#135 Athlete Tip: How To Not Play Down To Your Competition

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Athletes, this episode is for you!

Have you ever played a game or participated in a competition that wasn’t really challenging to you? But when you actually went out to play, you didn’t play as well as you wanted to? Did you make silly mistakes and have trouble staying focused?

If you can relate to this feeling, we have 3 tips to help you out. In today’s Athlete Tip episode, we’re talking about why this happens and how to prevent it from happening to you in your future competitions. 

Why Does This Happen?

You might think that playing against a team that isn’t quite on your team’s level might be a piece of cake, but that’s not always true. When your competition isn’t on the same level as you and you don’t prepare for the game like you normally would because you think, “it’ll be fine, we’ll win anyways”, you might find yourself and your team not playing as well as you thought you would. Why does this happen?

It happens because you don’t take the competition as seriously, and you fail to prepare for the game. You tell yourself, “we have nothing to worry about”, and with that mindset, you’re not properly preparing your mind and body for competition. When you don’t prepare, you make yourself vulnerable to silly mistakes because you’re not as focused.

The truth is, the best athletes prepare for every game no matter who they’re playing. It actually doesn’t matter who the competition is or what level they’re competing on. But athletes who prepare by training the mental and physical side of their game show up with consistency, and they’re ready to play their best every time.

When you don’t prepare your mind and body to play, you actually end up playing worse because you’re not as focused, you get lazy, and you think that somehow things will “get better” when in reality, your competition is probably capitalizing on the fact that you’re not focused and prepared. While you’re in a spiral of silly mistakes, they’re playing better because they prepared. 

How To Consistently Play Your Best

#1: Prepare the same as you would for any other competition.

No matter who you’re playing, it’s important that you prepare the same way every time. A great way to prepare for every game is by using visualization. This doesn’t have to take very long! In fact, it only takes a few minutes. To visualize, find a quiet place to sit down, breathe, and visualize what you want to happen in the game ahead of you. Picture yourself playing how you want to play, and feel what it feels like to play your best. You can also prepare by visualizing the competition and how you think they might be playing.

#2: Pick a goal and stick to it.

When picking a goal for the game ahead, it’s important that you pick a goal that’s 100% in your control. For example, if you pick a goal such as, “I want to score 10 points”, that goal has some elements to it that are outside of your control. But if you pick a goal like, “I want to be available for every set” then you’re picking a goal that you can fully control and can help you get to the goal of scoring 10 points. When you have a goal for the game that’s something you can control, you’ll stay grounded and focused.

#3: Be in the present moment.

When you worry about what happened in the past, or worry about what will happen in the future of the game, you’re not playing in the present moment. It’s important to focus mentally on the present moment, because this is when you’ll play your best. When you’re in the middle of a game, pause and ask yourself, “what do I need to do at this moment to play my best?” You might have to do this over and over again, but when you own the present moment you’ll play to your full potential.

Wrap Up

Regardless of the things you can’t control in a game, don’t forget that you are 100% in control of your energy. Don’t let someone else control your energy for you. Sometimes we go into competitions and say, “whatever happens, happens” but this mindset actually means that you aren’t preparing for your game. I want to challenge you to go into games with full control over your own energy, because when you do, you’ll elevate your play, and you’ll play your best.


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