Typical Mental Obstacles

Obstacles Strategies to Overcome Obstacles

Shaky Self-Confidence; doubts about ability

  • Image successful past performances.
  • Visualize future performances seeing and feeling yourself perform as you are capable.  
  • Create a 'success log' where you identify something positive from every practice session. Refer to this before each competition.
  • Remind yourself of the basics you rely on that are crucial to your success.
  • Tailor your training sessions to ensure success in the week leading to an important competition.
  • Monitor your self-talk - battle the negative, doubting thoughts with positive, production self-talk. 
Feeling pressure to perform at an exceptionally high level
  • Focus effort on what you need to do to perform your best rather than waste energy with worry.
  • Do what has worked fro you in the past - stick with your pre-competition routine.
  • Remind yourself of your goals for the competition which should be under your control.
  • Surround yourself with supportive, positive people.
  • Behave and think confidently.
  • Keep the competition in perspective - this is only one aspect of your athletic career.
Letting distractions (media, family, rankings, crowd, etc.) influence your preparation
  • Set guidelines with family, friends, media; communicate when you need time by yourself and when you will have time for them.
  • Recognize that some events are uncontrollable, but what you do have control over is your reaction to the event. 
  • Anticipate any and all possible distractions, and develop a strategy to deal with each of them, so you are not caught off guard. 
  • Keep yourself physically isolated from situations that take you out of your preparation routine. 
Feeling like you have to improve or change what you have done in the past. 
  • Remember that the importance of the event should not affect the approach that has worked in the past.
  • Remind yourself that you trust your training and your competition strategy.
  • Adhere to your consistent mental preparation routine.
  • Just as you wouldn't change physical skills at the last minute, don't attempt to change mental skills that have been successful for you. 
Increased worry and physical anxiety
  • Manage your physical anxiety (increased heart rate, tense muscles) through deep breathing exercises or another form of physical relaxation. 
  • Remind yourself of successful practices and performances to calm your mind.
  • Focus on what you need to do in the upcoming performance to keep your mind active with productive thoughts.
  • If you have time before competing, distract yourself by listening to an IPod or talking with friends.

Pressure Management Process

You can learn to manage how you let pressure affect your performance; it is your responsibility.  Three steps to managing pressure are identified to get you started today:

1. Develop awareness. Be aware of how various pressures and distractions affect your performance.  It is helpful to keep a written log of your competition experiences, so you can immediately note what pressure you felt and how you dealt with it after competition. 

2. Prepare a plan. Prepare a strategy/strategies to deal with the pressures.  You need to figure the strategies that will work best for you. 

3. Practice the plan.  Implement these strategies in practice and integrate them into your pre-competition routine.