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Showing posts from October, 2017

Nervousness and Choking

Pressure can hurt your performance because it can make you too nervous. Nerves can make your body tight and cause you try too hard instead of just “letting it rip.” So why don’t we just stop being nervous so we can play better? It’s not that simple. First of all, nervousness is necessary. It shows you care and are motivated. We need to be motivated to play well. But can’t we be highly motivated without being nervous? Sometimes, but this is very difficult to do in certain situations. The thought of failing and what failing means to us, makes us nervous, and it is very hard to eliminate all thoughts of failure entirely.

Embarrassment, or making ourselves look bad is a big source of our nervousness. We are scared of making mistakes because we fear looking bad. This is because humans are social beings, who care deeply about self-esteem and social hierarchy. So nervousness is something we can’t completely control, we can only contain it. Every professional athlete in the history of sports …

Arousal Control

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Your ability to control your mindset and peak performance during a game has a lot to do with arousal control. Arousal can be defined as motivation, energy, or effort. It can be measured by your heart-rate, breathing, focus, and nervousness. If you really want to win, you may be highly motivated and nervous. Your heart-rate and breathing may be fast. This is high arousal. If you don’t really care about the game, you may be calm and your heart rate/breathing may be low, but your energy and effort will also be low. This is low arousal.
For most sports that involve fine motor skills such as basketball, tennis, and golf, peak performance requires a moderate amount of arousal. If your arousal is too high, you will be too nervous/tight and won’t be able to play with relaxed concentration. If your arousal is too low, you won’t have the motivation to run fast or your attention span will be too short.  
The Inverted U Theory shows the relationship between arousal and performance. So how do you co…

Mental Toughness

You always hear people talk about mental toughness. What does that actually mean? Is it any different from peak performance? If peak performance is the ability to play up to your full potential, then I define mental toughness as the ability to reach peak performance through stress, distractions, fatigue, and pain.

Any athlete can reach peak performance every once in awhile, but does that make him or her mentally strong or tough? I believe the mentally toughest athletes are the ones that can consistently get close to peak performance time and time again. They are the ones that show up and play well every game, every tournament, every year.  But even more, they can reach peak performance despite intense fatigue, pressure, or other distractions. Even when their bodies are fatigued, they come up with the motivation to keep fighting. Even when the pressure is intense, they are able to stay relaxed. Even when they have outside distractions (such as family issues), they are able to stay focus…

Peak Performance

Many athletes underachieve in games. They play well in practice but cannot execute as well in games. This is because their mental game isn’t good enough to deal with the pressure and demands of competition. They haven’t learned the skills of peak performance. Peak performance, often described as “the zone,” can be defined as playing up to your maximum potential. It is playing as well as your body, mind, and preparation allows you to. Playing with peak performance has 5 components: 1: Being fully prepared for competition physically and mentally. 2: Playing with full effort and motivation. 3: Playing with full concentration, with no distractions. 4: Playing with full confidence and trusting your muscle memory (playing loose/relaxed instead of tight/nervous). 5: playing strategically smart and making the right decisions.
The zone, or peak performance can simply be described as being fully prepared and playing hard and smart with relaxed concentration.
But just knowing what peak performance is d…

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

As I've written about before, attitudes have a big impact on behavior and outcomes. One of the most crucial attitudes for athletes is the growth vs fixed mindset, a concept written about by psychologist, Carol Dweck in her book Mindset. A fixed mindset means that you believe traits such as intelligence, athletic ability, and compassion are static, meaning that you are born with a certain level of a trait and cannot improve upon it with practice. On the other hand, a growth mindset means that you believe traits such as intelligence, athletic ability, and compassion can be developed through practice.
These two simple beliefs, or attitudes about traits and practice have many consequences. One major consequence involves confidence and motivation. People with growth mindsets believe they can improve with practice, therefore they desire to practice and improve, whereas people with fixed mindsets don’t believe they can improve with practice, so they are not as confident and motivated to i…