Anchoring is a technique for managing state. Whilst arguably we might all want this technique as part of our skill set, sports people need it in order to ensure they can control they performance. Imagine having an attack of nerves just before a big match or being distracted just as you need to make a crucial put. Sportsmen and women need a whole range of states at their disposal over the course of an event or training.
In sport you can anchor thoughts in players by reminding them of past experiences, a particular game, save, dribble, training session when they excelled. Sports coaches have the power and influence to create positive anchors but equally they can unwittingly create negative ones just as you can for yourself.
Reminding yourself of missed penalties, poor tackles, misplaced passes can ruin an otherwise successful performance. For example, if you remember that last time you played Team X you missed a crucial goal or you missed a pass, you have anchored the team negatively and will find it hard to overcome this unconscious anchor.
Instead of dwelling on negative performance, use anchoring to turn your performance around. Anchor that great save, that amazing goal, that fabulous pass.
You can build up some great experiences as you play by noticing the good strokes or the good passes and shots, as you do something well, log it for later when you
can use it with your anchor. In this way you make your anchor stronger so that when you need to use it you have a huge store of great experiences backing it up.
If you are visual you may want to anchor an image such as receiving a medal or an award for your performance, the time you completed a winning race, the sight of your ball going in the hole.
If you are auditory you may prefer to use specific words to motivate you or a piece of music that you can hum. Many sports people unconsciously anchor with sound based on the sound of the ball on their racket or bat. They know how a good shot sounds and can even tell from the sound on the other person’s racket where their shot will go. You can amplify the sound and anchor by saying to yourself, ‘good shot’ or ‘good ball’.
Lots of sports people are kinaesthetic, they enjoy being active and they are conscious of the feelings in their body. By making a conscious action with our physiology we create a mental feeling which in turn will affect how we physically perform. Increase awareness of your body stance, how does your body feel when it is performing at its most effective? Focus on breathing and controlling it to produce a calm state or an energetic, competitive state.