Most don’t realize that the mental game is more than just the preparation or in game situations. How you respond to good or poor performances or to the pressure to be great in between games is the mental game too! I’m going to give you some techniques to properly handle your post-game routine, how to view success and failure, as well as deal with pressure properly.
HOW TO EVALUATE PERFORMANCE
Have a trusted mentor, coach, or trainer give you feedback after watching you live or on film
Use journaling techniques – Every athlete should have a journey!
Three, two, one method: 3 things that went well, 2 things you need to improve on, and one takeaway lesson you learned about yourself, the game, etc.
Well, Better, How method: Something that went well, something you could have done better, and HOW you are going to improve on that weakness
Pick the method you like best and write in your journal after practices and games. This will serve as a well to track your accomplishments and progress.
HANDLING SUCCESS AND FAILURE
You have to understand that good days and bad days are part of the process. Your ability to trust this process and remain confident through the ups and downs will determine your success. If you are consistently training outside your comfort zone and intentionally doing things outside of what is comfortable you will experience mistakes and failure. Therefore, failure is necessary for greatness. Failure is feedback. Failure shows you where you need improvement. Success is feedback as well. Success and failure should result in the same reflective process, which is learning!
Athletes who celebrate success for too long, hold on to past mistakes for too long, and allow fear to hold them back from pushing their limits will never reach their full potential.
DEALING WITH PRESSURE
The amazing thing about elite athletes is that they don’t see pressure as something to fear, but rather they see pressure as a privilege. Your perspective of pressure has to change if you want to use it to your advantage. You might hear people say that pressure doesn’t exist. Honestly, it’s all about the perspective you have. However, let’s be honest – when pressure and expectation is on we can get pretty nervous.
No matter what you have to have the mental skills to go to when you need to relax your mind and body! When we get anxious and stressed our muscles also tense up. Muscle tension will make you play tight! Playing tight and hesitant will affect your shot mechanics and decision-making.
Mental Skills Under Pressure:
Deep breathing! You want to slow down your breathing and relax your muscles. Deep breathing gets more oxygen to your muscles and your brain so you can be quicker on your toes.
Power Phrases: When the situation gets tense you need statements you can say to yourself to remain focused. “I’m ready for this moment”, “I perform well under pressure”, “I’m relaxed and composed”, make your own!
- Focal Point: This is something in your environment that you can look at to refocus. This might be a word you wrote on your wrist tape or a line on the court. No matter what your focal point is it should be something that reminds you of your purpose and why you love to compete! Don’t forget to have fun!