Whilst the world continues to be gripped by the Coronavirus global pandemic, here in Australia we are starting to see restrictions ease.
As restrictions start to roll back people will be able to once again participate in team sports.
For the past few months everyone, including elite athletes, have been unable to physically train as they would usually.
Athletes require many attributes to excel at their chosen sport – practice, determination and skill are but a few.
BUT… As soccer player Mia Hamm says –
“The most important attribute a player must have us mental toughness”.
She’s referring to the importance of mental attitude in sport, which is often underestimated in sport.
Athletes are well aware of how physical condition can affect performance – but how aware are they of MENTAL conditioning and strength?
Sport is largely about strength in adversity, and that makes it particularly relevant in our current world.
Sports coaches are now turning more and more to visualisation techniques, mental strength and positive outlook advice while their athletes are unable to fully address physical concerns during these unprecedented days.
“The power of imagined practice is huge…it reproduces the neurological routes that would occur if we performed the situation in reality” (Fisher, 1986; cited by Jiménez, 2007)
So, how can athletes and sports people use this unusual time to work towards long-term success and come out the other end strong and better?
Sports people will be feeling anxiety around the inability to train as they would usually have.
It is a time for them to look to their creativity to prevent loss of form.
Here are 3 simple strategies athletes can adopt to maintain mental fitness levels:
Be mindful of your health and physical needs – eat well, sleep well, be purposeful, plan.
Think carefully about how you maintain all of these aspects of life.
Develop an appropriate training regimen – routine is important to maintaining structure.
Try to train at the same time of day.
Talk to your team-mates or fellow athletes – you are not alone and talking this through with others in the same situation will help both you and them.
All athletes know – MARGINS MATTER
And training the mind – can open the doors to those margins.
It can provide and hone:
Confidence – The certainty that physical and mental elements are in place for optimum performance
Motivation – The need to remain constantly motivated can be enhanced by positive thought processes
Focus and Mental Toughness – Focus must be intense and constant, concentration high
Rehearsal Techniques – Visualisation of performance
Whatever the sport, whatever the level, mental training and visualisation can give every athlete the extra seconds, strength, centimetres that lay within those margins.