Most elite performers have established pre-performance routines they consistently partake in before competition (pre-race/pre-game) or before skill execution (basketball free-throw, tennis serve, golf putt, etc). These pre-performance behaviors have been shown to enhance performance in a variety of different sports.
If I had to guess, you probably already have some sort of physical routine you use before every competition or during critical moments in your performance. However, I have found that the mental side is often neglected. Warming up your brain is critical for performance and skill execution, so it is important to incorporate mental skills into your routine and become consistent at utilizing them. If you want to perform consistently, you have to think consistently!
Why are Performance Routines Important?
• Puts YOU in Control – Within sporting environments there are so many things we can’t control and that are unpredictable (the weather, our opponents, fans, refs or officials, etc.). Although complete control is impossible, having a consistent routine puts you in the driver seat and gives you control over your emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
• Manages Energy – Being too amped up or having too little energy before or during a competition can wreak havoc on your performance. Having a routine helps you get into the right energy state for the task at hand.
• Directs your Attention to what’s Important – If you are focusing on the process and what you need to do in that moment, there is no room for unwanted or distracting thoughts to creep in.
• Breeds Confidence – Feeling in control of your performance, establishing consistency, and seeing yourself succeed is going to increase your confidence to perform the task at hand.
Tips for Developing a Routine
• Stick with What Works – You may already be using a routine, so stick with what’s working and just add in the mental components. Also, work on making your routine more systematic and consistent.
• Self-Talk – Use self-talk to put yourself in the right mindset and to direct your focus on the task at hand
• Task Relevant – Make sure your routine includes thoughts and actions that are relevant to what you are trying to accomplish.
• Energy Management – Involve breathing or other energy management techniques to produce adequate energy for the performance.
• Visualization – Add in imagery to see yourself succeed on that performance or the next play.
• Short & Versatile – Make sure it is something that you can do no matter if you are winning or losing, tired or feeling good, and that it will fit within the time-frame you have (20 mins before the race vs. 90 secs between tennis serves, etc.)
• Make it automatic – practice your routine to the point that it becomes muscle memory and you don’t even have to think about it anymore.
Written By Ashley Corn: Ashley Corn is the Owner and Lead Consultant of G.U.T.S. Coaching Services, the only coaching company in the Front Range that is devoted solely to the training the mental side of performance. For more information or to sign up for G.U.T.S. FREE monthly newsletter, visit their website at www.gutscoachingservices.com.