We spoke with Kate Park about attaining a positive mindset for fitness and sporting success.
How do you get a positive or winning mindset for fitness and sports?
It’s interesting because a lot of what works for gaining a positive mindset in sports is applicable to daily life. We’ve talked before about overcoming black and white thinking, and that applies here. No matter what activity you are engaging in, look for positive takeaways and information you can use for the next time. Look at what you did well and keep that up.
Evaluate mistakes and try to learn from them. Mistakes are our friends, because they teach us. Ask yourself, “What didn’t work well for me there? Do I need to work on a specific skill or my breathing? Do I need to reset my baseline/start point? Was my pace OK?" Look at the loss as information and data to help you do better next time.
Be the best you can be today. Focusing on winning brings in those black and white thoughts creating pressure. If you aren’t a naturally competitive person, you might find it more productive to focus on playing the best game you can...today, or running the furthest you can...today. Just try doing the best you can in the moment. I like to think of it as AMPS.
Affirmation: Start with a positive mindset. Say to yourself, “I have trained for this. I have practiced. My fitness is good right now.” Or, try saying, “It’s a lovely day to be outside running or playing tennis.” Or even, “I’m really enjoying being on the basketball court or soccer pitch with my friends.” Look for a way to bring gratitude into the situation.
Monitor: Monitor your inner voice. Reframe and let go of any negative thoughts. Instead of “I’m afraid that the tennis ball is going to come too fast at the net,” try thinking “my racquet is up and I’m ready.” Instead of “10K is a long distance,” try thinking “I’ve trained for this and my breathing will help me.”
Presence: Be fully conscious and aware of the moment. Start with your breathing and be conscious of the most helpful way to breathe for your activity. Take a few deep breaths and center yourself. Then, become aware of what is going on around you. If you’re running think about your feet hitting the pavement and your pace. If you’re playing tennis think about where the ball is and the other players’ court position. If you’re playing basketball, think about the weight of the ball when you dribble and your pace running up and down the court. Stop your mind from wandering to what’s for dinner or a work issue. Become fully immersed in the moment.
Self Care: Practice self compassion by evaluating your performance, but not judging yourself. There is a difference—evaluation uses objective measures; judgement is negative and critical. Aim for being objective.
Beyond self compassion, taking care of your body is critical to success. Make sure you rest well. Hydrate and give your body the nutrition it needs. Warm up before you begin and stretch well after. If you’ve had any injuries rehab and recover properly before you become competitive again. This is especially important as you age.
Taking a few minutes before you start any competition to review AMPS can help you succeed and feel great while doing it