Let’s start with an example that happened during a bodyboarding competition in Portugal.
The event had a record number of participants in the men’s division. The competition schedule was tight, and all the athletes had to stay on the beach because the event would run until the last minute of daylight.
Then, the event organizers decided to run the women’s division and the girls got upset. The waves were not rideable, and the judge’s visibility was affected by the sun setting behind the waves. Everybody, both men and women wanted to compete in the next day and hope for better conditions. But the women’s division wanted to persuade the organizers to continue the competition by running some other division, maybe junior or drop-knee.
I was one of the athletes during that situation, but if I would take myself from the role of competitor and look to this situation through the event organizers point of view, I would definitely understand that the competition had a schedule, and even though, with a record number of participants, it still had to be completed by Sunday. Absolutely nobody had control over the waves conditions, and no one is to blame for that.
So, the answer from the organizers was…
“Yes! You are going to compete next! Get ready!”
If you are an athlete in a situation like this, you most likely get distracted by the changes that took place and “lose” your concentration to compete. Your mind goes back and forward, ruminating about what just happened and your attention moves inward to your emotions.
In fact, many things can happen right before you perform; you arrived late, you are tired, your loved one is not there, and you are going to compete now. How do you get your mind back in the game?
First, you did not lose your concentration; you just moved it to a different direction that was relevant to that moment, now you need to concentrate on what is related to your performance.
To get back in the game, you move your attention to things that you can control. And yes, the condition of the waves is terrible, but you cannot control it; however, you can control your performance under those challenging conditions.
A pre-performance routine can help you to prepare emotionally, mentally, and physically for what is coming next.
A during performance routine can help you to respond to what is going on during the competition.
A post-performance routine can help you to review what happened during the performance, gather the feedback from friends and coaches, and bring your energy level down.
And now, if it is still relevant, you can go back to the discussions with the governing body of your sport.
Andrea C. Dias, MA, ABSP
O’Connor, E. (2016). The Great Courses (Producer). Developing Focused Attention [DVD]. Available from https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/the-psychology-of-performance-how-to-be-your-best-in-life.html