Preparation is the foundation for success in all competition. Weeks, days and hours before an event, the athlete has the opportunity to prepare physically and mentally for an event. Preparing physically and rigorously via a periodised training schedule is straight forward. What is often lacking in the regime is how to prepare mentally. Differentiation in elite performance comes down to mentality and a state of mind that is prepared for high stress. A thorough regime of preparation needs to improvise stressful situations that will be encountered in competition. Otherwise athletes can be overwhelmed by adrenaline, nerves and struggle to maintain focus when pressure mounts.
“The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses - being the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights” Muhammad Ali
Process enhances performance in competition. An athlete’s mental edge is forged through the process of overcoming training and competition stresses. Often, the athlete who is able to focus more on the process is the one who comes out on top. This is because process has to do with an athlete's ability of staying in the present moment. To improve process focus it is important for athletes to set very small goals that focus on commands and not results.
A training process involve repetition of exercises designed to induce automation in the execution of a motor skill and develop structural and metabolic functions that lead to increased physical performance. Within a training process, overcoming training and competition stresses promotes will-power, self-confidence and tolerance for higher training and competitor demands.
Positive emotions are often the most overlooked skill that athletes need in order to perform at a high level. Unfortunately, many athletes get caught up in how to prepare and respond tactically and technically in play that they do not plan for how to manage their emotions in a game. The ironic part about performance is that when athletes discuss performing their best or "being in the zone" they often state details related to their positive emotions and do not recall any thoughts what so ever.
Positivity. An athlete’s ability to cope with threatening situations is amplified by positive emotions - this is known as emotional resilience. Emotional resilience or mental toughness can be achieved through interventions such as goal-setting, visualisation, relaxation and concentration in the elite environment. Furthermore a system of support beyond training and sport is important, with coaches, parents, spouses, significant others, family and friends. The key for an athlete is the ability to empower oneself in the face of regular obstacles in life and sport.
Every setback is a set-up for a comeback.