Great news! You don't have to be an Olympic contender to benefit from mental techniques. You don't even have to be in great shape. You just have to want to commit to achieving a personal best in your chosen activity.
Sit down and do an assessment. "Where am I now in terms of this activity, and where to I want to be?" When you have those two answers, you simply connect the dots. What lies along the line between them are your goals. The end point is your ultimate, long-term goal. The ones on the line are shorter-term goals. (See the article posted on Goal-Setting)
Now, to achieve each goal, decide what you need to do to get there. Here's where you can apply various mental techniques. A golfer experiencing the "yips," and wishing to eliminate them, can implement relaxation, ritual and visualization to assist in gaining focus and control. If you are new to a sport and learning skills, imagery can go a long way to helping your body lock in appropriate processes and movements. A runner attempting an increase in race mileage, a 10K or even a marathon, can benefit from self-talk during the race, or the use of associative or dissociative techniques to focus on how the body is feeling, or take your mind elsewhere to rhythmic patterns of counting or breathing or the like, respectively.
Great gains can be made, goals achieved, motivation maintained, and above all, fun had just by applying tools of sport psychology to your endeavors.
Articles for Athletes
Information to help you achieve your personal best performance!