Shutting Off The Thinking Mind
I'd like to introduce to everyone The Thinking Mind. It likes to show up on big occasions and crash the party. Perhaps, you have recognized its presence before a big game, during crucial moments of competition, or right after sudden unexpected changes in your environment. In life, the thinking mind may present itself in decisive moments such as right before a big test, losing a job, or engagement proposal. In war, the thinking mind presents itself more and more before soldiers are sent into war. Not only soldiers but also their family and loves ones may experience this. What we know from research is that the thinking mind does not care about winning or losing. It only cares about protecting you from danger. In some cases, where danger is present (such as going to war), the thinking mind is a key component to survival; however, danger is not the case in many sports. One of the keys to overcoming the thinking mind is for athletes to quickly identify their situation as truly dangerous or just fear and worrying. Outlined below are a few important tips to calming the thinking mind.
Identifying Triggers: After each game or competition take 10-minutes to identify when and what caused the fear. Write down those triggers and next to them label them as either fear or danger. Many athletes will find that most of their overwhelming thoughts were due to fear.
Diaphragmatic Breathing: After identifying fearful thoughts practice slow and deep breathing. Athletes may choose to listen to soft music while practicing their breathing to enhance the relaxation response.
Embracing Fear: Many athletes develop the bad habit of avoiding fearful situations like the plague. This habit when reinforced often results in late competition choking and underperformance. Athletes need to practice embracing fearful thoughts every time they recognize them. By embracing the fear, athletes are teaching themselves to go after pressure. This technique will help athletes improve their performance especially in tough moments.
Practice paying attention to the present: Learning how to stay in the present for longer periods of time helps athletes take control of the thinking mind and keep thoughts to a minimum. One technique athletes can practice is to pay attention to the taste of their food with each bite. Try to notice slight changes in taste, texture, temperature, and consistency. by practicing this skill, athletes will develop a deeper understanding of the present moment, while controlling distracting thoughts.
Add these techniques to your training and be patient with the results. In fact, the less focused the athlete is on the results, the faster they will see improvement. To get started on developing a professional mental game and mindset please contact SPMI by clicking on the link below.