And that’s a wrap! The Olympics, as always, was an absolute screamer with so many dips and dives it would put shows like Desperate Housewives to shame! Athletes gave their all, representing not just themselves but their country’s as well.
Arriving at the pinnacle of competitive sports, athletes have had to work hard and dedicate themselves to make themselves the best that they can. Undoubtedly, athletes would be at peak physical condition, but are they mentally fit as well? With the spotlight on them, the athlete’s state of mind can be the major deciding factor between eternal glory and a footnote to someone else’s success. Are they ready for the big stage? Can they transfer their training into competitions? Will the stress of performing on the biggest stage on earth get to them?
One of the main issues that athletes have are anxiety, especially an event as big as the Olympics. As such embracing the butterflies in their stomach is a good way to counter this. Positive thoughts are needed to turn anxiety into a form of motivation instead.
Many athletes turn to sport psychologists to give them the mental edge which can be vital in elite competitions. Usually mental strategies, techniques and guidelines for the competition, are learned as part of their training prior to big competitions and meets, helping them adapt to the rigours of competitive sports.
So what are the things that athletes can do to prepare themselves for this major event? Journalists from CNN interviewed some of the top sports psychology experts on the methods and strategies taught. Whilst it’s important for sports men and women to engage with these skills, we can use these skills to better enrich our daily lives as well.
For example, setting achievable goals and getting to know yourself better are great ways to help us help improve ourselves. For instance, swimmers set specific short and long term goals, so it is manageable and effective in reaching the target. Short term goals can be in the form of time they need to achieve a 100m butterfly race. With the achievement of the short term goal, the athlete can progress to their next goal, in this case for example, a shorter time to complete the 100m. Additionally, one of the ironic ways of getting into the competition is to ignore it. The focus should be instead on yourself and abilities that you possess. One of the prime examples of this usage is by Tiger Woods where he revealed at an early age, he is able to shut out distractions and focusing only on his skills. With ample experience, he got better in concentrating at the task at hand. Sport psychologists help in this by teaching to bring attention to the self, with the usage of routines and trigger words like “Stop!”, “Focus!” at a suitable time.
So head on over to CNN to have a look see, maybe you’ll be able to pick up a trick or two to help you get to that goal you’ve set for yourself.