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Tags:AnxietyChokingImageryPerformance bubblePre Performance RoutinePsychology of SportSport PsychologySports Psychology
About Nicola Hobbs
Nicola is an Olympic Weightlifting Yogi with an MSc in Sport Psychology. She specialises in yoga for athletes and using exercise as a tool for healing. Her first book, Yoga Gym: The 28 day plan for strength, flexibility and fat loss, will be out in January 2016
For athletes: How to create your own Performance Bubble…
Pre-performance routines are the most effective means for you to control arousal levels, achieve flow, and reduce the likelihood of choking.
If you find it difficult to cope with situational variables at competitions, a pre-performance routine will enable you to keep aspects of your performance consistent regardless of the situation.
Trying out different techniques during training and integrating them into a Performance Bubble will help you to stay focused and confident regardless of the situation.
Techniques to include in a Performance Bubble can include:
Planned Warm Up
Having a planned routine of specific warm up drills that you can execute before training and competition will bring consistency to physiological and psychological preparation.
Cue words can act as technical prompts or tools to aid focus. Developing your own cue words or phrases that are specific to your own perception of a successful performance (e.g. ‘focus’, ‘relax’, or ‘dip and drive’), and using them in training will help you to minimise distraction and enhance attentional focus.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing can improve performance by helping you psychologically and physiologically under high pressure conditions. Try ‘Square Breathing’ by inhaling for a count of four, holding for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding for a count of four, before repeating 5-10 times.
Experiment with using imagery from both an internal perspective – to develop the ability for kinaesthetic imagery, and also from an external perspective which allows for improvement on technique.
Start by monitoring your current self-talk, focusing on the positive aspects of your performance. Develop positive pre-planned statements that you can use in a competition situation and a motivational tool (e.g. ‘I am strong’).
Some of the best athletes are also the most superstitious. Having a lucky charm has been shown to improve performance by increasing confidence so don your lucky pants and compete with pride!!