How do I Mentally Prepare Myself for Competitions?

Many athletes spend hours conditioning the body and practicing their sport attempting to perfect their skills. They give very little time, if any, to conditioning their mind to be just as ready for competition. In fact, most athletes don’t have a clue as to how they might go about the process of mental preparation. Peak performance is a result of the body and mind interacting and working in harmony. In the same way that a forehand is executed without a thought because one has practiced it many times prior to the competition, mental sharpness and toughness should occur because its techniques have been practiced. The mind set becomes “of course, I’ve already done this before”, rather than “ I hope I can stay mentally sharp”. The athletes I talk with often tell me how difficult it is to maintain focused concentration through the entire match, game or tournament. I ask them if they have practiced the skill of focused concentration prior to arriving for the event. The usual answers are, “what is that?”, “no” or “how do you do that?”

I will train athletes I work with to be able to hypnotize themselves which is to be able to induce through a simple cue a very intense, focused state of absorption. We have found that the more one practices this ability with eyes closed, the more easily a focused state is able to be maintained with the eyes opened in competition. Very simply, if you nurture the ability, it is more able to be attained and maintained. Very few therapists who have training in sports psychology have been trained in hypnosis, but in my experience, there is a big difference. The hypnosis turbo charges or enhances dramatically the experience. It does not take very long to master self-hypnosis before other techniques of sports psychology can be learned and used within the state. They include relaxation, visualization, positive thinking, arousal control and goal setting.