By definition, mental preparation is a set of tools to learn to control oneself and to approach a competition in the best possible way. It is a technique aimed at the search for performance in addition to being a very effective way to help an athlete progress more quickly. This process takes place over the long term and requires the support of a coach.
What does mental preparation consist of?
Whether it is within a sports team or as a personal trainer in the field of individual sports, the profession of coach “mental preparation of the sportsman” is of considerable importance. This is the reason why many people agree that mental strength often differentiates a champion from a simple athlete.
This preparation is mainly focused on the direct influence of psychological processes on the athlete’s movements. Its objective is not only to improve sports performance, but also to optimize it, i.e. to allow for faster progress. The areas targeted in the framework of a good preparation are, concentration, management of emotions and especially self-knowledge.
The most used techniques for mental preparation
Preparation does not only imply for the athlete to be good at the moment of the competition. It is a long term work that also aims to strengthen his potential and reach the maximum of his possibilities.
For example, there are exercises for the evacuation of stress and anxiety that promote work in a healthy context. In other words, these are breathing and relaxation exercises that allow for better physical and mental recovery. It helps with an emotional centering and a feeling of well-being accompanied by a general muscular relaxation.
The technique of mental imagery is also more and more used. As its name indicates, it consists in putting oneself in real conditions and mentally visualizing a competition. This will then allow the athlete to have an idea of the keys to success and also of the steps to take to get there.
Other strategies can also be used to stimulate and strengthen the athlete’s mind. Hypnosis and yoga are used to control emotions.
The interest of having a good mental state for an athlete
For an athlete, the ultimate goal of mental preparation is to bring out the best in their abilities. This is sometimes enough to make the difference against his opponents.
It is therefore a question of optimizing one’s performance while keeping in mind to take pleasure in the practice of one’s sport. Emotional management, self-knowledge and work are the key elements to find the right balance between the physical and the mental.
This is called the state of FLOW. It is a state of maximum concentration often reached during a competition. Having a perfect mental state is therefore useful for the athlete both during daily training and at the time of the competition. It’s a pity that this is still a little known profession but it is of paramount importance for the success of a champion.