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 "Secrets of Optimal Performance in Sports and Other..." 
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Post "Secrets of Optimal Performance in Sports and Other..."
Secrets of Optimal Performance in Sports and Other Competitions
by: David Light Shields




Whether you are in sports or business, whether you compete for fun or profit, there are hidden strategies to both boost your performance and find more enjoyment in the process. Here are five such strategies.

First, to maximize your likelihood of winning (whether a game or a contract), forget about winning! The more that you think about the outcome, the more mental focus is drained away from the process of getting there. To do your best, all your mental energy needs to be concentrated in the present. If you stay focused on the immediate demands that are right in front of you, winning will take care of itself. A bit cliche, but true.

Second, think of the contest as an opportunity to stretch yourself. Focus on how you can gain. This is particularly valuable when you can think of how you can benefit, even if you end up losing. Perhaps you can gain new insights that will help you compete better the next time around. The attitude that "nothing is gained in a losing effort" not only robs you of potential gains, but makes losing more likely.

Third, find the middle ground between stress and relaxation. You cannot "force" optimal performance by putting yourself under increased pressure. Performance deteriorates under high stress. On the other hand, you need a certain amount of stress to shift your mind and body into full gear. So if you tend to be rather lax, fire yourself up. Kick yourself in the pants. Tell yourself that it really does matter and that you must do well. But if you tend to get too serious or worried, take the opposite approach. Bring a dimension of play to your competing. Even when the consequences are important (in fact, especially when they are very important), relax and have some fun. People handle serious situations best when they lighten up. Take this strategy and you'll enjoy yourself more, and you'll perform better.

Fourth, think of your opponent as your partner. To do your best, you need the opponent to push you. You gain the most when you have tough competitors. Good competition comes about when all competitors are doing well. So appreciate your opponents; without them, you would not be able to reach the same heights of performance. While you want to defeat your opponents, opponents are not enemies.

Fifth, compete with a sense of deep purpose. If you are simply competing to gain personal benefit (whether material benefit or ego), you are going to perform less well than if you are dedicated to values, goals, and ideals that are beyond yourself. So know what is important to you and find your center of gravity beyond yourself. Consider, for example, the case of Lance Armstrong. He won the Tour de France a record-shattering seven consecutive years. What kept him going through one of the most mentally and physically demanding events in all of sports? He had a mission. He wanted to demonstrate what cancer survivors can do. Find your mission and you'll perform at your peak. Just as important, you'll have an enduring sense of satisfaction.


About The Author
David Light Shields is the author of True Competition: A Guide to Pursuing Excellence in Sport and Society (Human Kinetics, 2009).

He is also the founder and executive director of TrueCompetition.Org, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to reclaiming competition for excellence, ethics, and enjoyment.

http://truecompetition.org




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Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:22 pm
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