One of the biggest mistakes athletes make is looking too far ahead. This trend tends to increase once the athlete starts recognizing their full potential. Let’s face it, it’s exciting when an athlete's performance starts increasing to another level. The athlete builds confidence, he starts comparing his performance to where it is now and where it could be, and in many cases, “should” be later. Often, parents and coaches then bring into play the “what ifs” and adjust goals to new levels.
At first, this may seem like a very positive experience and for the most part it is except for one major detail, PRESSURE. A majority of pressure is caused when athletes look too far ahead. To counter this newly discovered pressure athletes are encouraged to only look far ahead enough to where they feel comfortable and can vividly imagine success. Athletes need to have such a disciplined focus that beyond the short amount of time where they have set goals there is nothing else. Some athletes set goals up to 2 weeks ahead, while others may go as far as 3 months. Just think, the further you set a goal, the more things that have to happen to achieve it.
For example, if an athlete has an upcoming competition next week she may need to train very hard physically, get lessons, practice under pressure, and more. However, if an athlete focuses on a goal that is 6 months away or more, the athlete may start comparing just how much they have to improve, whether or not they can stay physically healthy, whether or not they will be at the level needed, what has to happen in the first 2 months, 3 months, and more. Overwhelming the mind is unnecessary and almost always leads to poor performance.
Another common trend of overwhelming the mind are athletes and their active engagement in online junior ranking/standings websites. Every sport may differ slightly but many sports have online websites where recent results and rankings of athletes are calculated and available for everyone to see. Sure the athlete has goals to improve their ranking and surpass the competition but will studying these websites give the athlete the edge? 9 out of 10 times the answer is no.
Once again, it’s a classic example of overwhelming the mind with too many “what ifs”. Often, there is a common trend of new athletes who come in with pre-accepted defeat due to what they researched online. Whether it's players rankings, who beat who, competition levels, and more, this counterproductive action taken by athletes and in some cases parents and coaches should be eliminated. The only component that will transition to positive performance is how long the athlete can stay in the moment and allow his body to perform to its full potential.
For more information on how to stay in the moment and obtain the necessary mental training to consistently compete at a higher level contact SPMI and start today.