It’s different for everyone. Some athletes need to focus in an intense manner before they compete, while others don't want to think about anything related to their competition. However, everyone should have a consistent plan that they use on a regular basis.
What pro golfers do
Golf is a sport that requires intense concentration and focus for brief periods of time. One of the keys to golf success is not just the ability to hit greens in regulation and to consistently one-putt greens, but to be mentally prepared and have a consistent pre-shot routine.
Most professional golfers take time to mentally visualize their round the night before they actually play. Many golfers believe that mentally working out how they will approach each hole is just as important as driving a cart around the course to check yardage.
Visualization is the new buzzword in sports psychology. Essentially, visualization is the ability to see something before it actually happens.
There are two ways to visualize: The first is visualizing events as if you are watching a movie of yourself competing. This is called disassociative visualization because it emphasizes your role as spectator over participant in the exercise.
Associative visualization is just the opposite, with you watching yourself compete as through your own eyes. Athletes may find one technique works better for them than another, while some athletes may combine these two together into a powerful routine to get them ready for competition.
To successfully visualize be sure to imagine not only successful results, such as hitting the perfect shot, but also your response to adversity, such as hitting the ball against a tree. By blending the two you bring confidence and preparation to any contest you participate in.
Preparation involves developing a consistent routine before you compete both on the mental side and the physical. Just as you stretch before you compete, you should also mentally stretch. Taking time the night before to think about your event and visualize yourself successfully completing your event, will give you a much greater chance for success on the actual playing field.
Dr. Andrew Jacobs has produced numerous teleseminars about youth sports as well as audio programs to help you relax and visualize success before competition. Check out his Web site at www.winnersunlimted.com. Also his show, The Sports Psychology Hour, can be heard 8-9AM Central time and can be heard by clicking on www.810whb.com. He can also be reached at 816-561-5556.