…Fast Execution, is one of the statements that goes towards making up Oblique Strategies and this particular one speaks 100% to everything that being an elite performer is all about. The typical approach we get to see is Fast (or no) Preparation and Frantic Execution. The lack of preparation leads to lack of total control during performance and the sense of being out of control and wanting the performance moment to be out of the way predominates.

One of the most useful ways to help get the balance, focus and style of preparation right for you is to immediately destroy the notion that preparation is something different from performance. Every elite athlete we have met knows that the performance actually begins when you start preparing for that event. Preparation is an opportunity to give away or maximise competitive advantage. Even though the starting gun hasn’t sounded, or the referee’s whistle hasn’t blown, the athletes are looking to gain an upper hand over their opposition by being more thoroughly prepared, and by extending the quality of preparation into the quality of the performance that is delivered when the battle is begun. The habits you create in preparation time establish the foundation for what you deliver during the execution time.

The sense of control and confidence that can be created by top quality preparation is a definite differentiator at the highest level. The slow preparation allows clarity of technical and tactical ingredients to be increased and the focus on playing to strengths can be maximised. Using the slow preparation to stack as many odds as possible in your favour has become a fine science for most sporting greats. Are you giving yourself the chance to make the most of your talents or are you just hoping that your talents will compensate for a lack of preparation?

Certainly, sports people have more time to prepare, but it’s the quality of preparation that is crucial in the final analysis. You may have less time to do “slow” preparation, but the quality of that preparation can be as good, if not better than your sporting counterparts – indeed it probably needs to be better because your execution moments come around much more quickly.

The great sporting philosopher, Eric Cantona, has a useful take on preparation… “Preparation is everything. Focus is the key. The concentration has to be exactly right. 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.

So, how slow and effective can you make the preparation element of performance. Surely, failure to prepare is simply to choose and accept mediocrity?