By Dr. Michelle Cleere

You have to prepare yourself to be competition ready. Your pre-competition routine is as important as practice. This prep is the way to deal with mistakes and overthinking, and to utilize muscle memory and develop a process-oriented way to evaluate performance. This is an incredibly necessary part of competing.

Learning how to deal with key competition moments has transferable skills to how you see, think, and feel about performance at practice and in daily life. And, there is another moment just a few seconds before performance that’s important to specifically address – at the start line – to be competition ready!

Overall mental attitude

You can’t be positive about everything all the time, but you can learn to be more positive – in your performance life and life in general. You can also learn to deal with nerves, doubt, overthinking, etc., all which impact performance and life.

Because performance mental skills and life mental skills are the same and each impacts the other, this is the reason that at the core, mental performance skills are life skills. For example, learning to deal with nerves before a test or presentation has carry over to dealing with nerves before competition.

Beat the demons

There are 4 key moments that can make or break you in competition.

1.Switch on your Champion… before performance. Could be the week before, day or night before, morning of, etc. To be the most effective, cyclists must deal with what happens mentally before a performance.

2. Develop Mental Muscle Memory… during performance. Thinking is what destroys cyclists who know how to perform. This routine Is designed to help you tap into muscle memory and distract you from thinking too much.

3. Bounce Back Faster… let go of mistakes. This is the most difficult. Why? An action has just happened, your brain starts to analyze it and your critical voice (ego) wants to immediately reprimand you for it. This is how you’ve been conditioned to respond but you can control that critical voice.

4. Post-Race Evaluation…after performance. Objectively evaluating performance is the most overlooked moment – what went well, what was challenging, and what do I need to work on tomorrow – but can be the most beneficial.

These are the basic, foundational building blocks for mental skills. Developing these key moments develops confidence, positivity, resilience, focus and emotional control.

Crossing the imaginary start line

So you develop your Beating the Demons (BTD) mental training program and develop the ability to utilize these skills in your performance and life in general. Congrats! You are well on your way to having better control of your life but then there are some small, seemingly innocuous moments that don’t quite fall within the lines of BTD. One of those moments is crossing the imaginary start line.

You’ve done your mental and physical warmup and are ready to go. But then, you cross an imaginary line. This line triggers that you are going from warmup to the race and things are about to get very serious and something starts to change. Even though you did an awesome job setting yourself up for success, the final seconds before a race could bring it all crumbling down. You must be prepared for this.

Preparing for those seconds – be competition ready

  1. Know it exists, know it will happen.
  2. Figure out how to deal with it, and plan to deal with it.
  3. Extend your mental preparation.
  4. Decide if you’ll use something similar to what you used in your race ready plan or need something else

In these few seconds just before the start, many cyclists will take a couple of deeps breaths, recite a positive mantra and physically get ready, set, go! Regardless, don’t let these few seconds ruin all your hard work. Be prepared. Be race ready! Make it happen!

Dr. Michelle
Elite Performance Expert
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