Thursday, March 05, 2015

Mental Conditioning for the Recreational Athlete or Weekend Warrior

Several months ago I wrote in this blog about Your Fitness Identity.  This post is a follow-up to that. In that post, I discussed the importance of identifying, assessing, enhancing, establishing and/or regaining your fitness identity.

When I talk to many people about their recreational sports participation for any length of time, it is clear that in addition to their pursuit of enjoyment and perhaps momentarily reliving past glory, a majority of us experience moderate to considerable angst, frustration, disappointment, a sense of failure, self-criticism, and performance anxiety.  Much of it tends to be very similar to the negative feelings of our youth. Rather that achieving what we want from recreational sports (improved fitness, stress relief, a break from a long day at work, social connection, team camaraderie), we end up having surprisingly familiar patterns of negative feelings.   Where do those feelings come from? Where are those feelings supposed to go? What can we do about it?  Can we enjoy our sports without reliving the past?

Most people think that hiring a mental conditioning coach or a sports psychologist is strictly for elite athletes who aspire to participating in professional sports.  The common perception is also that most of the athletes that reach out to for help with mental conditioning are having difficulty performing in their chosen sport.

Additionally, rarely is mental conditioning considered as something to enhance or improve current performance or for achieving superior performance.  It is typically thought of as a fix for severe problems in performance not necessarily for growth, enjoyment, or development.

The reality is that more and more non-elite athletes are hiring coaches and psychologists to simply get the most enjoyment that they can out of recreational sports that they love.   These athletes realize that regardless of their level of proficiency or activity level, engaging in a  program of mental conditioning can help them to get the most out of the time they spend participating in those activities.

These athletes come to the realization that they could enjoy their sport(s) more and reduce or eliminate the anxiety and frustration they experience before, during, and after they play their sport. Getting some help with mental conditioning is a good idea.

We think nothing of taking music lessons or taking an evening course at the community college. Those of us who love sports, competition, and fitness should consider finding a mental conditioning coach or sports psychologist to help us to get the most out of our recreational sports experience. You don't have to be a professional athlete to get help.