Guest Post by Nia Abdallah
Everything starts in practice. You must always focus on doing your best every time you go to work on your craft. Why? The lack of preparation before competition is what creates doubt in the heat of competition. I have always lived by the motto that "If what you did yesterday still looks good today, you haven’t done much today." This keeps me motivated to do a little bit more every day in and out of practice.
Living a positive lifestyle is critical because what you do outside of practice effects what you do in. After you have been doing that consistently, you must find something to comfort you when you are preparing yourself for the challenge ahead. My comforting tool is music. I listen to positive and motivating songs the day before and the day of competition. The night before a competition I make time to sit quietly alone to visualize the victory. I mentally paint a picture of me executing the kicks and movements that are necessary to secure the victory. I visualize getting the medal and doing interviews. I can see myself doing everything that comes with being the winner of the competition. I don’t allow any pictures of doubt to enter into my mind. I believe in claiming a victory before it happens as long as I am ready to do all the work to get to the victory.
There are two reasons for that. One is that your subconscious does not reason. It just hears the basics. For example, if you said “I don’t want to lose”, your subconscious mind hears the word ‘lose’. That’s why I’m cautious of speaking and thinking only with positive words. Secondly, is to put myself in the situation before I actually get there. A great coach always tells the quarterback or the point guard to see the play before it happens. They want them to see themselves scoring the winning touchdown and the winning shot with unwavering confidence.
Have you ever notice that the first time you do just about anything it is the hardest? Well if I have already done it in my mind then when I actually get out there, it is not a problem because your subconscious does not know any better. Lastly, I remember that I got to this competition the same way as everybody else. Even if it is their ninth time at this competition and this is my first, they had to go through their first once before. All and all they are still humans so why fear or doubt yourself? When they look across that mat into your eyes, send them a message that they are in for the fight of their life.
I truly learned all of this in my experiences, because I saw all the little girls in the same place I was just years before. That keeps me focus because just like I dethroned someone there is a “little Nia” somewhere else waiting to dethrone me if I don’t watch out. I never underestimate anyone.
A closing tip is to always remember to have fun. That is what you got in the sport for in the first place, do not change that. When it becomes a job and you are not having fun then it will show in your competition.
Focus. Love your life so you can live your life.
(Nia Nicole Abdallah is the 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in Taekwondo. She is the first U.S. woman in history to win a medal in the sport since it became an official Olympic sport. Follow her on Twitter @missniobe)