Hourglass Performance Model in Sport

Science and winners in sport have proven that an Hourglass Performance Model profile is required for consistent optimal performance outcomes, no matter what type of sport, skill level, gender, or age!

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The HP Model in Sport: A Closer Look

The HP Model is comprised of specific functional phases that occur before, during, and after a skill execution, regardless of the type of sport. In chronological order, the phases of the HP Model include:

Recovery -The athlete maintains or returns to a state of physical, mental, and emotional balance before an upcoming skill execution

Information -The athlete collects and processes information to make a decision regarding the appropriate strategy to perform the upcoming skill execution

Confirmation -The athlete initiates the physical and mental preparation based on the decided strategy for the upcoming skill execution

Trust -The athlete quiets the mind just before the moment of the skill execution

Performance -The athlete executes the skill with a minimal amount of thoughts or attempt to control the action, but with a high degree of automaticity and a sense of effortlessness

Evaluation -The athlete assesses and learns from the skill execution and the performance outcome

Reorientation -The athlete achieves closure of the previous performance outcome and moves on to the next task at hand

Recovery -The athlete maintains or returns to a state of physical, mental, and emotional balance before an upcoming skill execution

R ecovery Information Confirmation T rust P Evaluation R eorientation R ecovery

The shape of the HP Model demonstrates that athletes process the least amount of information and demonstrate the most consistent performance-related behavior (i.e., timing, bio-mechanics) during skill execution. This is reflected in the middle, narrow part of the HP Model.

The principles and the functional phases of the HP Model can be found in any type of sport. The durations of the phases in the HP Model vary between the different sports, depending on the sport-specific task demands. Reactive sports like basketball or soccer often demonstrate shorter functional phases and shorter HP Models, compared to self-paced sports like golf and shooting.

The management of thoughts and emotions is an important element of an athlete’s mental performance. The athlete’s ability to self-regulate these thoughts and emotions determines the quality of the HP Model in sport, as shown below.

The Effects of Thoughts and Emotions on the HP Model in Sport

SMALL HP MODEL

  • Uncontrolled emotions
  • Forgetful
  • Rushing
  • Too fast
  • Concious skill execution
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OPTIMAL HP MODEL

  • Controlled emotions
  • Focused
  • Trusting
  • Natural
  • Automated skill execution
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LARGE HP MODEL

  • Uncontrolled emotions
  • Forgetful
  • Rushing
  • Too fast
  • Concious skill execution
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As an applied-research framework within the field of mental performance expertise, the optimal HP Model postulates the following:

  • Consistent optimal execution of a sport skill requires an optimal HP Model profile that is designed to meet the needs of the individual athlete.
  • Consistent optimal skill execution in sport is demonstrated by a relatively small amount of information processing by the athlete during the narrow execution phase of the optimal HP Model.
  • The consistency and quality of skill execution in sport is influenced by the athlete’s self-regulation of thoughts and emotions within the optimal HP Model.

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Nancy Harris - Head Coach Women's Tennis, ret., Clemson University

“After only a few routine training sessions, I achieved my best results for the year of 2012. The positive changes in my golf game were unreal. Since then, I have started to understand the importance of the Hourglass Performance Model and of specific breathing techniques for better results on and off the course.”

Macarena Silva - Professional golfer, winner of the 2006 Matchplay de Chile and the 2010 Copa de los Andes as an amateur. Macarena turned professional in June 2011 and currently resides in her hometown Santiago, Chile.

Harry’s expertise in mental performance has helped me greatly in controlling my emotions and being able to relax and focus before and during my competitive races.

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