Mindset is the established collection of beliefs and attitudes held by someone. Your mindset and the way you interpret events in your sport or life can help or diminish your performance. In other words, your mindset can inspire and motivate you to be your best self. Or in the worst-case scenario, it can hurt your performance and restrict your enjoyment in sport and other areas of your life. The mental training program not only helps athletes manage thoughts and emotions during competitions, but it also includes a set of learned skills that help athletes develop a pattern of constructive thinking, energy, and optimism, giving them better chances of success.
When the athlete faces a challenge in the sport, activation on the central and autonomic nervous system occurs, which is great because it prepares the body for performance. Suppose the athlete worries about the outcome of the game; then, the activation levels will be too high. In that case, the athlete’s attention, perception, reaction time, decision-making, and movement strength are affected, leading to decreased performance. The biological feedback or Biofeedback is like a mirror that lets the athlete see the physiological activation occurring when they face the challenges. Based on this information, athletes can now train and manage their activation levels to maximize performance.
Linking Mental Training and Biofeedback Training
During the stress of competition, the chemistry occurring in the athlete’s body is different from during practices. Did you ever notice a situation or a competition where you performed only 50 or 70% of your potential? It occurs because thoughts related to performance originates changes in the body. And physiological changes occurring in the body also trigger changes in the mind; the entire process occurs almost simultaneously. Accordingly, the interventions to enhance athletic performance must increase the athlete’s awareness of these changes. Mental Training and Biofeedback Training are the set of skills that athletes learn to prepare their mind and body to perform to the best of their abilities during the critical moments of competition. However, those skills are not like “one size fits all” that you read in a book or a breathing technique from a yoga instructor. Each of us is different in the size of our shoes, height, the color of our eyes, our genetics, personality, and different in how we respond to certain situations. For this reason, interventions to enhance athletic performance must be developed according to the athlete’s needs.
The sport psychology professional assisting you must assess your strengths, weaknesses, and patterns of physiological responses during stress. Your mental coach must have training in sport and performance psychology, and sport psychophysiology to choose the appropriate intervention that will enhance the athlete’s performance.
If you want to learn more and thrive under pressure, schedule your free consultation
Andrea C. Dias, MA, ABSP
Masters in Sport and Performance Psychology
American Board of Sport Psychology; Board Certified Sport Performance Consultant