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In preparation for the 10th Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG) in Mauritius July 19-28, 2019 |08 July 2019

Six mistakes athletes unknowingly make


The six mistakes athletes unknowingly make.


1. Giving power to negative thoughts

Thoughts are powerful, more than you can truly imagine. Your thoughts dictate how you feel, think and act.

Negative, critical thoughts and fear prevent you from taking risks to be your best. Those thoughts will remind you of why you will not win the competition, make you feel like you are not good enough and emphasize your faults.

Your negative thoughts take a lot of energy, they are draining you. If you are aware of what you are doing not doing well. What is not working out of your thought or feel you are not good enough, your thoughts will continue to give you evidence to prove its points.


2. Losing focus while competing

Not everything is predictable. Some things are just out of your control. Getting lost on the way to an event, to a new venue. An argument before your competition. A line-up change. Any of these things can happen prior to your event, affecting your focus, as you know, the more you experience you gain.

This happens during events, equipment malfunctions and bad weather are two examples. Without proper mindset techniques, any of these possibilities could distract you. Distractions are game killers. When your mind wonders during event, you are missing opportunities. Your focus becomes affected and you feel off during your event. When you are not clearly focused, getting into game is nearly impossible.


3. Allowing anxiety, worry doubt to control your game

Anxiety, worry and doubt significantly affect performance. Fears are thoughts on past events and anxiety are thoughts about possible future event. There is an optimal amount of stress prior to beginning an event, which is normal. Your body responds by releasing adrenaline causing a fight, flight or freeze response.

Your senses heighten your body in preparing for your competition. Too much stress however, affects performance.

Imagine being great at your sport during training, but when you are at a competition you choke. Your fear of failure becomes overwhelming. Your anxiety rises and you are unable to perform at your best.


4. Playing for the wrong reason

Do you know why you continue to play, compete and try to improve your performance? If not then take a moment to consider your reason.

What drives you? Are you doing this for yourself? Or for someone else?

People play sport for so many reasons. Some motives are external, meaning they are outside of you. Maybe there is someone else you are doing this for, or something you have to prove to someone else. Possibly sports allow you to have closer relationship to your parents and the public. Once the external reason is gone, your desire to continue competing might go away as well.


5. Giving up to soon

As you move up the ranks, you will push yourself more and more. At some point there will come a time when you feel like you hit a brick wall. You will feel as your progress comes to a dead halt. Your response will affect the outcome.

Do you see it as an obstacle or a challenge? The athlete who is not driven to excel and fully connected with the desire to be at the top of his/her game will hit that brick wall and retreat.

When you hit the brick wall and see it as an obstacle, feeling like you have to retreat you will respond in one of the ways: Either you feel this is a sign you were not ready to go to the next level, or you will retreat.

Many wonderfully gifted athletes stop at this point or you might take a break from facing the obstacle for a while as you might take a break from facing the obstacle for a while as you figure out a new game plan. After you figure out how to get past the obstacle then you take action.

6. What you tell yourself matters

Thoughts become things. Focusing on the negative is easy. Negativity comes so easy – our society encourages it.

It is difficult to be at the top of your game when you have an inner conversation which is always pointing at your mistakes.

Being negative is stressful for your body. You actually tense your muscles when you are criticising yourself, reminding yourself of what you want to avoid doing. The undo muscle tension impacts your performance, preventing you from performing with grace and ease.

Your thoughts and feeling can produce negative energy. So when you’re having a struggle about your abilities or any other area of your life then there is also a struggle. You are literally holding yourself back: therefore, reaching your goal becomes very difficult.


All the above mistakes should be avoided. Always remember that you can improve on your mistakes and move forward in your sport.


Your best teacher is your last mistake.                                                                        

Suffer the pain of discipline and training or the pain of regret.

We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can always control how we react.


Good luck in the IOIG in 2019!


Maurice Denys

Certified Mental Coach

S.N.H.S. Dip. (Sports Psychology)

S.N.H.S. Dip. (Life coaching)

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