The person reading this article almost certainly is not a professional athlete. And the number of non-professional athletes reading this article is extremely high (including yourself, I assume). So ask yourself this question: why do you swim or do triathlon? What makes you push yourself so hard every day for so many hours each week?
If you are a professional it is easier to find the motivation to train: there is a real return in terms of money, results and visibility. Or at least that is how it should be. But if, as I imagine is the case, most sports people are not professionals, finding the motivation to train is a key factor.
Whether you like it or not, you will almost certainly not become rich or famous and you could probably never aspire to take part in the Olympics. But that does not mean that the goals you set yourself are less important or less significant, it just means your will power must be even stronger than all those annoying things that interfere with your performance.
There is a tendency to think that doing really well at sport is simply a question of natural talent, which, by definition, is innate and therefore untrainable. But talent alone is not enough. What really makes the difference is how you develop your potential. You can achieve extraordinary results by making the most of your ability and consistent training depends on a determined mind.
Motivation is a kind of moral strength that comes from determined beliefs. The driving force behind success comes from inside you.
But what should these goals be like? First and foremost, they must be specific. “I want to swim 100 m freestyle in 1.00”!” Okay, but try and be more precise: when do you want to do this? How will you do it? Who can help you achieve this goal? You need to get right to the heart of the matter.
Secondly, your goal must be attainable and realistic. If you can currently swim the 100 m freestyle in 1.10, you cannot expect to swim the distance in 50 seconds within six months. It would be more realistic to set a goal of 1.06 within six months. Remember: never set over-ambitious goals that are unrealistic and beyond your capabilities. You will only end up losing motivation altogether!
Finally, set a PRECISE deadline for achieving your goal. “Six months from today” is no good, be more specific: “by 1st February 2022”. That is the way to go about it!
Remember that setting goals without a proper plan is pointless. You will only achieve your goal by following an effective and carefully structured plan; it is a step-by-step process. It must be like an “instructions manual” covering everything you need to achieve your goal.
Just like when you say or think: “I want it so much I can almost touch it?”.
This process is called “visualisation” or “mental imagery” and it is very popular with Formula 1 drivers, MotoGP riders and golfers. It is a relatively simple process, but it is incredibly effective. Just find somewhere quiet to sit or lie down, close your eyes and use your imagination, think about every detail that will allow you to achieve your set goal.
Regular practice will train your brain to even be able to do it just a few seconds before performing, allowing you to get through even the most critical parts of the race itself. It is also a fantastic motivational tool. Used the right way, it helps keep you focused on the result you want to achieve.
This is no easy process and it takes time, commitment and, above all, the help of experts to achieve your set goal.
Borreca, Obiettivi e performance ottimale, article originally published in http://www.licoaching.it/web/.
Il quaderno del coach Angelo Bonacci (not on sale, only available for ACol accredited professional coaches).
La forza del campione (Peaceful Warrior) 2006 film directed by Victor Salva.
TED Talk “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes”.