If we really want to maximize every opportunity as an athlete it’s important to keep things simple. We need to have a process that’s going to allow us to be present, repeat our mechanics, and learn from the results we produce. Regardless if we’re practicing on our own, in team practice, or competing in a game there are 4 simple steps that you can perform to get the most out of each practice session or maximize your performance in a game.
Set your Intention (or “Process Oriented Goal”)
The first thing I like to do is set an intention. An intention is just a fancy name for a goal. But unlike a goal it’s flexible in that it’s open to the possibility of something even better happening. So before we set our intention we must ask ourselves a few questions… What is the situation? What result am I trying to produce?
Once you have the answers to these questions you can ask yourself the most important question… How can I put myself in the best position to produce that result? Your intention can’t be producing a particular result but rather must be focused on the step or steps you must take to produce that result. It can be something physical like a physical key that places you in the best position to succeed or it can be mental in terms of something you need to focus on that will help you produce the result you desire to produce.
After we set our intention it’s important that we then focus on our breathing and bring our awareness back to the present moment. You see, by staying rigidly focused on that intention and trying to “make it happen” you cause yourself to become tense which decreases the likelihood that you produce the result you desire. By becoming present you are essentially releasing your attachment to the desired outcome allowing yourself be to more relaxed and as a result more precise in the execution of your mechanics. The best way to do this is by becoming aware of your breathing. Simply control and listen to yourself breathe, slowly in and out through your nose.
Focus on Execution
When the time comes it’s important to focus on executing proper mechanics. Focus on executing the steps necessary that will potentially allow you to be successful. Focusing on anything else leads to mental and muscular tension created by fear. Fear of NOT creating your desired outcome. That tension leads to mechanical breakdown decreasing the likelihood of you performing to your full capacity.
Evaluate and Adjust
Now it’s time to evaluate how you did and form you’re new intention for the next pitch. Ask yourself… How’d I do? What adjustments do I need to make? Remember to keep your answers process oriented. Were you able to execute? What adjustment needs to made mentally or physically so you can execute better the next time? Whatever the answers are use that information to then become your intention for the following pitch, play, possession, whatever.
So there you have it. 4 steps to athletic success. If you take this approach and consciously use these steps during each practice session or game I know you’ll see tremendous growth in yourself as an athlete. Remember… Play hard, Be Present, and Have Fun!!!