By my efforts, I will keep my body strong, my mind focused, and my determination unstoppable. I resolve to compete in the present with power, purpose, and passion. I know that every sore muscle and drop of sweat is an investment in excellence. I strive to be my best, nothing less, and joy will come from my striving. True, pain always comes, but I can endure it. My body wins when my mind refuses to give in. In defeat, I will reflect and learn. In victory, I will saver the glorious moment. Tomorrow, my efforts always begin anew. – Jim Afremow
Hi, and welcome back to the star player academy show, episode 89.
This is Marilyn Wo, I help serious athletes like you get your mind back in the game.
In yesterday’s episode, I bust the myth to the solution of the question “Why do I do so much better in practice than in competitions?”
Today, we will dive even deeper into the exercises we should implement in our trainings on a personal level whether you are in an individual or team sport.
Now, let me bring up this old adage again on practicing as we compete and compete as we practice. This is so true, but problem is, many athletes aren’t guided in the right way that most of us gave up trying to practice this.
We all understand that if we can have training sessions mimic the same pressures that we may experience during competitions, we will be able to perform at similar standards on both occasions.
But as an athlete, I understand that it’s tough to do so because there’s no way you can try to focus on mimicking with intention to feel pressurised during training when teammates around you aren’t on the same page as you are.
There isn’t anything wrong with them, but you will need to take a lot of time to get everyone on the same page to feel the same pressure. It’s not impossible, you just have to know that it doesn’t happen overnight. The very basic starting line to get this to happen is to start with one. So let’s start with you first. You will experience some form of change, not in your God-given talents, not in your height or dramatic change in your physical size, but in how you see yourself. Then you move on to your teammate, one by one.
It’s really not that complicated. Let me take you by the hand and walk you step by step if you allow me to.
Where there must be some form of balance on what we learn and master in our sport, we must also figure out the best way to solve this problem because this is a major problem in every team. At the same time, this is the most important aspect of an athlete, to be able to maximise one’s own potential regardless of the result.
So what can you do to get started?
- Awareness – start by becoming aware of what you have been focussing on before, during and after every practice and games. You may need to take notes during these times so that you don’t forget your thoughts. Before training, it may be the night before, set a timer and list all that you are thinking about and what you want to achieve during your training, this list is your focus that you are willing to put your mind on during training but it hasn’t happened yet. Then during training, where there is a break somewhere in between, just take a couple of minutes to check on the points that you have been really focusing on during training on the list you created before training. After training, list down what you have been focussing on during your best and worst performances according to yourself. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t able to get the list down with many points at the start. The point of this exercise is to get you to be aware, just like in meditation, the purpose is not for you to shut out your thoughts and prevent them from appearing in your mind, but to be aware that your thoughts are coming in, because just by being aware, it will lead you to the next step of bringing yourself back to focus on the right things you meant to focus on before your training. That leads us to the 2nd point…
- Bring Yourself Back – After knowing what you are focussing on, which most likely will not be the right things, now you will actually tell yourself to go think of the right things to focus on. For example, during a mini game in your training, you may be doing anything to make yourself look really good and prevent any mistakes so that you won’t be criticised. Then you started to fumble because you got nervous trying to juggle the thought of preventing mistakes and truly executing what you had to do. As you become aware of that, your awareness thoughts will self-direct your focus to actually think of what’s next rather than anything judgmental or anything not on your list.
- Repeat – Incorporate this exercise as much as you can in your training and games so that it is easier for you to shift your focus very smoothly to deal with the right tasks at hand rather than let your anxiety control you.
After you have experienced this with yourself and getting used to it, share it with your teammates and suggest this form of exercise to them. This is typically a mindful approach of playing your game.
Let me give you an example to illustrate the difference between practicing this and without it. Say there are two people who want to go to a nearby store to get a pack of milk, the first person went in a hurry, his purpose is to get from point A to point B, get the milk and head back, as he walked, his thoughts are clouded with stress, frustrations and wondering why his life is full of crap. While the second person, having the same living conditions and situations as the first, walks towards the store admiring and appreciating the nature, the trees and leaves rustling in the wind, birds chirping and smiling at people he happened to walk pass.
You might ask, so what difference would both scenarios make to the result? I would say, exactly my point. Both will definitely reach the store anyway and grab the milk as long as it’s available. But the experience either one will have is very different, and that eventually leads to many effects to their lives.
The other important aspect of this example is that person A isn’t aware of what he is focused on. He is simply dwelling and thinking and focussing on his problems that left him to react to what happened before. The frustrations are a result of the focus rather than the issue at hand. If you have been frustrated and stressed before, (which by the way I’m sure everyone of you have experienced many times), you will find that it’s so easy to feel this way. It’s so easy to let your thoughts seep in and immediately feel that your life is difficult, that you couldn’t help it but acknowledge that you had a bad training or game, that you messed up, that you let your teammates down.
You know what, in this exercise, I’m not telling you to avoid feeling this way, not saying that feeling this way means you are a horrible person, but as I’ve mentioned that this is normal. All you need to do in this exercise is to move a step further from feeling this way to analyse where did this come from and what were you thinking to feel this way. This is the only way you figure out if you are focussing on your execution or your problems or outcome. Then, once you know that, you will automatically move on to focussing on your task at hand instead, because it’s the rational and logical path. It isn’t easy to do when you aren’t aware of what you are thinking of. But once you are, it becomes easier. As you keep working on this process, without the need to force your frustrations to disappear or suppress it, you have less stress on your stresses.
As you progress, you are in fact mastering the skill of mindfulness of yourself acting on a particular technical sport skill. It will give you more control and foothold on what you are supposed to do.
It’s really not that complicated. Just don’t rely on anyone to remind you to do this, not your coach or teammates, but yourself. Give yourself that promise to commit to this exercise this week, and as you do this for a month or so, you’ll realise there’s no need for you to remind yourself anymore, the whole exercise becomes less of an exercise but more of a natural process to you.
With that, we have come to the end of today’s episode.
Before you go, instead of a quote as usual, I have a pledge for you taken from the book, The Champion’s Mind by Dr Jim Afremow. He came up with this champion’s honour pledge that you should tell yourself as much as you can to remind yourself to always take a bold step to pursue what you want most in both your sports and life, if you are ready, here goes:
“By my efforts, I will keep my body strong, my mind focused, and my determination unstoppable. I resolve to compete in the present with power, purpose, and passion. I know that every sore muscle and drop of sweat is an investment in excellence. I strive to be my best, nothing less, and joy will come from my striving. True, pain always comes, but I can endure it. My body wins when my mind refuses to give in. In defeat, I will reflect and learn. In victory, I will saver the glorious moment. Tomorrow, my efforts always begin anew.”
Thank you all for joining me today. If you are wondering what you can do to be the best athlete you can ever be, go to starplayeracademy.com, I’ve prepared a cheat sheet that shows you 15 success traits of a serious athlete that you can follow in one glance. So head over to starplayeracademy.com right now, and till tomorrow.
I look forward to see you become a StarPlayer.
Best Performance Books:
- The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive by Jim Afremow
- Your FREE Audio Book
- Download your Cheat Sheet
Thanks for listening!
Thanks so much for joining me today. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see below.
Please leave an honest review for The StarPlayer Academy Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.
If you have any questions, email me anytime at email@example.com and I will surely respond to them to get your questions answered quickly.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates. It’s free!