This is the fifth part of my Pyramid of Successful Movement series (Read More: Pain-Free, Strength/Power, Skill, Conditioning). In this series, I will discuss each of the fundamentals in order of increasing complexity. At the end I will give a hypothetical case study and address the movement program design for this individual if he were my client. The next post in this series will be a hypothetical case study.
If you have made it to this level, serious congratulations are in order! You are either an elite athlete looking for that competitive edge to take your game to the next level or you are a fitness enthusiast that is seeking to become the best you can be. As you progress and gain competency at your craft, the mechanics of what you do become less important because everyone at your level will be proficient in them. The mental side therefore becomes increasingly important because that is where the greatest variability occurs. To continue making progress, you need to optimize your mental approach to what you are doing.
Typically, the term “mental toughness” is thrown around to describe an athlete or person who has understood how to master their psychology to produce remarkable results. However, I am not a big fan of that term. I prefer mental clarity because it does not imply a resistance and single minded focus, the hallmark of the fight or flight response. Instead, elite performance is characterized by an expansive intake of sensory information, which is the reason things seem to slow down and decision-making seems so effortless. You are simply more aware of your surroundings and pick up on cues that predict events much earlier than usual.
Think back to the last time that you were in a peak performance state. During my best performance at Boston University where I was competing in the last event of the meet, I was filled with this inner calm despite all the attention being directed towards me. Usually, I am quite self conscious but that day I was in the ‘zone’. All the noise and crowd was there but it just did not matter. To perform at your best the goal is NOT to quiet the mind to suppress thoughts of doubt and negativity, but instead be aware of as much as possible, resist nothing, and clearly focus on your goal at hand.
Being able to consistently enter this state of mental clarity is what separates the great from good athletes. How do you train yourself to enter this state? Meditation. Check out my video above for some meditation and breathing techniques that you can use right now. Make sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel so you do not miss out on future content!
If you can’t sustain it, it’s not worth it.