Can A Calm Mindset Help You Win?
As the most successful male Olympian of all time, one might expect Michael Phelps to be a huge fan of pumped-up, adrenalin-filled race mornings or pre-competition routines that thrive on energy and excitement. In fact, he credits a large part of his success to a calm and mindful approach to his preparation.
Famously, he would practice visualization of his races, preparing himself for various possible outcomes, so that by the time he got in the water, he felt calm and ready for every scenario. While many athletes understand the benefits of relaxing post-workout or after competitions, more focus should be given to building a calm mindset before you hit the track.
Benefits of creating calmness
Often just before a race or competition, your brain will prompt your adrenal glands to release hormones including cortisol and adrenaline.
This in turn spikes your heart rate and blood pressure, pumping more blood to your muscles.
When this reaction is controlled, it’s an effective and powerful force and can help you to perform better; the trick is in ensuring that you can harness it so that it doesn’t become overwhelming and ultimately unhelpful. This is why building a calm mindset is so important.
Prepare for success
The first thing you can do to help create a calm, relaxed mindset is to make sure you’re well prepared for your race or competition.
Coaches, psychologists, and athletes know that alongside putting in the famous 10,000 hours, performing well requires an ability to absorb pressure and focus on the task at hand. The best way to do this is to prepare thoroughly.
Put in the practice and training time, make sure you know the course like the back of your hand, and where you should be at each point.
As part of your preparation, ensure that you set up a pre-competition routine that creates a calm mindset so that you feel relaxed and ready to perform confidently. This removes a huge source of anxiety; you’re prepared and ready to go.
Find your calm place
Recent data shows that 52 million people downloaded meditation apps in 2019 alone, and it’s not just for amateurs.
Top athletes including tennis player Novak Djokovic and the LA Lakers basketball team have promoted the benefits of meditation and strong mental health preparation, as has the Philippines’ own weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz. Whether you prefer to practice yoga, mindfulness apps, or breathing exercises, it’s important to find your own way to peaceful calmness.
Eating well to support calmness
Experts agree that changes to your diet can support a calmer, less anxious approach to life and training. Drinking plenty of water and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol is one easy step to promote a calmer mindset.
Eating plenty of whole grains, green leafy vegetables and legumes can also help to ease nerves. While these foods would be encouraged as part of any healthy eating plan, it’s reassuring to know that they are also multi-tasking as part of your mental health support team.
While some pre-race nerves are inevitable, and actively good when controlled, overall adopting a calm mindset can be hugely beneficial for athletes. You can achieve this with careful preparation, practicing mindfulness or meditation, and eating well to support your mental state. Find your inner calm so that you can give it you’re all on track; there’s no better feeling.
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