Psychological Strategies to Enhance Motivation and Manage Anxiety

Psychological Strategies to Enhance Motivation and Manage Anxiety

  • Concentration/attention skills (focusing)
  • Mental rehearsal/visualization/imagery
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Goal-setting

Concentration/Attention Skills (Focusing)

  • The ability to focus on the actual task rather than the auxiliary surroundings and environmental events.
  • Involves controlling the mind and centralizing the concentration at a single focal point.
  • Distractive triggers include crowd, pressure, opposition, anxiety.

Mental Rehearsal/Visualization/Imagery

  • A combination of these techniques allows a performer to visually create a representation of their performance, prior to execution.
  • An individual mentally repeats movements and sequences they are about to execute, which helps in making the mind familiar with the motion (almost similar to ghosting lines on a paper before actually drawing them).
  • Often applied in gymnastics, weight lifting and diving.

Relaxation Techniques

  • Used to calm the mind and control excessive arousal.
  • techniques include focused breathing, progressive tensing and relaxing muscles and mental imagery.
  • Application of techniques often differ from sport to sport and athlete to athlete as each sport demands different techniques of concentration and relaxation.


  • Setting an achievable and measurable target often provides directional motivation and sense of commitment.
  • Helps athletes keep their anxiety under control and boost intrinsic motivation.
  • Goals are often short term, which acts as checkpoints towards a bigger achievement or long term goal.
  • Setting of goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Accepted, Realistic, Time Period).