Pre-performance routines (PPRs) can be defined as any sequence of physical and mental actions taken immediately preceding a sport task. A commonly used example of a PPR is the actions a baseball player takes before his at-bat.
These could include but are not limited to, tapping the plate with the bat barrel, following through a couple of times, and taking one or two deep, centering breaths.
PPRs can differentiate immensely between individuals, or two people can share the same routine. The main importance is to find something that works for you and that is consistent every time you complete the sport task.
To possess the most effective PPR possible, you should implement three main aspects.
First, it is important for your PPR to contain a physical element such as orienting your body toward your goal/target or stepping into the box.
Secondly, you should include a kinesthetic element in order to prime your body for interacting with the ball, stick, or other sport object. Squeezing a bat or taking a practice swing would satisfy this requirement.
Finally, your PPR should include a mental aspect, which will aid in focus and concentration. An example of effective mental integration is an athlete utilizing self-talk or positive thinking to reduce task anxiety.
PPRs can have a range of effects on the athletes that utilize them. Primarily, using a consistent PPR before a specific skill will result in the athlete’s ability to cope with outside distractions.
Take our baseball PPR for example: if the game is close in the bottom of the ninth, a base hit could greatly impact the result of the game. Fans, players, and even coaches may try and distract the batter in order to cause them to lose focus. Taking time to strategically swing the bat, breathe deeply, and fill one’s working memory with positive thoughts, can effectively block out unwanted distractions.
In addition, using a PPR in stressful game situations can improve one’s ability to cope with high levels of pressure. When confronted with a high-stakes situation, athletes often choke, or let the pressure get the better of them.
The benefit of a set routine before sport tasks is that it allows for the athlete to participate in an extremely familiar exercise prior to their skill. For many, this calms the mind and body and fosters rejuvenated focus and decreased anxiety.
Finally, for experienced users, PPRs can act as a trigger or primer for the connected sport task. For this to occur, the PPR must be used consistently for a length of time, and always immediately preceding the same skill or task. If this is done, neural connections linking the PPR to the physical movement of the sport task will be established and strengthened, priming the body for the sport skill.
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