How to mentally prepare for intense competition

Haley Perlus
Your Inner Athlete

Being prepared for competition goes much deeper than just making sure your equipment, nutrition and skill levels are up to par.

Of course, those factors are essential, but mental preparation is key to having the best possible experience, regardless of the results. Here are three things to consider when you are mentally preparing for competition.

1. Embrace the competitive journey. Being prepared for competition is also about having the right motivation. To have the greatest experience, remind yourself that it’s as much the thrill of pursuit as it is the thrill of conquest.

Every sport is inherently saturated with drama and uncertainty. No matter how many times you have competed or go through your performance in your head, the mystery and tension from not really knowing what to expect can easily throw you off your game. So remember to welcome the opportunity to create a new cool experience from the competitive journey itself.

Accept that there will be challenges. In competition, you experience a host of positive emotions such as joy, exhilaration, excitement and hope. Of course, there is also plenty of opportunity for frustration, disappointment, stress and fear. However, those in-the-moment negative feelings don’t last long, and they’re truly valued parts of the experience. If nothing else, those fleeting moments of suffering, followed by accomplishment, will give you one amazing story to tell later one. And when you’re through the finish line, you’ll cherish them like badges of honor because you stuck with it and made it to the end!

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3. Be your greatest supporter. The truth is you can be your own worst enemy or your greatest ally. Your biggest opponent is the voice inside your head that tells you to stop! Break away from your self-limiting beliefs by pushing beyond the discomfort, doubt and fear that will drip in from time to time. The best way to power through is to slap a smile on your face and tap into that deep reservoir of focus, determination, and energy with which we’re all born.

When you are mentally prepared to embrace the competitive journey, accept the challenges and be your greatest supporter, you’ll give yourself the best sort at the ultimate competitive experience!

With a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology, Haley Perlus is a professor, published author, international speaker and peak performance consultant. For more free tips, visit or call 303-459-4516. To attend her upcoming workshop, visit or visit her website.

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