In the last post (Part 1) I discussed the first two (three as I put planning and goal setting together) points I believe we must consider when structuring our early season to hit our peak when it counts.
In this post I am going to discuss the last two points we must nail in order to safe guard our performance and ensure we can keep an upward progression all season long.
Nailing and Building the Fundamentals
Building skill is an essential in any athletes performance progression. Elite performers are relentless about building skill above their talent, they are never content with where they are at even when others might think they are at the top of their game they will always be striving for better.
Basic skills are the foundations that they use to improve their performance, never being content with their basic skills ability but working on these every day.
This time of the season is the perfect time to work on this basics that are going to help us later when we are building and perfecting our game play and strategy.
We can often switch off when we are practise, we can have the I got this one nailed response. But if you really want to work this season on hitting your peak you have to always be striving for better. We never have all the answers and can always do that skill faster cleaner and more precise.
This brings me on to the next and last point I want to make for fixing this early season to reach your peak later…
…Getting Your Mind Set Right
We have to fix our attitude and mind set in order to reach our peak. To keep an upward progression we have to be very good at analysing ourselves and our performance. Whether that performance is in a game or a drill at training we need to be present and aware.
So even when we are practising the basics we need to approach it with energy and thoughtfulness. How can I do it better? What do I need to fix? Was that better or worse, why?
“Elite performers win in their minds first”. (Meyers; ‘Above the Line’)
So in order to reach our peak performance when it counts we have to put the work in now and win in our minds first.
In order to do this we need to manage two things:
- What we focus on
- How we talk to ourselves
Are we really focused at practice? or are we allowing our mind to wonder. Are we relying on our talent or are we reaching for better? And by focused I mean really focused. We can often be doing the drill and feel like we are present in the session but until we are constantly questioning our performance we are still just going through the motions.
How do we talk to ourselves is so important to our progression. We have to be accepting of our failures and use them as feedback. How often do you find yourself talking down to yourself when you mess up. “I am so shit at this skill, I just always mess it up”
Perhaps you don’t talk down but perhaps you dismiss. “I just can’t get this.”
Or maybe your a blame gamer or an excuse finder. “Oh its because I have x,y,z I just can’t do it because of that.”
All of these are versions of negative self talk. If we want to reach our peak in this season we have to swap this for positive talk.
In ‘Above the Line’ by Urban Meyer he states there are 3 distinct mindsets that affect your performance:
- Irritated Mindset – this is always negative and is impulsive, on auto pilot and resistant. It might sound something like this “but why do I even need to be good at this, I can just do this way instead”
- Survival Mindset – this is when we just want it to be easy and try and take the short cut. “I just do it this way, its easier forget being able to do it that way.”
- Process Mindset – this is the winning mindset, this mindset is that which the elite performer posses. This is positive intentional on purpose and skillful. “Ok I am struggling to get this I am going to take these action steps to get better at this”.
A key element to getting a better mindset is asking for feedback and seeking help and advice. There are so many great sources out there for gaining more information on this topic. I am currently reading Above the Line and listening to I’m Not You podcast.
Ask a teammate that you look up to, or an idol. If someone has already achieved what you are striving for then why not ask them how.
So in conclusion we need to plan our season and outline our goals, We need to know where we are going to know if we can get there or not.
When we are planning we need to take into consideration all the elements that are going to have an effect on whether we will reach our goal and ultimately our peak performance. Physiology, Bio-mechanics, Psychology, Tactics, Health and Lifestyle.
We need to work on our fundamentals, both off and on skates in order to set ourselves up for the season ahead.
And we need to fix our mindset to enable us the best possible chance of reaching our peak performance when it counts.
I have been following this system for a few years now and it is not easy, it takes a lot of dedication. I will honestly say that I still have work to do and things I am striving to perfect but each year I find myself closer to reaching my peak performance when it matters and its the learning process that keeps me going enjoying the ride.