Neuroplasticity and Sports Performance

The mind (energy and information flow in the brain) is created by the brain. Our brains learn mostly by what the mind attends to, and what we attend to necessarily change’s our brain. For example, when we remember a joyful occasion, we are more prone to be playful and creative in the present moment. It follows that how we choose to focus our attention (how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information) alters our brain chemistry, and literally changes our mind, which then changes our brain! As a result of any mental activity our neurons begin to make connections, and the longer we attend to a thought or experience, the deeper those connections become, and the more likely we are to re-experience them again. This impacts the following:

  1. Stress levels
  2. Kinesthetic awareness
  3. Personality tendencies
  4. Our interpretations of what happens to us, or what is said to us
  5. Sense of optimism and hope

What we have learned from neuroplasticity studies is that the more we can integrate the positive aspects of our experiences into our mental awareness the more frequently our neurons will fire differently. We can therefore manage our stress level (emotional vs. calm; distractible vs. mindful), how we move through the water, how we interpret obstacles, and how we manage our relationships.

Success Strategies to Change Your Brain

  • Reinforce and internalize every positive experience, no matter how small.
  • Remember, in detail, the best performances you have ever had.
  • Intentionally call up your strengths and focus on how good it is to feel strong, confident, prepared, intelligent, etc…
  • Engage powerful, relaxed, at-one-with-the-circumstance muscle/brain/visual memory.
  • Set goals (intentions) and be sure all levels of your nervous system (thoughts, emotions, intentions, arousal) are all in sync. Then, act as if you have already achieved your goal.
  • Connect your nervous system to your performance

When done consistently over time you will literally change your brain and begin to feel more alive and centered resulting in greater feelings fun, happiness, creativity, and wisdom.

Cultivate Strength via Your Brain

  1. Strength = energy + determination
  2. Deliberately call up strength to fuel your intentions- Breathe
  3. Limbic System – Focus on how good it feels to be prepared, and ready for anything
  4. Cortical Activation – Positive Self-Talk
  5. Create pressure situations beforehand

Cognitive Strategies for Performing Well Under Pressure

  1. Act As If
  2. Positive Re-Framing
  3. Thought Stopping
  4. Anchoring
  5. Creative Visualization
  6. Flush It!

Energy & Stress

HE + HS = Anxiety, Anger

LE + HS = Mental fatigue, Boredom

LE + LS = Drowsiness

HE + LS = Excited, in-the-moment, Playful