Get in the Zone for Competition
This is a second article based on an interview with Sorin Alexandru, Black Belt and international medalist in Karate. It is dedicated to those athletes striving for greatness. Read Interview with Sorin: The Mindset of a Champion
One of the biggest challenges faced by athletes of all levels is preparing for peak performance on the day of competition. It is easier to be at our best in the relaxed environment of training, with peers that we know than under the pressure of competition with athletes who want victory as much as we. That performance anxiety causes some athletes to miss out on results, some to throw up out of discomfort or to simply feel more tired. Some can’t handle the pressure and end their promising careers early. The pressure and stress is a detriment to your performance, but I`m going to teach you how to prepare your body and mind properly so that you can diminish the negative impacts and get the best out of yourself. Read until the very end, because I`m going to share with you a tool that very few people know to catapult your success rate through the roof!
Preparing the body for competition
Advanced athletes might find this part of the article self-evident, but preparing your body for competition is a corner stone for getting the gold. Leading up to a competition, during your normal training phases you should have:
- A nutrition plan
- A training routine
- Enough rest
These elements synergize together to build your physical energy and capacity that you will need to compete at increasingly higher levels. You should discuss each of these with your coach and consult an expert in the field. My expertise is in the mental aspects, which I consider to be foundational for all the others.
As the day of competition approaches, and you`ve built up your energy and sharpened your skills properly, you`ll want to shift the way you eat, train and rest accordingly. Make sure you eat clean and drink lots of water. Avoid partying and drinking alcohol! Make your training sessions shorter with a focus on crisp techniques and get good rest. This will ensure that you will be at maximum energy the day of competition and even though you may be nervous, you can have confidence that your body is in the best shape it can be. Besides, how much more nervous would you be if you hadn`t trained, ate cookies and ice cream the weeks before and barely slept? Now that’s a recipe for disaster!
Preparing the mind for competition
If there is one thing I learned from Sorin Alexandru during our interview and by training with him, it’s the importance of mindset and mental development. He told me repeatedly: “The thoughts you plant in your mind become the seeds of the results you achieve in reality”. He said that if you have a plan, you won’t be caught off guard and you will greatly reduce your stress.
Sorin has a strategy for every part of the match: the first 30 seconds, the middle of the match, the last 30 seconds, what to do if he was losing, and what to do when he was winning. By planning ahead, he would have confidence in his plan and wouldn’t have to spend mental energy worrying about what he would do if the worst happened. Instead Sorin taught me that the best thing to do is to focus on your two favorite techniques and learn how to use them in every situation. I will cover the day of competition in the next section, but suffice to say that you should be visualizing how you will use your two favorite techniques in your mind.
Visualization is one of the most over stated and underused tool in sports. Every coach talks about its’ potency and nobody actually visualizes as a regular practice. I’m here to tell you as a professional hypnotist, that a combination of visualization with the power of suggestion can potentially eliminate your nervousness, make peak performance an act of will and make your best techniques happen without thinking about them. When you visualize something in great detail, you are training your mind to expect that which you visualize to happen in reality, making it much easier to do. What the mind expects to happen, tends to happen! Combine this with the power of suggestion to develop the proper sports psychology and you will be unstoppable!
“The thoughts you plant in your mind become the seeds for what you achieve in reality” – Sorin Alexandru
There is a natural kind of fear that you should feel before any important performance, it less fear and more excitement or a creative tension to be exact. It may be overwhelming at first, but like with anything, the more you do it, the more accustomed to it you will become. Feel the fear and do it anyway!
Dealing with stress the day of competition
The day of competition, there are a few ways to prepare. First of all, make sure you are well rested, well hydrated and eat lightly. You do not want to fight while bloated!
If you’ve taken care of that, the next step is to be loose during the day. Use dynamic stretches, light jogging and a few fast and sharp techniques. Don’t spend all your energy on your warm-up, but make sure you feel light, quick and loose.
The rest of the day, you want to be relaxed and happy. Sorin taught me to listen to motivating music to pump me up and comedy skits to get me laughing. Anything that creates a good mood helps!
Speaking of help, nothing gets us out of our shell more than helping others. Help your team mates warm up and cheer them on, they will do the same for you and it will take you out of your own worries and make you feel good about yourself.
During your fights, stick to your plan! Listen to what your coach is telling you because they can see things that you cannot. Your coach will help you adapt your plan to your opponent. Only when you`re more experienced, and have developed an intuition for competition, should you get creative. It`s only then that you can see and feel things about your opponent that your coach can`t.
The Power of Hypnosis
If it were up to me, all athletes would be taught self hypnosis. I discussed briefly with you the power of the combination of visualization and suggestion in training, but hypnosis also deals with relaxation techniques. In fact, part of the hypnotic state is the relaxation of the mind and the body. Using hypnotic techniques is a super quick way to relieve stress before and during competition. It can take a nervous wreck, scared to get onto the mat and turn the athlete into a happy warrior, excited to compete. The best part about it is that once you know hypnosis, you can do it for yourself!
Hypnosis is my area of expertise and if you want my help, I’m more than happy to show you how to do it. You can book a free consultation with me via my website.