10 Ways to Use Your Mind to Improve Your Practice Sessions
In order to get the most benefit from the Exercise Method workout and fitness techniques, it is important that you establish a regular practice routine. Mental practice is just as important as physical practice. The following 10 recommendations will help you thoroughly prepare yourself to reach your fitness and athletic goals.
1. Take time to practice deep relaxation at least once a week. Set aside enough time to practice the progressive relaxation exercise that you learned in Exercise 5. This will accomplish a couple of things for you. First, it will help you establish and maintain a deep level of mind. Second, it will be valuable to you when you encounter high-pressure situations. When you have practiced enough, you will be able to relax your body simply by recalling that feeling of deep relaxation.
2. Establish a regular mental practice routine, and go to level at least once every day. The best time to practice is in the morning when you first wake up. The second best time is in the evening before you go to sleep. The third best time is at noon, after lunch. To practice once a day is good, twice a day is very good, three times a day is excellent. Five minutes of practice is good, 10 minutes is very good and 15 minutes is excellent. Practice even when you don’t really need to; this way, going to level will become so automatic that you will be able to go to level at any time, no matter how stressful the circumstances.
3. Remember: While it is important to first identify any weaknesses or mistakes that you want to correct, you want to spend most of your time imagining yourself performing correctly. Review the instructions in Exercise 6 from time to time.
4. Remember to get your feelings involved in your programming. First, have your coach or trainer work with you to make sure you are doing the movements correctly. Check your balance, your timing, your form As you perform correctly, notice how your body feels at various times. For instance, if you are practicing your golf swing, notice how your body feels as you address the ball, how it feels during your backswing, at the top of your backswing, as you bring the club down, as you strike the ball and as you follow through. Then later, at your level, recall all of these feelings, to help you perform better. The same applies to every exercise and to every sport.
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5. Whenever you program to correct a mistake or a weakness, or to become even better at what you do, follow up by doing it physically after you do it mentally. After you program your golf swing, remember to go out and practice the swing. Physical practice reinforces your mental practice, just as your mental practice reinforces the physical.
6. Program for your teammates and friends to perform well. As long as you imagine a perfect performance, you will benefit.
7. Remember what you learned about positive thinking in Exercise 2: Positive thinking is thinking about what you want. Your belief system is very important. If necessary, program yourself at your level to be more positive. Avoid negative statements, and say positive things. Give yourself a chance to perform correctly and win. Do not fear making mistakes, but think about doing your best and performing correctly. When you do make mistakes, “cancel-cancel” them, and immediately imagine yourself performing correctly. Get used to doing this while training and practicing, so that when you are competing it will be natural and automatic, and you will do it without having to stop and think about it.
8. Remember that “mental toughness” is nothing more than keeping your attention on your goal, your desired end result. People who think about mistakes are not mentally tough. People who dwell on errors will make more errors. Practice being mentally tough by “cancel-canceling” your miscues and thinking about performing correctly.
9. Increase your desire by thinking about your goal. Think about such things as getting into great shape, winning the championship and feeling proud of your accomplishments when your friends and family praise and compliment you. Review Exercise 3 for a more thorough discussion of motivation.
10. When you are preparing for competition, spend some time at level thinking about what your opponent might do. Do not let them surprise you; make it a fair competition. Use your creative and intuitive ability at your level and look at things from your opponent’s point of view. If you can anticipate what your opponent’s strategy is, then you can prepare for it. This will make the contest more equal and fair; it will be decided on athletic skill rather than trickery.
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