Strategies for Regaining Performance Control
To have the capability to perform in crunch times it is critical to be in control of your emotions and channel the energy to the purpose at hand. Think of the last time you lost it! I mean the last time your frustration, or anger got the best of you in a very important situation. Were you able to get things under cotnrol before execution? If not, were you able to get under control after an error or mishap took place?
I see many athletes who simply do not have a way to control their negative emotions and have a hard time reaching their peak potential because they lose it in critical performance situations. Either they self-destruct right their in the situation or they come back to the bench and quietly beat themselves up.
Emotional control is when you stay even-tempered, level headed, or poised even when you are challenged by mistakes or adversity. Even top athletes like Andy Roddick get upset. Their ability to get their emotions under control and get back to the business at hand is what separates the peak performers. Recovering from mistakes is what separates champions who simply freeze or fall apart under the pressure. Once the mind goes south with intense emotion and arousal levels become counter productive to performance it is very difficult to get back to a present state of mind and in control.
To Gain Control Use Deploy these two Strategies
1. Have a positive pre-practice or pre-competition mindset before execution begins.
2. Be able to let go of errors before emotions reach critical mass.
Identify the strict demands ( expectations) you are placing on yourself to perform. Ask yourself if you are trying to perform way beyond your current ability. Is the challenge way beyond your current skill level? If you are pushing the envelope and out of your zone of capability you might be setting yourself up for a crash and burn. One of my students, a high school level 10 gymnast expects and demands perfection. There is little room for error in her routines even in practice. When things do not go consistently well she will get very upset, frustrated, start with the negative self-talk, and simply take herself out of the practice mindset. There is no such thing as perfect – especially in practice where the athlete works on perfecting the skill not demanding perfection. Once this happens to her it takes a very long time for her to regain composure. Often times she is unable to regain until the next practice.
Here are some expectations that can lead to feelings of inadequacy and not consistent with perfect execution.
1. If I am unable to perform perfectly today I am a failure.
2. Mistakes are unacceptable in practice and will not help me win in competition.
3. I should not be making these stupid errors at this point in my career.
If you carry these feelings, thoughts, or expectations into competition you will most likely have a hard time with success. Net net, you have not allowed youself any room for being successful.
About the Author:
John R. Ellsworth is a Mental Game Coach who works with athletes, sports parents, and teams of all levels. for more information about Perfectionism and Expectations, call 408-891-1388.