In this week’s 3 point’s I’ll discuss mental routines, and how they can help us before, during and after performance.
1. Mental routines are often confused with superstitions. For the purposes of what I’ll be discussing today, it is important to distinguish between the two.
Mental routines are learned, behavioral cognitive strategies that put the performer in a better position to perform (E.g., centering breath, visualization). Performers are in control of their routines.
Superstitions on the other hand, control the performer. The performer thinks, “I have to do this, this and that to perform today” and those behaviors don’t actually put the performer in a better position to perform (E.g., lucky socks, ).
2. Routines are helpful because they can help performers limit distractions and fluctuating emotions. They are also beneficial as they can help performers switch from a training mindset to a trusting mindset. Routines, particularly pre-performance routines have been studied and found to have performance benefits for both amateur and experienced athletes in tasks such as golf-putting, free-throw shooting, and serving in tennis.
However, routines can be helpful throughout performance, not just pre-performance. Adam Thielen, a 2x Pro-Bowl wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings has a great example of this. When Adam was a collegiate player at Minnesota State-Mankato, his team worked with mental performance coach Cindra Kamphoff. During this time, Adam and Cindra worked on a post-mistake routine to help Adam limit his distractions and emotional response to the mistake. To this day, after Thielen makes a mistake, he makes a “flushing motion” to symbolize flushing that mistake down the toilet.
You can read more about it in this ESPN feature.
3. Looking back on my time in coaching, I spent time tinkering with a pre-game routine to help me focus on the game ahead. I wish I would have developed a postgame mental routine. After wins and losses, I tended to replay the games in my head and ruminate on the good and the bad. It wasn’t analytical and didn’t necessarily lead to better post-game analysis, but it kept me awake way longer than it should have. A post-game mental routine can aid in recovery (which we know is important for coaches too!), be present at home and get to sleep after games. It could be as easy as a few deep breathes after it’s time to put the film down, going for a walk or writing some initial notes down from the game.
How can mental routines help you?
Always a great read!!