Fitness As A Life Style
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Gaining the Mental Edge
To gain the competitive advantage, athletes should:
Develop a supportive environment. In addition to a good physical location the social environment should also be supportive. This includes listening support, emotional support, emotional challenge, technical appreciation (understanding from others of what you are experiencing, etc.), technical challenge (encouragement to strive beyond previous achievements), shared social reality (understanding by someone who shares similar life experiences and views.)
Communicate with others. This occurs in a supportive environment.
Set goals. Goals must be set thoughtfully and systematically. The purpose of goals is to direct attention to important aspects of task, help mobilize effort, increase persistence and increase immediate effort, and to develop new learning strategies by thinking through the process of goal achievement. Set several types of goals including dream goals, realistic goals, specific training goals, short term goals, long term goals, and performance goals. Keep a training log.
Increase body awareness. Integrate changes gradually to focus on correct motor movement. Practice and experience will increase body awareness. Watching others perform at a high level and visualization also helps.
Master concentration. Control anxiety, or stress levels, for peak performance.
Control stress. Anxiety leads to tension and panic and is typically a result of pressure from yourself or others. It results in negative physiological reactions: catacholamine release, muscles tension, blood flow away from working muscles to extremities, and vasoconstriction which results in less oxygen to the brain (therefore you are not as alert.)
Focus attention. Concentration is a learned skill of passively not reacting to or being distracted by irrelevant stimuli.
Stop negative thoughts. Referred to as “thought stopping.” In competitions think about the task at hand. Don’t worry about your training, taper, work, relationships, etc.
Learn relaxation. Relaxation can decrease oxygen consumption, respiratory rate, heart rate, muscle tension, and sweating.
Imagine success. Visualization helps to reinforce and strengthen existing skills, speed up learning of new skills or correct problem skills. It improves mind-body reflexes, increases self awareness and awareness of important cues, improves concentration and confidence and decreases anxiety.
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