Mental Workout

These are the 4 best mental tricks that will help you reach your highest potential during training and competing.

Everyone knows that having a successful exercise routine is only possible by having a great game plan. It is also well-known that almost 50 percent of your match is won before the match begins. It is all about the mental preparation. Your body always follows your mind. Therefore, if you’d like an outstanding performance, you need to make sure your mind is on the right track. What do you need to do before and during your competition to reach peak performance?

1. Breathe. One of the most important components of your performance is your breathing. You probably think: “Hey, how is breathing mental? Of course, I am breathing!” Well, I’m not talking about that shallow nervous breathing you do before your match or when you’re in doubt. And, I am sorry if this isn’t a secret to you. I’m talking about the breath you take that fills your body with strength, brings clarity to your mind, and gives meaning to your movements. That is probably something you don’t really think about. This is the mental aspect of your breathing.

This is all about breathing with the purpose of deeply connecting to your body and your true self. Everyone is breathing. How many people, however, complain about running out of breath? Believe it or not, this is more of a spiritual or emotional issue, rather than a physical one.
That slouched over, bad posture most of us are having comes from a lack of confidence, and without even knowing it, it disables us from breathing properly. Daily, because of this, we are only using 70% or 80% of our lung capacity. You can’t reach peak performance if you only take in 70% of your lungs’ capacity. Your breath is the only thing you own, and it is the bridge to your soul. Your breath is also the only thing that connects you to all of your instincts, your strengths, and your resources. The breathing I’m taking about is a learned skill. And, like any other skill, to master it, you must practice it every day. Therefore, every time you want to succeed at something, you must deliberately take deep breaths and focus on the air that enters your lungs. Picture how that air fuels these muscles that give you the strength you want. Imagine how the oxygen invades your brain, giving you the clarity you desperately need. Ultimately, you must feel how your breath connects you to your body and your goals to move forward.

2.  Focus on YOU. It is all about you and how you perform. Winning comes as a result of great performance. Wanting to win won’t get you to perform, but loving to perform will probably get you to win. Don’t get me wrong. You must want to win, and losing definitely sucks. However, you also need to enjoy performing. The desire to perform will come to you, only if you believe you have done everything in your power to prepare for this competition or match. To have great performance, you must literally ignore everything that happens around you and stay focused on yourself. You need to create an imaginary bubble in which you get to choose what information you let in, right before your match. You need to be selective about who you are talking to, what you are talking about, and what kind of people and energy you let inside your bubble. Also, you must be careful about what kinds of thoughts are roaming around inside your head. These should be only positive thoughts about how great you are. Thinking about what you didn’t do or about what you could have done or should have done won’t help you reach peak performance. They will achieve the opposite. At this point, you’ve done everything right. Even if, in reality, your preparation for that match wasn’t so great, you must still focus on what went right. Take deep breaths, feel your body and the feet beneath you, and stay positive. As you take deep breaths, acknowledge the taste in your mouth, the smell of the air, and enjoy how your body feels. That will help you keep the focus on your body and yourself as you prepare to enter your match and compete.

3. This is your time.  When things don’t go our way, we immediately think the timing was bad. Often, athletes also think they are too young, too old, too slow, too small, too short, too tall, or not light or heavy enough. These are jut a few thoughts going through our minds right before, or during, competitions. All of this translates to: “It’s not my time, or I’m not ready.” Well, it is your time every day you wake up in the morning. Every time you go to the gym to work out, it is your time to exercise. It is time to eat, time to sit down at the dinner table, time to perform your duty. It is time to sleep when you get in bed at night. It is time to talk every time you open your mouth, and it is definitely time to perform when you step into the ring. We must think and believe it is always our time. You need to think: “It’s my time.” At least a few days before your competition, if not longer before, you must think this way. That way, you won’t get overwhelmed during competition when the officials call your name saying, “It is TIME.” When you get closer to the match day, you will always be ready if your thoughts are in tune with your needs. When you’re hungry and say: “It is time to eat”, you will think about what type of food your body needs to perform at its highest potential. When you say: “It is time to work out”, you will give your mind time to connect to your body to reach optimal performance. When you think: “This is my time to shine”, you will look forward to performing and to feeling alive. You’re going to be excited to get to the arena in which you’ll have all of these opportunities. That way, you will be more proactive during your match and take more actions, rather than being nervous, doubtful, or hesitant. Thinking: “This is my time”, will bring a higher level of energy upon you, along with a higher level of awareness.

4. Have fun. This is one of the most used statements and the most misunderstood one. How can one have fun when there’s so much at stake? Fun doesn’t start during competition. It starts in training. However, how can one have fun when all he or she does is struggle? You can’t struggle in training and expect to have fun in competition. Struggle isn’t physical; it’s only psychological. If you constantly think you need to struggle to improve your speed and power, you’re sadly mistaken. Having fun is feeling good about yourself and what you do. Having fun is feeling good about your form, speed, your strengths, and your skills. You can’t have fun if you think something is wrong with you. You can’t possibly have fun if you think you could’ve trained harder, or if you think you’re not strong enough. Having fun is being confident that you did everything you could to get in the best shape possible at that time. Having fun is allowing yourself to make mistakes and forgiving yourself for these mistakes. You can’t give more than everything you have in training, and you can’t undo what’s being done. When someone tells you to have fun, what they are saying is: “You are alright!” Have fun during every practice and training session. Do your best and move on, even when your “best” is not enough to “win.” You can only have fun competing if you take deep breaths, focus on yourself, and believe that EVERY DAY IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE AND FEEL ALIVE.
Good luck.