Athletes often prepare themselves physically, but don’t spend as much time preparing mentally for success. Athletes who are only physically prepared will perform well under the best of circumstances, but how often is that the case? Mental preparation allows athletes to adjust to any situation for optimal performance, and is an important part of game prep.

This book excerpt covers many ways to prepare mentally. The most important part of mental preparation is to make your efforts intentional. Find what works for you, and spend time perfecting the ways you prepare for a competition.

One classic form of mental preparation is visualization. One form of visualization (rehearsal) involves picturing yourself having success on the field, court or in the pool. Another approach is catastrophic visualization. Similar to rehearsal, you want to visualize how you’ll perform, except under the worst of circumstances. For example, picture yourself performing under rainy conditions…. This might be difficult, but you’ll be prepared because you’ll have already thought through how you will handle this type of bad weather.

Another method described below in the excerpt is to prepare for “off days”. No athlete is at his or her peak performance every day of the year. You are bound to have days you feel better than others. Mentally prepare for how you might compete on a day you feel your best and how you would compete on a bad day. Instead of being further unprepared to play, have a plan for how you’ll deal with competition on your bad days.

This PDF was excerpted from Jim Thompson’s book Elevating Your Game. To purchase the entire book, and to learn more about other PCA books, click here.

These books are used in PCA’s live workshops. To learn more about our interactive student-athlete workshops, click here.

This article is from Positive Coaching Alliance. To view the article on their website click here

Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is a national non-profit in the United States developing “Better Athletes, Better People” through resources that help create a positive, character-building youth and high school sports experience. Founded by Jim Thompson in 1998 within the Stanford University Athletic Department, PCA serves youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes through live workshops, online training and books, as well as the PCA Development ZoneTM (, offering hundreds of free audio-video and printable resources that help improve youth sports.

In partnership with thousands of schools and local youth sports organizations nationwide, as well as many national youth sports organizations, PCA has conducted more than 13,000 live group workshops and impacted more than 6 million youth. PCA training and resources cultivate: The Double-Goal Coach®, who strives to win while also pursuing the more important goal of teaching life lessons through sports. The Second-Goal Parent®, who concentrates on life lessons, while letting coaches and athletes focus on competing. The Triple-Impact Competitor®, who strives to impact sport on three levels by improving oneself, teammates and the game as a whole.

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