“I trained so hard this year but I missed Nationals again… WTF!”
“I made it to Finals and choked again. I can’t seem to get over the hump… WTF!”
“I took private lessons for a year with a hitting coach but still strikeout with runners in scoring position… WTF!”
I have great balance beam routines in practice but can’t stick the landing in competition… WTF!”
There is a lot of ‘WTF’ in competitions but it doesn’t exactly stand for what you think. The WTF I am referring to is Worry-Tension-Fear and is often the wall that prevents athletes from achieving their athletic goals.
Worry-Tension-Fear is a 3-headed monster that stacks the odds against you before you even arrive at the competition site.
Worry, tension and fear work together as follows… You fear some negative outcome of an event, whether it be disapproval from a coach or parent, messing up in front of others, costing your team a game, being embarrassed after a mistake, getting beat by a rival, losing in the first round of a competition, not making a travel team, etc.
The worry over these potential negative events starts to worry you and crescendos until it morphs into overwhelming anxiety. Focusing becomes difficult and negative thoughts flood your mind.
Your body becomes tense, rate of breathing increases and becomes shallow, mental and physical energy is extended faster, stomach becomes upset, reaction time slows up and your muscles tense up dramatically. All these consequences slightly alter your technique and ability to concentrate, causing your performance to suffer and preventing you from reaching your goals… WTF!!!
How can you overcome the WTF syndrome and achieve your athletic objectives?
The most effective method for conquering the WTF syndrome is by applying the WTF solution…Work-Trust-Focus!
Work is the first step in the plan. All the good intentions in the world can never replace purposeful action. Work involves fully preparing yourself; mentally, physically, emotionally, technically and tactically. Push yourself in training and practices, create a sound game plan and develop mental skills that you may be lacking.
Trust is the next step. If you put in the work and are mentally and physically prepared, you need to be able to trust your abilities and training. Make note that if you can do it in practice, you can do it in competition.
The final step is focus. In competition, doubt, distractions and worry may creep into your mind. Disregard those things that pull your attention away from what your need to do in the moment. As you progress through the stages on the competition, focus on what you need to do during each phase such as; traveling to the competition arena, walking into the building or field, changing into your uniform, eating your pre-competition snack, performing imagery, stretching, warming up, performing your pre-competition routine and competing just like you prepared.
You were born to succeed… So WTF will you do about it?