Positive self-talk, as well as goal-setting and imagery, are all popular forms of mental prep to help enhance performance. However, some say these mental exercises are limited in their effectiveness if we’re using them to ‘change’ our thoughts.
Recently, acceptance-based approaches have proved far more powerful interventions, with mindfulness emerging as the leading strategy. It helps athletes shift focus away from unhelpful thoughts and back to what they’re doing in the here and now. Research reports better awareness, motivation and confidence, less anxiety, more time ‘in-the-zone’ and faster pace.
The following goal-setting process has been refined over the last decade, creating a powerful method that engages and motivates the athlete:
- What motivates you most: an end-goal, such as a race or specific performance?
- What did you learn last season?
- What do you want to achieve this season?
- What does a successful season include? (Include process and outcome goals.)
- What are your strengths?
- How can you most improve?
- Therefore, what do you need to do to achieve your goals?
- How motivated are you to carry out this work (1-10)?
- At what times can you train each week?
- Which races are you targeting?
- What health, logistical issues or barriers to your training exist?
- What is your motivation? Why do you want to achieve these things?
- How do you feel about this plan now that you’ve written it down?