- Bianca started mental training at the age of 12. It was introduced to her by her mother and the focus was on prevention. This is the ideal start time; before the self-doubt or the concern with what other’s think sets in. Providing your athlete with the tools to control their thoughts helps them regulate their emotions, in turn, impacting how they practice and perform.
- Bianca spoke openly about the use of visualization to create direction in her training and focus on what she “wanted” to happen out on the court, not what she “didn’t want to happen”. Visualization is a skill taught in mental training and requires practice. Two key points to enhance the effectiveness of your visualization are: seeing the vision through your own eyes, and feeling the positive emotions associated with success while visualizing.
- During the press conference one of the interviewers asked Bianca what music she was listening to on her earphones before the match. She referenced a playlist of songs that she used to “pump her up” and “block out” distractions. Developing a pre-competition routine that includes tools to eliminate distractions is key to consistently performing your best when it counts. This is a strategy I focus creating with each of my athletes.
- Bianca shared that finding a balance between sport and social life was an asset, especially seeing that she is only 19 years old. Often this can be difficult to manage. When your sport is your passion you want to practice, train, and talk about it constantly. It is so important to have activities and friends outside of your sport that define you as a person, so that when you don’t practice or perform your best you know you are still worthy
- Breathing for relaxation and to help get her “get in the zone” was another mental training skill Bianca shared that helped her win the championship. Focusing on your breath helps to get outside your head and into your body, keeping you focused in the present. With all the distractions of the large audience, representing her country and playing such a decorated competitor, Bianca, more than ever, needed to get into her match, focus on one move at a time and be in the moment. Whether you are closing your eyes focusing on the natural rhythm of your breath or engaging in relaxation breathing (in the nose for 4, out the mouth for 6), breathing exercises have proven to help with focus and relaxation.
Until next time,
Keep your Brain in the Game