People from all walks of life may at some point in their lives experience an accidental injury. Trainers and coaches have been using some powerfully effective mental training tools to help athletes return to their sport, while the rest of us have probably only just heard of them. The mental training tips listed in following article can be used by anyone who is experiencing a season of healing and recovery. Just exchange any references to athletes and sports with activities related to physical therapy and rehabilitation. Welcome to the exciting world of sports psychology!
Top 10 Training Tips
Excerpt from the book, Your Performing Edge: The Complete Mind-Body Guide for Excellence in Sports, Health, and Life, by JoAnn Dahlkoetter (Pulgas Ridge Press, 2002)
Free e-course available at http://www.DrJoAnn.com
Mindfulness: Practice being in the present moment. Remind yourself to stay in the here and now. Let past and future events fade into the background.
Power Imagery: Visualization is not something you do only in the quiet of your bedroom. Use your mental images throughout the workout to create feelings of speed and power. (e.g., When you come to an unexpected hill visualize a magnet pulling you effortlessly to the top).
Positive Attitude: Use everything in the workout to your advantage. For example, if another athlete passes you, tuck in behind and go with his or her energy for as long as possible. You may catch a “second wind” and be carried on to a new personal record.
Short-term goals: Focus on your immediate target. Break your training down into small, manageable pieces and begin to focus only on the first portion, not the entire workout (e.g., Say to yourself: “I’m just relaxing and getting my rhythm during the first mile”).
Association: Pay close attention to your tension level and training form. Do a body scan while working out and relax your tight muscles frequently. Ask yourself: “Are my shoulders and neck relaxed; how does this pace feel; how much energy is left in my legs?”
Pain Management: If you have “good pain” that is not seriously damaging your body, just shift attention to your breathing or cadence of movement, and let the discomfort fade into the background. You can also use the pain as feedback. Register it not as pain but as effort level. Say: “Now I know exactly how hard I’m working. I know how this pace feels. My body is doing what it should be doing.”
Process not Outcome: Look only at what you need to do right now (e.g., pace, breathing, concentration); your final time, place, or score will take care of itself.
Focused Attention: Be aware of distractions. Breathe out unwanted thoughts with your next exhale and re-focus your attention instantly on what is important.
Affirmations: Make positive self-statements continually. Negative thinking is quite common; everyone has an inner critic. Become aware of these thoughts early on. Don’t fight with them; simply acknowledge their presence, and then substitute a positive affirmation. (e.g., When you’re thinking: “This hurts too much, I want to lie down and die”; say to yourself: “This feeling is connected with going faster and doing my absolute best”).
Enjoyment: Celebrate your fitness and strength. When the competition arrives, let your body do what you’ve trained it to do. Remember that your goals are realistic. All you need to do is perform up to your capabilities.