Sports Psychology - Improving Your Performance by John Josephs
Filed under: Sports Psychology
Cycling and triathlons are not physical activities alone. The mental component of each plays a huge factor in training, racing and performance. Whether in sprint or endurance or events, the way you approach the task at hand mentally will have a huge impact on your results. Sports psychology can make a big difference. The mind and the body act as an integrated system.
"You are what you think you are."
Effective sport psychology is an equation of a number of different related factors all of which need development and attention. In order to develop each of them to their fullest, you should refer to a more complete information source than I have included here in this brief article.
Below are some vital pieces of advice for any cycling training program so the participants can improve their mental skills and so their results.
- Set clear long and short term goals
- Add structure to you training plan and avoid randomness
- Believe in you coach. Believe in your plan. Believe in yourself!
- Rest both mentally and physically, it is an important part of training.
- Be open minded to new ideas and techniques.
- Be positive and have fun.
- Train your weaknesses.
- Visualize your success
- Practice meditation to create a balanced self.
Most athletes I have trained tend to mentally work against themselves. They put too much presssure on outcomes and end up not getting the fulfillment they expected or deserve. Try to keep things into proper perspective. Beginners, in particular, tend to put their egos on the line every time they race and a negative outcome can become embedded as an expected outcome. They need to understand that in the beginning, getting dropped is common in bike racing and is nothing to be ashamed of. Keep things in perspective, keep trying and be progressive in your training. This is where a coach can be very beneficial to your development. Try to create a calmness and do not waste energy on things that are out of your control (i.e. weather, mechanical problems, other individuals). Stick to your plan and have confidence in your abilities. Confidence in your abilities is established in training. Exert mental energy only when it is effective. Concentrate on things which will improve your performance, not things which have no effect on it. It's wasted energy.
Mental control and the ability to remain confident is often directly related to your own self talk. The easiest and most direct way to begin is to develop confidence by consciously making sure all your self talk is positive. Negative thoughts create negative energy and doubt. Again, "you are what you think you are." Key phrases or mantra can be very useful during times of stress. These are typically positive, upbeat phrases that the athlete has developed and practiced during training. Part of their purpose is to build the rider's confidence with their positive nature. Most importantly, when the brain is occupied with positive thoughts, there is less room for negative cogitation.
Visualization and Imagery
Visualization and imagery are similar techniques that require an athlete to vividly imagine performance at the peak of one's ability. Visualization relaxes your mind and programs your subconscious for success. Imagery and visualization are important techniques that can assist in your development as an athlete. These techniques are used to create and re-create an experience(s) in your mind using your all of your senses. It is important to understand the difference between productive visualization and unrealistic expectations. The visualization has to be realistic. It is essential that you really believe in yourself and your performance. Its success is based on getting you into an actual race situation and feeling like you've been there before and are in total control of the outcome. The visualization should successfully take you through every aspect of the race, starting at the beginning and finishing at the end. When visualizing, it's important to view the action from the first person. See yourself achieving your goal through your own eyes, rather than being a spectator or as though they were watching a movie. This method is very powerful because this is the way you already see and experience everything. Note every little detail about your experience and how it makes your feel. A often overlooked aspect of visualization is not recruiting all of your senses. That won't help you duplicate your race experience. You need to visualize the race as if you are in it and that means using all the senses including sights, sounds, breathing, and discomfort. Think how it feels to accomplish your goals. Feel the emotions that come to you. Good visualization is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. Allow yourself 10 to 30 minutes a few days a week for visualizing your goal. Find a quiet, uninterrupted area to perform these techniques. Remove yourself from everything else going on. Remember, the more you focus on your goals, the better chance you'll have to achieve them and be successful..
Using this technique on a regular basis will:
- Increase you mental stamina and your ability to perform at a higher level.
- Overcome nerveousness,and eliminate negative thoughts.
- Increase confidence and concentration.
- Focus and fine tune your performance.
Sport psychology is a very important aspect of training and reaching a higher level in performance. Visualization, imagery, and positive self-talk are powerful tool that can be used to supplement your physical training and improve you chances of success. Being in control and havinga focus and self-awareness are the keys to successful imagery. Remember, the key to mastering successful performance psychology is practice.