Today LYNX coaches all took part in a full day, continuing education course called the Psychology of Performance. The course covered the psychological skills of visualization, dealing with distractions, and setting effective goals all with the intent to help the athlete maximize their focus throughout their entire season. The course served as a good reminder that mental training is required in addition to physical training to achieve peak performance.
Coach Steph commented:
I was interested in the Psychology of Performance course because I think regardless of our ability as a triathlete (on the podium or in the bottom half of the pack), it is beneficial to set appropriate goals and to understand that being physically AND mentally prepared on race day will help us achieve our own definition of success. I wanted to broaden my knowledge around the psychology of peak performance.
Much of the course related to creating and utilizing focus plans. A focus plan is a detailed plan setting out how and when athletes will work on the things they need to work on physically and mentally to perform at their best. It is a working document maintained by the athlete and facilitated by the coach. It includes things like season goals, the type of training the athlete will engage in (and why) and include aspects of mental training which the athlete needs to work on to maximize their confidence on race day.
I was interested in learning about the role of visualization and how I can assist athletes in learning how to control images thoughts and feelings in their minds during training and on race days. One takeaway for me was that visualization needs to be practiced often to create a positive reality of how an athlete wants to perform, feel while performing, and what they will be thinking while performing.
It was suggested that visualization should be integrated into daily training. 3-5 minutes of visualization, 3 times per week is a great place to start. Begin visualizing a daily activity you know well and focus on details like what you see, what you hear, what you smell and what you feel. Do you visualize in color or black and white? Can you hear noises, can you feel your body moving? Take some time to get good at experiencing these types of sensations and then move on to visualizing yourself while racing.
Swimmers were lead through some visualization exercises before getting into the water tonight.
Coach Karleen commented:
Setting focus plans takes time and athletes need to be involved in the process. Athletes need to take ownership so they can feel engaged and confident in their training plans and race goals. This will lead to athlete success as they have trust and believe in the training they are taking part in. Debriefing is a key element of focus plans as well, the process assists in determining how well athletes are applying their plans. Revisions are normally required and on going.
The Lynx Group enjoys actively taking part in these continuing education courses so they can better assist all athletes. There is a tremendous amount of preparation that goes into performance and success largely depends on both physical and mental toughness. Coach and athlete work very closely to hone skills so athletes can perform at their best. We are often reminded that in order to be a better coach we need to listen to the athletes as they are excellent teachers.