Mental Skills for Preparing for Action

There are nine specific mental skills that contribute to success in many areas of life such as sports, weight loss, careers, or even tackling new challenges. These nine mental skills are necessary for performing well in sport as well as in non-sport performance situations. They are all learned and can be improved with instruction and practice.
Although each of the nine skills is important, its primary importance will occur during one of three phases: day-to-day, foundational; immediate preparation for performance; and during performance itself. The nine include: attitude, motivation, goals and commitment, people skills, self-talk, mental imagery, dealing with anxiety, dealing with emotions, and concentration.
These two are what we call upon while we are waiting or preparing to perform or take action. We see it in action as we watch performers and athletes with their pregame routines. When basketball players are at the line to shoot a free throw, they use these skills to set themselves up for success. The key component for these skills is that they happen in your head. The audience can not see exactly what is happening, but we sense that there is something. We see the player take a few dribbles of the ball. But what is going on in their head? Chances are they are imagining it leaving their hands and going to the net and making it in cleanly. They may even have a short mantra to keep this calm, cool, and collect as they are imagining their successful free throw shot.
A non-sport example could be for someone trying to lose weight. Perhaps you job has you attending many parties given by clients. You may have a hard time saying no to all the little goodies served. If you practice in your mind by using imagery and positive self-talk, you are much more likely to be successful in real life.
The key to learning these skills is just that…you can learn them. You need to understand what you are currently doing and what changes need to be made to shift your thinking to a more effective manner. Below are the different skills and what is involved for each.

There are two (2) mental skills that are most crucial in the preparatory stage:
Self-Talk:
*Maintain your self-confidence during difficult times with realistic, positive self-talk.
*Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your own best friend.
*Use self-talk to regulate thoughts, feelings, and behaviors during competition.

Mental Imagery:
*Prepare for competition by imagining yourself performing well in competition.
*Create and use mental images that are detailed, specific, and realistic.
*Use imagery during competition to prepare for action and recover from errors and poor performances.

What areas do you have strengths in? What areas need some work? What steps can you take today to begin building these skills?
Until next time….
Change. Discover. Transform.
Carla Carter, Ed.D., LCPC, CMPC, EMDR Certified

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