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Destroy Your Ability To Compete-Quickly!
Three Ways to Destroy Your Ability To Compete-Quickly! by Dr. Leif H. Smith
If you want to become the kind of athlete that people always talk about in terms of “potential” rather than results, following the following formula:
1. Focus on that which you are scared of
You are a wrestler, and you are about to have a match with a guy that you have never beaten before, having been pinned every time. During your warmup, you focus on the fact that you have been training hard all season long for this match. You tell yourself that you deserve to beat this guy, as you have learned from your previous mistakes. You also realize that everybody is “beatable,” including your opponent. You feel ready, have a plan of attack, are in great condition, and feel ready to “get it on.”
You are a wrestler, and you are about to have a match with a guy that you have never beaten before, having been pinned every time. During your warmup, you focus on the fact that this guy has pinned you, and quite easily. You remember how embarrassed you were, and how you don’t want to be embarrassed again. You focus on how to avoid getting pinned-maybe you will take less shots, stay away from him more. That way he can’t pin you. You feel tense, worried, and tight. You are cautious when the match begins.
Which scenario would equate to a better match for this wrestler? Obviously scenario A. This wrestler focuses on everything that will help him compete. He focuses on his long hours of training, he uses positive self-talk to stay confident, and he feels ready for the fight.
The wrestler in scenario B does the opposite. He focuses on what he DOESN”T want to happen. He doesn’t want to get pinned, so he comes up with a plan to avoid doing that. He recalls feelings of embarrassment, and as a result, is tight during his match. He will, of course, most likely get pinned. Why? Because if you focus on that which you don’t want, you will get it!
2. Engage in problem-focused thinking (instead of solution-focused thinking)
Top competitors, on the other hand, still make mistakes. However, they try to learn from their mistakes so that they will not repeat them. They still get pinned, lose big matches, miss key free throws, miss wide open shots on goal, etc. However, they bounce back quicker, and stronger, as they put their energy into finding a solution to their problem. They focus on ways to get in better condition, how to get out from bottom quicker as a wrestler, how to concentrate better when shooting free throws, how to relax when put in big game situations, etc...
You get the picture. The time to think in sports is when play is prior to competition and during play stoppages. Come up with a game plan, then execute. If it doesn’t prove effective, change your plan, and execute.
Try this exercise: sign your name on a piece of paper. Now, I want you to duplicate it exactly. EXACTLY. Try it. What happens? Most people slow down and think about it when they are duplicating their signature. The result is a signature that is not close to being similar. You’re better served by not thinking and just signing. And this is merely one small example of the way that your mind can interfere with performance, if you let it. Don’t be one of those athletes.
Copyright 2004 Leif H. Smith, Psy.D. All rights reserved.
Dr. Leif H. Smith is the president of Personal Best Consulting, a performance consulting firm located in Columbus, OH. He has worked with hundreds of athletes, coaches, teams, and executives to improve performance and increase on-the-job effectiveness.