To apply the skills you learn in practice to competition, you must to practice like you play. Your goal should be to make practice as close to competition as possible. You will be better able to relate the information you learn in practice through specificity training, goal oriented practice, and improving your mental skills.
Many athletes have trouble applying mental skill to competition because they do not rehearse mental skills in practice. Mental skills, just like physical skills must be practiced to make them automatic (well learned). When mental skills are ingrained, you can easily apply them to competition.
Goal oriented practice will help you apply mental skills and improve your practice efficiency. Goal oriented practice involves setting specific objectives or process goals to accomplish in practice that will improve your performance. Setting practice goals will help you stay focused in practice and prepare for completion. A good time to establish practice goals is after a game or competition. Write down your objectives for the following week of practice, and include these objectives in your practice routine.
You can also use process goals to improve your mental skills such as letting go of errors quickly and refocusing when you get distracted. The mind drives the body. Thus, it is important that you improve your mental skills during practice to reach your performance potential during competition. If you do not rehearse your mental skills during practice such as focus, composure, letting go off errors, you will not perform to your absolute potential during competition.
Use specificity training techniques to help you apply the mental skills you learn in practice to competition. Specificity training is used to make practice as close to competition as possible. It helps athlete’s structure practice in a way that simulates competitive situations or the competitive environment. By simulating the circumstances and feel of competition, it improves your focus and intensity during practice.
Many great athletes use specificity training to practice with the same intensity they would in competing… To apply the mental skills you learn in practice to competition, simply imagine you are at practice going through your normal routine. This will help you avoid distractions and apply what you learn in practice to competition. It is important that you trust your training, preparation, what you learn in practice, during competition. The top reason why athletes can’t repeat what they do easily in practice every day to competition is because they lack trust in their ability to execute what they learn in practice.