Sport Psychology: Strategy for Overcoming Fatigue | PE - Physical Education Lesson Plans, Activities, Games, Tips

Sport Psychology: Strategy for Overcoming Fatigue

Dick Moss, Editor

As Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue can make cowards of us all.” Fatigue can also make completing an athletic event—or even a workout— seem impossible.

During competitions, this mental barrier often occurs about two-thirds through the event, at a point when significant energy has already been expended but there's still a large portion of the event to complete. At this point, the athlete often thinks, “My gosh, if it hurts this much already, how can I possibly keep it up for the rest of the race?”

Fortunately, there's a trick that will help your athletes through this mental barrier.

Smaller Tasks
Instruct your athletes to focus on completing small, attainable goals instead of worrying about completing the entire event.

For example, in a cross-country race, focus on maintaining pace to the next turn in the trail; in basketball, keep working full blast for one more fast break; in swimming, keep pushing hard until the next turn.

The idea is to focus on completing one small task. Once that's done, your athletes can compliment themselves then refocus on the next small task. Put enough of these together and the event will soon be completed.

Workouts Too
This strategy is also effective when your students find their themselves dragging in practice. For example, in a one-hour weight-training session, they should focus on one set at a time and count backwards: “Three to go, two, one, finished!”

Once that set is completed, they'll feel encouraged to focus on the next. Soon, they'll be through the entire “impossible” workout.               

1. Ilene Caryn Simon, Mind Gains, Health for Life, 1995.
2. Tony Reilly, An Athlete's Guide To Sport Psychology: How To Attain Peak Levels Of Performance On A Consistent Basis [Kindle Edition], Amazon Digital Services, 2012.

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© 2012, Physical Education,

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