One common question I receive is: “How can I become more consistent in my sport?”
It is important to understand that just like any other skill, consistency takes practice and doesn’t happen overnight. Performing consistently in your sport is a journey that can be difficult and requires plenty of commitment and persistence. It can be challenging to consistently perform at a high level especially when dealing with pressure, injury or any other adversity you may face.
Look at some of the all-time great tennis players—they have performed at a higher level and sustained success. They haven’t just won a single tournament, they have won many over a period of time. Think about Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. Both players have consistently been a force and have had iconic careers, despite overcoming adversity. I believe the common denominator amongst the most successful and consistent athletes is having a strong mindset.
The first step to achieving consistency starts with goal setting. Establishing and setting goals for yourself is crucial because it serves as a road map for what you want to accomplish. Your goals should be specific, challenging and attainable. Your goals should also hold you accountable and motivate you. If you aren’t motivated by your goals, it will be difficult to perform consistently and raise your athletic performance to the next level.
Achieving consistency also goes back to your preparation. It is important to understand that how you practice will correlate with your performance. Sometimes it can be tempting to practice half-heartily or just go through the motions, especially when you are winning and are doing well. It is important to realize that your preparation is something that you have control of. Your effort, work ethic, and how you practice is your decision and will directly influence how you perform. If you don’t practice and prepare consistently, you won’t perform consistently! So even if you are performing well at the moment, don’t get complacent in how you practice.
Performing at a high level consistently also requires a positive and fearless attitude. If you want to perform consistently, you must have an inner belief that you can be successful. You have to believe in yourself and be confident regardless of who your opponent is. Even after a loss or poor performance, you have to be able to move forward, stay positive and remain eager to come back stronger. Setbacks happen to every athlete. But sometimes setbacks could be a blessing in disguise as they can help you focus on helping you improve, learn from mistakes and taking your game to the next level. You have to be persistent and choose positivity.
It also requires the ability to perform well under pressure. The more successful you are as an athlete means the more pressure you will need to overcome. This could simply mean having to play in front of a large crowd or bigger venue than you are accustomed to, playing in front of scouts or playing in a championship match. But your approach must be the same. You have to be focused and treat every match the same. The great Billie Jean King said it best, “Pressure is a privilege”. You have to own the moment, you can’t let the moment own you. Being able to manage pressure is what separates the best from the rest. Also, when you are at the top of your game, you have a target attached to you. Everyone wants to be that person that beats the top-seeded player. Regardless of who your opponent is, you have to be ready to bring your “A-game” to every match.
Every athlete wants to perform consistently and be successful. But it all starts and goes back to your mindset. Developing a strong, confident and resilient mindset should be the goal of every athlete who wants to perform more consistently and reach their peak potential.
Chris Nieves, MS is the founder and director of Empower Mental Training, which provides mental skills and sport psychology training for athletes. As a former Division I athlete, Chris learned the importance of mastering the mental side of sports. From this experience, he decided to pursue a career in helping athletes learn how to develop a winning mindset. Chris strongly believes that your mindset is the key to being successful in sports, overcoming adversity, and ultimately reaching your peak potential. For more information, visit EmpowerMentalTraining.com.