How to Compete In The Present Moment [Professional Athletes]

One of the most potent mental performance skills to master as a professional athlete is to play in the present moment.

Imagine three places you can allow your mind and energy to go at any time.

  • The future – creates stress and anxiety.
  • The present – is the now and is all we have.
  • The past – creates frustration and regret.

Let’s break down each one of these areas pro athletes can compete in and the effects each one has on performance.

The Future

Competing in the future means you’re overthinking the “what if’s.”

  • What if X happens? Then we should do Y?
  • What if things don’t go as we expect?
  • How certain am I that we are prepared for this competition?

The future is interesting because it isn’t real and doesn’t exist.

It’s a figment of our imagination.

We allow our minds to create scenarios that may or may not happen.

Most of this imagining of the future is fueled by the fear of the unknown.

Dr. Jay Cavanaugh

Our fight, flight, or freeze response and the feelings that come with it are activated.

Finally, this emotional vibe causes us to not always compete at peak performance.

The Present

All that genuinely ever exists is the present moment.

It’s a prerequisite to entering a flow state and is where peak performance awaits you!

One of the best ways to enter the present moment is to connect with your direct surroundings.

If you’re a basketball player, feel the texture of the ball.

A tennis player can feel the cushion of their racket’s grip.

“Activate any of the 5 senses, and you’ll quickly become more present.”

Dr. Jay Cavanaugh

Pay attention to a specific scent in the air.

Look at the unique trees while walking a hole on the PGA tour.

Listen to the fan’s deep roar when stepping onto the field.

Being present is simply a shift in awareness free of analytical thought.

It’s simply a soft focus on your surroundings.

The Past

Letting go of the past is a top 3 skill all professional athletes must master.

Without it, you tend to see one mistake turn into another and yet another.

“Getting frustrated” seems to be your game-time mood.

The key to moving from the past to the present is letting go.

Let go of your emotional attachment to the mistake made.

The three steps to letting go are:

  • 1 – Quickly learn from mistakes.
  • 2 – Adjust.
  • 3 – Let go by shifting your focus.

This is an art and a skill that takes time, so be patient.

Leaving the past in the past and shifting to the present has a significant impact on your results.

Practice this skill throughout a normal day.

You’ll quickly discover it’s a life skill to be used daily.