Want some tips from elite athletes on getting the most out of your sport and exercise? Whether you are getting ready for the Sydney City to Surf, the local netball competition or just enjoying Bootcamp here are some strategies to help you achieve your goals.
One of the clearest performance relationships is between self-confidence and success. Athletes and exercisers who have self-confidence perform better and achieve their goals. Whether you are preparing for the cricket season or trying to drop some weight before Christmas, these tips can help.
It all starts with our thoughts. Our thoughts impact our feelings and our behaviours. Confident athletes think they can, and they do. Elite athletes stand out because they have a positive focus and rarely give up. Self-talk is the key to building confidence in sport and exercise. This means controlling the frequency and content of your thoughts. Any time you think about something, you are, in a sense, talking to yourself. Self-talk becomes an asset when it enhances your confidence and performance. Self-talk becomes a problem when it is negative and distracts you from your goals. For example, if you wanting to lose weight but keep telling yourself you can't do it, this will impact your adherence to the program. If you label yourself with a negative label, you sometimes set up a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, your behaviour is determined by your thoughts about yourself (e.g. "I can't stop smoking; I didn't last time").
Developing positive self-talk strategies takes time. It is the GIGO principle. That is, Garbage In: Garbage Out. When negative thoughts come into your self-talk, they often result in poor performance. The first area of self-talk strategies we will cover is skill acquisition. This means developing movement skills. This might mean working on your golf swing, or bowling technique in cricket, or technique during your Bootcamp exercise sessions. Coaches or fitness instructors can help you develop "cue" words to help you develop sound technique. For example, simple cues such as "step, swing" in tennis, "arms straight, elbows in" for golf. Make a list of some important cue words that might help you develop skills in your sport. Chat about these with your coach or fitness instructor. Developing your sporting skills can be enhanced by using these simple cue words and practicing them. They work because they will help you focus on the task you are mastering, rather than any negative in the performance.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover.html