Not Hitting Any PRs Lately? Time to Exercise Your Mental Fitness
Sports psychology has helped athletes, like Michael Jordan, and golf pros, like Greg Norman, become legends. “What separates the good from the great is between the ears, the way they talk to themselves, their inside communication,” says Dr. Sylvain Guimond, a sports psychologist. World- class athletes stay mentally tough and visualize their victories to propel them past competitors. This same strategy can help you take your training to the next level. Outside of the professional sphere, mental exercises based on sports psychology can help you hit new PRs by changing the way you think about your performance. Psychologists have found that believing you can succeed —whether it’s scoring a goal or stealing a base — is key to actually succeeding. One of the newer techniques to enter the sports psychology scene, neuro- linguistic programming (NLP), aims to instill this belief in athletes. While the subjective nature of NLP makes its effectiveness hard to verify, NLP reportedly increases confidence in athletes, as Rhonda Cohen notes in “Sport Psychology: The Basics: Optimising Human Performance.” It focuses on building confidence through visualization and speech patterns to help athletes tune into a winning mindset. While the name might sound complex, NLP is anything but — it can be as simple as choosing a song that you associate with confidence and playing it on repeat for 10 minutes as you visualize yourself getting a PR for squats. Before your next workout, play the song as an audio cue to go into that confident state of mind.
Mindfulness exercises can also be extremely effective at improving athletic performance. These exercises, like yoga and meditation, build a strong foundation for mental fitness. By learning how to ease your thoughts and calm your mind, you’ll be better prepared to call on techniques like positive thinking and mantras during your workouts so you can, as one NLP expert says, “consciously enter a state of peak performance.” Even as you’re incorporating sports psychology techniques into your routine, remember that they’re only going to be effective if you put in the work when you’re training. As Cohen says, “It is one thing to think about or want to change; it is another thing to go ahead and actually do it.”
Take a Break!
CITRUS AND AVOCADO SALAD
1 blood, cara cara, or navel orange, sliced 1/8-inch thick and deseeded 1 Meyer or regular lemon, sliced 1/8-inch thick and deseeded
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 bunch arugula
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 avocado, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat oven to 425 F. 2. In a rimmed baking sheet, toss citrus slices with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast citrus until lightly charred and caramelized, about 10–15 minutes. Let cool. 3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine onion and
lemon juice. Season with salt and let sit for 5 minutes. 4. Add citrus, arugula, andmint to onionmixture. Drizzle with remaining oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss thoroughly. 5. Add avocado, combing very gently to not crush avocado.
Inspired by Bon Appétit
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