In this new series of psychology content, Tim Wyatt provides you with everything you need to get the mental edge over your opponent in bowls. Tim is working closely with Team England ahead of the lawn bowls competition at Birmingham 2022.
Today’s content is all about preparing yourself to compete in monumental matches:
Three Preparation Tips To Compete
The sun is shining. You’re standing on the mat. The trial ends are finished. The jack has been centered and it’s the start of the first end. Right before bowling that first bowl, you want to know you’ve done everything to be ready for the match you’re about to play.
We’re talking about being prepared for the physical and psychological demands that will play out on the rink.
If we think about our contemporaries in F1 racing for a brief moment, the amount of time, effort and energy behind the scenes that goes on to getting the race car at peak performance is critical. From the obvious and essential needs such as the engine and tires, to the small details like the driver’s headrest or steering wheel. We may see the race car on the track but the preparation on the car is where the real work is done. When the race car is on the grid, the driver waiting for the green light, everyone can be confident that they’ve done everything to be race ready.
Just as you’re like the race car, you too, need to prepare in order to perform. Preparation can start from days, to hours, to minutes before performing. So, here are three practical tips to help you with your preparation:
1. Develop a routine.
Simple but effective. What do you need so you’re physically and mentally ready when the match starts? This could be some light stretching or discussing game tactics with your skip. The key about developing a routine is making it work for you and keeping it consistent. Consistency provides a platform to get in the ‘zone’. Think about one physical aspect and one mental aspect that you can incorporate into your routine starting tomorrow.
2. Make each match count.
Ask yourself, what does good look like today? Set small targets that you want to aim for. I would encourage you to write down what your personal goals are for the match. Vague goals get vague results so be specific. One or two clear and measurable targets will help you remain motivated and focused during your match.
3. Set-up for set-backs.
Mistakes will happen. You will lose an end and bowl a few bad bowls. Think about some of the possible challenges that will arise during your match. When we set up for internal and external obstacles and create a plan for their inevitable occurrence, you can respond with clarity, giving you the best change of remaining in the game and compete at a high level. Come up with two setbacks that might happen in a match and how you will respond to them.
I will leave you with a quote I recently heard that captures why purposeful preparation is so important…
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.
Go sharpen your axe.
Tim is a sport and exercise psychologist. Originally from New Zealand, Tim is now based in the East Midlands and currently works in other environments such as women’s professional cricket, premier league academy football, motorsport and athletics. His interest in sport psychology are helping individuals and teams manage performance and group dynamics under pressure. Tim’s new area of interest is applying sport psychology principles in the business and performance worlds.