3 Steps to Help You Manage Your Energy and Intensity Levels
Many athletes have heard a coach yell to them from the sidelines, "Relax out there!" or "Calm down!” However, many athletes do not have the tools to accomplish these directives. Learning mental skills interventions, particularly those focusing on energy management, can help any athlete be at their best when they are called on to perform. Every athlete has their own optimal energy level where they perform their best. Think back to the best performance that you have had and ask yourself the below questions:
- How energized did you feel?
- How fast (or slow) was your breathing and heart rate?
- Did you feel relaxed or tense or somewhere in the middle?
Now that you have recognized how you felt when you performed at your best you can follow the below 3 step process for reaching your ideal energy level to better replicate similar performances in the future.
The first step in energy management is identifying your optimal energy level for your performance. You may also notice that this optimal energy level differs for you depending on the sport or event in which you are participating. That’s okay, the important part is that you can identify this. Think of your energy levels, or intensity, as being on a continuum. You may be an athlete that performs best being calm, with low intensity levels. Or you might be an athlete that performs best when you’re very activated with high intensity levels. Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle- not super calm but also not in a frenzy. Again, you’ll want to think back to previous best performances to gauge how your energy levels were then while also comparing with your energy levels during your worst performances.
After you identify where your intensity/energy needs to be for optimal performance, the next step is being able to identify when you are not there. Fitness trackers can assist in this, especially regarding metrics like heart rate. You can perhaps even examine your thoughts- are they calm and relaxed (great if that is where you perform best!) or racing and rapid (also great if that is where you perform best!). You can ask yourself if you feel too jittery or too relaxed to perform well also.
After identifying that your energy levels are not where they should be for optimal performance, the next step is having the tools to get them to where they need to be.
Too High. If your energy levels are too high, relaxation techniques can be beneficial. This could include something as simple as controlling your breathing. Slowing down one's breathing sends a cue to the sympathetic nervous system to slow down, while subsequently increasing oxygen to body systems, opening up blood vessels, and reducing tension. Other skills like progressive muscle relaxation, which involves purposely-creating tension for three to five seconds and then slowly releasing the tension progressively in each muscle group of the body, can help release the muscle tension sometimes associated with over-activation. Mindfulness techniques, like directing attention only to the present moment, can help to calm the mind, as well. You can check out our last blog on mindfulness.
Too Low. If you find that your energy levels are low (feeling tired or unmotivated), there are intensity increasing tools also. A quick and easy technique could be using physical activity to get the cardiovascular system activated – you could jump, skip, run – anything that helps you to activate. You can increase your breathing rate to activate the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, you use energizing imagery, such as visualizing a previous great performance, to increase motivation and intensity levels. This is why a pre-competition or pre-performance routine is valuable in increasing wakefulness and priming the athlete (mentally and physically) for the performance. Keep an eye out for our next blog topic that covers pre-performance routines.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the importance of managing your energy and intensity levels and how it can benefit you and your performance.
Once you are of aware of the energy/intensity levels at which you perform best, you can recognize when you are not there, and get yourself to where you need to be for peak performance.
If you are interested in learning more about HOW to manage your energy and intensity levels, please click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation. We look forward to helping you gain the tools necessary to get in your zone for peak performance on a consistent basis.
Use discount code TPP25DISC for 25% off any package with The Performance Pursuit.
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