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Diana’s Tips on Mental Toughness

May 19th, 2012

One must train the mind for “Championship Racquetball”.

Athletes thrive on consistency and routine. We are creatures of habit and perform best when there are no surprises. In order to obtain optimal performance levels, your “Championship Game”, you need a pre-performance routine.

What Is a Routine or Ritual?
1. Behavior: An athlete chooses certain behaviors that enhance her game (e.g., bouncing the ball three times before serving).

2. Habit: A behavior done over and over again (seven times) becomes a habit. If you bounce the ball three times every time you serve, you will eventually do it unconsciously.

3. Routine: A healthy habit soon becomes a routine. As you are preparing for your upcoming match, you choose specific routines that you think will guarantee consistency and success. Bouncing the ball three times has now become a necessary routine since you stop thinking about your serve and go into it automatically.

4. Ritual: A ritual is a specialized routine. If a routine works and improves your accuracy, consistency, and timing, you move it into a specialized category called a ritual. This means it is your own personal behavior that you use to play your personal best because it triggers your muscle memory and puts you into automatic pilot. Professional athletes all have unique rituals that get them deeper into their game, their performance, and their ultimate mind–body state (i.e., the zone), and so can you. Remember to always have a plan B just in case you cannot do exactly the same routine each time. The key is to never get flustered; just create and adjust and stay focused. Winners in sport are always prepared for the unpredictable. So trust yourself that you will know what to do at just the right time. This is called confidence.


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