Playing your best water polo when it matters most is a dream that all athletes have. You prepare all season for the ultimate goal of winning the championship but realize that through the grind of training and competing, it is very difficult to maintain your highest level of peak performance. This is where the mental game becomes the major difference between champions and the rest of competitors.
Have you ever heard commentators or fans reflect on an athlete's game by saying "he is unconscious?" Usually that means that he is playing 'out of his mind' by controlling his focus on the task at hand while being aware of mental time travel so that his energy is targeted on the present moment. This is very difficult. In fact, an athlete who is able to accomplish this mentality can be said to be mentally tough.
Mental toughness has a lot to do with persevering with grit through all internal and external challenges and adversity in pursuit of one very long term goal. The goal in the championship game is to win obviously but the irony is that if you only focus on the scoreboard during the game things like nerves and anxiety about the outcome will over ride what is most important now. Your uncertainty of what might happen diverts your attention from what you are doing in the now.
Usually the answer to what’s important now (aka W.I.N.) is a focus on the things that are within your control. These are your preparation mentally, physically, technically, and tactically; an awareness of your positive mental attitude; an intense and passionate investment of effort; and present-moment focus. If you master these four areas in the championship game, you will be winning the mental game and the results will take care of themselves. So, continue to raise the B.A.R.R.* of your performance by developing mental toughness in the face of challenge and you will play your best when realizing your ultimate goal is staring you right in the face.
*If you would like to learn how to put the mental skill of Raising the B.A.R.R. into practice contact Brian to set up your first consultation meeting for yourself or your team.