The Reticular Activating System – How it affects Sports Performance

Imagine there would be a system in your brain, that helps you single out the important information you need to achieve all your goals. Now that sounds like a superpower, doesn’t it? Well, it does exist 👉🏽 It’s called the Reticular Activating System. Read on to find out how it works, how it affects your performance in sports and how you can make it work for you.


1. What is the Reticular Activating System
2. How does the Reticular Avticating System operate?
3. How does the RAS affect your performance in sports?
4. How can you employ that system for your benefits?
4.1. Write it down, make it happen!
4.2. Use the powerful Technique of Visualization

What is the Reticular Activating System

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a component of the reticular formation and located in the brainstem. So speaking less scientific 👉🏽 it is a bundle of nerves connecting the subconscious part of your brain with the conscious part. All the input you get from seeing, hearing, touching and tasting is sent through the RAS before reaching the cortex.
The groupings of nerves that together make up the RAS are ultimately responsible for attention, arousal, modulation of muscle tone, and the ability to focus.

How does the Reticular Avticating System operate?

The Reticular Activating System is responsible for filtering through all the information your brain is bombarded with in any given moment. It decides what’s important to you and sends it to your conscious awareness, while everything else remains subconcious. The RAS is the reason why you can tune out a crowd full of talking people – yet immediately be able to pick up, when someone says your name. This is called the “Cocktail Party Phenomenon” and explained by the Reticular Activating System.
The RAS is constantly creating filters for the things you are focused on. It then sifts through the data and only presents the pieces of information to your conscious awareness that it considers important, based on these filters.

Have you ever thought about buying a new car and suddenly that very car seems to be all around you? You never saw that car model this frequently before in the streets – although the car has always been there 👉🏽 your Reticular Activating System just didn’t raise this piece of info to your conscious awareness.

How does the RAS affect your performance in sports?

So the RAS filters the world through the parameters you give to it and your beliefs shape those parameters. It is the reason why “Self-fulfilling Phrophecies” become self-fulfilling. When you focus on negativity you will attract more of it. Misery really does like company. But just like in the car example 👉🏽 there isn’t more negativity in the world, there is just more negativity within your conscious awareness, while all the positive stuff remains subconscious.

When it comes to performance in sports – have you set the right filters? It’s called “setting your intent”. It basically means, that if you focus hard on your goals, your Reticular Activating System will reveal the people, information and opportunities that help you achieve them.

If you really want to succeed, you are more likely to pick up important information all around you. In a positive state of mind your brain will focus on the good things that keep boosting your motivation. So just like you are able to hear your name in a room full of people 👉🏽 the next time your RAS is filtering through billions of pieces of data, will you be able to hear and see what will get you closer towards your goals?

How can you employ that system for your benefits?

This is really about “Setting your Intent” and doing so deliberately. I bet you have been told before that you should write down your goals – and you really should. Only now you know why you’re supposed to do that. Writing and articulating your goals will tell your RAS that these are important to you. It will create a filter. I want to give you two practical ways of “Setting your Intent”.

1. Write it down, make it happen!

Write your goals, passions and inspiring quotes on sticky notes and put them in a place, where you can see them on a daily basis. This will help your brain keep the focus on these goals and program a more meaningful filter. You don’t want to lose sight of the important information, do you?
In the past I’ve written sticky notes and put them on the wall next to my bed, where I can read them before I go to sleep and first thing in the morning. I have also written with a non permanent marker in the corner of my bathroom mirror.

2. Use the powerful Technique of Visualization

Do this in a relaxed state. It’s even more powerful when you do this before you go to sleep. Think of the goal or situation you want to influence. Now think about the results you want to create and the feelings you will experience in that scenario. (Like picturing yourself being handed the gold medal). Create as strong of a mental movie as you possibly can. Notice the sounds, visuals and scenery around you. The more you can connect this imagery to emotions and your senses the stronger it will be in the end. Replay it in your head many times.

In case you liked this article and you want to support me in writing more just like it – I would really appreciate if you supported me with the equivalent of buying me a coup of coffee ☕️.

Buy me a coffee Chris genau

If you feel inspired by this article or learnt something from it, I would love for you to jump over there 👉🏽 on Desktops and Tablets or down there 👇🏽 on mobile and sign up to my newsletter.
So you won’t miss a similar article in the future. I also share useful tips I have picked up a long the way from all the amazing people I get to talk to.
I hope you had a successful day wherever you might be out there in the big wide world,

1 thought on “The Reticular Activating System – How it affects Sports Performance”

Leave a Reply

💌 Sunday Thoughts - Join The Journey
Care to keep up with new articles to help be a better version of yourself? 

Every Sunday I write an email newsletter with some thoughts, life lessons and links to books/articles/podcasts I enjoyed that week. I'd love for you to join.
Unsubscribe at any time. 100% Transparency. No Spam. Your data will never be shared with 3rd parties.