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Perform with a Trusting Mindset In Competition

by Dr. Patrick Cohn

(Adapted slightly to be specific to gymnastics by Jay Thornton)

The ability to perform instinctively is critical to consistent execution in competition. The reason why you practice is so you can trust your method when its time to compete.

Gymnasts who lack trust tend to:

  1. Second-guess their decisions
  2. Over-analyze their technique
  3. Take too long to make a decision
  4. Avoid taking risks to avoid mistakes
  5. Dwell on past mistakes

The more you practice a skill, you’ll develop a memory (motor) program for that movement. With repetition, movements start to feel natural and effortless. If you over control a well-learned skill, your performance suffers.

Don’t Practice Your Skills in Competition

Your first task is to stop “practicing” when you “perform” in competition. All the training is complete. Now is the time to put it to the test!

In competition, you need to commit to simplifying how you perform so you can perform intuitively instead of perfectly. Put your practice behind you. Train your skills with dedication, but then rely on your ability when it’s time to let it flow.

Use Training To Learn How To Trust

Second, one of your tasks to increase trust is to change your practice to facilitate your competition performance. You should not spend 100% of your practice time in the practice mindset. This is why football teams scrimmage, tennis players play practice sets, and gymnasts have intra-squads or mock meets.

Consider this a transition time to help get yourself into the competitive mindset. You should spend at least 40% of your practice time in the performance mindset as competition nears, to help you make an easy transition.

Why Trying Too Hard Hurts Trust

Third, you have to learn to quiet the over-trying mindset. Trying too hard to be perfect with your performance will not help you let it flow in competition. This requires you to simplify your performance. Using a release move as an example, a gymnast should focus on seeing a good Geinger and clean re-grasp to the bar when it’s time to do the routine, instead of over analyzing all aspects of the skill.

How Can Athletes Perform with Trust?

Successful athletes have learned how to perform with superior trust in their skills. We’ve created The Fearless Athlete, Workbook and CD program to help you do this.

The Fearless Athlete: A 14-Day Plan For Superior Concentration

Hey, if you enjoy reading my mental game tips, please forward this email to other athletes, coaches, or parents who would appreciate it.

Your Mental Game Coach,

Dr. Patrick Cohn