02. Experts Corner

The Secrets to Dominating in Your Sport Part 1 - Execution

February 17, 2022

As National Coach of the Royal Spanish Taekwondo Federation and Director of the International Taekwondo & Mental Coaching Center, I've dedicated my career to unlocking the secrets to sporting success. In this 6 part blog series, I'll cover the essential components of athlete development and that are also key challenges for most athletes. I believe these 6 factors are critical to achieving exceptional levels of performance. We'll cover mastery of execution, overcoming injuries, coping with pressure, competition preparation, optimizing concentration and efficient information processing.

In this first part we'll discover why athletes who excel, anticipate and execute the best decisions with the greatest speed.

Make the Best Decisions to Win

The biggest difference between performing poorly and being the best athlete is simply making the best decisions. This allows you to control the play and your opponents. The best athletes dominate the competition whenever there are moments that are pivotal to winning outcomes - it's everything or nothing. When you watch highlights of competitions closely, you'll notice that top athletes players have the ability to make crucial decisions when it matters the most.

You'll also notice that the MVP of the match is always someone who seemed to thrive in the most challenging moments of a game, and can transform a potential loss into a win in a single moment. For example Michael Jordan could face defeat, yet take the ball with 5 seconds left on the clock, and the world would seem to stop as he would snatch a seemingly impossible win. Indeed, it's these clutch moments that define truly great athletes.

Anticipate The Best Decisions

The best decisions always come from those who are able to anticipate optimal solutions in any situation. This is very important. In the crucial gameplay moments we just discussed, you'll also notice that great athletes always seem to expect an opportunity to arise, regardless of how surprising the situation may seem to other players. Similarly MVPs will not only review key matches and learn from them for future games, they'll also prepare themselves mentally, visualizing as many potential outcomes as they can, before a competition begins.

This gives them an edge over their peers, because prepared anticipation is a great ally against the huge pressures that come with professional sports. Athletes know that when representing their team, city or country, that how they perform under pressure will decide whether they are remembered as heroes or villains.

It's not knowing what to expect which amplifies the pressure when it happens. This negatively impacts attention and concentration, ultimately leading to decision-making errors.  Everything needs to start with a proper mental clarity - when you can anticipate well, your mind will be less distracted and more sharply focused on what it takes to achieve success.

Execute Faster in Competition

It's not just about how you act, but also the timing of when you act. If you think of athletes that you are most inspired by, then the chances are they are also extremely fast in their ability to execute plays and in their reaction times. This is because they have worked extremely hard developing speed of execution. To execute faster, it's essential to process information more rapidly, in order to be able to choose the best option almost instantly.

When everything is decided the pressure is higher, that's when you need to process, prioritize, and execute your chosen option. As such it's important to always strive to make plays rapidly, especially in critical moments when it makes all the difference. The context of competition needs a higher level of attention, because pressure is always a threat of distraction, ready to block your performance.

Putting it Altogether

Acting like a winner IS mastering the timing of the game, choosing the best play, making the decisive play - or as I like to say: MAKING THE DIFFERENCE. At the International Center we dedicate our training programs to unlocking potential for many different types of athletes. We do this by systematically conditioning these key cognitive skillsets under pressure, using the latest training methodologies.

Here is an example of our training methods using NeuroTracker 3D multiple object tracking with Optic Flow (visual tunnel), in order to build-up cycling awareness while under high neurophysical loads.

By conditioning attention and processing speed, then simulating the mental demands of competition, we turn good athletes into great athletes. With faster, more accurate, and better anticipated decisions, they become ready to excel. Learn more about our techniques on the International Center website.

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