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Back to Basics

The Mental Notes team is often trying to develop new and better ways of helping our clients achieve their sporting goals. This is a good thing as it means that we are constantly looking to improve our performance as sport and performance psychologists in the same way that our athletes are looking to improve their performance as athletes.

Despite this pursuit of continual improvement, I was reminded only recently of the effectiveness of simple ideas and principles that we have used for a long time.

Specifically, I am talking about being aware of and understanding what helps us perform and what doesn’t. This simple idea is as important now as it has ever been, and is as effective now as it has ever been.

The same pursuit of continual improvement occurs with athletes. As a result, they too can get caught up looking at what the next ‘big thing’ is to try to perform better, which sometimes results in forgetting the simple and effective things that help them perform at their peak.

So, lets look at a simple concept and remind ourselves of its usefulness..

Action has power. We need to remember that we have control over what we do, and that what we do can have a huge impact on how we perform.

Think back to a time when you have been at your best. Think about what you did, what you looked like, and how you acted.

Some common responses to these questions are things like warmed up well, had a good training block going into the competition, had my gear organised, ate well on the day, hydrated well, and stuck to my pre-performance routine.

As previously mentioned these are simple things, but they are incredibly important and powerful in terms of athletes getting the most out of themselves and performing at their peak.

The exercise of recalling what you have done prior and during your best performances is only part of the picture.

The essential part is the doing. This is exactly what we are talking about when we say ‘back to basics’. It’s a simple idea but not always an easy one. Action has power but it still takes focus and effort to act.

Taking action can be especially hard when we don’t ‘feel’ like doing things. It is during these times when it is most important to ‘do’. Before and during a performance, when an athlete doesn’t ‘feel’ great (e.g., nervous, low in confidence, overwhelming pressure), they often stop doing the important things because they ‘feel’ like they can’t. This is when it is most important for an athlete to take control of their actions and carry out the actions that they know are important for peak performance.

Very simply, if warming up well, sticking to the game plan, and using a pre-performance routine consistently helps an athlete perform at their peak then they have to do these things no matter how they feel if they want to perform consistently.

It is the ability to carry out these actions regardless of emotional state that helps an athlete perform consistently and is the difference between good athletes and great athletes.

Getting back to basics by doing the important things no matter what is not always easy but is effective in achieving consistent peak performance.

If you need help getting back to basics then visit one of the Mental Notes team, who can work with you to help understand what works for you in your performances and learn the skills to be better equipped to do the things you need to get the most out of every performance.

Matt Ahlberg | Sport & Exercise Psychologist MAPS