“One way to boost our willpower and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us” - Daniel Goleman
How often do we find ourselves doing damage control in our roles as “athletes, coaches, sport psychology consultants, parents or teammates” and merely reacting to the challenges we face in sport during an event?
Granted we can’t control everything, but taking time to think about it provides a unique learning opportunity to create positive training habits.
We all get easily distracted, in fact, this week I was watching a professional tennis match and the athletes were continuously wiping sweat from their forehead, hydrating, resetting, and consistently adjust to the sunlight. I was distracted just watching it!
As many of you know, the Aussie Open just started and one of the major factors in preparation for this elite tennis event is handling the environment - specifically the weather. Well we...
Working with youth athletes is one of my favorite aspects in my role as a Sport Psychology Consultant. They are viscerally full of energy, extremely creative, and passionate about the simple aspects of sport. I see these traits as motivational and this engagement is an opportunity to translate their ambition into both training and competition.
Youth are exposed to a psychologically demanding environment unique to sport (Rowland, 1997) and each sport requires a different level of preparation and training (Watson, Blanksby, & Bloomfield, 1986). Despite the challenges youth face, Weiss and Gould (1984) proposed that youth should be prepared to cope with the demands of competitive sport. Within our roles as coaches, sport psychology consultants and parents, we recognize that we are influential to...
Exams are upon you!
You have lots of work to do and there is a nagging worry inside your head; “What if I mess up this time?” You might even have trouble switching off and sleeping at night, and your appetite may be a bit off. Welcome to the pressure filled world of the student.
It’s really normal to feel stressed at exam time. If you are not at all stressed, then you don’t really care much about the outcome. A healthy level of pressure let’s you feel motivated, ensures you keep working and helps you maintain focus. But when your stress goes over the top, it will interfere with your success. That’s when it’s time to take these steps to maximize your chances of doing well on exams.
1. Prepare. Nothing will increase your anxiety more than going into an exam and not knowing your material. This one seems like a no-brainer, but many of us don’t take the time to adequately prepare....
So many people talk about relaxation or make recommendations on what to do to relax, but what is required for relaxation? Discover some great tips on how to relax and what is required to actually experience relaxation. You'll be surprised by what relaxation can actually mean. Discover the key to relaxation and the differences between rest, recovery, and relaxation.
There are a whole host of psychological skills that we can have in our mental toolkit, but some of the most fundamental are our cognitive skills i.e. our thinking abilities. One of which is Self-Talk. Mastering this skill allows us to take charge of our own thoughts, banish doubt and manage our thinking in the moment. When we manage our own thinking, it allows doubts, questions or anxieties to take a back seat, thus making us have increased capacity; mentally, emotionally and physically.
So how do we manage our thoughts in an effective and productive fashion, so we are ready to give it our all when we need to? Here are my 10 tips to practice:
Hear your internal dialogue. Start to pay more attention to what you actually say to and about yourself. We all do it, just sometimes we don’t realize. Plug in and just notice.
Only accept helpful thoughts. These are the thoughts that make a positive difference, that allow you to push through your limits, that tell yourself you are...
Confidence is key.
Whether you need to make a good impression at a job interview, when giving a presentation, or even when trying to meet a potential partner, it's important project yourself with confidence.
When we feel we are on the line, or going to be judged, it is important to know what to do to project the most confident version of ourselves.
Confidence needs a boost when our anxiety or stress about a situation gets in the way and starts to erode our ability to follow through successfully. When we are nervous our stress hormones are automatically released into our system, resulting in symptoms that are in opposition to maintaining a solid level of confidence. For example; our body can respond to anxiety by shaking, sweating, getting clammy, wanting to shrink and hide, lowering our head and crouching over to protect our vital organs. In some instances we want to remain invisible, because if we go unnoticed, then maybe we won’t be under...
Imagery and Visualization are fantastic tools that all athletes, not just hockey players should include in their arsenal of performance tools. Visualization is one of the easiest mental skills to include in a training program because it requires no equipment and can be incorporated into drills, practices, and skill development activities without adding significant time to training.
The challenge often faced with visualization and imagery skill development, is that it is included into training as an after thought or with inadequate instruction for the athlete and consequently the true benefit is never really reached.
Although often used interchangeably, I like to distinguish between imagery and visualization to help a player understand how to use these skills more effectively. Think of imagery like a picture. Try imagining a hockey puck in your minds eye. It does not move, but you can see the logo, the shape, and the contours of the puck....
Sport and life are filled with loss, setbacks and defeat. You know, things that don’t turn out as expected, despite your best efforts and preparations.
To expect to never meet defeat is unrealistic and somewhat foolish, and this thinking sets you up for even greater disappointment and discouragement. Of course we need to put our primary energies into thoughts of success, but when this doesn’t work out, we can successfully negotiate through defeat.
Defeat hurts! Physically, it can feel like you have been punched in the stomach or kicked in the teeth. Emotionally, it can make you feel frustration, disappointment, anger, loneliness and more. Mentally it can lead to blaming thoughts, doubts, regrets, discouragements and questions about giving up.
However, when we expect and predict these physical, emotional and mental consequences, we maintain a semblance of control. We are neither ambushed, nor taken by...
We are flying to Hawaii!! WHAT??!! WAIT A MINUTE!! Stop the truck... flying to Hawaii. Wait for it, wait for it... and there it is: the heavy feeling on my chest, the shortness of breath, the sweaty palms, the fuzzy feeling behind my eyes, and the images in my head. These images depict every possible disaster that could happen while I am 36,000 feet in the air. My husband notices my panic. “Hey”, he says, knowing my mind has taken a sudden detour from Hawaii to its own disastrous flying conclusion, “at least we’ll all be together”; because THAT comment comforts and calms me?!!?
Justifying my fears does not help me feel better about flying. I have postponed trips and family gatherings, feigning a busy schedule. I have even opted to drive, to ensure I do not have to fly. While I am glad to have seen so much of Canada and parts of America, I just know that driving to Hawaii will be out of the question!
Visualization training has become an integral part of performance psychology and aids in psychologically preparing athletes for competition, maximizes skill development and ultimately allows for optimal performance. Visualization or guided imagery is used successfully to; learn new skills, correct ineffective form, speed healing from injury, manage anxiety and prepare mentally for competition.
The good news is; visualization is a teachable skill, so with practice everyone can increase the effectiveness of their visualizations. The following factors will increase the effectiveness of your visualizations.
1. Discover which of your senses are most predominant when you imagine. Some people see the image as clearly as a movie (visualization). Others sense, hear or feel themselves performing (kinesthetic, auditory, tactile imagery), but have difficulty seeing any images. Go with whichever form of sensing is natural to you.