W. Timothy Gallwey, author of the best-selling book, The Inner Game of Tennis, says that achieving optimal performance in sports (or almost anything else for that matter requiring focus) is dependent on potential and the ability to focus or conversely, as he states in the following formula, the ability to minimize interference. In other words:
Performance = potential – interference
P = p – i
If interference (i) is zero, then performance (P) equals potential (p), which is the best we can hope to achieve on race day.
As triathletes, we can use Gallwey’s formula as a simple tool to first identify then fix the interferences – the things that hold us back from achieving our potential on race day.
The key to using this tool effectively is to take a few minutes to list out the factors that impact your performance on race day then identify and prioritize the action steps that you can take to reduce them.
As an example, here are some factors that you’ve experienced in past races, which might impact your performance on race day:
- Anxiety from open water swimming
- Pushing too hard on the bike
- Slow transitions
Next, list out actions you can take to mitigate each factor. Using the examples above, actions might be:
- Anxiety from open water swimming – practice open water swimming with a group
- Pushing too hard on the bike – learn proper pacing from a coach and learn how to use a heart rate monitor or power meter properly
- Slow transitions – practice transitions to improve time
At the end of the day, we all have different goals, time constraints and natural abilities that define our potential performance level, but we can all actions to reduce the interferences that keep us from reaching our own unique performance potential whatever that may be.
With the triathlon season coming to a close, now is an excellent time to take a few minutes, identify the things that are holding you back then list out and prioritize the actions steps you need to take to race even faster next year.