Psychological performance in Taekwondo
In several occasions, we have spoken about the importance that the mind has in Taekwondo and the fact that when you put your Taekwondo uniform for the first time, you begin a quest that does not only train your body to kick and punch faster but also to think differently.
A Taekwondo practitioner learns to control its mind in a way that allows for him or her to be fully focused and coordinated, especially when it comes to practicing forms, where each movement must be executed to perfection. But that’s not all that can be done, there are several techniques that are used to improve the way a practitioner can improve in this discipline, especially when they are Olympic athletes and require a more in-depth training that a normal athlete.
There are several techniques for psychological training in Taekwondo, each devoted to different goals:
- AROUSAL REGULATION: This training is directed at giving the athlete an optimal level of cognitive activation which, as a result, will give the athlete a higher level of performance. This technique is commonly used to help athletes when anxiety previous to combat kicks in, to control it, the technique dictates the use of muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, listening to music to both relax and energize the athlete (now you know why athletes are always listening to music prior to competition). One of the most used methods is meditation as it allows the athlete to focus and be calmed simultaneously.
- GOAL SETTING: This is a very important technique when it comes to helping an athlete have a focused mind. The idea behind this is to set Goals. But not just goals. This must be measurable, have a determined time to be attained, they must be achievable of course yet not easy. Experts recommend that these goals, either for short or midterm, should be put in writing and be measured constantly. The idea is both to impulse, motivate and focus the athlete. For example, an Olympic athlete that starts a cycle should talk to his or her trainer and determine what goals to set for each stage of the road with being qualified for the Olympic games, the main goal behind it all.
- PERFORMANCE ROUTINES: Although it sounds ordinary, one of the most important psychological techniques used by those who wear a Taekwondo uniform is this one. This technique refers to the actions and activities performed by an athlete before a competition, from what music is heard, to what exercises are performed. These also include self-talk and visualization. The main idea is to give the athlete the ability of predictability and consistency of each and every move performed.
As you can see the idea of this techniques is to help the athlete prepare his mind before a competition, so he can be ready to perform at his or her top level. At an Olympic level athlete train hard and prepare their bodies to excel in each competition they participate on, but just preparing the body is not enough, as we have shown, the mind needs to be at the ready to give them an even higher level of performance.