Setting a strong foundation – Repetition, repetition, repetition
One of the most effective ways to increase your performance in anything is simply by turning up and practicing! This may sound extremely obvious but it can be discounted far too often. Some people want all the glory but are not willing to put in the time to achieve it. So repetition, repetition, repetition cannot be overlooked as its the cornerstone to executing the task in hand.
Moving practice to performance
With a strong foundation in practice our next task is to convert that to the match, or the performance. A classic example is in the musician. They practice for many years in their bedroom to then hopefully one day play to hundreds or thousands of people. Their next step is to then move that playing to the stage.
The paradox of performance
Lets just quickly address one area that can cause many people to trip over when trying to perform at their best. The constant need to wanting to perform at 100 % perfection can cause problems if its not addressed and managed. We want to create a environment in which we push for our best performances, aim for a high level/standard but we have a heavy level of perspective whilst doing it. So if we have a bad day at work or at the session we can quickly turn ourselves back around and get back to it.
Sometimes the need for perfection eventually catches up and with some people, the reality is we are never perfect all the time, so being kind to yourself is key. Therefore we always aim to do our best and focus our attention on the process. This was a game changer for me personally, it’s simply a change of mindset, with dedication held with a equal amount of perspective.
Taking off the pressure
Of the most effective ways to take the pressure off yourself is to simmer the amount of focus on yourself. This is a little paradoxical but the best way to do this is to focus on your main mission. Some performers instead of focusing so much on themselves and switch their focus to entertain the crowd, give them a great evening or offer a product or perfromance that can impact their lives. This can be especially helpful for entrepreneurs, when they focus on their overall mission it can help keep them on track when the challenges come. It helps to alleviate the pressure THEY PUT ON THEMSELVES!
So lets take a look at 10 techniques that you can apply in any pressure situation
- Visulisation – visualization plays a huge part for many athletes and performers. Simply put it’s the ability to visualize the desired outcome you would like by mentally running through your performance visually bit by bit. This is a great technique for many golfers, basketball players, musicians etc they clearly visualize the outcome they would like. A study made by Edmund Jacobson proved how effective visualization truly is with a set of basketball players. Check it out! http://www.llewellyn.com/encyclopedia/article/244
- Emotional EQ + Visualization – Another great way to use visualization is by applying some emotional intelligence along with it. Emotional intelligence is exactly what it says on the tin, the ability to manage and express your emotions in a clear concise way without getting wrapped up in them. So if we use a positive emotion such as joy, or confidence with the visualization this greatly improves our ability to access that emotion when we step into the performance. If you know exactly how confidence feels you can clearly express this in your visualization exercise. A great way to do this is to have 2 parts to the visualization. You can use a previous situation where you had confidence and go back to that situation and hold the emotion. Then you can use that emotion with the new scenario you are working on. The idea here is to really feel the emotion and get familiar with it.
- Movement – Your physical body (The way you position your body) resetting your posture under pressure can massively effect your performance. Take Cristiano Ronaldo’s body positioning when he steps up to take a free kick. With Ronaldo being a J shape kicker (direction of the kick) he access greater power into the ball in the direction of the kick. His upright posture gives him a ‘power’ stance that can also add huge mental benefits. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has done some phenominal work on body language, how it effects our testortone and cortisol levels in the brain! Fascinating! http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are
- Meditation – in any pressure situation being able to regulate your thoughts and emotions is huge. Meditation can be a great tool to keep your emotions and impulses at bay in performance. Restful alertness is the key here, with training we become more and more aware of our thoughts and emotions. Therefore we can respond more effectively in high performance.
- Slow down your response – this can be a fantastic way to not overthink the situation your performing in. Develop times to slow down yourself down, so you can make for better decisions, so you you’re not making decisions impulsively.
- Language – reframing the situation – a healthy way to increase your performance is the way you shape the situation. Many performers have still feel the nerves before the performance, but its how they manage and use it to their advantage which is the key. Mike Tyson before many of his boxing fights would be extremely nervous, but his coach …. Would say: “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters”.
- Boxing the inner critic – This can be a very helpful technique when any doubt arises before the performance. Our inner critic may point us to what ‘may’ go wrong why you can’t do it. One way around this is to box the inner critic by reinforcing 4 other powerful reinforcements. Powerful words (affirmations), Powerful Physiology (emotional intelligence and power posing), Strong focus (process driven) and Visualization (you have visualized the desired utcome over and over. With these four areas the inner critic simmers and we can perform at our best
- Being in the now – staying present during your performance can be a extremely helpful way to keep you in the zone. With a strong foundation in mindfulness (the ability to let thoughts come and go without getting lost in them) you can stay in the now and focus on the performance in hand.
- Be friend the moment – simply changing your relationship to perceived pressure can really impact your performance, To see the performance as a challenge and as fun (enjoyable and exciting) (a game). This can help take the seriousness out of the performance so we don’t choke, many times its not a do or die situation.
- ‘There are many opportunities’ – when you know there are more opportunities to get it right. Think about how many times you have to get it right. The band Coldplay got turned down by over 20 record companies, they kept going. You will have other opportunities if you put yourself out there and keep on being proactive. The irony is you feel less pressure knowing there will be other opportunities.
These are 10 of many strategies you can begin to develop in your arena. Start with one and see how it can help with your develpement and training.
Step into your greatness today!