Composure is defined as “the state or feeling of being calm and in control of oneself”. In sport, this is essential if you want to perform well and the key to maintaining composure in sport is keeping full control of your emotions.
Staying composed in sport allows you to focus on the task at hand and it allows you to get the results you’re aiming for, for the most part. The likelihood of making errors or letting the pressure get to you is reduced and that means more chance of better results and importantly of you having a better experience overall.
Practicing mindfulness and understanding and using sports visualisation is also very important, but to maintain composure is paramount in order to achieve both of these practises. Without composure, it’s very difficult to practice mindfulness or visualisation. These three elements, composure, mindfulness and visualisation, work hand in hand if you want to make sure any sporting task is done at the best of your ability.
The mind is a powerful thing, and regardless of how physically and technically prepared you are, without a strong mind, you could fail and let all the training and prep go to waste.
There are several ways you can lose your composure, and it’s easy for many of us to succumb to them because they are so common. The important thing is to know what these problem areas are so you can identify them and deal with them in the moment. If you understand them and can deal with them in the moment, then dealing with these problems before they even come up is more of a reality and you’ll likely not have to deal with them at that given moment of competition or time when you need to perform well.
Here are the typical areas you’ll lose composure. Focussing on doing everything perfectly may result in you not being flexible enough to adapt and deal with potential shortfalls – be cognitive of potential for imperfection and be ok with it. Social approval is another problem and often people feel that they others are focused on them and these people will judge their performance – you should be able to block everyone out and know their approval does not change your ability. Then there is the fear of failure and as a result the there is an intense need to win. Being in this mind-set will limit how naturally you perform and instead you are more defensive and tentative, instead of poised and confident.
Staying composed is a mind-set which you can achieve easily. Think of it this way – if you were to perform a sports task and there was no pressure and you had nothing to lose, you were feeling great and you had practiced and trained hard, chances are you’ll breeze through the task and you’ll maintain composure. You’ll enjoy the moment and you’ll learn from any errors. So why does competition or a scenario where there is perceived pressure buckle you? Almost makes no sense when you think about it.
Start off by accepting that mistakes may happen and that you can only learn from them to better yourself as an athlete. Failure is an opportunity to learn. In the moment, immediately recognise if you are too focused on a potential mistake or on distractions which really have no bearing on your task at hand. Consciously regroup and eliminate these negative elements and any irrational thinking in your mind. Finally, refocus on what is required of you at that very moment and stay mindful of the important technical and physical tasks.
Practice mindfulness and visualisation, work on your composure and start taking full control of your mind, especially when you need it most as an athlete.