Athletic performance and the pitfalls of overthinking

Most of you reading this have fallen into this trap before. You want some form of knowing how things are going to turn out in your competition. So you start thinking about everything and trying to predict how things will go and what could happen. You then find yourself under performing which only leads to more thinking. This creates a bit of a vicious cycle and eventually it impacts your confidence and wonder what is going on.

One of the most common issues I deal with with my clients is overthinking. Sports are about reading and reacting, and to do so at a high level requires us to be fully present in a moment so we can get all the information we need to do what we need to do. When we start thinking and trying to predict things we loose information, because our focus is no longer on the task at hand. Our ability to perform at any given moment comes down to how much information can we get in a moment that our brains can make a decision with. Thinking about what what someone else is thinking or how a mistake will impact your performance or the end result doesn’t provide and useful information for us to really do anything with in the moment.

One of the reasons as an athlete you tend to overthink things is because you want some certainty or predicability. Uncertainty is something athletes don’t like and makes you feel uncomfortable. It is often about trying to gain some form of control over the situation, the results and of your performance. However, it does the opposite. The only thing you really can control is this moment and what you can do to be your best. You can’t control the future, you can’t control the end result. You can however, control what you do with what you have right in front of you and give yourself the best chance you can to get the result you want.

So if you are an athlete who tends to overthink, try to bring yourself back to the moment. One thing that helps with this is meditation. It teaches you and your brain how to bring yourself back to the present moment.