To Enter the Zone and Reach Peak Performance – Try Less
NASCAR champions use a popular motto: "To speed up, slow down. " This may sound contradictory, but in mental game coaching, I use a similar motto: "To perform better, try less. "
Just like in auto racing, it's common for other athletes to think that 110% effort is the optimal path to peak performance. Many athletes push it to the maximum.
Racers try to drive the car to the limit. This mindset causes some drivers to overdrive their car and thus make more mistakes, losing valuable seconds. This is called trying too hard, which can short-circuit your performance.
The no-nonsense truth is that trying too hard to peak perform can actually slow you down because you make more errors. The best athletes have learned how to perform with a feeling of ease - in essence trying less.
-Champion athletes describe the zone as if their performance was easy or effortless.
-Athletes with the fear of failure think they must try hard, force it, and make it happen to win.
Why is there a huge difference in mindsets between champions and athletes who hold themselves back by fear of failure?
Under pressure, the mind can plan tricks. Your *trying mind* or analytical mind wants to control the performance. Your mind senses a greater level of importance in competition, '"I had better try hard now so I do not embarrass myself. "
This mindset sounds correct and legitimate when the game is on the line. But champion athletes know better.
If you think a controlled performance helps you perform well, you are wrong. Training is controlled and can be hard. Your performance should flow from your training and feel effortless. This means trying less.
Champion athletes know how to find the right balance between trying and letting it happen. They trust what they have done in practice to prepare for competition.
Just like in racing, you must find the perfect balance between maximum speed and effort. I call this effortless speed in racing.
You want to perform at your peak, but with precision effortlessness - void of tension that comes with trying too hard. Your goals should be to discover how to push yourself to the edge, but at the same time find effortless performance.
However, before you can perform effortlessly, you must first uncover mental barriers that get in the way of effortless performance.
*Fear of failure, anxiety, and tension will lead to over control and prevent you from performing effortlessly!*
Perfectionist, highly motivated, and very goal-oriented athletes are the athletes who struggle the most with fear of failure and trying too hard.
The harder you try, the better you perform, right? Wrong!
If you have a hint of perfectionism, fear of failure, or lack of trust in your performance, you block your ability to find the zone of effortless performance.
Want to learn simple, proven mental toughness skills that you can apply to competition? Grab my free online mental training newsletter, Sports Insights Magazine - for athletes, coaches, and sports parents:
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Patrick Cohn is a master mental game coach who work with professional and amateur athletes, sports parents, and teams of all levels. Visit http://www.peaksports.com for more information.