Amy Javens is a professional triathlete, coach, and mother of three living in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. Her experience has sharpened both her athletic skills and her overall perspective.
Your training went perfect for your recent goal race. Your race day nutrition was practiced and nailed. But when race day came you fell apart and didn’t meet your objectives. What happened?
Let’s face it. Training for long endurance races is as mentally taxing as it is physically. If we dedicate so much time toward our physical development, shouldn’t we spend time on our mental development?
One of the most important, but overlooked, disciplines of an accomplished endurance athlete is mental fitness – your mindset towards training and racing.
Positive metal fitness is key for sport success. It's no wonder that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Olympic Training Centers have invested a lot into their programs to help athletes achieve top mental fitness. I started using a sport psychologist this past year when my racing performance was not meeting what my training performance indicated. Something was happening when I raced.
With my sport psychologist, I focused on positive self-talk. We talked about spirituality often. And we discussed the pressures I put on myself. These sessions opened my mind to the art of mindfulness, being attentive to the present. We even dabbled in hypnosis!
I also worked with my coach through the USOC Sport Psychology Mental Training Manual. These exercises helped me identify nine mental skills essential for success in sport.
1. Setting Goals
Are you making goals? Can you move outcome goal-setting into process goal-setting? Are your goals challenging, yet realistic?
2. Mental Imagery
Do you imagine your success? Can you imagine how a training session will go? Can you imagine how unexpected things will affect your performance?
3. Self Talk
When you talk to yourself, get yourself hyped, are you speaking positively or negatively? Can you identify times in your competition when your thoughts may tend to wander?
4. Energy Management
Do you use your energy productively?
What hinders your concentration - internal or external?
6. Self Confidence
Do you have too much or too little self confidence? Are there any rituals you can make that will boost your confidence?
7. Mental Preparation
Do you have a mental preparation routine?
8. Excelling Under Pressure
Can you maintain the same composure you had in training during your competition? Does pressure affect your performance?
9. Sticking With It
Do you practice your mental skills regularly? Do you keep a mental log?
I am a believer, and you should be too, if you want to attain the best you can in sport.
To obtain more information USOC Sport Psychology Mental Training Manual contact firstname.lastname@example.org.