5 Things You Can Do To Mentally Prepare Yourself Before Your Performance

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  1. Set one or more goals for yourself for that practice, game, match, event, etc.  However, make sure that the goal/s is/are:
    1. Challenging but realistic.  The goal should not be so simple that you do not have a sense of accomplishment once the goal is achieved.  If you set a more challenging goal, it is more likely that you will improve your performance, as long as the goal is not so difficult that it is impossible to achieve.  If the goal is too difficult you may fail to take it seriously or you will experience a sense of failure and frustration when you do not meet the goal.  Also, when you set a realistic goal, you experience more success and feel more competent which build self-confidence as well as reduced a fear of failure.  It is important to keep in mind that you should set goals that are achievable in relation to your skills and abilities.
    2. Specific and measureable.  The goal clearly states what you would like to accomplish as well as how you will be able to measure the performance that relates to that goal.  For example, a specific and measureable goal could be, “I am going to reduce my golf score by two strokes every round of golf that I play.”
    3. Expressed in positive terms rather than negative terms.   For example, a goal in negative terms would be, “I do not want to strike out this game.” To make that goal positive rather than negative, you could change it to, “I want to get one hit per game.” 
  2. If you are experiencing any pre performance anxiety, use relaxation and breathing exercises to help relax your body to a moderate level of relaxation. Research has shown that moderate levels of anxiety (as opposed to high or low levels of anxiety) produce the best performance results.  A great way to help your body to achieve a moderate level of anxiety without being too relaxed is through using a technique called “Belly Breathing.”  Belly Breathing is different than how you probably normally breathe because you breathe using your diaphragm and expand your belly while breathing rather than breathing using your lungs and your chest expands.  You can download an app to your smartphone to help you learn how to Belly Breath and guide you through a breathing exercise.  A great app to try is “Breathe 2 Relax.”
  3. Once you have worked on calming your body, you now can work on calming your mind. Think positive thoughts about yourself and your performance.  Remind yourself of previous successes you have had.  You can also distract your mind away from thinking about negative or worrisome thoughts.  To distract yourself from negative or worrisome thoughts, you can try counting along with your breathing as you inhale and exhale while doing your relaxation/breathing exercise.  You can also try to imagine yourself in a place that is relaxing and tranquil for you, maybe the beach or imagine yourself hiking on a sunny day. 
  4. Say positive affirmations to yourself.  You can say things like, “I can do this,” or “I’ve prepared myself for this.”  Try to develop a list of positive affirmations that you can say to yourself prior to performing so you have a list you can choose from rather than having to think of them on the spot. 
  5. Lastly, visualize yourself performing and performing successfully.  If you can imagine yourself performing successfully, it makes it more likely that you will be successful.  For example, visualize yourself making that put or having good serves in your match.

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