How Your Mindset Affects Performance
There is a lot going on when you step on to that lifting platform or competition floor. Some days you feel strong and focused. Others you can’t quite seem able to connect the dots. You feel slow and foggy or the weight feels heavy.
The mind and body are in constant fluctuation. Our thoughts can instantly change our physiology. Just think of a time when you were afraid or scared. Your muscles tensed, heart rate quickened, and pupils dilated ready to react.
And the converse is just as true. Our body influences our mental state and thoughts. Think about how chill and carefree you feel after a long walk in nature or how amped you get when exercising or dancing to your favorite song.
Controlling the stressors and other stimuli in your environment is essential when it comes to controlling your mind and body for performance. Stress can have significant impact on performance and can seriously get in the way of your competitive goals if you don’t have a strategy to manage it.
Let’s take a look at why stress is so damaging to performance and some key strategies to combat it…
The Cortisol/Testosterone Relationship
A study of 109 male olympic weightlifters was set up to determine the effects of cortisol as a moderator of the relationship between testosterone and performance in olympic lifting. The study measured pre and post levels of serum cortisol and testosterone to see if there was any effect on performance. It turns out that pre-competition levels of cortisol or testosterone had a significant effect on olympic weightlifting performance. The inverse relationship between testosterone and cortisol shows that the level of stress an athlete experiences before training or competition can significantly impact their testosterone levels and subsequent performance.
Whoop Dee Doo. But what does it all mean?!
Getting stressed before a competition or intense training session is a surefire way to negatively impact performance. There are several techniques you can utilize to prepare your mind making it an asset rather than a liability. Top athletes all develop their mental game through practices involving goal setting, visualization, and routines.
“The Ultimate Measure Of A Man Is Not Where He Stands In Moments Of Comfort And Convenience, But Where He Stands At Times Of Challenge And Controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Goal setting is essential to achieving any specific outcome you want in life. When you focus on a specific outcome your mind will constantly be searching for ways to bring the object of focus into being. That can be for the good or the bad. Say you are a weightlifter competing in your first meet. You should set a goal involving the successful completion of a lift at a weight you feel optimistic you can hit. When you set this metric for success you will be determined to achieve the outcome and take confident action towards achieving it. Odds are you will outperform your goal and be able to raise the bar for your next meet.
Visualization is the formation of a mental image. As an athlete you want to visualize a successful outcome you desire. Picture yourself achieving your goals with as much detail as possible. From the clothes you are wearing to the sound of the crowd. The way you move, powerful and strong. The sweat on your brow and the heartbeat in your chest. When you get to game day it will feel like you’ve been there before. Visualization of success also lends itself to positive self talk that will reinforce your mindset and confidence when it comes to competition.
Routines are extremely useful when it comes to athletes and performance. They help reduce decision fatigue and providing fewer distractions and less to think about on game day. Decide ahead of time your warmup, clothing, equipment, music, and anything else you would use in competition. Practice with it and make it comfortable and familiar. One important consideration with routines is not to get too superstitious or hung up on these items being responsible for your success. You and only you are responsible for your success. Not your lucky sneakers…
If you want to accomplish your goals working with a professional coach is one of the best ways to develop a strategy and system for results. If you want to work with someone to help you create a game plan for your fitness goals get in touch with one of our qualified coaches for a free consult and discussion on how we can help you!