5 mental tricks to improve sports performance

Undoubtedly, physical activity brings great benefits to the mind. But do you know how to use the mind to improve sports performance?

Last update: May 28, 2022

In general, when we do sports, we all reach a point of exhaustion and we can’t wait to finish the day to go home. Nevertheless, that tiredness is sometimes mental and we can change the chip to make a little more effort. This time we review 5 mental tricks to improve sports performance.

The brain, as the center of the nervous system, is the one that sends the orders and controls almost all the processes of the body and the mind. It is linked to productivity and directly affects our performance in any activity, both daily and sports.

Using the mind in our favor is decisive to achieve goals or achieve success in sport. Predispose ourselves in a good way and focus on objectives It will lead us to discover our ability to improve ourselves and achieve much more than we thought.

Mental toughness is key in physical activity

Psychological strength is essential in sports performance. It’s not just about elite athletes, but anyone who does a practice and wants to improve themselves, must have conviction, perseverance and positive thoughts to reach their goal.

Let’s see some important aspects that we must take into account to use the mind in favor and improve our performance.

  • Trust in yourself: having good self-esteem is a determining factor. Self-confidence will help us achieve our best performance. In addition, it is key to be able to maintain it and not lose it even in adverse moments. For example, a study called “Salivary Oxytocin, Cognitive Anxiety, and Self-Confidence in Precompetitive Athletes”, applied to 56 young soccer players, it determined that the winners had significantly lower cognitive anxiety scores and higher self-confidence scores than the losers.
  • be persevering: we must never give up, but try again and again until we reach the goal. You have to think positive and try new techniques or strategies.
  • cope with frustrations: In this aspect, the athlete’s environment is very important, in addition to his personality. The support of the family, the contribution of a good coach and the help of a psychologist can be decisive. If we have self-criticism about our performance, it is more likely that we can improve ourselves and achieve success.
  • manage emotions: anger or frustration will only hinder the chances of achieving the goal, since it will affect concentration and performance. Athletes need positive thoughts to improve themselves and reach their peak performance.
  • Have fun: Succeeding or obtaining benefits from practice are common goals for athletes, but they can be detrimental if we want to achieve them at any cost. The first reason to face a discipline should be to have a good time and have fun, especially when it comes to children. If that motivation is lost, we will most likely abandon the activity.
Focusing thoughts on sports practice is key to performing well.


5 mental tricks that can boost sports performance

The practice of sport helps stimulate the brain. Training and competition grant a better oxygenation of the neuronal connections. This allows us to renew ideas, achieve better concentration and take the brain to the maximum of its capacities. Consequently, as well as a feedback effect, we can use it to our advantage to improve our athletic abilities.

A paper entitled “How does sport psychology really improve sports performance?” holds the following:

“Few within the realm of competitive athletics would dispute the importance of being mentally prepared before an athletic competition, as well as the need to maintain that particular mindset during a competition.”

In addition to the above, he adds that mental skills training translates into better sports performance, but what “Many athletes, coaches and sports administrators are still quite reluctant to seek the services of a qualified sports psychologist, even if they think it could help.”

What are those 5 mental tricks to boost sports performance?

1. Motivate us

We have to prepare the mind in the best way to face the exercise. We must focus on what we can achieve and clear the negative thoughts that predispose us in a bad way.

2. Think about doing one more repetition

It is about predisposing the brain to do one repetition more than we do on a regular basis. For example, if we are going to do 10 push-ups, try to make ourselves aware that we will complete 11.

In our heads there is a conviction to make more effort than stipulated and, therefore, it will be easier to complete the series.

3. Overcome double reps

It consists of starting to do an exercise without setting a number of repetitions. When we carry a certain amount and we feel that we could be in the middle of the series, we have to mentalize ourselves in bending that number.

The idea is that the brain is predisposed to have extra energy to achieve the goal. For example, if we do burpees with jump and after the first 5 we think that we will get to do 10, then we must predispose ourselves to be able to reach 15.

4. Think the load is lighter

With this strategy we can facilitate the exercise and lift the real weight of the load with less effort. It is ideal for when we are going to lift the maximum weight, known as 1RM or maximum repetition. For example, if we are going to deadlift with a load of 100 kilos, we must prepare ourselves that we are going to lift 90.

5. The final reward as a stimulus

There always comes a point where we are exhausted and can’t wait to finish the day. According to our predisposition, it usually happens just in the last minutes or in the final exercise, in which we have to make the last effort.

the key is in clear the thought of tiredness and focus on finishing to have the reward. For example, the hot shower when you get home or the knowledge that you are giving everything to achieve the desired figure.

Psychological support is key for athletes to overcome their mental barriers and reach their full potential.


Overcoming yourself is the key

Overcoming our performance in any activity is synonymous with motivation and a starting point to continue perfecting our qualities. It is shown that mental capacity applied to sport is as important as skill, technique and strategy to achieve goals.

Both at professional and amateur level, good predisposition, self-confidence and perseverance are key aspects to improve that, in addition, are in our mind. It’s time to change the chip and work on cognitive control to achieve the best performance.

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