Heard of sports psychology? Of course you have. And you would know that its focus is on processes and strategies that deal with a performer’s “conscious” level of thinking – ie consciously seeking a change in physical behaviour, for example working on your body shape so on.
However, have you considered the power of the mind and its affect on performance? Performing at your best is more than simply the result of physical training – when body, mind and emotions work together, heightened performances result. Would your performance be improved through greater concentration, increased awareness, the ability to visualise, more focused motivation and so on? Your mind, your emotions … they control your body, so peak physical performance is the result of “programming” and integrating these unique elements into your regular ongoing training / rehearsing regime.
How you think affects your emotions, and your emotions affect your physical performance. Try this exercise …
Find yourself a quiet place to relax in and think of an outstanding performance you have enjoyed in the past. As you begin to relax, replay the occasion in your mind … where was the event … what did you do upon arrival … how did warm-up preparations go … what was going through your mind during all this. Then … immerse yourself in how you felt, what you saw, what you were saying to yourself just prior to the occasion, the nervousness of the moment, the excitement … the tension …
Now, the event begins … enjoy the moment … relive the occasion to its full … embrace the anticipation, the excitement …
As you relive this, allow all your emotional and physical reactions to intensify as if you have a big dial that you could turn – turn up the volume, magnify the colours, increase the emotions and thoughts you are immersing yourself in. Are you getting a reaction, is it something different, is it a good and pleasant recollection.
If you could measure your body’s physical reactions at this point you might notice reliving the event has increased your heart rate, or perhaps quickened your breathing, maybe initiated / increased involuntary muscle movement as you replay the experience.
Did you experience some interesting reactions. If you didn’t, perhaps you might like to try again – it’s not always easy to allow your mind to be so active and even a little out of control.
Your body, mind and emotions are not separate entities;
they intertwine and work together to influence your behaviours.
Did you know imagined experiences affect you in a physiologically measurable way just as much as “real ones” do? Therefore … and here’s the exciting bit … the more vividly you imagine, the more powerful your experience will be. Even more exciting, what if you had the ability to do the very same thing, turned on “at will”, whenever you prepare for a performance. Would this make a difference?
Bottom line – before something can happen physically
you must engage your mind and emotions.
In other words, you need to decide what you intend doing in your mind and then build your desire to have this happen as you imagine it prior to any physical action.
Think back for a moment this time on a performance where things didn’t go as planned. What got in the way – poor concentration, bad mood, nervousness, self doubt, poor discipline, lack of enthusiasm (you get the idea). Was there any physical reason you didn’t perform as hoped? On most occasions performers face emotional and mental obstacles more so than physical issues when performing, yet most spend so much time on physical preparation at the expense of working on these obstacles.
How much practice / rehearsal did you undertake this week –
how much was aimed at improving your mental and emotional strength?
Consider the following concept put forward by the famous Donald Trump……
80% of your success is the product of your attitudes, beliefs, motivation, self perception … your mind and emotions … and your willingness to engage them in your training and performances
20% of your success is the result of the skills and expertise you have developed over the many long and hard hours of practice and rehearsal
In other words, having ability will only get you so far …
So many performers struggle with success, either on the way up, or simply trying to stay there. My aim over the coming months is to present you with some thoughts and observations on what holds people back and strategies that can help you overcome barriers to success and keep you performing at the level you choose to seek or maintain.
Your emotional and mental focus is always being tested as a performer.
So, how can you control this focus, turn it on and up at will, use it to reach inside to push that little bit further. We will examine how belief systems can work for you or against you, how you can utilise visualisation and positive imagery, develop the skill of modelling others, self coaching, rationalising future pathways and much more.
In closing, I encourage you to visit my website or email me directly should you have any specific issues / questions you would like to see explored further in future articles.
Jeff Withers, Principal of Red River Journey, has a long established history of working with clients in Performance, Personal and Professional environments, to help them reach their optimum Performance Goals. For more information on Jeff go to or email