How many times have you felt as though you have practiced and prepared as much as you thought humanely possible, only to get to a new or unfamiliar environment and then become thrown off mentally by the unfamiliar territory? Or to have succumb to the internal or external chatter that has managed to thoroughly distract and throw you off your game? Developing some simple pre-game/pre-presentation routines and rituals could help prevent these mishaps and ensure you are at your best when it comes time to compete or perform.
In his article, 'Routines, Rituals and Performing Under Pressure', Sean McCann hits on 7 key points that highlight how sticking to a routine or ritual of some kind can increase consistency within your game which can ultimately end up making the difference between reaching your goals or falling short when under pressure or in a new or anxiety provoking environment .
7 key reasons why creating and sticking to routines/rituals are helpful:
1. A routine increases the sense of familiar in a new environment
2. A routine helps one to stay active and focused on useful behaviors
3. A routine enhances feelings of control and confidence
4. Routines help make useful behavior automatic
5. Routines increase the opportunity for the brain to focus on the proper things
6. Routines help reduce thinking and decision making (read more about why this can be helpful in the full article)
7. Routines help prevent dumb mistakes
Read more about these 7 factors and why routines and rituals are beneficial to mental focus in McCann's article 'Routines, Rituals and Performing Under Pressure.'
Even Olympic Athletes Struggle with Combating Depression At Times...It Takes Strength and Courage to Reach Out For Help.
It's no surprise that to get to the top of your chosen sport, it takes an extremely high work ethic, structure, sacrifice and dedication. But who knew these same qualities that make elite athletes so successful, could also wind up leaving them vulnerable to suffering major lows or depressive symptoms after they have competed in their peak event? Studies have shown that athletes experience a dopamine and endorphin crash following major competitions- regardless of whether they win or lose. According to Bonnie Ford, in her article Out of The Blue, she reports that
" Studies on depression in elite and college athletes don't necessarily show a higher prevalence than in the general population, but evidence has emerged that athletes as a group are more reluctant to seek advice or treatment."
Athletes often times choose to keep mental health struggles a secret due to various reasons including fear over their playing time being affected, portraying an image other than strength and vitality, or fear over how their coaches or teammates may view them.
American swimmer and olympic gold medalist, Allison Schmitt, speaks out about her battle over depression in Bonnie Ford's article, Out of The Blue where she bravely shares her chronic struggles with depression in the hopes that she is able to help others who are going through similar issues. Part of the reason this topic is so very personal to Allison is not only her own struggles with depression, but the fact that her cousin, friend and fellow athlete April, unexpectedly took her own life after silently battling depression. Allison vows to use her status as a platform to speak out in efforts to eliminate the stigma of mental health issues, and give others the courage to reach out for help themselves should they need it.
You never know the power you may have to influence those around you. By reaching out for help, you are not only accessing the support that you need, but you may also be serving as an example and inspiring those around you who may be struggling to do the same.
From U.S women's soccer star Carli Lloyd, brilliant actors like Jim Carrey and Will Smith, to media moguls like Oprah Winfrey, the power of visualization has been attributed to helping people reach their goals in a big way. Anna Williams highlights a few of these individuals in her article 8 Successful People Who Use The Power Of Visualization.
Anna Williams' article 8 Successful People Who Use The Power Of Visualization "Carli Lloyd credits visualization, the meditative practice of positive thinking, with helping her kill it on the soccer field.While training just before Sunday’s game, Lloyd said she mentally visualized herself scoring four goals. She later went on to nail three into the net — the first woman in World Cup history to do so.
A big advocate of the law of attraction, the award-winning actor (Will Smith) says his positive thinking has helped him achieve happiness. “In my mind, I've always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y'all just didn't know yet,” Smith has said of the visualizing techniques that helped him along the way""( Anna Williams, MBG Editorial Team).
Check out some of the other highly successful people who have tapped into visualization and how it has helped them.
Imagery, or visualization, can be the game changer that separates good athletes from great. Craig Townsend, Director of It's Mind over Matter in Sydney Australia, has worked with top notch swimmers, notes some key benefits of practicing just a few minutes of visualization daily:
* Overcome extreme nervousness
* Reduce and erase pain
* Learn new skills more easily and quickly e.g. kicks/turns
* Overcome major intimidation from a competitor
* Increase your energy
* Relax more easily
* Increase speed / reduce times
* Banish negativity, and sustain positive attitude
* Recover from illness and injuries more quickly
Start utilizing imagery today to begin experiencing these benefits and up your game. Stay tuned for additional benefits of imagery and some simple ways to get started.