Competition preparation is critical to the success of high-performance athletes. According to Jack J. Lesyk, Ph.D., creator of the “The Nine Mental Skills of Successful Athletes”, competition preparation occupies the middle section of the mental skills pyramid, and is comprised of 2 key skills: “Use of positive self-talk” and “Use of positive mental imagery”. High-performance athletes also need to choose and maintain a positive attitude, maintain a high level of self-motivation, set high, realistic goals and deal effectively with people in order to make it to the competition. Managing anxiety and emotions effectively and maintaining concentration are skills for the competition itself, when athletes are actually on the ground.
With Lesyk’s framework in mind, we designed this workshop to ensure that the Divers, many of whom had never competed internationally before, were well prepared and knew what to expect when they arrived in Malaysia for the Junior World Championships. The main focus of the workshop was the development of a picture that mapped out all the things that the athletes could expect to happen, both the positives and the negatives and the group discussed how to manage the negatives and how they might support each other, while simultaneously allowing the energy and excitement to build over the positives. This activity built their positive self-talk and enabled them to construct concrete positive mental imagery about the competition context, while also building on their motivation and attitude and identifying strategies for dealing with people. The final experiential activity simulated the rush and ebb and flow of competitions in which they had to maintain balance, breath and focus.