Mental Training in Athletics pt. 2

Slowing the game down (video) – This is a great clip of Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) in the movie For Love Of The Game.  The whole video is interesting, at the 2:40 mark Billy begins to slow the game down by eliminating all external distractions.  He finds himself in the zone. Then the old man starts dicin’ up hitters like he used to…

Competition and sports facilitate a great number of variables and dynamics. Weather, location, teams, officials, and fatigue all play a major role in the outcome of each contest. Individually, it is easy for a fast paced match to speed up both physically and mentally, and in this circumstance, it is important to slow the game down.  Restoring your internal focus and mental state must be done both prior to and during each competition. It is easy for athletes to lose control of their emotions and compete against themselves, but then the game is already lost. Restoring your mind allows one to slow the game down, and by doing so, they improve their play on the field. Additionally, it is crucial to eliminate external distractions or the uncontrollable’s.” At the professional level, this category can include many things. Bad officiating, crowds, travel, injuries, and weather are all considered external distractions. The greatest athletes are able to recognize these disruptions, block them out of their head, and compete without awareness or worry of these factors.

Focusing on one game, or play is essential in attaining both short-term and long-term success. When future-oriented thoughts crowd an athlete’s brains, it is important for them to recognize and deal with the stressors head on. There are a few strategies that they will utilize, the most eminent being breathing techniques as they benefit critical physical and mental restoration. When competitions, seasons, or individual play aren’t favorable, one must focus on each breath and use this tactic to center on the present moment. Also, visual or vocal cues are necessary for proper present mindfulness. A constant visual cue, such as a basketball hoop or home plate, enables the athlete to return to a neutral or positive state of mind by reminding them to refocus. In this case, constant means a cue that will always be present no matter what the venue. When things are going poorly they must locate their visual cue and use it to adjust their negative mindfulness.

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