Mind Over Body Sport Psychology

Get Into “Execution Mode”

Soccer players
Becky Thomson
Written by Becky Thomson

Do you ever feel fully prepared for competition, only to end up executing ineffectively?  Underperformance is a concern for many athletes, as a few small, simple mistakes can often be the difference between optimal and less-than-optimal performance.

In order to boost your success during competition, Sean McCann, United States Olympic Committee Sports Psychologist, explains that athletes must be trained to get into “execution mode.”  He describes three clear steps on the path to successful execution:

  1. Build a foundation – Athletes should have all necessary information about a competition beforehand.  For example, they should be aware of location specifics, equipment, techniques, and competition logistics.  If this foundation is not laid out ahead of time, an athlete is not able to move on to the next step.  When this information is discussed prior to a competition, athletes have the opportunity to ask questions, as well as eliminate distractions, concerns, and doubts.
  2. Identify specific performance keys – According to Sean McCann, this is the easiest step to miss or overlook.  To identify specific performance keys, athletes and coaches must apply techniques and tactics for each competition in particular.  Athletes that prefer specific strategies may have to get out of their comfort zone and try something a little different if it will be more effective for the circumstances.  When an athlete can answer the question, “What are the two or three things you must do to perform well?” he or she is ready to go.
  3. Move into execution mode – To move into execution mode, an athlete must be confident and certain in his or her action plan.  Sean McCann explains that “worry is a kind of multi-tasking,” which hinders peak performance.  Routines are a great way to minimize worry, keep thoughts concise and clear, and boost an athlete’s confidence.

For more information, visit Team USA’s website.

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About the author

Becky Thomson

Becky Thomson

Becky received her B.A. from Kalamazoo College and her graduate Certificate in Teaching from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a certified teacher who taught middle school science and loves finding ways to get kids excited about learning! She was a member of Teach For America, an AmeriCorps organization aimed at eliminating educational inequalities across the country.

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