Anchoring for Brilliant Performance

In The Performance Manifesto we use anchors in tandem with a number of the other steps in the process. Anchoring is a simple technique where we make associations between experiences. It uses a stimulus that may be a sound, an image, a movement, a touch, smell or a taste to trigger a consistent response in you or someone else. A good example of an anchor is when you hear a song from your past and it brings up a strong emotional feeling or memory. One of my own favourite anchors is the song “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. It immediately transports me back to my first Summer job as if I were actually back there. It is any event that triggers a particular response. The way that it works is that the brain makes these associations naturally and without us being consciously aware of it. However, it is a process that can be made into a conscious one and then built upon and then used for our benefit and future success. The way we are going to use anchors in the Performance Manifesto is to deliberately link the anchor to the way we want to feel when we perform.

So let’s say we have a presentation coming up in work. First we need to decide how we want to be seen and how we want to feel while we are giving this presentation. We may want to feel calm and professional and come across clearly and concisely. So in order to increase the success of our self talk we will visualise ourselves behaving and feeling exactly as we wish to be at the time of the presentation. Once we are experiencing these feelings strongly during our practice we will anchor the feelings. We can do this by something as simple as rubbing our thumb and fore finger together while repeating our Power statement. This sets up an association in our brains between the feelings and the action of rubbing our fingers together. So when we are ready to perform the presentation we simply rub our fingers together and the feelings will come flooding back.

Many top sports people use obvious anchors during their games. If you have ever watched rugby you will see all the top rugby goal kickers use anchors. Basically they have a set routine which is a series of anchors to get them into the ideal state to successfully make their kicks. They set off or fire these anchors in order that they go back in their mind to a successful kick and relive that state to be totally aware of what they felt, heard, saw, smelt or tasted. Some of the anchors that we have witnessed from the top kickers are taking a drink, various twitches, hand positions, repeating a specific phrase or word or grasping a part of the anatomy like a finger or an ear lobe. These lead to the kicker getting into the frame of mind to be more successful.

So why not try setting up some simple anchors to help you change the way you feel. Have a bit of fun with it and play around and see what works best for you.


This article is based on extracts of Daragh Sheridan’s book The Performance Manifesto. To find out more go to

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