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There Are Many Motivational and Relaxation Techniques and Strategies That Can Be Utilized Within the Sporting Arena. Justify Techniques and Strategies That Could Be Useful for an Athlete in Your Event Prior to Competition/Performance

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In order to achieve peak performance, athletes must be prepared both mentally and physically. The ideal mental preparation and psychological state of an athlete, both leading up to and during training and performance, will vary for individuals. It will also vary depending on the nature of the activity. Psychological strategies can play an important part in emotional and possibly spiritual recovery by assisting in recovery of concentration, lifting motivation and decreasing anxiety levels. Athletes may experience positive and negative motivation or most likely a combination of both. These will occur partly because of the normal human emotions of the athlete and partly because they will be encouraged by significant others such as coaches, parents, team mates, fellow competitors, and the media. Strategies athletes can use to enhance motivation and mange anxiety include concentration/attention skills, mental rehearsal, visualization, relaxation and goal setting.

Concentration and attention skills allow the athlete to focus on the task at hand and ignore other distractions. Concentration can be improved through training that emphasizes the process rather than the outcome. When an individual focuses on the process, they give attention to technique and try to understand why. For example if a marathon runner doesn’t make the finish line as they are focusing on the outcome that places importance on the result, the success or otherwise of the win. Athletes need to know what to focus on at a particular time and be able to adapt to changing situations. For example, a runner may need to focus on finishing the race and exclude all other distractions, however, at other times; they need to be aware of their opponents. A marathon runner must have a highly sustained concentration and this can be improved prior to performance, such as learning to block out and ignore irrelevant cues and focus on relevant cues by utilizing self talk to enclose one’s thoughts and focus points are techniques commonly used to boost concentration as marathon runners need a highly sustained concentration.
Mental rehearsal, sometimes called visualisation or mental imagery, has been shown to enhance not only competition performance, but also the acquisition and building of motor skills. It involves the mental repetition of a movement or sequence to increase the mind's familiarity with the desired motion. Mental rehearsal has a number of advantages, the most important to improve concentration. Marathon runners use this technique as it provides them with additional practice and may remove the need for total reliance on physical training. It is also commonly used by Marathon runners when they are unable to train through inclement weather, illness or injury. However, the disadvantage to mental rehearsal is it is difficult for a coach to control the thoughts of his/her athletes
Relaxation techniques are often used by sports performers to calm themselves which decreases anxiety and controls arousal. Relaxation can be useful before, during or after an event. As with mental rehearsal, visualization and imagery, it must be practiced so that it becomes a natural response and it is important that each athlete finds the relaxation technique that suits them personally. Relaxation techniques usually focus on breathing and on heaviness and warmth, mental imagery and procedures for tensing and then relaxing muscles. There are a number of relaxation techniques that include centred breathing, meditation and progressive muscular relaxation. Centred breathing, involves controlling breathing to release tension before a performance. Centred breathing is essential for marathon runners prior to competition as it can lower the breathing to less than 5 breathes per minutes. This process engages a parasympathetic neural pattern that slows the nervous system and sets in motion a calming response. Meditation is also a relaxation technique that marathon runners use to prepare themselves prior to competition. Mediation involves narrowing one’s thoughts using simple repetitive images and sounds. There are simple meditation techniques that people can build into their running, including contemplation on gratitude, generosity and motivation. Meditation can help relax the body and can mentally prepare the body for competition, it can lower the heart rate.
The establishment of goals is important to improve marathon runners preparation. By empowering runners with the responsibility to set their own goals, they are more likely to seriously attempt to fulfill them. Marathon runners often use goal setting prior to performance to focus, give direction, and help them realize their aspirations. Marathon runners often use short terms goals as they are the most important because they serve as checkmarks by which goals can be measured. An example of a short term goal a runner might set themselves with is “I will complete at least 3 endurance training sessions this week”. These are stepping stones to achieving long-term goals. Marathon runners also use behavioral goals, an example is they might want to be more punctual at training, or refrain from criticizing other runners. Coaches may use this to monitor desired improvements in player behavior.…...

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