Mind of Steel: Journaling for Peak Performance

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Mind of Steel with The Sports Doc

Although some athletes may think journaling is silly and a waste of time, successful athletes know that journaling can actually be a great help when it comes to tracking goals, monitoring athletic progress, and measuring skill levels against previous seasons. 


JOURNALING AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

Although some athletes may think journaling is silly and a waste of time, successful athletes know that journaling can actually be a great help when it comes to tracking goals, monitoring athletic progress, and measuring skill levels against previous seasons. Keeping a sports journal is not a waste of time, nor is it something only for kids!  

Many professional and elite-level athletes keep a journal and use it on a daily basis.  When I work with athletes, I suggest they get into the habit of making brief, daily entries that answer the following three questions:
1. What did I do well today?
2. What do I need to work on?
3. What other things are important for me to note today?

So for a baseball player (as an example), a basic journal entry might look like this:
1. What I did well today – got deep into the count when hitting, had good footwork around second base for double plays, and kept our team fired up when we rallied late in the game
2. What I need to work on – still a little shakey on my throws to 1st base, my mind wanders a little when we have long innings, and my back tightened up late in the game so I should spend more time stretching before the next game
3. Other things – I need to buy a new pair of cleats, I also need to help the team by offering to help organize the end-of-season family team picnic   

As you can see form the example above, journaling can be very quick and to the point – yet still very effective. After only a few weeks you will be able to go back and see the progress you have made, leading to greater self-confidence and more peak athletic performances!

WHY JOURNALING WORKS

Perhaps the greatest advantage of journaling is that it improves self-discipline and increases memory retention. By getting in the habit of journaling daily you will gain confidence in your mastery over your sport! Journaling also helps with memory retention since most of us are pretty bad about remembering things (can you remember what you had for lunch yesterday??!).

Journaling is also a great tool when it comes to breaking a slump. For example, if you have a really great game be sure to journal a longer entry for that day – then be sure to go back and re-read that entry on tough days, or if you feel you are losing your self-confidence and trying to get out of a slump.  You will be amazed how quickly your emotions and attitudes will change in a positive way by simply reliving a previous accomplishment written in your journal!     

HOW TO USE JOURNALING

• Purchase a big notebook (or make something creative) with lots of pages.  Feel free to personalize your journal with pictures, quotes, and anything else that motivates you and makes you feel good!
• Consider using the 3-question journaling method outlined in this article – or develop your own style.  There is no ‘wrong way’ to journal.
• Journal daily just as you would go to the gym or practice your sport.
• Bookmark your best days so you can go back and visit those entries whenever you need a quick “pick-me-up.”
• Keep all your personal goals in your journal and track your progress

Dr. Chris Stankovich is a national expert in the field of sport & performance psychology and has assisted thousands of athletes reach their full athletic potential. He is the Founder of Advanced Human Performance Systems, and is known as “The Sports Doc” for his weekly segment on Ohio News Network (ONN). Please visit www.drstankovich.com for exciting, easy-to-understand Peak Performance videos, audios, assessments, and feature articles!

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