It’s clear to us that when the conditions are favourable, people get very used to being able to get away with minimal preparation – your natural talents, allied with the helpful environment, conspire to get you to where you want to be. The conditions lull you into a false sense of security about how much preparation you need to carry out in order to get the “result” you’re after.

So, the conditions change and now the result is much harder to achieve, and perhaps the confidence that was once there (based purely on repeat outcomes, rather than being built up from the process that produced the result), has now gone missing. Instead of the result being “inevitable”, you’ve now got to get world class, very quickly, at preparing. How can you use the pre-performance time to maximum effect? Where should you be focusing your energies in order to ensure that you fully exploit the preparation time that you have?

There is an art to preparation, and the elite athletes we know are superb at gaining competitive advantage (not to mention enormous confidence), from being world class at preparing: leaving no stone unturned, focusing their energies on the things that will give them maximum return on time invested, not to mention preparing every bit of their performance pie (and not just the obvious technical and tactical preparation).

So, how good are you at gaining a head start through your preparation? When times are tough, exact every piece of advantage from every opportunity afforded to you. As Eric Cantona once said (no, not the seagulls thing), “It’s easy to battle it out on the pitch without having prepared fully and then say ‘I gave it my all’. The point is that if you had prepared carefully you would have had more to give and you’d have played better.” Says it all really. Thanks, Eric, much better than trawlers and seagulls!