The Secret to Refocusing
One of the biggest mental struggles for athletes is letting go of mistakes. Often, athletes dwell on their mistakes allowing them to control their emotions and ultimately their performance. Studies have shown that elite athletes refocus faster on the next task than amateur athletes. This skill (also known as resetting) allows the athlete to recenter their focus on the present moment and stay emotionally under control. One technique that works great on letting go is for athletes to imagine that their mind is separate from their body. Listed below are several important steps to adding this technique into your game.
1) Athlete's need to accept that everyday their body performs slightly differently. This can be seen throughout different sports and performance areas such as an athlete's ability to maintain their:
- and more.
The challenge for the athlete is that they (and in many cases also their coaches & parents) often feel the need to have complete control of these areas everyday. In addition, many athletes expect to maintain these areas at a high level with little to no negative change throughout the week. With this poor mentality athletes who experience an "off day" often struggle with:
- Low effort
- Lack of enjoyment in training
Unfortunately, these days added up become detrimental to the athlete reaching their full potential, resulting in the athlete not getting the most out of their game and not reaching their goals. On average, athletes who train weekly may experience 1 to 3 good days, 1 to 2 neutral days, and 1 to 2 "off days" or "bad days". If the athlete lets their off days effect their quality of training this can be the difference throughout their career from reaching their full potential or not. For example, an athlete who trains 6 days a week and has 2 "off days" is wasting 33% of their training because they are not able to give maximum effort, control their emotions, etc., in order to maximize those days throughout their career!
2) Have athletes put more emphasis on their mind than their body when a mistake or poor performance occurs. Separating the mind from the body means that the athlete is able to accept that it was not their fault it was their body's fault. This approach allows athletes to reset quicker because they recognize that as long as their mind was focused on the right areas and they were able to stay mentally tough their body was prepared the best way possible. Therefore, the athlete feels that they have done everything right and can accept that sometimes mistakes happen unexplainably.
The result of this approach is that athletes will make LESS MISTAKES. This approach with the addition of knowing how to use essential mental skills to improve their mind will allow athletes to let go of mistakes more often and much faster resulting in more quality moments in training and competition as well as more enjoyment in their sport.
For more information on how to let go of mistakes and much more contact SPMI and start training your mental game today.
Patrick Albán, SPMI
Director of Mental Training