Outsmarting your brain is not exactly an easy thing to do. After all, it’s pretty much the smartest organ you possess (um, it is the smartest organ we posses – ed). But here’s the thing: If you want to have the same competitive and performative edge as the world’s top athletes, you’re going to need to start exploiting your brain.
According to Steven Ungerleider, Ph.D and author of Mental Training for Peak Performance, “mental anxiety before a performance can create adrenaline, which can be productive for some people but extremely counterproductive for others.”
In other words, you need to know how to manipulate your brain. If you are anxious, you need to know how to use that to your advantage. And if you really don’t want to be anxious, you’re gonna need to find a way to ward off the anxiety demons. Let’s take a look.
Take The Pain
No athlete likes pain as such. But you are going to have to be able to take it if you’re going to perform better.
And we’re not asking you to just take it either. We’re asking you to absorb it. By being hyperaware of your pain, your finding out more about yourself. You’ll become attuned to where you feel pain and when you feel it. Knowing all this ensures you’re not in for any nasty surprises come game day.
You’ll know your body inside out, and you’ll know exactly what it can do – and what you can live with.
Dream About Winning
According to research, when we’ve got something important coming up – such as a keynote speech – if we visualise it the night before, we have a better chance of it being a success.
Naturally, we have to visualise it going smoothly, with the audience lapping us up. You know, if we visualise it going badly with the building burning down and everyone dying, we won’t be in the right mood come the next day.
You should apply this rule of thumb. On the night before game day, visualise your performance – and visualise yourself winning. Focus on everything you’ll feel physically and mentally, and you’ll have a much better chance of actually succeeding.
Cut Out The Negative Thoughts
Your brain is a funny thing. If you tell it not to dwell on bad stuff, it will dwell on bad stuff. If you tell it not to get an erection in the pool, it will get an erection in the pool.
Similarly, if you tell yourself not to tense up, you will tense up!
Our advice is to cut out this negative thinking and instead be positive. Focus on the good stuff. Focus on winning and being the best.
According to Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning, when we arrive at event, we should already have accounted for each and every single minute. Otherwise, we’re going to spend too much of our spare time sitting around twiddling our thumbs, checking our phones – and losing focus.
It’s much better to prepare your routine beforehand, because by sitting around doing nothing, you’ll be a bag of nerves. You should always account for surprises too, such as delays. Think about what you’d be doing during a delay; would you be getting some extra practice in? Talking to your coach?