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Intro

Most athletes and coaches would agree that a large percentage of success in sports is due to mental factors and many athletes report that mental preparation is the most important element in performing at a peak level. Many competitive athletes have experienced times when they were playing "in the zone." During those times they report being completely immersed in the activity, having a narrow focus of attention, experiencing their performance as effortless, feeling as though they were in complete control, feeling mentally and physically relaxed while also feeling very energized, feeling confident, and being focused only on the present moment.

For many athletes who have had such peak performances, it can be frustrating when such periods seem so elusive. It can be difficult to predict when or if they may occur or for how long they will last. While there are steps athletes can take to increase the frequency with which they "enter the zone,? the reality is this experience happens relatively infrequently. A more important?and controllable?approach is learning how to focus and refocus throughout the duration of a practice or competition which insures athletes are attending to the important tasks at hand. There are several mental areas that are of relevance to athletes who desire performing more consistently and competitively, including:

  • Goal Setting
  • Energy Management
  • Concentration and Attention
  • Confidence and Positive Self-talk
  • Acceptance and Commitment training
  • Imagery training

When athletes are able to employ these mental strategies and have developed their physical skills to the point where they can perform and execute without having to think about what they're doing, they are more likely to consistently compete at peak levels. Each of the above topics will be addressed in the pages that follow. If you would like more information, please email (gabennet@vt.edu) or call our office at 231-2556.

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