So you're about to compete yet you don't feel as though you're in the optimal zone. This happens often. All's great in training, then right before competition, your body just doesn't seem to listen. You feel either low or high levels of body activation. Is there a way to get the ideal activation levels? Yes absolutely. Let's dive into what's happening first.
You've been in a car before. What does every car have behind the steering wheel? Yup it's called the dashboard. And this dashboard has a speedometer on it. Well, just like the speedometer tells the driver how fast the car is going, we have ways to determine our activation levels. Okay, let's dive into how that works.
There are three speeds: slow, ideal, and fast. And your speedometer extends to everyday life, not just to sport. I base the analogy on research on arousal levels. Keep in mind that we want to strive for ideal speed, and that being at either extreme draws from ideal performance. Here is what you may feel, think, and do at the different speeds.
SLOW (heart rate too low)
Slow thinking and decisions
IDEAL (heart rate just right)
Making optimal decisions
FAST (heart rate too high)
Making rash decisions
Okay that’s all great. But how do I use mental strategies to get into the ideal speed?
Tips To Get Into The Ideal Speed Before Competing
SLOW TO IDEAL (step off the gas pedal)
Check your body language. Make sure your chest and head are up, and shoulders are back. Body language affects the mind and as a result affects your activation levels. This affects your speed.
Warm-up more. It may be that you’re not warmed up properly. So jump into that dynamic warm up and get your heart rate up.
Pump-up music. Find music that is upbeat and will make your heart rate go up. Pump up songs are great for that. Listen to it during your warm up. Here’s a free website you can use for that.
FAST TO IDEAL (step on the gas pedal)
Relaxation. Try a breathing exercise to focus on your breath, quiet your mind and calm your heart rate. Here is a guided one you might try.
Mindfulness. Focusing on your breath is powerful, especially as a daily habit. Tons of research supports it's effectiveness as a refocusing strategy. Doing it right before performance is huge. Give this a shot. Here is an intro to what mindfulness is.
Low tempo music with powerful lyrics. Find music that is calming and will make your heart rate go down. Music with powerful lyrics will do the job. Here’s a website you can use for that.
So what's the main takeaway here? Use the strategies above (any of your own) to enter the ideal speed and set up your speedometer for success!
To see more about the Human Speedometer, check out the battery video on my YouTube channel!
Flow Performance was happy to present this article, brought to you by our good friend over at KIZO Performance, Zoran Stojkovic. Check out the links to his website and social handles below!
Zoran’s love for human performance development led him to study how top performers prepare for competition. He has an MSc in Sport & Exercise Psychology from two European Universities and has coached world-class athletes. He loves empowering athletes, coaches, performing artists and corporate leaders to find their mastery.
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