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Mental Training and Preparation for Sport Competition

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelius

Athletes and teams prepare for competition through skills based practices, strength and agility training, and studying video or the competition. Just as physical training is important, so is mental training and preparation. In fact, many collegiate and professional sports teams work closely with sports psychologists to practice mental training prior to competition.

Top Three Tips for Mental Preparation

  1. Routine: Having a game day routine helps you set aside any life stressors and transition to the athlete/competitor mindset. Find a game day routine that works well for you; some athletes like to practice relaxation and imagery prior to competition, while others take a more active approach with listening to motivating music. Controlling focus before competition is just as important as during it.
  1. Confidence: Confidence can be built in many ways beyond physical training. Visualizing yourself performing the skill and being successful in the competition can help reduce performance anxiety and increase readiness and self-belief. Practice positive self-talk; negative thoughts and images can worsen performance.  
  1. Prepare for Adversity: Experience helps build an athlete’s ability to cope with difficulty and challenges. Practicing responses to situations that can cause you to lose focus, confidence or composure can help build confidence and increased chance of positive performance outcome.

Additional Resources:
The Art of Mental Training by DC Gonzales (Book)
Mind Gym by Gary Mack (Book)

Created by Aimee Custer, PsyD, LP
Dr. Aimee Custer is a Clinical Sports Neuropsychologist, specializing in the assessment and treatment of concussion and post-concussion syndrome. She works with athletes from youth to professional level and serves as the Clinical Director of the TRIA Sport Concussion Program.

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