Quite often in coaching sessions with athletes I hear them refer to momentum in relation to their performance.
Now momentum in the world of physics is a tangible and measurable concept – just think about a car rolling down a hill and you’ll understand. But athletes tend not to roll down hills so the momentum they are referring to is psychological momentum and that is far more difficult comprehend.
Researchers have examined the concept of psychological momentum from a variety of different angles ranging from ‘what causes it?’ through to ‘does it even exist?’ and many models and theories have since evolved. Despite all the research and the theories the most important thing is that most athletes have a very real perception of momentum that not only exists but shifts according to what’s happening in the game or competition.
What every athlete wants is to be gaining momentum but true to the laws of nature for one competitor to gain momentum another must lose momentum. So how do we do go about gaining momentum in our performance to overcome an opponent and how do we go about reversing a loss of momentum. Well there are a number of key factors that trigger gains in momentum*:
- The negative body language of opponents
- Opponent’s weaknesses
- Opponents mistakes
- Good moves or actions
- Past experiences
- Positive attitude
By increasing your awareness of these factors you can begin to build a strategy for controlling momentum in a game or performance. Doing this successfully does require a very good level of awareness and the courage to make changes in your game plan if necessary but it can be done. Becoming a master of controlling momentum and you will significantly increase your level of success.
Enjoy the game!
*Source: J App Sport Psychol 20: 57-72 2008