Mental Preparation

Mental Preparation for Performance

Athletes may have the tendency to feel high levels of anxiety and stress before executing a skill.

Sports performers use many mental preparation techniques before competing.

These help the athlete to be focused, calm and confident going into the event, allowing them to compete at their highest level.

The four main techniques that sports people use to prepare for great performance are:

  • Imagery
  • Mental rehearsal
  • Selective attention
  • Positive thinking


Imagery involves the athlete imagining themselves performing using all of their senses.

The images they create should help the athlete to perform more successfully.

Mental Rehearsal

Mental rehearsal involves using imagery to relax the performer.

This involves external imagery (picturing yourself from outside your body, like watching yourself on film) and internal imagery (imagining yourself doing the activity and reacting to the environment).

The benefits of this include that it can speed up reactions to situations and keeps you calm.

Selective Attention

Selective attention is where the performer focuses on a particular object in the environment for a certain period of time.

This allows the athlete to focus on important details and tune out unimportant matters.

This is especially important before a vital moment in sport.

Positive Thinking

An athlete may use positive thinking when a performance is not going well, they will use it to refocus by using positive inner thoughts.

They may tell themselves or team mates to ‘focus’ or encourage them by saying ‘we can do this’.

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