Managing expectations for Champs
It will no longer be that purple-filled area near the finish line, or that black-and-green area in the middle of the backstretch, or wherever you, as a parent or fan, are used to seeing your team. On the first note of expectations, rid yourself of...
It will no longer be that purple-filled area near the finish line, or that black-and-green area in the middle of the backstretch, or wherever you, as a parent or fan, are used to seeing your team. On the first note of expectations, rid yourself of that one. Instead, expect a relatively empty stadium, with only select support staff, officials, media, and sanitation crew. These changes are some of the few things to expect during the staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships next week. I will present a few expectations that might also impact performance.
The high athletic demands (energy intake) required to perform sometimes do not meet athletes’ energy output, especially given the on-again, off-again calls for the return to safe competition. As such, there might have been lapses in physical preparation, compounded with restrictions in times and places for training, resulting in increased stress and anxiety which can lead to negative expectations of performance. While some may not physically feel competition-ready or -worthy, others may have used this period to recover from injuries, so their motivation to test their performance level could possibly be heightened, given their perceived and actual levels of physical fitness, leading to positive expectations in their events.
In addition to concerns about the physical readiness expected, psychological readiness tackles many. There are several factors which contribute to athletes’ overall readiness, which weigh heavily on their own expected performance appraisal. An athlete might expect to be performing at one level, given their past performance, which may be under different preparation conditions, but end up performing way below that. When athletes do not feel they had adequate time or opportunities to sharpen their motor skills, this can result in doubts about their readiness for competitions. Feeling competition-worthy creates the platform for expectations about performance.
PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS INFLUENCED BY SELF
Proactively prepare to catch yourself during these games. The reason for this is because it is more likely than not, even with masked pseudo-confidence displayed, that when returning to such a competitive environment, albeit void of live fans, it is realistic to expect to doubt yourself. Regardless of the expectations of others, be mindful or your own internal dialogue. Sometimes the hardest critic faced is contending with yourself. What others expect of you should be immaterial in comparison to the standard you should set for yourself.
Assess your process and even if you feel someone has a competitive advantage, still trust your process and perform at your best. As subjective as effort is, ensure that you give the best effort you have. Represent yourself and your school well.
PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS INFLUENCED BY OTHERS – PARENTS, COACHES, FANS
Undoubtedly, there is a correlation between the expectations of others and performance outcome. The significant others being referred to here are coaches, parents, fans and potential recruiters. Many adolescents have been aware of the challenges and sacrifices their coaches and parents have faced during the lockdown, and still ensured that they maintained some level of fitness and were ready for Champs. The expectations of these persons may have been openly expressed. In an attempt to meet these implicitly and explicitly expressed expectations, some athletes may be more prone to injury due to overcompensating, others may choke based on their inability to turn down the volume on their negative internal dialogue, and others may rise to the occasion.
STILL HAVE EXPECTATIONS!
Though cultured not to have expectations, as it cushions you from disappointments, it also creates a pass for making excuses for poor performance. Hence, I strongly recommend that you have expectations. Expect and hold yourself accountable to giving your best as an athlete, coach, or parent. Expect to have challenges as you hurdle the various events; expect to have negative thoughts that will emerge when you least expect; but expect that within you are capabilities to overcome. Regularly monitor your expectations. Be intentional and be clear about goals you want to achieve, given the input of your preparation. Parents, expect your children to do well. Expect well of them. However, be mindful of how you word your expectations so they communicate clear objectives and unconditional love and your desire for your children to always improve. Fans, expect amazing performances, wear your colours, and take pictures supporting your team, all the way from your living-room.
Dr Olivia Rose is an applied sports psychologist at The University of the West Indies, Mona. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.