Arousal: is the level of intensity of our behaviour. By being aroused we prepare ourselves both physiologically (e.g., increasing our heart rate) and psychologically (e.g., increasing our attention) to perform. Certain tasks are facilitated by specific arousal levels. For instance an archer needs to have a low level of activation in order to see the target properly and release the arrow accurately. On the other hand, it will be more helpful for a martial artist during a combat to be activated when facing the rival. If we think of a continuum, on one side we could be sleeping deeply, in the middle we would be awake and on the other extreme very excited. Nevertheless, arousal is neither positive nor negative but neutral. Arousal can be measured physiologically, biochemically, and through questionnaires. Relevant theories on arousal and performance are: Drive Theory, Inverted U hypothesis, Catastrophe theory, and Individual zones of optimal functioning (IZOF).


Kaizen: Word of Japanese origin referring to the commitment to continuously improve, (e.g., setting new goal each time we reach one) and understanding mistakes as opportunities to learn.


Pressure: although sports commentators often talk about pressure as something coming from the competition environment (e.g., having an important rival, being in the last stage of a competition); actually pressure are the feelings created by the athlete about her/his performance. Pressure is not necessarily something negative since feeling under pressure can make us motivate ourselves more and concentrate better. We ourselves create our pressure – usually in situations where the result has an important meaning for us -. Knowing this is important because if we realize that we can manage how we feel this gives us control to choose how we perceive aspects of the environment.

Photograph by Aaron Burden on Unsplash