My goodness it's almost here!
In very short order you will find yourself at the Olympic Games. This is not the time to hold on to what you have gained -- it is the time to keep improving. Imagine if you could improve one half a per cent per week between now and when your event starts -- what would that mean for your performance?
This is a good time to remember that no amount of skill -- either mental or physical -- will make up for sleep deprivation. Get some sleep. At this point, rest is at least as important as training.
Once you get to the Olympics, take a little time to personalize your room where possible. A photograph from home or a few personal items can make all the difference in transforming the space and making it truly yours.
Make sure you have a plan for your first practice. As your event approaches, intentionally clarify how you need to feel in order to perform your best. Often, what you need are two or three well articulated qualities that will make all the difference in the world to your performance.
Perhaps you want to feel solid, strong, and deliberate. Or maybe you need to be smooth, balanced, and expressive. Spend a little time at each practice finding those qualities as you warm up rather than focusing solely on technique.
On competition day, focus on developing a really strong sense of "taking care of business." If you notice, for example, that your activation level is a little high, stop and take a few breaths and deal with it right then and there. Develop a holistic approach of noticing what's going on and dealing with it. For the most part, stay focused on the outside world. After all, it's where you're going to perform. Spending a lot of time internally, particularly at the competition site, is not likely to lead to good outcomes.
When you get to the competition site, re-familiarize yourself with it. Sometimes a washroom that you expected to have access to in the final minutes is no longer available because of security concerns. So, when you first arrive walk around and check everything out.
You need to have a plan to deal with the last hour or so before you compete. It need not be rigid, but it must have some structure to it.
Expect your opponents to do good things. They are good and so are you. Be prepared to extend yourself. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Be prepared to act "abnormally" in the face of negativity or doubt -- because what you are trying to accomplish is truly abnormal. Normal is often to collude with or undermine ourselves with doubt, concern, and negativity. Abnormal is to stay connected with how you want to be and internally assert your intention.
Since what you are trying to do is abnormal, you may have to be willing to act abnormally. Please note this does not mean try harder physically. In that domain you need to be "the normal" that got you to the Olympics in the first place. Trying to be 110 per cent will often lead to performing below your physical capability.
At some point in the last hour, mentally rehearse what you wish to do -- and, it isn't a bad idea to finish your mental rehearsal with what you will do at the start of your event so it is freshest in your mind.
Oh, and make sure you enjoy yourself. This is unique experience that very few people ever get to have. Stay in the moment and appreciate what you are going through.
The very best to you!
Dr. Peter Jensen has been part of Team Canada for seven Olympic Games, In his work as a Sport Psychologist, he has helped over 60 athletes win Olympic medals including, most recently, the gold-medal winning Women's Hockey team. Peter is also the founder of Performance Coaching (http://www.performancecoaching.ca) where he helps people in North America's best-managed companies perform like Olympians on a daily basis.