April 29, 2016
Achieving Peak Mental Performance – Factor #3: We become what we think about
The Growth Mindset – 7 Key Factors to Achieve Peak Mental Performance
Factor #3 – Visualization
Did you see Jay Wright’s reaction after his player hit one of the most memorable shots in NCAA history to win the national championship? He simply nodded his head and proceeded to go shake hands with Roy Williams. How is that possible? One of the players on the high school lacrosse team I help coach made a game-winning goal a few weeks ago in a regular season game and we all jumped around like fools. How did Jay remain so calm? The only possible explanation is that Jay completely buys in to the concept presented in Earl Nightingale’s landmark speech The Strangest Secret: ‘We become what we think about…Picture yourself in your mind’s eye as having already achieved this goal. See yourself doing the things you’ll be doing when you’ve reached your goal.’ Jay, deep down in his heart, truly believed his team was a national championship team, so why would he act surprised when his team achieved this goal?
The same is true for athletes at all levels. They will become what they think about. If they think they are the 5th best player on the team, that is exactly what they will become. Muhammad Ali said ‘I am the greatest. I said that before I even knew I was.’ So how do we get kids to imagine themselves being successful? The first step is we as coaches and parents have to truly believe they are going to be. Then here are some powerful next steps:
- From The Inner Game of Tennis – Have them react as if they hit a perfect shot regardless of the result: Tell them you are going to use your phone to take video of their reaction after the next 5 shots. You are not going to video the shot result itself, you will be at an angle that will only record their reaction. And here is the key – regardless of how they hit the shot – you want them to react as if they are Lebron James (or whatever athlete they will identify with for your sport) and they had just hit the perfect shot to beat their opponent. The interesting observation is how successful their shots will be when they are not putting any importance on the actual result of the shot itself.
- Think about how you frame things: it should be framed as a positive. Don’t say ‘Don’t drop this pass’, instead say: ‘Make a great catch on this pass’
- Sports psychologist Dr. Lindsey Blom teaches on the power of using analogies: Have kids picture themselves as spaghetti noodles – if the child is nervous they may be stiff like uncooked noodles, but if they are relaxed they are loose like cooked noodles. For younger ages – have the kids physically wiggle around and say they are cooked noodles.
- Master self-talk and quiet your mind: My good friend Jenn Starkey from MVP Leadership Academy shared a great video with me with 7 confidence hacks – and #’s 6 and 7 are about visualization and mastering self-talk – check it out.
- Confidence is a choice. My friend Olaniyi Sobomehin, former NFL running back and founder of I’m Not You blog and podcasts – has his kids start each day by looking in the mirror and doing ‘Affirmations’, they call it ‘Prime-time.’ They flex their muscles and tell themselves they are strong, confident, and proud. They also record audio of their affirmations in GarageBand laid on top of their favorite track.
We become what we think about. It’s so powerful. If we can master the images in our head, we truly can accomplish whatever we set our minds to.