When entering the post season, many athletes make the same tragic flaw: they lose sight of why they do what they do.
It is easy to get caught up in the significance of an event. Just pick up a newspaper, go on a forum, and talk to some of your friends, family, and coaches. The focus will quickly turn to winning, or even worse, not losing.
Athletes begin demanding more from themselves as the post-season approaches. They try to do more than they usually do. They make the upcoming event "special." Everything is important, nothing is special. Once you make something special, you put the performance on a pedestal, and this adds a tremendous mental weight for the athlete to carry, as if the athlete was not dealing with enough physically.
We learn from sports movies and media the wrong way to think about the post-season. "This is it, now or never, do or die." "This is all that matters, what you have been working your whole life for" etc etc. You get the picture. People hype it up. This is great for selling movies and maybe 10% of the athletic population, if that.
Watch the Olympics or World Series or Super Bowl. Listen to those interviews. they will likely tell you a very different story than Hollywood. Real athletes talk about consistency and staying within themselves. Doing what they do every day. Not focusing on the event, but on effort, attitude, and execution of skills (technique).
A great way to separate yourself from the masses you will be competing against is remembering what you love about your sport. I would assume you are playing the sport you are because at some level, you enjoy it. Enjoyment is the base of the pyramid to feeling the Flow State of being In the Zone, where you just cant miss. Most athletes recall being in this Flow State at some point in time. To get back to it, you must enjoy what you are doing. You won't achieve a Flow Mindset if you are frustrated, annoyed, upset, or angry. The sport must be it's own reward.
Activity of the week: Create a long list of everything you enjoy about your sport and read it multiple times a day. If you are looking for that Flow State in the next few weeks, you better do the things that will facilitate its occurrence.
In a period of time where all your opponents are stressing out and worrying about a future challenge or potential loss, remind yourself why you love doing what you do. Your mind will make an immediate shift, and the results will likely follow your good feelings.
Peak Performance Specialist