Friday, September 06, 2013

Mark Spitz and the Practice/Performance Distinction

“During the time of of practice and training, it’s 80% physical and 20% mental; but one the gun goes off it’s the opposite: 80% mental and only 20% physical.”
--Mark Spitz, American Olympic swimming champion and winner of 7 gold medals in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. 

This quote highlights the essential value of mental conditioning.  Preparation and deliberate practice is about training the body and creating strong muscle memory.  Mental conditioning concerns itself with learning the skills for quieting the brain and allowing the body to perform at its most efficient during competition events. 

Sports psychologists focus on the unique difference between training/development events and performance events.  Practice is practice and competition is competition.  Practice is for learning, challenging, tweaking, and making adjustments.  Repetition is the key component of training.  

Performance events are for execution.  There should be little in the way of new learning taking place.  This the place to quiet the brain.   

Many athletes and coaches emphasize mental toughness as a prerequisite for success.  While mental toughness is necessary for success, it is also true that quieting the brain is also necessary for peak performance.   

Do you have the skills to quiet your brain for peak performance?     

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