Analysis Paralysis in Sport

What exactly is analysis paralysis in sport and why could it be a problem for you? Analysis paralysis is something too many of us suffer from during exercise, whether it’s during training, a workout or in competition, where we over-think all the details we need to focus on to perform better and to perform good form or proper technique.

Analysis paralysis is an anti-pattern, a state in which we slip-up, freeze or pause, even for a millisecond, during an activity which ultimately affects the outcome of the action we’re trying to perform a good as possible.

If we use an example of Olympic weightlifting and performing a snatch, there are so many minuscule details you need to get right in order to achieve the perfect snatch which would result in you getting a new personal best. All too often, especially for relatively new athletes to Olympic weightlifting, you focus on all these details while trying to perform the complex snatch. With so many important points to focus on, it’s easy to succumb to analysis paralysis and fumble the lift.

By over analysing what you’re trying to do, you can quite easily create more problems outside of a difficult movement. Many people almost create a self-fulfilling prophecy of messing it up by over analysing what should be a more natural manner of nailing it. It’s almost like thinking of what we consider as “beginners luck” – where someone does something really well when it’s there first ever attempt. It’s because they didn’t over think it; they simple went out and gave it a go.

So how do you overcome analysis paralysis? Firstly, regular practice will help. Doing complicated movements regularly allows you to focus on your problem areas you may face and to overlook the areas you move well with. Regular practice will give you more muscle memory and will allow you to move more naturally and therefore less effort is required on thinking through all the movements as they are meant to happen.

Another great way to defeat analysis paralysis is to only focus on two or even three of the most important points during your movement. If you only focus on two or three of the biggest areas which you need to improve on, your mind has enough capacity to act on them more effectively. By slowly chipping away at these problem areas by doing this, you can achieve a greater result sooner.

Analysis paralysis is a real thing, it can be problematic for many people and in various areas of exercise. However, by simplifying the situation and by attacking areas you need to improve on piece by piece, you’ll sooner start seeing the gains you want so want badly.

Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Lighten up and have fun, and leave the analysis paralysis behind for good…

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