When preparing for a competition or performance, having a routine is key to signaling your body that it’s time to step up. Practice is over; this is the real deal. For some people, part of that routine is “putting on their game face.” Can changing your facial expression have the capability to improve performance? Or is it simply a saying? After reading this, you might want to get out the mirror and start practicing your best game face.
Preparing for competition
When you are getting ready to compete athletically, being mentally prepared is often as important as being physically prepared. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps is a prime example. His focus and determination are clearly evident in his facial expression as he waits his turn to compete. It may look odd or silly, but Michael rarely loses, and his game face may be a contributing factor.
Why your game face can improve performance
Individuals involved in any kind of competition, especially athletic, often prepare by psyching themselves up. This can mean visualizing or focusing on your goal. For some competitors, it may mean making an extreme facial expression or voicing a grunt or roar. The intended result may be to intimidate the opponent, but it also can enhance your ability for peak performance — and there’s scientific evidence to back that up.
Making an intense facial expression can help focus your energy on the task at hand. It activates the limbic system in the brain and switches on the fight-or-flight instinct. This releases adrenalin into the bloodstream, which stimulates the muscles in your body and boosts performance. Competitors who employ these techniques don’t necessarily need outside evidence or convincing, the practice simply works for them. But can a game face improve other aspects of a person’s life?
Putting on your game face for everyday life
If making a game face improves sports performance, can that idea have application in other areas? As it turns out, yes. Performance mental skills are the same as life mental skills. Learning how to enhance your performance mental skills has a direct correlation to life mental skills. For example, learning how to deal with nerves and performance anxiety in sports can help you deal with nerves and anxiety in everyday life.
The same game face that increases focus, determination, and releases adrenalin to help you perform better in athletic competitions can also help you perform better at everyday life skills. It has been shown to reduce stress, and therefore, can boost overall health and well-being. So, get your game face on and get out there and tackle life’s challenges.