The power of positive thought can make or break an athlete’s performance. In terms of achievement, an athlete does not have to be a medal holder or have a reserve full of trophies to be considered successful. In fact, anyone who eyes their sport with passion and is committed to being the best to their abilities can have a successful athletic career.
For athletic success to be measured for an individual, their specific sport needs to be important to them. This could means anyone from a junior participant who has not yet won any competitions, an ardent runner waiting to complete their first marathon to someone who does actually hold many world records. The common element is that all these people believe in the power of positive thoughts and are motivated by them.
Now it is well known that confidence is very important in sports. In fact, it can be the thin line between success and failure in performance for an athlete. For an athlete who has the physical and technical capability of excelling at their sport, but lacks in confidence is at a huge disadvantage.
And while confidence is no doubt one of the most important skills that athletes need to be successful, there are also a number of other skills that will affect their performance. These skills can be summarized as the following:
Developing a positive attitude
Choosing and maintaining a positive attitude is important for successful athletes. When doing so, it is important that they keep in mind that their sport gives them the chance to not only compete with others but also to learn something from their triumphs and failures. Positive thought and attitude should be focused on seeking excellence and not necessarily perfection in their training.
Positive attitude should also be used to maintain a balance between their individual sports and the rest of their lives while keeping all aspects in perspective.
Maintaining their self-motivation
Once a positive attitude has been developed, it is time to keep up the self-motivation. Successful athletes will know what benefits and rewards they can expect to get through their training. They will keep up their motivation despite facing setbacks and even failure and acknowledge that many of the benefits will come from their efforts and not necessarily the outcome.
Setting realistic goals
Successful athletes will also set high, yet realistic goals for themselves and will train hard to achieve them. When positive thought is implemented into goal setting, it will drive them to chase their goals while also enjoying their sport. The effort that they put into their training is an enriching experience and makes it worth their while to achieve success.
To be triumphant at the sport, goals will need to be short term as well as long term so that performance levels are maintained throughout.
Demonstrate good people skills
While it may not seem obvious, dealing effectively with people can also affect the athlete’s performance. When athletes realize that there are other people involved in the training process such as coaches and teammates to a larger extent and family and friends to a lesser degree, they will need to effectively cope with all of them.
Successful athletes know that they are part of a larger team and can manipulate situations effectively when dealing with difficult opponents, conflict and other issues. Plus these others have a big part in shaping up an athlete’s positive or negative outlook by their constant support and encouragement on one hand and criticism on the other.
Indulging in positive self-talk
Self-talk is an important aspect of sports psychology. It is the manner in which an athlete will talk to himself to upkeep his self-confidence during difficult times. Realistic and positive self-talk allows an athlete to regulate his behaviours, feelings and thoughts during a competition and boost his positive attitude.
Using mental imagery
Another technique that can help athletes keep up a positive outlook is to use mental imagery. This aspect allows athletes to prepare for any challenge by imagining themselves doing well in the competition. Using scenarios and mental images which are specific, realistic and detailed gives an opportunity to create a game plan where they can prepare for challenges and also recover from errors.
Positive thoughts for anxiety management
Any kind of sport, exercise, or training will involve anxiety. To be successful at it, athletes need to accept anxiety as part of their game. Successful athletes will use this anxiety to improve their performance and help them compete better. It is also important to know how to regulate anxiety should it become too overwhelming without letting it affect performance.
Dealing with emotions
Just as it is important to deal with anxiety when performing, it is also important to regulate strong emotions. Success and failure go hand in hand in sports and the emotions that they trigger can seriously affect an athlete’s stance. To keep the power of positive thoughts running, intense emotions like anger, excitement and disappointment need to be kept in check. Successful athletes will redirect these emotions to correct rather than interfere with their performance.
All these skills can be used very effectively to uphold positive thought when an athlete is performing. They can be applied to achieve long term goals, be used to prepare for an event or even practiced on a daily basis to sustain performance levels.
When these skills are paired up with confidence and positive thought, the result will be optimal performance from the athlete.
What mental techniques do you apply to strengthen yourself? Share your experience in the comments below! 🙂