Replace your Race

by Ashley on March 24, 2011

Leaving Poor Performances Behind & Focusing on the Race at Hand

Easier said than done at times, but with everything worth gaining, you have to practice at it. Your mental game is just as important to practice as your physical. Panic, worry, and fear can creep up on you in a crucial race or game time situation if you’re not prepared. You know the feeling. The sweaty palms, heart racing, muscles tensing up, or even pacing back and forth. You’re freaking out that this time has to be it, has to be perfect, has to be clutch. This race, next play, or performance is where you shine, drop time, or dominant your opponent. It has to be Wheaties box great because your last go round wasn’t. You have to make up for the last shot you had. You’re stressed, even though you won’t admit it, that this performance has to look like your “usual self”. The one people “know” you for. Right? With that amount of pressure there is no wonder you can’t live up to the expectations you’ve set.

You have to learn how to leave poor performances behind and focus on the event at hand. If you bring bad shots, missed free throws, missed putts, or false starts to your next event, you’re setting yourself up to overcome that performance again & again. Take one race at a time. Most people tell themselves, “don’t do …..(insert your favorite here) again”. Or, “I have to make this….(pick one)”. Sound familiar? You are what you say to yourself. This has been proven over and over. You can’t approach your next event still thinking about your last “mess up”. We’re all entitled to messing up. No one is ever getting it right all the time, but it is about training your mind to sort out each trial. You make a mistake – you do need to revisit it, correct it, and figure out what happened. However, you don’t need to continue to bring it with you every time you step on the green, the court, or the track.

How do I do that though? “I know I shouldn’t focus on the negative and I need to move on to be in the now, but I can’t get it out of my head?” Don’t over think it, first of all, stay in the moment, and play like it’s still fun for you. You need to learn to thought stop for it to become routine. You need the thought stopping to be second nature and race in the moment for it to work. You can’t just try to use it when the pressure is on because you’re not used to it and your body and mind are distracted. I encourage the
power of practicing the mental aspect of approaching EACH race.

Make a plan to replace a race or a situation, depending on your sport. What this means is taking a great performance and remembering those circumstances, environment, and feelings when you’re faced with a new challenge. For example, a swimmer might replace a “final” race time of an event with his next race of a different event that may seem intimidating.  Using different races in your mind and reliving them helps with imagery as well. Perhaps the 200 free has been his nemesis recently. He can’t drop time in a major meet, faces pressure to do well here to get back on a relay, or panics when someone passes him. So his last great 200 fly race becomes his 200 free in his mind when he is preparing for the 20o free event.  He takes the time to visualize what the 200 fly felt like, review his successes, and look at his competition like there is no prayer for you all because I’m getting ready to blow you out of the water. He no longer thinks of the last time he swam the 200 free, how he wasn’t pleased with his performance and how he seems to be stuck in a rut and can’t break out. He no longer forces that pressure of having to have this 200 free be the “one”, the “perfect” race. It’s now a race in the moment. He is focusing on the 200 fly because he did well and replacing that image with how he will swim the next event he’s in.

It’s about leaving that poor performance behind, but that isn’t easy, so when you can’t let go of a particular event, use a replacement strategy. Seem cheesy? It’s a proven technique for several elite athletes, and it’s worth a shot if this simple tip of “replacing your race” can give you the competitive edge. Sport psychology is easy, but you have to implement the strategies to make it work.

You can use polysensory (all your senses in painting the picture) visualization, destroy the negative parts of previous races or events and perform just like your best performance. The key here is picking an exact performance. You can’t just think of one time you did well, or just imagine when you were at the top of your game because that will just bring pressure to be great again. You have to focus on a specific race or situation when you were proud of your achievements. You need to take in each element of that performance and re-live it. Well that’s the short version anyway. This strategy has helped other athletes in the sense of allowing them to let go of “poor” performances and lets them get more into a race they may have built up fear or anxiety about.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Self Help in Seven Minutes

by Ashley on February 19, 2011

How to Hold Yourself Accountable & Make Things Happen

The Self Help book aisle can be motivating or depressing; it’s how you look at it right? Well if you’re reading this, you’re in need of some help. You need some advice, some guidance, something quick & easy for you to implement it. You probably want something short, not drawn out, oh and something that actually works. We all have goals and ambitions that we want to accomplish, some of us just have more willpower than others. But most need a little shove to get going and be pointed in the right direction. By the way, you’re not alone. Most people know what they need to do, but struggle with creating a plan. They day dream about what they want or may tell others where they’d like to be, but never actually put it into motion.

Goals can seem impossible and out of reach if you don’t break them down into parts. This is one of the first things you can do to start helping yourself. You might be frustrated with your situation, stuck in a “rut”, or questioning why others have something you don’t. How do you get there? Seems cheesy, but you get out what you put in. So does simple goal setting work? Well, it’s up to you and if you work through this template and hold yourself accountable for your actions, then you can help yourself. So you want to improve? Improve what? How? You absolutely must be specific. I want a better job isn’t getting you anywhere. I want to lose weight isn’t happening.

Break down those goals into action steps. You need to create “to do” lists or post these ideas you have. You can read about them all day and think that’s nice, or you can do something about it. Baby steps- don’t overwhelm yourself. I didn’t say quit your job and hunt away or throw away all carbs. Just action steps, key word: STEPS. How about, I will ride my bike 3 times a week at least 8 miles for the next 6 weeks, and if it’s raining I will go to a spinning class or use a bike trainer indoors. Break everything into tasks. If a task takes more than 2 hours you won’t do it, and if it’s an all or nothing workout goal, beginners won’t do it if it takes more than 45 minutes. You know the “I don’t have time” excuse. It’s a good one, I get it, but get over it, and help yourself. Do you want change or not?

You need effective time blocks to schedule events. So if you want a better job, you schedule time to do job searches. You network with people you may have met in the past, but you schedule this. You can’t just assume that because you put it on your “to do” lists you’ll make time for it. So this brings me to my next point – put it on your calendar, not a post it. Love those colored post ist, love crossing items off, but you always throw them away or they sit under the next pile of “to do” stuff. Placing a goal on a calendar makes it relevant and time bound. You wouldn’t put something in ink if it wasn’t attainable and specific to remember (cause other people might see it), so keep all of these goal requirements in mind. Make an outline for yourself and break each step down to accomplish what you’re craving. This way your activities – phone calls, researching, or working out become real. People tend to get hung up on large scary goals that they can continue to push off until the next month.

The last simple tip in self help is getting constant feedback. Top associates and peak athletes all need constant feedback. This is what separates us from the pack. Are you actually getting what you want out of your task? You need evaluation, and this can keep you on track. Telling someone else about what you’re working on holds you accountable, saying what you want outloud in the mirror reminds you not to drop the ball, and making adjustments along the way so you don’t get bored or lose sight of the larger goal is crucial. So there you have it, it probably only took you 7 minutes to read this and now you can make big changes by starting with these easy tips.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Restructuring Your Negative Thinking

February 4, 2011

  Change Your Way of Thinking with ABC Restructuring  Use restructuring to identify and modify IRRATIONAL and DISTORTED thinking-  affirmation statements about yourself create how YOU COMPETE.  With the help of a performance psychology consultant, you can make a COPING TAPE to rehearse strategies, recognize the distraction, know the routine and regain control. Here’s what your mind might look like [...]

Read the full article →

What is Goal Mapping?

February 2, 2011

People Need Goals- It’s Part of Human Nature Setting goals can enhance  self confidence and strengthen your performance. We know the value of goals; we’ve heard it all our lives, but do we really set valuable goals? Goal mapping is an effective way to accomplish what you’ve set forth. A goal map is a plan [...]

Read the full article →

Emotions Directing Your Performance

January 20, 2011

Anxiety disrupts your performance. You know this. How do you disrupt your anxiety? The individual’s interpretation of anxiety symptoms is vital for understanding the performance relationship. Intensity is how much anxiety one feels and how strong it is. Where anxiety direction is the person’s interpretation of anxiety. Is it facilitating or debilitating to performance to his performance? For [...]

Read the full article →

Goals That Work

January 18, 2011

Goal Setting is Extremely Powerful, but it Must Be Done Correctly Most people set outcome goals, where they focus on the result of an event. So if you’re competing in an event, your success depends on how your opponent did as well. You could have the best race of your life, but if the guy [...]

Read the full article →