Athletes strive to be the best. Whether that means beating others in competition or besting themselves, they are constantly training to achieve victory. At the end of the day, however, one athlete or one team is the ultimate victor. Coaches and other athletes examine the training methods used by the winners to determine what the best way to train is if they want the same result. Yet despite copying the same physical training methods as the best, a difference in performance during competition would sometimes remain. That is when the sporting world began to examine the mental strengths that make a champion and to create drills and techniques for improving mental toughness.
Performance profiling is a way to assess where one stands in their mental strengths and weaknesses. It is a good way to plan what areas to focus on as well as to gauge growth. Usually a self-assessment is suitable enough, but in a team with excellent relationships a more thorough assessment involving coaches or teammates can be done. Continue reading Performance profiling
Mind games consulting recommends the Multi-Action Plan (MAP) developed recently and trialled relatively successfully with Italian Olympic shooters.1 The MAP combines theoretical elements from many previous successful models of intervention, notably the Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) approach,2,3 the Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning (IZOF) model,4,5,6,7,8 and the Identification-Control-Correction (ICC) programme.9
This past month marked the 6th season of the IEM world championships and brought many of the world’s best Starcraft 2 athletes together in Hannover to compete for the Intel Masters 2011 trophy. The finals were, in many peoples’ minds, a dream rematch of the IEM Cologne finals between the fantastic protoss player SK Gaming’s MC and terran player Evil Genius’s PuMa. In the first game MC came out with a strong, aggressive style that heavily punished PuMa’s expansion strategy. Down one game, PuMa showcased his talented micromanagement by winning the next two games with picture-perfect medivac drops while simultaneously defending his home base from MC’s massive assaults. PuMa’s precise and flawless play made it feel like a terran art piece. However, game four was a depressing turning point for PuMa fans, and brings me to the topic I want to discuss this week. Choking under pressure. Continue reading Throwing the game – how to avoid choking under pressure
The idea behind progessive relaxation (PR) exercises is to eventually be able to automatically release tension from the muscles. A relaxed body then leads to a relaxed mind. When doing PR it is helpful to have good breathing technique and to incorporate stretching or physical activity of some sort, such as walking or yoga.
Today I want to discuss arousal in eSports, although it’s probably a different kind of arousal than most people are expecting. No, I don’t mean Sona or
PMantheon’s chest; nor do I mean Jim Raynor’s rugged good looks or Kerrigan’s naked-bug get-up. What I mean is the activation of the body and the mind, which functions on a continuum like this:
Research on arousal level in sports began as early as the turn of the 20th century with Yerkes and Dodson (1908) who discovered that with higher arousal it was harder to perform complex tasks, but easier to perform easy tasks. Since then we’ve come a long way to understanding how arousal relates to all kinds of performance from sports to arts. Continue reading Arousal in eSports
Two ends of the spectrum
One of the biggest joys and frustrations in my life is that I coach a special needs team of competitive swimmers. One boy loves to compete; he gets really, super excited about it. In fact every time he dives in for a race he spins his arms like a windmill, and ends up going nowhere fast. I love racing him in longer races because he ‘tires’ himself out and relaxes a little back into his normal, strong stroke. On the other hand, I have another boy who does everything in his life very precisely. When he dives in for his race he calmly and carefully takes every stroke very completely with excellent kick all the way to the end. Not much gets him worked up enough to swim hard.
Breathing correctly is nature’s automatic relaxant. When a person takes a deep, diaphragmatic breath the muscles along the back involuntarily relax as part of the movement. Since the shoulder muscles are largely tied into the lumbar support muscles of the spine this effect cascades throughout the upper torso. Additionally, the amount of oxygen in the blood increases, and breath rate slows, both of which enhance concentration and physical performance.
In stressful, high anxiety situations, breathing is usually either too rapid or too shallow. Sometimes people even hold their breath at various stages on a continual basis. This type of breathing increases tension in the muscles, impairs precise muscle control, and reduces concentration ability. Therefore, proper breathing is a core part of every relaxation technique and a good first step towards improving skill in relaxation. Continue reading Relaxation Technique – proper breathing
Conversation leads to collaboration
Last week there was a fantastic discussion in the comments after I posted my article on pre-performance. One of the topics that came up was simply, “Where do I start?” That’s a good question to ask, because on a site that is filled with new information it is hard to find a beginning. There are so many tools, theories, and discussions flying around that one is liable to spend all their time reading and thinking about things, but never actually doing. Unless you are Kaleopolitus, whose middle name is apparently “doing things.” If you want to learn how to turn your life around, I’d go read the story. For my own part, I want to continue in the same vein and contribute an easy method to get ones head in the game, instead of letting the game play with their head.
During IEM Kiev there was a short match in round 1 of the Starcraft 2 playoffs between Millennium’s Feast and Slayers MMA. After the game Mr. Bitter, a commentator at the event, interviewed Feast and we had a chance to hear about his qualification for the tournament, the games versus MMA, and his hopes for IEM Sao Paolo.