High performance athletes spend a crucial amount of time into skill development, physical conditioning, and nutrition. However at the high performance stage there is a thin line between winning and losing and the ever sought after consistency of performance. The mentally tough aspect could be the advantage point that allows you as an individual or team to step over that line. However with that said the mental component could be the toughest barrier to develop. There is probably a misconception that the mental aspect is a downfall; meaning if you need guidance there is something wrong with you. This is not the case, psychological development is just an opportunity for skill development. In their book Inside Sport Psychology (2011) authors Coastas Karageoghris and Peter Terry discuss the concept of psychological readiness. The authors state that when it comes to skill development, fitness levels or nutrition “athletes often leave absolutely nothing to chance and no stone unturned as far as these aspects of preparation are concerned” (p. 25). Furthermore, “athletes who can control anxiety, concentration, and motivation can control performance” (p. 25). All athletes have a different route to success. Just as some athletes have different strength and conditioning protocol than others the same can be said for mental development. So how can you start determining your route to success either as a team or an individual?
In order to start the process of developing this concept of psychological readiness the aspect of honest self-awareness is crucial. Anthony K. Tjan states “without self-awareness, you cannot understand your strengths and weakness, your super powers versus your kryptonite.” Athletes who can become honestly self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses can develop their ability to be consistent and ultimately control performance. Probably where athletes falter a bit in their self-awareness is when asked by team management or coaches of what is holding them back? This is tough conversation because we all know that athletes want to play, therefore being honest with their downfalls to those who control their playing time is difficult and at times self-awareness and reflection gets passed over. Developing self-awareness can aid in your practice habits, focus, and concentration and ultimately help build confidence in your abilities to perform.
A main aspect in developing your awareness is to set bi weekly process goals. These process goals are crucial because they can help in holding you accountable and can be adjusted based on your environment and what is going on in your daily life. These goals allow you to test yourself on a daily basis and testing yourself daily is a way you can get better in focus and concentration. Establishing these goals also allows you to track yourself (keeping a journal) and if you track yourself the ultimate hope is that you would get better and understand the dedication and focus it took to do so. Set some process goals for the month of November, evaluate/adjust half way through and review once again at the end of November. If you start this process, look at the process goals 12 months after and see where you have developed (this will also help in confidence).Developing honest self-awareness is a skill and can develop a heightened ability to identify your great performances and subpar performances all in an effort to develop consistency of performance.