I have worked with athletes at all levels of sport, from juniors to collegians to pros and Olympians, and a major area that I help them to achieve is consistency in their competitive performances. So many athletes have big swings in their performances from great one week to mediocre, to even lousy the next week.
In this two-part blog post, I will first discuss the importance of consistency in everything you do. Part 2 will focus on bringing that same level of consistency into preparing for your competition and how to construct your routine.
Consistency is the one thing that separates the very best in every sport from the rest. The best athletes in the world are able to perform at a consistently high level day in and day out, week in and week out for months and even years.
Performing at a consistently high level under the most challenging conditions is the goal toward which I believe all athletes, whatever your ability or sport, should aspire to attain. But…. Who has ever taught you how?
I have identified several basic concepts to consistently great athletic performances.
You must be consistent in all aspects of your physical training efforts. When you train, whether in the gym, on the course, court, field, track, hill, or wherever you perform your sport, you need to exert maximum and consistent effort. To do that you must be ready to practice at the same intensity that you play at in competition. If your sport requires equipment (e.g., tennis, golf, sailing, cycling), your equipment must be consistently well prepared. And, of course, your mental training must be consistently practiced to keep yourself performing with confidence and grit.
Many athletes think that as long as they do what is necessary in their athletic life that will be enough to achieve their goals. But I have found that most often that isn’t enough. Instead, what you do away from your sport has a major impact on your ability to perform consistently well.
There are many aspects of your life that can help or hurt consistent sports performance. Starting with your nutrition. Because what you eat and drink is fuel for your body, if you aren’t eating and drinking in a consistently healthy way, your body will not be capable of performing consistently well on the field of play.
The consistency of your sleep also plays an important role. Consistent sleep will ensure that you are rested enough for consistently high performances.
Being consistent in your school work also has an influence. If you are stressed out because you are behind in your homework or you aren’t prepared for a big exam coming up, you have little chance of performing consistently well.
Lastly, if your relationships, whether it be family, partner or spouse or even friends are turbulent, you will not be in a place emotionally where you can perform consistently.
Though I am, of course, biased, I would say that a consistent mind is essential to consistent athletic performances. A consistent mind starts with having a consistent attitude or belief toward your sport in which you see it as a “challenge or an exciting quest to be on and not as a threat.
A consistent mind thinks about the process and not the end results. Consistent minds have a long-term perspective on their sport, rather than the win at all cost attitude which means they view losing as an opportunity to get better and grow. Losing in a competition is part of the long-term quest for peak perfection.
You also need your attitudes toward your sport to be free of self-degradation, perfectionism, fear of failure, unreal expectations and the personal pressure you put on yourself to please or impress others.
From these healthy attitudes, you must adopt the ability to get through frustrating days of training, disappointing results, who you’re competing against, or the importance of the competition. Consistent intensity, focus, and mindset come only from training and competing with the same intention and routine each and every time you perform.
Emotions play a critical role in the consistency of your athletic performances. Simply put, if your emotions aren’t consistent, meaning, you have big mood swings especially on the day of a competition, it’s difficult to perform at your peak consistently. So it makes sense to address the root of the problem that is causing the mood swings and employ techniques to address the underlying issues, including therapy, nutrition, medication and holistic techniques. Of course, it’s okay to get excited about an event and it’s normal to feel disappointment if things don’t go your way. But, if you allow the fear, frustration, anger, or disappointment to put you in a vulnerable place mentally and emotionally it will make it difficult to find consistency in your performances.
Consistent preparation leading up to competitions is the final contributor to getting the consistently great results you want. This consistent preparation begins in the days before the events in which you want to focus specifically on consistency in your training. You also want to ensure that your life and mind stay consistent.
On the day of a competition, you can create consistency in your preparations by having a clearly defined and well-practiced routine that maximizes every contributor to consistently great athletic performances. What you do the night before to what you do first thing in the morning to your arrival at the competitive venue to your final preparations before the competition begins all matter. Consistency throughout this process will be the final piece of the “consistently great athletic performance” puzzle you need to put into place that will result in performing your very best consistently and achieving your game-day goals.
Stay tuned to the next blog post where we will help you design your own pre-competition routine to bring about the consistency needed to take your game to the next level.
Thanks for reading!
Jeff Miner, LPC, M.Ed,
CEO of Triumph Program
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