Mental Improvement in Sports: The Complacency Trap
When people look at great athletes, they only see one part of the equation. It is easy to want greatness, to want to win championships and to have the will to win. It is a whole different story to have the will to do the things that great athletes do when no one is looking.
I see complacency happen a lot with athletes, especially on the mental side. There is a focus on always getting better on the physical side, but athletes will do a couple things on the mental side and then be done. They think, I am doing some visualization, I set my goals and I have pretty good self talk, so I have taken care of the mental side. Not thinking about the fact that they can continually fine tune these skills or even better, understanding that the mental side to performance is more than the mental skills around their sport.
Mental performance also comes down to mindfulness, self development, recovery, and your psychological framework. These are areas that constantly need to be worked on. It is a journey to better understand yourself, to be more present or change the way you look at things. If you start to think you have the mental side down to your game and performance you are far from it. It is when we understand there is always room to grow, to learn and to understand ourselves more that we are able to continually do so. When we get complacent it doesn't take long until our performance either suffers or we simply do not reach our potential.
I think many times why someone can get complacent is they see they are good enough or they are better than others. The question isn't how are you doing compared to others or how you are doing compared to yourself a year ago, it is are you reaching your full potential? It is important to see the growth you made over the last year or 6 months to see you have grown and gain confidence in knowing you have improved. However, we have to ask ourselves how well are we showing up now? Is this up to my standards? Obviously this also has to be looked at in a mindful way, not looking at in terms of being perfect or setting standards that are not reachable in that moment. Taking an honest look at are we putting our best foot forward, or are we going through the motions? Are we still learning? Do you have moments where things click into place and you see things completely differently?
This is not easy. I have worked with many athletes where they put in a great deal of work and effort and have made great strides, and show a ton of improvement. However, they then think they are done. They have reached the goals they initially set, not understanding that once a goal is reached you then have to set another one. The athletes who thrive do so because they are constantly seeing what they need to develop before they need it, so then they have it when a moment or opportunity arises. You may have the mental skills to thrive in your current situation, but why wait until something goes wrong later on or you realize you need to develop more mental skills to then do so? Why not get ahead of it, and continue to grow not only as an athlete but most importantly as a person. When we get better at who we are, we get better at what we do.
So I challenge you to look for areas where you can improve, where you can dive deeper and continue to strive towards reaching your potential. To find the greatness the lies within you.
To your success,
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Kate Allgood Masters Sport Psychology (with distinction) Masters General Psychology (with distinction) Sports Hypnosis Certification Muscle Activation Techniques Certification