Athletic training is built on repetition. A coach will run a play over and over to bring about muscle memory. Athletic drive is built on competitive motivation. The senior beats out the sophomore for a first string position. The coach uses this competition to increase a level of performance, one athlete against another.
Creating peak performance with drills and working one man against another. This process has been used ever since organized sports began. All of this work is external. The coach creates the work out, the plays, the artificial competition.
So what makes one athlete reach the highest level of performance, going beyond the need for external motivation. Why can a gymnast reach the Olympics at age 15 and have nerves of steel, nail four routines to win the All-around title. How can a young swimmer dive into the pool and come out a Gold medalist, when older more experienced athletes are competing for the same prize.
Where is the difference and can this be taught?
Many trainers would believe that the need to push the competitive mind is the answer. But some would differ in this thought and suggest the difference is the creative mind. When an athlete talks about dreaming of going to the Olympics from the early age of 4 or a basketball player talks about practicing that final shot to win the game day after day, for years the creative mind is engaged.
Bringing into play the imagination for an athlete brings back emotion. When emotion is present in a work out, time goes by quicker and results come faster. Having fun can bring about the results which bring about gold medals and championships.
The “will” allows for a burning desire to reach for bigger results. Will power is a short burst of focus. The “will” is the ability to focus on the big picture. In the Karate Kid, Mr Miyagi, understood the overall goal and the value of each work project Daniel was given. Daniel, however, had no idea what was going on from day to day, rather thought there was a punishment behind each activity.
Sharing the big picture with an athlete is important in gaining trust and commitment. Blind faith is fine, when walking into the unknown, but sports training, both mental and physical can be laid out in a sequence for everyone involved.
Mental coaching is a skill which is best offered as a process which can lead to clear action. This can create what we call, “being in the zone, and shouldn’t be dependent upon chance or bio-rhythms and any other happenstance.
Train the mind to be calm, to be experienced, and open to new challenges and a better athlete will show up as a better person.