Achieving Peak Mental Performance – Factor #4: Our mind is a powerful beast to tame

The Growth Mindset – 7 Key Factors to Achieve Peak Mental Performance​​​​​​​
Factor #4 – Playing present & Mistake recovery
Our mind is a powerful beast to tame. Another powerful lesson I learned from Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Tennis is the concept of the battle going on in your mind between your 2 selfs. In summary – Self 1 is the mind and the loud voice, Self 2 is the body, the quiet doer. Where things get out of whack is when Self 1 starts to overthink the importance of what you are doing. Thoughts about past failures or future consequences of your performance will tighten up an athlete and make it impossible to perform at a high level. We’ll dive into a bunch of great ways to de-emphasize the importance of competitions in Factor #6, but here are a few fundamental ways to keep your mind focused on the present:
  • Tim Corbin, national championship baseball coach at Vanderbilt uses the term ‘Play in the middle.’ He teaches his athletes to not think about the past, not think about the future, but rather to stay in the middle. The only thing you need to focus on is the next play.
  • Ray Lokar, PCA coach and speaker, uses the acronym WIN – Whats Important Now. In high pressure situations – have the kids focus on ONE thing that is important (i.e. hold your follow through) – don’t tell them more than one thing or their head will be swimming with too many concerns.
  • Mistake recovery routine – You will make mistakes. You need to have a predetermined response to what you are going to do about them. Coach John Doss has a goalie that beats himself up after any goal allowed – he tells the kid he can take 3 seconds to be upset, then move on.  He will even count 1,2,3 out loud so the kid remembers. Many athletes have developed physical actions to ‘flush’ mistakes:
    • ​​​​​​​Make a small motion with your hand of you ‘flushing’ that mistake away
    • A double-tap on your chest – 1st tap is me saying ‘my bad,’ 2nd tap is me saying ‘I’m over it and am focused on the next play.’
    • A brush of your shoulder to ‘brush’ away the mistake
Quiet your mind. Gallwey uses the analogy of a cat waiting to pounce on a bird. The cat isn’t thinking about it’s posture, what each leg needs to do when attacking, or what the other cats will think about it if it misses. It simply is thinking about what that bird is going to taste like in it’s mouth.

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