How can you train your mind to focus when you play a sport? What should you be thinking about when you compete in your sport and you want to perform your best? This article offers suggestions on training your mind so you can perform your best.
By Jay Granat
Athletes frequently asked me what their mind should be on when they are involved in their sport. For instance, golfers want to discover the ideal state of mind to strike the ball purely. Baseball hitters want to know what they should be telling themselves before they step up the plate, at the plate and in between pitches. Gymnasts and divers want to know what they should be thinking about before and during their routines.
Now, obviously, the answer to this question varies a bit, depending on the sport. A quarterback dropping back to pass has a different mindset than does a golfer. Similarly, a tennis player needs a different mental outlook than does a soccer player.
However, many athletes in a wide variety of sport seem to do well if they can train their mind to have a simple thought, one thought or no thought at all. For example, one golfer who tended to over swing liked to repeat the phrase "easy does it," before he would start his back swing.
A baseball player, liked to say "find the path of the ball." Another one liked the saying "drive it into the gap."
A swimmer trained his mind to view himself as a cross between a speedboat and a dolphin before he would race.
Many athletes can move to the empty mind technique after they master the art of focusing on just one thing. I encouraged a gymnast to empty her mind before she would compete in her event. I suggested that she imagine a cub being emptied of water. When her mind was empty, she felt ready to let her body do what it had been trained to do for many years.
Many athletes have too many thoughts racing through their mind when they compete. Learning self-hypnosis, meditation and visualization can help athletes to gain the control over their minds that they need to perform well.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and the founder of http://www.stayinthezone.com. He has written several books and developed several programs to help people perform to their fullest potential at sports, at work and at school. Dr. Granat, a former university professor, has appeared in The New York Times, Good Morning America, AP, ESPN, Golf Digest, The BBC and The CBC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
His books include Zone Tennis and Get Into The Zone In Just One Minute. He is also the author of How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, How To Lower Your Golf Score With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, 101 Ways To Break Out Of A Hitting Slump and Bed Time Stories For Young Athletes. Golf Digest named Dr. Granat one of America's Top Ten Mental Gurus. He was recently featured in a documentary film on long distance running. Dr. Granat writes a weekly column for three newspapers.
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