His chiseled body has many females compelled in a drooling trance, his humility has earned the guys’ respect – but sheer loyalty is the reason behind his many fans who remain.
The ‘Golden Boy’, Asafa Powell, one of Jamaica’s most decorated athletes, is slowly fading. He is not spared the harsh words of the Jamaican populous as he slowly advances his rank on the list of “Jamaica’s Most Disappointing Athletes”.
The question was to put 50 young sports enthusiasts from across Jamaica about what they thought was the major problem that affected Asafa, which prevents him from performing optimally. A resounding 94% attributed his failures to lack of confidence and mental toughness. The remaining responses ranged from trouble in his training camp to wide aspersions about supernatural “oil and powder” actions. One lady who donned a multi-coloured outfit and matching wig, remarked, “These last days you get really salt Asafa. Find a “Mother” and mek she gi yuh a bath yah massa!”
What Asafa really needs are some aspects of Sports Psychology and not some ‘Bush Lady’ rubbing down his body.
Being optimistic about the recent controversial test results, we expect to see him back on board, revving and ready to go. When he returns, will he shower us with DNFs, DNSs and mediocre times instead of medals? What can we do to help him? Can he be helped to reclaim peak performances in all races?
Golfer Jack Nicklaus has attributed peak performance to mental preparedness which he thought was most critical. Sports Psychologist Privette, defines peak performance as behaviour which exceeds ones average performance. Research states that 40-90% of any performance is mental, which is why athletes must have their heads in the game. In order to do your best, you must be armed with confidence, mental training and a mental game plan. The skill of the athlete must match with the demand or challenge of the situation. That is where Asafa’s troubles come in, he doubts himself and fears of disappointing himself and others creep in.
Well Asafa and other aspiring athletes that often find yourself “popping down on the wuk”, here a few things to put in your bath that will be a sure mental balm.
- Techniques for Disassociation– These techniques take attention away from the demands of the game which helps you to relax. Try thinking positive things to help improve your mood. Try listening to your favourite tunes and do not be afraid to bust out some moves. Ignore the distracters who may say you are following Bolt- If it helps you to perform better… Do it!
- Techniques for Association– These techniques helps concentration and allow you to zoom in. Pay attention to your breathing, your pace and muscular sensations. It helps to prevent injuries and helps you to run your own race.
- Positive Self Talk- Sounds weird but it works. Tell yourself you can do it. Silver is not that bad once Bolt got Gold. Form a little mantra to pep u up and recite it before you head in.
- Be confident– You have a great coach, you train hard and your body is fit. Be confident in yourself, Jamaica loves you. Keeping confident will help to drive the fears away and away for good.
- Brains are better with fast legs– If your legs and brain aren’t working together you defeat yourself. It makes no sense your legs are saying, “I can do this” while your brain is saying “Me fraid”, the message of fear gets around and cripples the legs. Keep calm, run your own race, breathe, believe in your strengths and go get them!
Think about it, just adjusting your mental approach may just be the solution to your biggest problem.
Williams, J. M. (2006) Applied sports psychology: personal growth to peak performance (5th ed.). Arizonia: McGrath Hill Publishers
Peak Performance for Sporting Excellence- http://www.pponline.co.uk
Peak Performance Sports- Mental Training for a Competitive Edge- http://www.peaksports.com
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