How Subliminals Can Help: The Mental Game
Sporting games are fun. Some are more physical than others. All are designed to test your skills in achieving an objective. Some play sports just for fun or exercise, others choose to compete against others in contests or tournaments. The elite competes in the Olympics. At the highest level, where the difference between 1st place an second place is only .04 seconds, the mental game of sports is as important if not more important as the physical game.
Personally, I like water sports like skiing, jet skiing, swimming, fishing, sailing and being in and around the water in general. When you wake up at a campsite next to the water after listening to the waves gently massaging the shoreline all night, smell the remnants of the charcoal from last nights campfire as the light soft breeze from the water welcomes you to the new day. The best part of this is stripping down and jumping in the water for the first time of the day. The feeling of cold water and the vibrational sound of the energy you hear underwater prepares you for a rebirth as you come back up and suck in that first breath. It doesn’t get any better. Well, flying across the water at 60 MPH with your hair peeled back on a Jet Ski is comparable. The bugs that get caught in your teeth taste a little funny though kinda like chicken.
Seriously, this is the Fun part of it, but there is a time that we have to do things we don’t want to do. We have to improve our ability & compete whether we want to or not. It’s a fact of life. If you don’t believe me, stop competing against yourself or others and let me know in a year. In the game of life, you either compete or you die.
Let’s Take the Analogy of an Olympic Athlete
The training schedule of an Olympic athlete is incomprehensible to most weekend warriors. In order to compete in this elite group, it a requirement to have everything, mentally & physically, working For you.
The following issues generally originate when a student athlete Miss-Manages inner thoughts and feelings:
- Poorly managed anger toward self, opponents, coach or teammates can have far-reaching negative consequences.
- Some athletes experience nausea, muscle tension, undue sweating and marked changes in pain tolerance.
- Mental pictures of failure and past mistakes or other negative memories or emotions, which could damage performance; negative attitudes, ideas, and opinions sometimes, block effective performance.
- Problems off the field of play related to interpersonal relationships; problems with coaches or significant others.
- Poor dietary choices and eating habits, eating disorders result in lowered energy levels and negative mental states.
- Some student athletes perceive that quick solutions to problems can be addressed by using mind-altering substances, like alcohol, stimulants or depressants. Davies and West (1991) have described how drugs eventually lead to performance breakdown.
What Mental Training Techniques can Help an Athlete to Succeed?
Positive Self-Talk: Positive Self-Talk can be the most convincing message that we ever receive. Unfortunately, the abilities of some individuals are clouded by negative Self-Input. As strange as it may seem, many of the most important messages we receive come from our inner conversations with ourselves, not from others. When negative Self-Talk is the result of our perceptions of what we feel that the outside world is telling us, it is not surprising when athletic performance deteriorates. Positive Self-Talk promotes mental toughness that can be a Life-Long legacy.
Imagery: Imagery is a technique that can help an athlete have an ideal picture of a desired performance. According to Davies and West (1991), it can be used as a powerful tool to enhance performance, and often acts as a corrective technique, energizer, practical aid, problem solver and controller of physiological responses.
Imagery works best in a relaxed mental state. A comfortable, relaxed state of mind allows visualization of detailed images of different performance situations; for example, a soccer player visualizes the perfect action of kicking the ball, the leg following through, and see the ball beating the goalkeeper and hitting the back of the net.
Imagery can also be useful in dealing with fear, anxiety, and Over-Arousal. The key elements for imagery to become a positive mental training tool are the following:
- the images should be positive and realistic
- the images should focus on the athlete overcoming obstacles and practice mentally repeating positive images
- Holly Flankers, Olympic skier and three-time World Cup Winner; Willie Davenport five time Olympian; Jeff Blatnick a gold medal wrestler; Ross Hellickson a two time Olympic silver medallist are elite athletes who have successfully used imagery. (Ungerleider, 1995; Cook, 1991).
Visuomotor Behavior Rehearsal (VMBR)
VMBR is a technique that involves the components of relaxation and imagery rehearsal. There are three phases included in this technique:
- practice imagery
- apply imagery skills
For example, the soccer player achieves a state of relaxation, followed by imagery practice and finally imagines specific shooting skills to facilitate a transfer of learning.
The transfer phase indicates that a skill initially practiced in one situation will more likely to transfer to another if the two situations are similar (Suinn, 1976). According to Ungerleider (1996), VMBR involves a process of creating a mental video tape before an event and then using it to analyze and correct errors that may have occurred in both real and imagined events. The goal of VMBR is to remove unwanted and undesirable movements that affect athletic performance. VMBR has four goals:
- Technique enhancement
- Error analysis and correction
- Preparation for competition
- Skill enhancement
This technique has been used widely among Olympic and professional athletes such as Kristi Yamaguchi former Olympic figure skater, Steffi Grafs, Zina Garrison, Martina Navratilova and Gabriela Sabatini (Ungerleider, 1996).
The main goal of relaxation technique is to reduce anxiety under conditions of high emotional arousal. Athletes can learn to remain calm during stressful situations and deal with stray thoughts and negative feelings that interfere with a clear mental image of a successful movement or successful encounter during competition. For greatest effect, relaxation should be combined with imagery and visualization training in a regular training schedule.
Relaxation techniques to enhance imagery and visualization strategies emerge from two different concepts: First, the muscle to mind relationship allows athletes to train their muscles to become sensitive to any level of tension and arousal; muscles are trained to diagnose the situation. Second, theMind-Muscle relationship that is present in meditation techniques allows the athlete to become aware of arousal and tension in the mind and then follow with appropriate quieting messages to the muscles.
Olympic gold and silver medallists in gymnastics, Julianna McNamara and Kathy Johnson have successfully used relaxation techniques.
Goal setting involves any person developing a general plan for success. Objectives provide the opportunity to be more specific and allow the person to measure their progress. According to cook (1991) a daily, weekly and monthly objective enables a person to understand and appreciate the relationship between effort and accomplishment. Specific short term and long term objectives provide important structure in an individual’s daily life, and when goals and objectives are:
- shared with others
- used in
Most Olympic Athletes have experienced the benefits of mental training and many more stories can be told about these successes.
Take the time and put in the effort to learn and apply these psychology skills daily to achieve the goals that You want to achieve.
Remember, you don’t have to be an Olympic Athlete to Go For The Gold.
Go Get It.
Nelson D. Berry
Nelson D. Berry is the founder of Subliminal-Message.com which shows you, at last, how you can have ANYTHING YOU WANT with Amazing Custom Subliminal Self-Help Tapes or CDs that YOU Create!