How to Be a Consistent Performer
Any athlete can have a single great performance, but what separates average athletes from the elite is the consistency of great performances.
Being a consistent performer is the ability to reproduce results over time.
If you produced those results before, then you have the ability to “re-produce” those results.
So what interferes with the ability to be consistent?
Often athletes take the focus off their abilities and skills and get distracted by other elements of the game (opponents, previous bad games, coaches’ comments, past mistakes) that interfere with the ability to perform consistently.
Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees closer and the oldest player (43) in the major leagues, is unparalleled in his consistency and longevity.
In his first season as a closer, Rivera saved 43 games in 1997. As the 2013 season draws to a close, Rivera has saved 44 games so far. Rivera’s statistics reveal his legacy: 652 saves over a 19-year big league career, 42 postseason saves, 5 World Series titles recording the final out in four of them, only 4 wild pitches in the last 11 years, 13-time MLB All-Star, 2.21 career ERA and he averaged 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Why has Rivera been so consistent over the past 19 MLB years?
Focus, focus, focus!
- Rivera focuses on his strengths. Rivera throws basically 2 pitches (a rising fastball and a late-breaking cutter) but he throws them exceedingly well with precision. This provides Rivera with a sense of control, calm and confidence. Even though Rivera reviews the scouting reports on the opposing hitters, he focuses on his ability, “(scouting reports) that really doesn’t matter, I will stay with my strength.”
- Rivera has a consistent pre-game routine. Rivera watches early innings to draw a visual bead on the hitters and on the umpire’s strike zone, he performs the same stretches, he warms up by swinging a three-pound iron ball, he throws the same sequence of his warm-up pitches in the bullpen, and he culminates his routine by throwing one last powerful fastball. Routines are intentional strategies that help facilitate performance by managing anxiety, sharpening focus and signaling preparedness.
- Rivera manages his game-time emotions. No matter what happens during the game, Rivera keeps his cool. Rivera never allows the opposition to get to him nor does he flip out on the mound after a mistake. Rivera won’t concede an advantage to the opposing hitters by getting flustered, “I never will. Never. You can’t let them get to you. You have to be the same, no matter what.”
In order to be a consistent performer in baseball, you want to stay focused on your strengths even during slumps in performance, develop a consistent pre-performance routine, and manage your emotions staying calm and focus in the heat of battle.
Of course, just as your physical skills require practice to become habits, mental skills also require repetition. Remember, work works.
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