Mental Strength Training for Athletes: Performance Systems
In my last post I talked about goals. Goals are important, they can help create direction and help you know what type of performer you are wanting to become. However, once a goal is set then it needs to be put aside and majority of your focus needs to be on your systems. James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits, puts it well. "You don't rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems."
All Olympic athletes have the goal of winning the gold medal. The goal itself does not make the difference. What makes the difference is the systems they have created in the process to achieve that goal. Athletes don't rise to the occasion, they fall to the level of their preparation, is another way to look at the above quote. If goals were really the difference then many more people would have accomplished things they set out to accomplish. Goals are also in the future, and we can't predict what the future will hold or how long it might take to accomplish a goal. If we set a goal for a year out and we don't get it, and that was what was driving us, then when it doesn't happen what's next? We can become deflated and think something is wrong or we didn't work hard enough. There are too many external variables that influence when a goal might happen or if it happens. We need to focus on what we can do, and be more focused on the present moment, and the current step we are on.
So what are performance systems? The best performance systems are the systems that are in place on a daily basis. Your daily habits. One habit itself may not make all the difference, but when you add up all your daily habits they do. Think of if each habit helps you be 0.5-1% better, does that matter? It does. Too often we look for the big accomplishment or magic potion that will make the difference, when it is the choices being made daily that matter the most.
The systems you currently have are working perfectly to give you your current results. It is important that you look at the systems you have and see if they line up with the goal you want. If not you need to adjust them. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help:
Questions to Help Develop your Systems
What are you optimizing for? Do your daily habits match it?
What would an Olympic athlete do?
What type of performance identity do you want?
Every choice creates your performance identity. If you are wanting a certain performance identity you have to figure out what would someone do who has that identity. What choices would they make, what would their daily life look like. The goal creates the destination but to get there you have to focus on today, an what you do today, and what you do needs to match the end point. If it doesn't you make it harder to get there.
For example, I have a client who plays a few different sports, one of them is hockey. A couple weeks ago we were talking about a tournament he had been in, and how he wants to score more goals. He is getting very frustrated that he isn't scoring to the level he wants. I then asked him how often do you practice your shot? His answer "I never do". He has no system in place to get better with shooting, which is paramount to scoring more. He kept focusing on the goal of scoring more, and thought it should just come. Rather than look at the process it takes to get the skill to score more.
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Kate Allgood Masters Sport Psychology (with distinction) Masters General Psychology (with distinction) Sports Hypnosis Certification Mindfulness Certification
TAIS Assessment Certified