#gobigorgohome – a very popular hashtag before competitions, independently on the sport. Is it a "threat" or "chance"?
It's the start of the season. We had a lot of time to prepare for the upcoming competitions, we trained very hard, set challenging, but realistic goals. And now we are ready. Ready to give 100%, ready to compete and ready to reach our goals. #gobigorgohome of course, we all know setting ambitious goals ("going big") is really important for our long-term motivation, to keep training really hard, to have a direction and to give our best in competitions. What sort of athlete would we be if we didn't set ourselves big goals?
However, our set outcome goals can put us under pressure when it comes to the moment of action. This is because we can't control whether we will achieve our outcome goals for real – there are so many externally influencing factors in competitions which are out of our control (particularly in climbing since this sport is defined by its diversity). Thinking about something which is not in our control or influence makes us feel anxious, stressed and incapable of handling a situation properly.
Another crucial point about goal setting is that quite often, our goals turn into expectations: e.g. when I set myself the goal to make a podium in the Championships, they might turn into the expectation that I've trained really hard for it, put so much effort and time into it that it's only right to expect this outcome. "I want" turns into "I should".
Unfortunately, overrated high expectations hardly ever lead to results in high-level performance. The pressure to meet those expectation raises linearly with the high expectations. Negative consequences of high expectations can e.g. be reduced confidence, anxiety, fear of failure, overthinking, not being able to move on after having made mistakes, negative thinking or under-performance.
What can you do to "go big" in competitions?
1. Focus on what you can control. We can't control how fast the other person climbs a problem, how strong they are or how well they do. We can't control the route setting (and there are many other factors which you surely can name that aren't under our control). However, we can focus on things that we can control and influence, e.g.
- Be focused.
- Try your hardest & give 100%.
- Trust in your abilities.
- Do everything step by step, don't rush.
- Be well prepared – ranging from a good night sleep, good nutrition to good training.
2. Set yourself process goals for competitions. Instead of setting yourself the goal "I want to win this competition", set yourself a goal which is in your control, a goal that concentrates on the process and your actions rather than on the outcome.
3. Mentally rehearse yourself performing well and being self-confident in the competition instead of folding under the pressure. Here is a really good & easy exercise you can do in preparation for a competition: Set yourself a reminder on your phone (e.g. every second day at 8:30pm). Use this moment to regularly visualise an upcoming competition for just a few minutes (doesn't need to be longer than 2min). The more often and the more regularly, we visualise a situation, the better we will be prepared.
4. Remind yourself that you are well prepared and ready to face the challenge. The competition is still the same as the training and nothing has changed except for our perception of the importance.
5. Focus on the moment.
6. Remember that goals are not expectations. Goals help us to focus on improving our performance, to strive for becoming better, they provide our direction for training and long-term motivation. And they can always – very easily – be changed or adapted. Of course, reaching our goals would be great – nothing feels better than achieving them. But what happens if we don't reach them? Are they really must-haves?
To sum it up, #gobigorgohome isn't such a bad mantra all in all. It depends on how we interpret it: striving for a good performance, "going big" by meaning giving a 100% and enjoying every moment of being well prepared can potentially even provoke our personal best.
With all that said, good luck for your upcoming competitions and – GO BIG! 🍀