must set process goals for learning the techniques of the sport. Process goals refer to technical details like how you hold the bat in cricket or how you hold the tennis racket.
Here are two points to keep in mind. First, you train yourself to push your limits and pursue challenging goals. This kind of goal-setting improves the quality of how you play the sport over time.
On the other hand, mastering the sport’s technicalities cultivates knowledge, which gives rise to the confidence to handle the sport’s uncertainty. Even if your opponent changes his/her strategy, you will be calm enough to deal with the changing game if you know the sport’s techniques well enough.
Practice positive self-talk
During the crucial moments in the sport, there are chances that you could be distracted by negative thoughts like ‘You will lose’, ‘You are not playing well’, ‘your opponent is better than you’, etc. By engaging in positive self-talk, you learn to manage self-defeating thoughts.
Begin with training yourself to use words that motivate and inspire you consciously. Use powerful phrases like ‘You can do it’, ‘You are good’, ‘You will win the game’.
This positive reinforcement deters the influx of negative and demotivating thoughts and pushes you to perform well.
Your ability to play the sport improves tremendously if you learn imagery. Imagery is a simple skill of producing mental images to help you visualize yourself as performing the sport to the best of your abilities. For good mental imagery, you need to work on four things which are perspective, control, speed, and multiple sense.
Perspective is about how you see yourself while playing the sport. Perspective helps you assess your performance better. For instance, you can evaluate if you feel weak, tired, energetic, or motivated. Depending on the evaluation, you can change your strategy. The second point is about control. Sometimes you could perform poorly in imagery. For instance, you can fail in a chess game despite visualizing that you won the game. If mistakes crop up in the mental images, don’t let them go unnoticed. Always be open to correct those mistakes to improve the quality of the mental images.
Also, use all the five senses to visualize the sport experience. When you imagine the experience in the head, you perform better in the actual sports competition. Imagine how it feels like to stand at the beginning of the race track. Hear the cheering of the crowd in the background and experience a sense of excitement and alertness. Visualizing the situation in great depth and detail improves the quality of your performance.
Finally, remember to adjust the imagery’s speed depending on which aspect of the sport you focus on. For instance, if you plan to work on your batting skills in cricket. Start with visualizing the scenario in your head in slow motion. If you do that, you will see and assess how you hold the bat in hand, maintain the body posture etc. This way, you know which aspects of the sport you need to work more on.
The first step to improving your game–whatever your game might be–is to train your mind. Commit to mental strength training, and you’ll train your brain to think differently. With practice and dedication, you will never crack under pressure and always maintain the mental edge over your opponent.