Sports Psychology Tips: Developing Your Mental Game in Your Downtime
Do you look at this time as an opportunity to work on your mental approach?
What you do during the off season or during breaks from competing is important. Do you:
Play on the PlayStation?
Improve your Strength or Fitness?
Watch countless Movies?
Spend time with your family?
Think about the year ahead?
If you use your time wisely this could be a great chance for you, as an athlete, to gain an edge on your rival competitors.
Many athletes are happy to chop and change their technique or spend money on equipment or products in an attempt to enhance their performances.
- Golfers may look to perfect their swing or putting stroke.
- Footballers might be attempting new tricks or looking to improve their weak foot.
- Cricketers may be spending time working on the bowling or batting technique.
- Rugby players could be practising their passing or improving their strength.
Yet, many of these athletes will not progress anymore than they did in the past year.
The countless hours of work and preparation, will likely seem like a waste of time when they resume competing again. Some will be mentally fatigued and frustrated.
So how could I, as an athlete, feel motivated and energised, as well as being much more prepared to take my performances up a level or 2?
Have a Rest
A lot of athletes struggle with this. They find it really hard to take time off and try to re-energize with a complete break from their sport. They worry they’ll lose their skills, that it will set them back and give their rivals a change to overtake them. This is a faulty belief and is incorrect. A short break can give your mind and body time to recover, it also helps you take a step back and reflect on how you can actually get better. It can also re-ignite your passion for playing the sport and competing too.
Become a Student of the Game
You could adopt a growth mindset attitude and identify athletes in your sport and other sports that you admire and do some research on them. How? By trying to contact them or their coaches directly to pick their brains on their approach. Watch videos online of their performances. Read their autobiography, if they have one.
Improve Your Mental Game
Many elite athletes see the off season or breaks in their normal routine as an opportunity to take their mental game to the next level. They evaluate where they are, they set new targets and identify key mental skills to work on that they feel will help them to achieve their goals.
With no competitive events and consistent practice of mental skills training, day by day elite athletes often make steady progress and when it comes to starting again. They feel that they are ready to hit the ground running.
As one of my clients, James a Professional Footballer, said, “When the season ends, I’m usually worn out and just want a rest for a little while. Then when I meet up with you and we do the visualisation exercises I can feel my motivation hit the roof and I slowly get my confidence to where it needs to be. I also get my love of playing football back”.
Your off season sets the stage for a fresh start to the new season.
I’d encourage you during the off season or during breaks in your season to ask yourself the following 3 questions:
- How will I relax and recharge my batteries?
- What do I want to achieve in the next 12 months?
- Which athlete do I really admire and could learn a lot from?
- How can I learn from the person I respect and admire?
- What mental skills do I need to improve so that I achieve my goals?
I hope you enjoyed this article and get back to playing competitively very soon. Remember when you do you want to be both mentally and physically refreshed and prepared so that you are flying on your return.
If you’d like some help to figure out how you will improve your mental skills be sure to sign up to “The Mental Edge” for tips and advice.
Or to get in touch for one 2 one Sports Psychology Coaching with a Leading Sport Psychologist, David Charlton, based near Newcastle upon Tyne – Face to face, via the telephone, SKYPE or online via email available.
Global Sports Psychologist who is located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally. David also uses online video conferencing software (Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp) on a regular basis and has clients who he has supported in USA, Canada, South America, UAE, Australian and New Zealand.
Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub. With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.
T: +44 7734 697769