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Athletic Competition: The Mental Game

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Athletic Competition: The Mental Game

By FOX 47 News. CREATED Aug 8, 2012 - UPDATED: Aug 9, 2012

We can see how athletes face extreme levels of pressure. And one expert says what you think or don't think as an athlete can make all the difference.

Here are some of the skills competitive athletes use to help them perform their best.

"I've been doing gymnastics since was 4. It's a lot of fun, especially learning new skills," says Owen Sipes, a 12-year-old gymnast.

Sipes' fun turned to frustration after a difficult meet.

"I did okay on the first event, and then on high bar I fell four times, all on easy skills, and I was so upset I just lost it."

Sipes decided to see Douglas Finney, a licensed clinical social worker and mental game coach.

"There's an old saying that practice is 90 physical and 10% mental, competition is 90% mental and 10% physical."

Finney helped Sipes change some of his thoughts.

"When you're saying something like, 'I have to do well,' you are putting stress on yourself. I mean you can just change it and say 'it's my goal to do well' and those types of words do no put the same stress on you," she says.

Sipes said breathing techniques and a mantra helped him the most.

"I believe I can achieve. I just look in the mirror and I say it 20 times every single day."

Even if you're not a competitive gymnast or an athlete, Douglas Finney says that her tips are applicable to anyone in any area of their life.

"For example, I see a lot of students that come in with test anxiety or if you're going for a job interview."

Finney's combination for success? "To alway focus on what you want, to detach yourself from the outcome, you make an intention outcome, you make an intention all you can do you're in control of that you're not in control of the outcome."

Owen Sipes' intention: the 2020 Olympics.

"First year I'm able to go I'm making it up top," he says.

Another tip -- if you visualize yourself nailing the interview or doing the perfect golf swing, it's more likely that you will.