With the Olympics kicking off this week it seemed a ideal time to talk about performance. Although the immediate focus will be on sport, performance in other areas such as presenting, exams, driving tests and interviews can also be improved with some simple techniques.
1. Centre yourself.
This technique helps reduce anxiety and stress and re directs your focus to the present task. Imagine your lungs are divided into 3 parts, lower, middle and upper. The lower part is in your abdomen and the upper part is in your chest. As you breathe in through your nose imagine that you are filling your lungs from the lower part upwards. You should notice your stomach expanding first and then as you continue to breathe in, your chest should also expand pushing your shoulders up and back slightly. Exhale through your mouth and as you do think of a key word that helps you focus on what you want to do. For example ‘sharp’, ‘relaxed’, ‘ready’ or whatever word has meaning for you . Keep practicing this technique so that it becomes automatic when you need it most.
2.Visualise yourself getting the outcome you desire.
Research has found that repeated visualisation can build both confidence and physical and psychological reactions in certain situations. With mental rehearsal, the mind and body can become trained to actually perform the skill imagined.
- Sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be disturbed.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Create a vivid and convincing image of yourself and of what you want to achieve. Imagine the sights, sounds, feelings and even the smells of the experience. Visualise as much detail of the scene as possible. What are you wearing, are you alone or are there other people around you? What can you hear? How do you feel? See yourself achieving your goal.
- If your mind wanders just focus on your breathing and gently bring it back.
- Always end the exercise with a positive image.
3. Believe in Yourself
If you recognised the quote ‘ I am feeling very Olympic today’ from Cool Runnings then you will know that belief in yourself is as important as the talent that you have. Cool Runnings is loosely based on the true story of the First Jamaican bobsled team trying to make it to the 1988 winter Olympics. They had no experience, they used borrowed equipment but they had a strong belief that they had a right to compete as equals and that’s what they did. Believe that you can achieve and remember that there is no failure only feedback.
So whatever your goals are over the coming weeks or if you are just watching for fun good luck.