As you know, Taylor’s Strength Training, in Liverpool are hosting a varsity championship for power lifting between LJMU and Liverpool University. Danny has helped Liverpool University get prepared for this competition by setting up a partnership with them to make sure they execute the lifts as they should be lifted and helping them with numbers for the day (i am tipping **** to take the title). As the competition is only 2 weeks away, everybody is preparing for the competition by eating right, recovering and lifting. But how many people are mentally preparing for the competition? After all, its just lifting heavy weights, right? Wrong! By focusing on mental preparation just as much as the other factors, it will increase your chances of doing better. 1% better can be the difference between winning and losing. Here are my 3 ways to prepare for better performances.
The first way to prepare for a competition is preparation through different mental training techniques that some professional athletes use before competitions. In my opinion, i believe that visualisation is the more important part before competition because if you can in vision a goal and you completing that goal, it motivates you more to strive for that goal to complete it. The goals you have should already be set out before competition and if not, its not too late. (click this link to create your goals http://ow.ly/Uys230hSvZd).
Visualisation is an important tool to mental skills training you can do it at any time. A day before competition, a week, a month, a year or even 4 years (Olympians for example). I believe that some visualisation is better than none, however you should be doing it more and more to enhance your visualisation. It has many benefits such as conditioning your brain for successful outcomes, self confidence, eliminate/ reduce competition anxiety on the day and, by the time you get on the platform, you have played it a thousand times before in your head. A few tips to aid visualisation, use all your senses from a first-person perspective. This takes alot of training and practise but you will get there.
It goes without saying, that focus is key to success. Athletes cannot expect to go out and drink every night and go into their training with 100% focus when they close to vomiting from their hangover. It doesn’t work. I know you guys are at University and going out is apart of the student lifestyle but pick and choose when to and when not to go out. If somebody is really serious and focused 100%, there wont be many nights out or takeaways. In addition, i know you guys are not professional athletes so you do not have the pressures of performing for other people but if you are serious about competitions you enter, you can figure out your own answer. Reduce the distractions as much as you can and focus your attention on the task of competing. After the competition, go out and have fun because at least you know you give 100% for this competition and you did the best you could. Reward yourself with the hard work.
Anxiety can be very detrimental to performance if it is overwhelming. There are two types of relaxation that we can do to reduce anxiety, physical and mental relaxation. Physical relaxation includes progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing and biofeedback. These relaxation techniques can reduce heart rate, you can focus on individual muscles to relax and reduce breathing rate to calm yourself down. Mental relaxation techniques can include self talk, meditation and mindfulness. Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental well being. Mental relaxation (meditation) has also been found to reduce grey matter in the amygalda which reduces stress and increases grey matter in the hippocampus which aids with better memory.
The process is more important than the outcome. During competition, there are certain situations that we cannot control and attribute it to failure. For example, if you hit a 100kg bench and go into first place on your 3rd attempt you have done well and give 100%. However, if the person after you hits 205kg and takes the title, you should not feel disappointed as you cannot control what the other lifter does because you did all you could to win.
When you focus on the outcome, you attach your worth to the outcome. Eventually leading to decreased self worth, confidence and increased anxiety. Instead of focusing on goals such as “I need to win” or “If i don’t win, then its for nothing” try thinking of goals such as “i want to go 9 for 9” or “I want to have fun today.” Without focusing on the outcome, it will give you more control, enjoyment and confidence.
Individuals react to levels of anxiety differently that allows them to perform at the optimum. When athletes are in their optimal zone means that they are in their preferred anxiety level. Different emotions elicit different anxiety levels for different people. For example, the feeling of anger can be helpful for some but detrimental to others. By knowing what emotions aid your performance, can increase the likely hood of better anxiety states to increase performance. This will take time to learn, write down thoughts and feelings before your lifts and find what emotions work best for you in a competition settings.
I suggest doing it in training to practise but it will not be very reliable as thoughts and feelings can be different when you are in a competitive state environment. However, it gives you the basic self-awareness of what emotions work for you. By controlling your thoughts and feelings will help increase performance. Use different techniques to either reduce anxiety such as meditation, read a book or breathing or increase anxiety such as listening to up beat music and hyping yourself up.
So now the competition is over, it is important we reflect on our performance so we address our strengths and weaknesses. We learn by experience and from our mistakes, but there is no point just saying: “i did not do well today” because we need to go deeper. Why didn’t you do well? What didn’t you do? How can you do better next time? Reflection helps you develop skills and positively impacts practise. Reflection has many benefits such as increased self-awareness, being more honest with ourselves and it can prevent pressures in future competitions. In my opinion, the best reflective model is the Gibbs Model of Reflection (seen below). Gibb’ model challenges your assumptions, explore different approaches to doing things, helps reduce anxiety as you have a clearer mind and it increases a growth mindset.
I will be there on the 4th of February if you wan to go through anything or have any questions about what i have wrote about in this blog. I will on hand to aid athletes before, during and after competition and i will be in the office/ warm up area. Do not be afraid to approach as i will not bite! Remember, do your best and be the best you can be.