Whether you’re playing for your local netball team or consider yourself a semi-professional, there are always ways to improve performance. Some of these are obvious and things we know we probably should be doing. Eating the right foods for instance are a safe bet in feeling stronger and faster when you’re on the field.
Other factors aren’t as straight-forward however
Sport & Performance Psychologist at The Mind Room in Collingwood, Michael Inglis, is well aware of the many different aspects that contribute to an athlete performing at their peak.
“The most important factor in performing at our peak is where we focus our attention. We have a choice for that to be task orientated (current action) or internalised (self-judging). It takes training to put that focus on the present moment as opposed to the ongoing assessment on ourselves.”
Michael explained that he often sees clients who have tried many different things to improve their performance, but are focusing their efforts on the wrong things.
“A common presentation of athletes is they want to think and feel great to perform at their best. This gives our negative thoughts and feelings more power so therefore more difficult to remain focused on what action we would like to do next.”
Luckily, there are ways to perform at your peak more often
“The first factor that you want to correct is what small action/self talk phrase to remain grounded and focused. You further want to develop a specific mindset that underpins your approach to your performance. The next overarching components include goals & performance values. Goals are what you want to achieve, values are how you want approach the journey.”
Importantly, Michael emphasised that the above tips won’t achieve much if you’re not getting balance in your life. He explained that the key to not only performing well, but ensuring you’re contributing to your own wellbeing, is to strive for balance on and off the field.
“Three significant factors to provide balance when approaching your performance are what you do away from competition & training. They are good sleep hygiene, some sort of focus on a career separate from being an athlete and social support.”
Above all, Michael reiterated the importance of being clear with yourself about what you want from your athletic pursuit. That may be medals, or just the process of participating in a sport. Either way, it’s important to know what you’re investing in.