Surviving slumps

All athletes experience setbacks - whether it's a plateau, slump or injury. Mentally tough athletes work to perceive these times as challenges as opposed to failures. This is the time for avoiding outcome goals (times, finishes, rankings) and focusing on the process (training, technique, nutrition, dry land). It is also the time to stay present focused and  remembering why you do your sport - for the majority it isn't fame and fortune!

Sometimes we need to give ourselves a little emotional first aid to move the process along. What would you tell a teammate in the same challenging situation? Give yourself that same feedback, take a breath and MOVE ON!

Pre-Race Routines and Rituals

Why do pre-race rituals and routines help athletes relax? Because when the executive functioning part of the brain (i.e. pre-frontal cortex) knows what to expect it quiets down and anxiety decreases.  Routines can vary from sport and athlete, but any behaviors that can be repeated before events will help calm systems and promote flow.  For many athletes getting to their event early is important for reasons they just can't explain.  For others, certain foods, socks, gear or actions are a must before a race.  These aren't superstitions for athletes (though some of them may seem that way) - they are strategies to shut down the chatter that the pre-frontal cortex is so fond of.

Dr. Alan Goldberg-Sports Psychology for Athletes, Coaches & Parents

Simply replacing positive thoughts with negative thoughts during a stressful athletic event is ineffective for another reason: negative thoughts (i.e. sticky thoughts) are your brain's way of telling you that your body is in danger - that's

why there is pain. They serve a purpose as a physiological survival mechanism. Instead of combating them, it is more effective to acknowledge their presence, relax into them, listen to their suggestions, and move on! This takes practice but shifts the thoughts out of the battle ground of the frontal cortex and lets the body do its job.