There are many aspects of sport that athletes have simply no control over. This can be lucky bounces, strange referee decisions or an untimely injury. Some athletes might complain about the wind and rain, whereas others might complain about their tools. Ideally, the athletes should be thinking that ‘Ok, I’ve done everything possible now to prepare for this game, I’m going to play full out and go for it’. However, if you are competing and thinking about how you wished you’d done this or that better, then your chances of success are limited.
It makes sense that if you would like to perform consistently week in week out, then having a consistent base to build from. The most successful athletes have a well learned and consistent routine. They appear to repeat the same things with the same timing, and their pre-event planning routine is segmented. Performance segmenting is like a countdown to the launch of a rocket going into space. Performance segmenting helps athletes to enhance psychological control skills, with the solid base to build from really helps build confidence, maintain concentration and helps respond to pressure and stress more effectively.
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Decide on a specific starting and end point for the plan. For example, some athletes start the night before their competition. Plans tend to get more detailed the closer you get to competition.
Once the start and finish are established, use a counting system like a rocket launch system – ‘10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLAST OFF’ Routine
Implement a ‘mock’ plan into a low key event to learn and practice the pre-event routine. One you are used to it, the plan can be simplified and adjusted.
Finally, record the plan and learn the full version – use of mobile phones is a good way as most athletes carry these with them. Some athlete’s carry card reminders with them to look at, all of which can be updated when required. If you prefer audio, then a tape recording is another excellent method.
Pre-Event Routine ‘BLAST OFF’
Mental Preparation for Competition
10 – The night before. Prepare equipment bag, shower and relax – listen to music or read a book. Spend 15-20 mins listening to relaxing music. Visualize a successful performance for tomorrow.
9 – Wake up about 7:30am. Take a early morning jog and begin to visualize the competition and your tactics. Take a shower and have breakfast.
8 – About 9-10am go through the competition plan and deal with any ‘what if…’ scenarios. Think about how you will deal with these if they happen. Listen to your favorite songs.
7 – 10:30am arrive at the venue, sign in and check event schedules.
6 – 11:30am check your equipment bag. East a light snack.
5 – 1pm Find the warm up are and start to loosen off, functional movements, stretching and mobility.
4 – Around 2pm Check your arousal levels. You have a round 30mins to find your zone of optimal functioning (ZOF). Do you need to chill or get more pumped-up? Start the final phase of your warm-up.
3 – Around 2:15pm Final equipment check. Visualize the start of the competition.
2 – Around 2:30pm Use positive self-talk and think about the work you have put in to this event. Think about previous successful performances in the past.
1 – 2:35pm Final check of pre-event arousal levels. Use centering techniques if required.
If you are the type of athlete who’s mind drifts off prior to an event, then performance segmenting might prove useful as you will be controlling the controllable.