An often under-utilized, yet effective, strategy to consistently perform at a high level is the use of a standardized, pre-performance routine (AKA, a PPR). A PPR can help individuals in any domain increase attentional focus, minimize distractions, and expedite the use of automated or well-learned behaviors. These consequences are extremely beneficial to those who may be experiencing a momentary dip in confidence, stress, pressure, or any negative or worrisome thoughts. By allowing one to focus on something other than the task itself, which is often the antecedent of the afore mentioned experiences, the PPR can help one establish a confident and calm state of mind, just prior to executing the task.
The use of a PPR also provides one with a sense of control. Many things fall outside the range of one’s control. For example, a referee’s call in sport, a manager’s decision at work, a professor’s choice of essay topics on an exam, or the timing of one’s opportunity to perform, typically are not within one’s actual degree of control. A PPR, however, is. It allows one the opportunity to prepare in a specific, structured way, before each and every attempt at a task. More importantly, the use of a PPR can increase confidence, reduce stress, and calm one’s mind, all of which can subsequently help facilitate performance.
Whether it is Michael Phelps and his trademark arm swings, Rafael Nadal and his lengthy bodily touching and bouncing routine, Cristiano Ronaldo with his trademark four steps back and wide stance for free kicks in soccer, or any professional basketball player’s unique free-throw shooting PPR, examples of PPRs are readily on display within the world of sport. However, the underlying mechanisms from which the PPR can translate into increased performance is not limited to just sport. Anyone with a task to do, can develop a PPR to help create an optimal state just prior to executing a task or performing. In fact, there is a good chance that you may already have a series of specific, behavioral and or mental things you do before you do something. If not, perhaps you should consider developing one, as it just might help you focus, ease your mind, and perform at a higher level.