The Secret to Athletic Success

Jun 21 20:38 2007 Wil Dieck Print This Article

Want to take your game to the next level? Learn what causes athletic inconsistency and the 5 keys to secret to athletic success.

Why is it that one day we can hit every ball right down the middle,Guest Posting or pick up every frame and the next day, or game, we can hardly keep it on the fairway or in the lane? What causes athletic inconsistency? What is the secret to athletic success?

When you talk to professional athletes they speak of being in the zone when performing at a high level. If you talk to a running back he’ll explain how everyone seemed to move in slow motion and that the hole seemed wide enough to drive a truck through. A tennis player might tell us she could see the spin of the ball and could anticipate exactly where her opponent was going to hit it. A bowler might say he was in the groove. What is this zone that these athletes describe and how do we get into it?

Before we talk about getting into this zone let’s talk about the realities of athletics. Most likely you are not a professional athlete. You are probably a regular person that has lots of interests besides bowling, basketball or whatever your chosen sport(s) happen to be. So if you aren’t a professional athlete, spending hundreds of hours a year at your profession, you probably aren’t going to hit scratch golf every time you go out or become a karate champion, but you may become your club champion and you may win a local tournament or two. In other words you can become the best athlete possible depending on the time you choose to invest in your sport. So get over trying to be a pro, unless you have the time to invest to play at that level, and decide to develop your abilities to the level where you both play your best, and enjoy every moment you play.

The 5 Steps to Athletic Success

1. Get a Coach –Few people who participate in athletic activities actually get instruction. For example the number of people who actually get lessons from a pro golfer over their lifetimes is about eleven percent. The number of people that get training from a personal trainer at a gym is about the same. What is the percentage of people that actually take tennis lessons?  You might have guessed, it’s about the same.

It would be nice if all we had to do is watch someone else and be able to play a sport well, but for most of us this is just not a reality. Even the pros have coaches. Golfing sensation Tiger Woods has Hank Haney. Steffi Graf had her father Peter. Even the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, had Angelo Dundee. All the greats have coaches and so should you.

In order to play any sport well you need to learn the basics; how to maximize your exercises, place your body, kick your leg, roll the ball, etc. Coaches can shortcut the time it takes to become proficient at any sport while reducing your chance of injury due to incorrect form.  Get a coach.2. Practice – How did you learn to walk? You practiced. After you crawled around for a while you decided to walk and hang on to the furniture. Then you stumbled around, bumping your head and bottom until you could walk. If you would have laid in your crib and only watched people walk you would have never learned how. The same goes for playing a sport. You cannot sit watching Tiger Woods on TV, never going to the driving range and expect to be able to play on the pro circuit. You won’t be able to watch old Bruce Lee movies and become a black belt. And you won’t be able to become a marathon runner by walking a mile every few days. For any sport you need to learn the rules, practice the basic techniques of the game and develop your body to be able to play the sport comfortably. 3. Set a Goal - Human beings are goal seeking mechanisms. In order to achieve you need to be able to have something to reach for, something tangible. If you want to improve your golf game you need to set a tangible goal of decreasing your score to 80. If you want to bowl better you need to set a goal to increase your score to an average of 180. If you want to be invited to body building contests you need to set a goal of less than 10 percent body fat. Now these may not be your goals but they are real goals, goals that you can shoot for and achieve. You see the one thing that all achievers do is set goals. We become better when we have a goal to focus on.

4. Get Feedback – We all need feedback. One place we’ll get good feedback is from our coach. As we already talked about, feedback from someone who has dedicated their life to helping others improve in their chosen sport is well worth the expense. We can also get feedback from others in the sport that are just a little further along the path than we are. In fact, this can sometimes be priceless because they are acutely aware of what we are going through as a result of having recently going through what you are currently going through. So find a coach and find some people that are just a little bit better than you and ask for their advice. Not only will they be happy to give it, you will learn some great shortcuts toward mastering your sport.

5. Learn the Mental Game – In 1989 when questioned about tennis greats, Chris Evert told Sports Illustrated, "With me, the mental part of the game was always stronger than the physical. Martina was always known for the physical aspects of her game. Steffi has both."

Chris Evert knew that the mental game was paramount. So do all top athletes. So how do you improve the mental game? First you need to overcome negative programming. Get over what you can’t do. Like Henry Ford said once, “If you think you can you can and if you think you can’t you can’t.” Although we have learned to do a number of very complex things in our lives, from walking, to writing, from speaking to eating with a knife, fork and spoon, we often feel that we can’t play a sport well. We say to ourselves, “I’m just not good enough”. Just because you weren’t able to hit a shot a few weeks ago doesn’t mean you can’t hit that shot today. Or just because you could only kick waist high a month ago doesn’t mean you can’t kick chest high today. Instead of focusing on what we can’t do we need to focus on incremental improvement.

Physical improvement, like anything else, is a step by step process. When you keep at it and focus on where you want to be, little by little, your mind and body will take you there. Keep in mind that the level of your game is in direct proportion to the amount of time you can invest in it. In other words, don’t program yourself to think you’re not good at a sport because you don’t play at the same level as your sports idol. Your sports idol became good through practice and so will you. Leave the comparisons for how much improvement you are making, not to how much better (or worse) someone is than you.

Two Mental Factors

Athletic success requires two critical mental factors. The first is physical relaxation. The second is mental concentration or focus. Mastering these two will skyrocket your performance.

Take a look at this typical example. The first guy in your group tees off and hits it 250 yards. You watch it fly perfectly and fall right in the middle, a chip shot to the green. Now it’s your turn and what do you do? You think to yourself “Wow he really hit that one!” and your hands get tight, your arms get tight and you hit the ball with all your might, and it dribbles off the tee. Why did that happen? You made two giant mental mistakes. You tightened up instead of relaxing and you focused on what the other guy did rather than your own game.

So how can you correct these mistakes? How can you learn physical relaxation and mental concentration? You need to do what the professionals do - you need to program yourself for success.

After you learn the basics of the game all the movements you make in sports are done at a subconscious level. This is true for everything we do in life. For example, when you drive you don’t think about it, you just drive. When you started driving it wasn’t this way at all. You had to think about everything at a conscious level. You had to adjust the mirrors, decide how to push the gas pedal and if you had a clutch, wow, that was a real challenge. But little by little you became better and better and now you drive subconsciously. You can be driving down the road with a cup of coffee in one hand while talking to your friend in the passenger’s seat and if a car pulls out in front of you your foot goes to hit the breaks automatically. That’s a subconscious stimulus response reaction. You could actually be riding in your friend’s car in the passenger seat when a car pulls out in front of you and what will happen? Your foot hits the carpet with the same stimulus response reaction even though you know consciously that it won’t stop the car.

In order to become good at a sport you need to teach your body the correct stimulus response reaction for each key area of your game. That way you can relax and let your body do the work it needs to do to make you successful. That’s the reason for practice, to make the body’s performance “automatic”.  But in order to have useful automatic performance the practice must be with correct form and that’s why a coach is so important.

Automatic performance can be aided by hypnosis to help you see, or visualize yourself performing correctly.  In order to do this you need to remember a time when you performed extremely well, a time when you felt “in the zone” or at least near to it. Then, using all of your senses you need to be able to describe how your mind feels, what you see, what you hear, how your body feels. This may appear as confident, strong, relaxed, focused, perfect concentration or even smooth, depending on your sport.

Once you have discovered the place where you perform at your best you can then use hypnosis to learn how to relax and bring it up automatically. Here’s how. Put yourself in a relaxed state. Then visualize the time when you performed extremely well. Use an anchor, such as making an “O” with your thumb and forefinger or pressing the inside of your elbow with your forefinger and give yourself an audio trigger such as saying “yes”. Repeat this process several times. The next time you practice physically or compete, use this combination of a physical anchor and an audio trigger to put yourself in the zone. You may be amazed at your level of performance.

If you are one of the many people that have difficulty with visualization, or need help in creating an anchor or trigger that works for you, see a hypnotist who can work as your visualization coach. A professional hypnotist can help you learn how to use visualization to improve every aspect of your game.

So there you have it. Get a coach, practice, set a goal, get feedback and learn the mental game. Five easy steps towards a lifetime of sports improvement and enjoyment. If you need help with the mental game look for a professional hypnotist that has a background in sports. No matter what sport they are proficient at they can use their athletic experience to help you use hypnosis to improve your game too.

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About Article Author

Wil Dieck
Wil Dieck

Wil Dieck is a professional hypnotist practicing in San Diego, California. For more information about Wil and his practice please go to http://www.e-hypnosisworks.com.

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