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 last 3 are tied to the action. So, if we are talking about sports, this would mean while we are handling the puck in hockey, dribbling the ball in basketball, or running a race. During most sports you will come in and out of this phase. Why? When we play sports, it is rare for us to be the action part all the time. Think about it. If you are playing basketball, a good portion of your time is spent preparing to get the ball or make a move. The time you have the ball is limited. Let’s apply this to ballet. There are key roles the dancer has, and these mental skills are important while he or she is actually performing.
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. You need to plan for the what ifs and practice. Below are the different skills and what is involved for each.
There are three (3) mental skills that are most significant during the actual action:
Dealing with Anxiety:
*Accept anxiety as part of the sport.
*Realize that some degree of anxiety can help you perform well.
*Know how to reduce anxiety when it becomes too strong, without losing your intensity.
Dealing with Emotions:
*Accept strong emotions, such as excitement, anger, and disappointment as part of the sport experience.
*Are you able to use these emotions to improve, rather than interfere, with high level performance?
*Know what you must pay attention to during each game or sport situation.
*Have you learned how to maintain focus and resist distractions, whether they come from the environment or from within yourself?
*Are you able to regain focus when concentration is lost during competition?
*Have you learned how to play in the ‘here-and –now’, without regard to either past or anticipated future events?
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