Optimal athletic performance is a balance between under and over excitement. If an athlete enters competition with little to no excitement/anxiety, then their performance is going to suffer. There is nothing motivating them to perform at optimal levels. Conversely, if an athlete enters competition too excited/anxious, their performance is going to be hindered by their inability to let their muscle memory take over and allow high performance output.
Performance and arousal has a predictable and consistent relationship (as depicted below). Optimal performance occurs somewhere between low and high levels of arousal; however, everyone’s peak is different- some curves are tighter, while others may be wider- perhaps one athlete’s curve is skewed to the left, while another’s to the right. This is why I can’t tell an athlete what number will lead to their optimal performance- it is something that needs to be determined by the athlete through trial and error and/or observation of their performance across competitions. Looking back over your best and worst performances, rate your arousal level on a scale of 1-10 (1 = no arousal; 10 = highest level of arousal you can imagine). What numbers are associated with your highest levels of performance?
Once you determine your magic number, you are in complete control of your athletic performance. If you are under aroused heading into a competition, you need to find ways to increase the demands of the competition in order to increase your motivation. Pile on however much pressure is needed to get you closer to your magic number. Whereas if you are over aroused, you need to utilize relaxation techniques in order to calm down your central nervous system in order to get yourself closer to your magic number. The closer you are, the better your performance will be- so what’s your magic number?
MVP Mentality Sports Psychology serves athletes of all ages and levels across Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Hollywood and the surrounding communities. Call us today at 954-317-0551 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our sports psychologist, Dr. Lauren Hennessy.