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Use Practice Time to Learn and Competition to Shine

Ever wonder how to reduce over thinking in sports? Everyday I talk to clients around practice versus competition. There are not as many similarities as you’d think between the two, they are different and should be different for very specific reasons. Thinking should happen in practice. Overanalyzing happens during competition because there’s no time for thinking. You shouldn’t override your practice by overanalyzing in competition. You can deal with all of this by letting go of thinking and being realistic about your abilities during competition.

Feedback and analysis happen in practice

Practice is the time to think about what you are doing, why you are doing it and how to develop your skills. Practice is designed for this. It’s slower and more repetitive so these things can happen.

Alongside your thought process, there’s occasionally a professional giving their input. It’s good to have an outsider who can give good feedback because they can see what you are doing. Your thoughts combined with their input creates the space for change and skill development.

Since practice is a slower pace than competition, this thinking and feedback can be talked about at greater length. This makes it more easily digested. As you are digesting it, you are figuring out how to utilize this information and repetitively practice it in that moment.

Analyzing during competition will hold you back

Competition is not the place to think through, gain feedback, talk about it, digest it, utilize it or repetitively practice it. None of this can effectively happen during competition. There is no time for that.

I recommend trying a shortened version of it instead. While competing think it through, digest it, figure out what went wrong and do it differently.

Overanalyzing happens during competition because you make one mistake, try to quickly analyze, can’t, and can’t let go of it. While you are in your head overanalyzing the situation, the next mistake happens, and the cycle begins all over again. Before you know it, mistakes and overanalyzing are piling up and overwhelming you.

Don’t override practice

If you are overanalyzing your way through competition you are overriding practice. There’s no sense putting all that time and energy into practice if you aren’t going to allow your growth to be utilized during competition.

If you genuinely want to be successful, let go of thinking during competition and allow the muscle memory you’ve developed in practice show up and shine. You know the Nike saying, Just Do It? That’s exactly what I am talking about.

Be ready to shine in competition

On competition day we unconsciously expect something BIG to happen. We expect ourselves to do something bigger than what we have prepared for. We think we should be perfect but are you perfect at practice? No! So why expect just because you have practiced that everything you practice will be perfect.

Recognize that and realize the things that need to happen during practice and the things that need to happen during competition. It’s especially important to understand that thinking can and should happen in practice but not in competition. Practice letting go of thinking during competition knowing not only won’t it help but it leads to a cycle of overanalyzing which leads to feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Practice is preparation for competition. Competition is not preparation for practice.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like more recommendations for improving your mental game. Request a complimentary consultation. I look forward to hearing from you!

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