As an analytical person, I have a strong need to understand step by step how things work. I think about individual and team performances, both the breakdown of performance as well as the great performances we all have experienced.

What if we could recreate those moments? What if, by understanding what happens during a great performance, we could replicate that great performance? We see glimpses of our potential and work diligently to recreate that elusive moment but often fall short in achieving it.

Let’s journey down the path to recreating potential and increasing the frequency of that great performance. First, we need to understand a few items. When I struggle, I see these behaviors:

  • I consciously focus on mechanics and on trying to fix what is broken;

  • I turn my energy inward, stop communicating and get to the business of fixing what is broken;

  • As I focus my energy on fixing my broken mechanics, I begin to feel a sense of rhythm distortion.

  • I consciously want to regain my balance, my sense of “all operations are a go;”

  • I am out of sync with myself and pull away from my team. I struggle and am conscious of the struggle.

Conversely, when I have a great performance, I see these behaviors occur:

  • I do not have a battle with myself. I am relaxed and feel a sense of confidence;

  • I am on “automatic pilot.” I do not need to think too much. Everything is working;

  • I am in rhythm, and my movements flow unconsciously with little effort;

  • I trust my mechanical movements to perform as I need them to perform;

  • I am free to perform higher-level tasks, such as communicating while performing.

Take a minute and read the observations again. Look for differences. What did you observe? We see ourselves when we struggle and are extremely conscious of our movement and mechanics. We are so focused on fixing the broken parts that we become entangled in those thoughts and feelings. It is like we are sinking in quicksand during those moments.

On the other hand, when we have a great performance, there is a rhythm and flow to our game. We are unconsciously performing. The internal noise is gone. We are present in the moment. We allow our body to take the mechanics we learned with conscious attention and to unconsciously perform those mechanics. We allow the rhythm of our brain and body to work together without conscious attention to the details of my mechanical motion.

Ok, so how do we take a conscious process such as shooting a soccer ball into the goal and make it more of an automatic, unconscious process? There are a couple of ways. The first is the easy answer. We practice that shot so many times that we can establish an unconscious rhythm. However, how many times is enough? The second method, which deals directly with our brain-to-body connection, is to use visualization that helps us perform specific movements without conscious interference and reinforces mechanical perfection.

When visualizing, we strengthen the neural pathways between body and mind. We duplicate neuron memories of optimal performance and strengthen those pathways (neurons that fire together, wire together), so that we become much more likely to turn in a great performance.

We must build the mental muscle to support our physical training. Without it, we are more likely to recreate self-destructive patterns of performance and find ourselves sinking in a mental quicksand.