It is generally known that to excel in any given sport or activity, you will need skill, natural talents, and lots of practice. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that people spend much time training and practicing to get better at any given activity. What people often neglect, however, is how important the mental and emotional outlook can affect performance. The best of them all are not only the ones with the best skills or with the most practice, but the ones with the toughest, most competitive, and positive minds.
This is especially true when you consider how some of the better-skilled people you know failed somehow because of many reasons such as being distracted or having a bad case of the jitters. Now given this, how can you prepare your mind for the activities ahead to ensure that you have the proper head on your shoulders when coming out to meet the challenges of each performance?
During any performance especially in sports, you are subjected to an undue amount of stress to perform at your peak. And excelling in your performance will generally involve being able to concentrate in any situation. If you are unable to focus and concentrate on the task you are to undertake, you are more likely to fail or make mistakes.
In competitive sports, the winner is often the one who keeps a level head until the end. In basketball, the last second free throw that could win the game is often greeted with all sorts of distraction from the fans (who do all sorts of unsettling things), from his opponents, and even from the player himself. If the player buckles under the pressure, it could mean that the point or two may win or lose the ballgame.
To improve focus, you must be able to tune out unnecessary thoughts and stimuli and concentrate solely on what must be done. The great ones are often asked what it feels like to be on center stage amidst the lights and the pressure. Most of them reply that they are anxious before the performance, but confident during the performance itself. This is because they are able to zone out unimportant thoughts to concentrate on the task ahead.
Confidence is built up with competence. You can develop a strong sense of ability when you are indubitably sure of what you can achieve. The more well-prepared you are, the less anxiety you feel, therefore increasing your chances for a great performance. But what happens when, after building competence, your confidence is suddenly shattered? That would certainly spell doom for any performance.
Confidently performing beyond limitations is possible if you are not holding back anything and giving all you have. When the confidence is gone, you will instinctively hold back and become tentative towards the task ahead. What we’re talking about here is not simply a 5 to 10 percent decrease in performance, because such mental tentativeness will easily lose you about 20 to 50 percent of your potential.
This is the reason why coaches, players, and even businesspersons like playing mind games with their opponents. If they are able to break them down way before tip-off, then they have a decided advantage over their opponents. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they have won the battle halfway even before it started.