Two Strategies To Be More Consistent

Consistency is key to athletes and performers. Learn two strategies that will help you become more consistent in your performances.

Streaky. The word is not typically used in a positive manner around athletics. Oftentimes, when an athlete is deemed to be streaky, what this can be translated as is unreliable. Now I know for certain, no one wants to be thought of as unreliable, especially in terms of athletics.

It’s a high honor to be thought of as someone who can produce whenever they are needed. In order to gain such respect, there must be a certain level of consistency about your play. How to become more consistent is exactly what will be covered in this article.

What Does it Mean to Be Consistent?

Being consistent means having the ability to produce similar results over a long stretch, such as a season or a whole career. The reason consistent performers are highly desired is the predictability in their output.

When we think about being a consistent performer, there are two aspects to take into consideration: a coach’s view of consistency and an athlete’s view of consistency.

The two are not one and the same. And if you as a performer confuse the type of consistency you should strive for with that of a coach’s, it could prove harmful to your production.

Coaches View of Consistency

Coaches want to know that on any given day, they’re going to get a certain level of production out of you. We usually see this type of consistency being directed towards statistics. Being the best judge of success for other people when viewing your production, stats become an understandable determining factor.

This does not mean that in order to be consistent, you can’t have a bad game. Of course, subpar performances are going to happen. What’s important is that on a large scale, your production is seen as consistent.

Think about averages here. Baseball is a great example because averages and stats play a large part in determining the success of a player. A hitter may have a bad weekend, where he goes one for ten, let’s say.

Now, that looks like cause for concern, right? Not quite, because this player has a track record of being a consistent hitter for the team. The coach has trust in him due to the consistent level of performance he produces.

One off-weekend is not going to deter the coach from putting the athlete in the starting lineup. That is why consistency is so important. It provides the coach with trust. Over the span of a season, he or she will get a certain level of production out of you.

So, for coaches, consistency is geared towards the end result for a player. This is due to the job a coach has in generating wins.

Their responsibility is to put together a lineup that gives their team the greatest chance to win. That is why we see stats become a go-to indicator of consistency. However, if you have the desire to be a consistent player, thinking in this way is counterproductive.

Athlete’s View of Consistency

While it may be natural to judge your consistency the same way coaches do, this type of thinking actually lowers your chances of becoming consistent. You may have the end goal of being seen as a player who repeatedly performs well, but to get there, you must shift your focus.

As an athlete, your view of consistency needs to be much more controllable. Coaches have the luxury of being outcome-oriented in this regard since they are in a position of a judge. You, on the other hand, are the one performing.

Focusing on the end result will only take you out of the moment. Instead, your definition of consistency needs to be centered around process goals you have control over.

I used to be obsessed with being a consistent producer at the plate. I would often be a streaky player, where one weekend I hit like crazy and the next it would be as if I didn’t even show up.

My problem dealt with where I placed my focus. I believed that in order to be consistent, I had to become obsessed with my production at the plate. In reality, that consistency, the type coaches concerned themselves with, is a by-product of true consistent actions.

As an athlete, consistency for you entails showing up every day with the same intensity. Working on skills repeatedly, training your mind on a daily basis, and sticking to your same pregame and in-game routines.

All of these are where consistency is created for a performer.

Let the coaches deal with judging whether your actual production is repeatable. You just focus on being consistent in your preparation, training, and mindset.

Before going more into detail about how you can be more consistent, let’s examine some of the reasons why we lack consistency.

Why We Lack Consistency

Many different factors go into the end result of a performance. That is why, consistency needs to be built on controllable factors, as stated above. A coach’s role is to focus on stats, your responsibility is to put yourself in the best position to perform well.

But why then do we lack consistency, if the type discussed is completely in our control? It’s easy to make excuses when it comes to consistent stats. The other team was better, the ref or umpire made a mistake, they must have scouted me well. All of these are factors that can lead to poor performance.

Yet, that’s not the type of consistency we are talking about. Even though the type of consistency we are referring to is in our control, there still seems to be the challenge of following through. I would like to touch on a few reasons for this.

No Set Routine

Consistency is driven by repeated action. When you do not have a clear routine set forth, it can be difficult to develop consistent behavior. There are numerous routines that are involved in performances.

There are training routines, weightlifting routines, pregame routines, mental training routines, nutrition plans, and many others. All of these contribute to you being a consistent performer.

Lack of Trust

This is going to play into the routines we discussed above, as well as your skills. When you lack trust in a routine or a training program, what often happens is a constant flip flop between systems.

One week you try this drill or this plan, then the next you do something different. Consistency is built over time. The more you keep changing your mind, the less likely your performances will develop the type of consistency you want.

In terms of lacking trust in your skills, the consequences are about the same. If you are the type of person who second guesses themselves and questions their abilities, then consistency can be difficult to come by. Your focus turns from trusting in your skills to figuring out how you can “fix” what is wrong.

Outcome Oriented Thinking

What you may believe is a needed place to focus in order to be consistent is actually holding you back from reaching such a level of play. Outcome-oriented thinking means you are consumed with the end result of your performance.

As a performer, placing too much attention on the outcome keeps you out of the moment. This pulls your foc

us off the task at hand, making the level of your play go down. What results is inconsistent performance.

How to Be More Consistent

With the three reasons outlined above, you should now have a better understanding of why you lack consistency. In my experience, consistency has been difficult to come by due to my focus on the outcome of my performance.

I was always so worried about what my stats would be after a game that being in the present moment was a pipe dream of mine. Combine that with constant doubts I had about my mechanics and consistency was not easy to come by.

So what is the solution? After we have shifted from a coach’s view of consistency to an athlete’s view, what are the next steps?

Well, there are two processes that you need to focus on if you want to become a consistent producer.

Develop Daily Habits

The first process you must give attention to is the development of daily habits.

Consistency is built through habits. So, if you seek to be someone who performs in a repeatable fashion, you have to rely on daily routines to get you there. I addressed a lack of routines as a major cause of a lack of consistency.

It seems practical that developing such habits and routines will have a positive effect. It’s hard to say what habits are going to be beneficial for you because I do not know what sport or activity you are seeking to be consistent in.

You have to think for yourself and determine what habits will be useful in working towards your goals. The key is to decide on habits you trust, so you avoid the desire to constantly change what you’re doing.

Here are some steps you can take that will help in developing a new habit:

  1. Commit to a Time Period: You want to come up with an amount of time you will give yourself to develop the habit. This will be the time period you put conscious effort into performing the activity. After that, it should have sunk in as part of your routine.
  2. Start Small: Try not to overwhelm yourself when beginning a new habit. Allow yourself time to become accustomed to the activity before increasing its volume.
  3. Make it Daily: Since your aim is to generate consistent results, your habit needs to be something you can perform on a daily basis.
  4. Never Miss Twice: In line with making the habit daily, if you do miss every once in a while, try not to then miss a second time in a row. The more you miss, the easier it becomes to lose track of the habit.
  5. Have an Accountability Partner: Finding a teammate or someone you trust to hold you accountable when developing a habit helps to ensure you will do what is needed in the beginning stages.

Set Process Goals for Games

Developing habits makes sure you are consistent in preparation. Now it is time to focus on becoming consistent during your performance.

I mentioned being outcome-oriented as a reason for lacking consistency. I also pointed to this as a reason for my own struggles with consistent production. Well, the opposite of focusing on the end result is becoming process-oriented.

This requires you to set controllable, process goals that you will focus on during a game or performance. Interestingly, these will have nothing to do with typical indicators of success.

For example, instead of setting a goal to get a certain number of hits in a game, a softball player can set a goal to stick to her pre-at bat routine, utilize a self-talk routine at the plate, and stay balanced in her swing.

The difference here comes down to control. No matter what your sport or profession may be, the outcome is typically influenced by many factors outside your control. Putting too much emphasis on the result leaves you at the mercy of such volatility.

Instead, by giving yourself actionable process goals, you keep your focus in the moment and on what you are in control of…yourself.

Here we see trust creep up again. You have to figure out what process goals will put you in the best position to succeed. Just because we don’t want to focus on the outcome does not mean there isn’t an outcome in mind we’d like to see happen.

It’s just counterproductive to dwell on such a goal. So, come up with process goals, trust in them, and allow the outcome to be as it will. Doing so will put you in the most optimal position to perform consistently.

Final Thoughts

Consistency is a highly sought attribute in any performer. Knowing an individual will likely produce typical results gives a coach confidence in putting them in the lineup. But worrying about consistency based on stats is the role of a coach, not a player.

If you want to be seen as consistent, you must change your perspective on what this term means. Learn to develop good habits and process goals that you trust will give you the best chance to succeed.

In doing so, you’ll be in a great position to have the label of consistent placed upon you by others.

Are you a consistent player? How do you think consistency can be gained as an athlete? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.

If you have any questions about consistency or any other performance psychology topic, please feel free to reach out to me.

I hope that this article was helpful, and you learned how you can become a more consistent performer.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all you do.

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Eli Straw

Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.

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