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How The Psychology of Competition Helps Athletes Excel

Mar 7, 2008
A relatively new area in psychological research is sport psychology. However, the principles involved are much older. Ever since the time of the ancient Greeks a connection between the body and the mind has been recognized.

For any professionals in the field of psychology it is considered scientific fact that the emotions and psychological health of an individual has a very significant bearing on their physical condition. Therefore, it stands to reason that for physical competitors searching for a slight edge, this connection needs to be explored and used to its fullest extent.

State of Mind

There are numerous ways that athletes train their bodies. Weight training, push-ups, running, are just a few of the physical training activities utilized by athletes regardless of the sport involved. There are a variety of psychological training exercises that can be used by athletes across the board as well.

At the time of competitions, numerous elite competitors talk of being "in the zone". What this is referring to is the process of focusing totally on the task at hand, blocking out any distracting thoughts and giving the mind the ability to work through the task in a step-by-step fashion. Meditation is somewhat of a similar process. In and of itself, meditative work is a tool that athletes can utilize to train their minds.

In the evening, prior to going to sleep, sit or lie down comfortably and allow your mind to become clear. Do not attempt to force this, as the very thought of forcing it will break the meditation process. Instead, as thoughts come to you, allow them to pass again. Do not concentrate on them, but allow them to go in and out of your brain.

At the beginning of this process, some individuals find it to be helpful to concentrate on a single thought. If this technique works for you then try it, but keep in mind that the final goal is complete freedom of thought.

Do not be discouraged if you happen to fall asleep during meditation. Eventually your mind will become accustomed to being free and awake. Continue to practice. As time goes on, you will apply this state of meditation to competition, however this time you concentrate your thoughts on each task as it comes but do not permit other thoughts, including advanced thoughts of the next task, to interfere.

Your Inner Voice

The difference between failure and success can be a matter of simply self talk. Each of us has an inner voice that gives us a running commentary on the events in our daily lives. Learn to hear that inner voice. Literally speak out loud the word "STOP" at any time that negative self talk starts, then implement positive conscience self talk, going through in a step by step method and all the different ways in which you are successful, and will continue to be so into the future.

When you are not in training or competition is the best time to learn to control your inner voice. By the time that you go into competition itself, your interior dialogue should be totally encouraging and supportive.

Self talk and affirmations are related. The main difference between the two is that affirmations are delivered into the conscious mind. Prior to going to bed, and again just prior to a competition, looking to a mirror and affirm and five best strengths you have for the sport you are in. This will have the effect of building confidence in your own abilities.

Learn to control any stress you may have. Stress can be either negative or positive, primarily determined by any attitude you may have towards it. Your body does not realize the difference between negative and positive stress, so it is your thoughts that must take over to establish that distinction. Instead of fear, learn to identify the feeling as excitement, and you will harness its power.

There are numerous other psychological techniques that can be applied to competition. Nevertheless, the majority of the other techniques are based on the concepts of self talk, meditation, and stress management. If you can master these basic techniques you will begin to move forward on the right track towards having a competitive edge.
About the Author
Listen to Corbin Newlyn as he shares his insights as an expert author and an avid writer in the field of health and fitness. If you would like to learn more go to NPC Body Building advice and at Elliptical Fitness Trainer tips.
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