As a member of the University's men's gymnastics team, I have had the opportunity to meet with several "sport's psychologists". Much of what they have talked to my team about involves the mental preparation needed before going out and competeing at a meet. These psychologists believe that there are 3 mindsets a person can be in when they go to compete: underprepared, overprepared, and prepared.
Obviously, the ideal mindset they want us to have going into a competition is to just be prepared. They said there are several ways we can achieve what they call the ideal "arousal state". One way is through the use of breath control. By taking a long, deep breath, holding for a few seconds, and then slowly exhaling, a person is able to slow down their heart-rate. This is helpful when you get overexcited or nervous and too much adrenaline begins to be added to your system. Another thing one of them talked about was mental imagery: closing your eyes and picturing yourself doing a routine exactly like you have practiced and exactly how you want to do it in the future. He said that doing this would remind our bodies of what it feels like to do these skills. A combination of these preparations would prepare us for success.
The biggest problem that many people have before going out and competing is that they are either very excited or very nervous. Both of these things make our bodies pump adrenaline into our systmes, which then puts us at a higher "arousal state" than we should be at if we want to perform successfully. Also, a careless attitude can put us at a lower than the ideal state, which can then lead to laziness and careless mistakes.
I have to say that I probably agree with a lot of this. Excitement and nervousness in gymnastics are very detrimental to one's performance. Finding that ideal "arousal state" is key in going out and performing to the best of one's ability!