Peak Performance Coaching and Sports Psychology

Whether in athletics, the performing arts, a profession or business,  school or any other endeavor where achievement is a factor, one’s level of performance is of great importance. The pursuit of excellence includes more than talent, skill and hard work. It includes the ability to maintain a positive anticipation of the performance, persevere through the frustration of learning a new skill, overcome obstacles and failures, set goals and adapt to new situations. These are all mental and behavioral skills which are not often included in the formal educational process. I took piano lessons for six years as a child and played in orchestras through high school. I enjoyed playing, but I dreaded the recitals and solos. None of my teachers ever offered any advice or skill building on how to handle performance anxiety other than practicing the instruments and the pieces until they were second nature. Unfortunately, my brain still knew the difference between practice and performance and always let my body know which was which. Now I know that the mental aspects of performance are closely related to the physical and I practice a variety of mental skills along with the instrumental skills in preparation for performance.

The mental game is also extremely important in athletics. I played baseball in college, but never received any coaching on how to work through a batting slump. Once, while watching a PGA golf tournament on television, I listened to a commentator point out that one of the contenders, on the 18th hole with a chance to win the tournament had expressed aloud a rather unhelpful thought, “I don’t want to hit it in the water.” Sure enough, the ball landed in the water. When asked later what had happened, the player simply reported “I choked my guts out!” Learning how to respond to negative thoughts and maintain a positive approach is essential to success. These skills help to overcome the mental and emotional inhibitions which can interfere with a performance. They are skills which can be taught, practiced and mastered, whether on stage, in the board room or on the playing field.