Welcome to part three of my ‘How to Win at Competitive Sports’ series! Now that we’ve looked into how you can utilise the rule book and optimise your physical training, it’s time to focus on some of the more obscure, but equally important, aspects of winning a competitive sport. This article is going to help you get your mental preparation on point. Mental training is important because it has the power to make or break your performance; it is rare to see someone winning who doesn’t believe they can win and that they are the best before the competition starts. We are not talking about negative ego here, or putting your opponents down, but purely about believing in your own ability and ensuring you are completely prepared for the competition.
There are hundreds of techniques that can help you with your mental preparation, so I’m going to bring those that I’ve found most helpful during my years of competing to the table. The first of these techniques is something called visualisation. Visualisation is applicable in two senses. The first of these is the sense of imagination. Picture yourself doing your event, doing everything exactly how you’ve planned and trained it, scoring all the points, and of course, winning. Imagine yourself being awarded first place, holding the medal or cup, or on the podium with your teammates. Imagine the roar of the crowd as your scores are shown. All of this will help you believe you can, and will be able to, win, whilst familiarising and engraving your action plan into your brain. The more you’ve pictured how it will go, the more likely you are to actually do what you imagine in practice.
The second sense is physical visualisation. This part can be a lot of fun! I want you to create a poster that you can stick up on your wall where you will see it every day. This poster should have your goal or something that reminds you of your goal written or drawn onto it. The more effort you put into making it look good and eye catching the better, as they process of making it will stay in your mind and you will link that to the actual goal. When you see your fabulous poster every day, you will subconsciously maintain your focus on your goal. This means you can be continuously motivated by your wall, without even realising what it’s doing! Spooky but cool, right? I know that this sounds like a bit of a wacky idea, but I’m talking from experience. For both of the World Titles that I’ve done, I’ve made brightly coloured posters saying “World Champion” and the year on them with drawings of medals and trophies and karate stick people around it. And I won both of them so I like to think it works!
Next in your campaign for metal preparation is planning. Plan everything! Plan your training schedule, plan your travel to and from the venue, plan exactly what you’re going to wear, plan what you’re going to eat, and plan it all well in advance of the day. It may seem simple and obvious, but sorting out all these details before you necessarily need to think about them will eliminate any unneeded stress on the day. This will leave your mind clear, capable, and ready to win! I’m aware that a lot of you won’t need to think about these details because your parents and guardians will sort them out for you, however, if you’re a worrier (like me!), it helps to get involved in this planning process with them. It will help you focus on the future events and your plans will make it a real and tangible thing. All this can only help peak your performance!
There you have it! Some top notch tips on how mental preparation can help you beat the best! I hope these ideas work for you. Please feel free to send in pictures of your motivational posters too… I know I would really love to see how creative you are, and it’s always nice to see what goals you have!