If you're struggling to play your best in big games or to make the team you’ve tried-out for every year or to be confident with the disc in your hands... the story you're telling yourself may very well be what's holding you back.
The stories we tell ourselves matter. They lay the foundation for our overall mindset. Our overall mindset significantly influences our thoughts. Our thoughts drive our emotions and reactions and performance.
Take a moment to re-read that last paragraph again and let it really sink in.
So...What’s your story and how is it influencing you?
Watch the clip below as an example of how we develop the stories we tell ourselves and how the stories we tell ourselves playout in everyday life. (Click on the image below to view the video, then hop back here to finish the post.)
This kid could have walked away from the field that day telling himself he was the worst hitter who ever lived. That would have been easy for him to do (and for us to understand) because the evidence pointed in that direction.
Think about how often we do this in our own lives - how often we let one ‘failure’ experience determine our mindset about that skill, activity, task or assignment. Don’t be fooled, it can be very subtle. Maybe you drop a disc that hit you in both hands and the first few thoughts that run through your mind are: “man, I suck” or “I can’t catch anything today.” No big deal, right?
It isn’t necessarily going to be a big deal, but it definitely can be a big deal. Each of those thoughts, compounding over the course of a practice or day (or a season or years), can become a bigger story you tell yourself - whether or not it has much basis in reality.
Now some of you might be thinking that he isn’t a great hitter and ignoring that fact isn’t going to help him improve. I sort of agree. But I argue that ignoring it is better than labeling it with a generalized negative attribution. If he ignores it and doesn’t draw attention to it, the next time up to bat is more likely to be a clean slate than if he had created a story that he isn’t a good batter.
Let’s translate this to Ultimate. If the disc hits you in both hands and you drop it and your thoughts tell you, “you suck” or “you can’t catch today” will that help you catch the next disc? No. And, are those thoughts actually true? Most likely not. Most Ultimate players (spare very beginners) can catch the disc, they just have momentary lapses. How long those lapses last and how big of an impact they have depends on how people interpret them.
Do you interpret those mistakes in a way that draws attention to them, makes you think about them more and starts to create a story that affects each subsequent attempt to catch the disc?
Or, do you deliberately try to interpret those moments in a way that deflects them or switches perspectives and allows you to do what you know how to do the next time the disc comes your way?
TODAY'S JOURNAL WORK:
1. Identify your story (and your Ultimate story)
-If you’re not really sure what your story is, start tuning in to your top-of-mind thoughts. Is there a pattern or theme there? What thoughts come to mind when you make a mistake? What do you imagine other people are saying about you in those moments? Is your Ultimate story different than your school story or your work story?
-If you already have a sense of your story, dig in a little deeper and tease it apart. How long has that story been with you? Where does it come from? Don’t be surprised if you encounter a little resistance from yourself in this process, that’s totally normal. This is where getting out of your comfort zone starts to produce real change.
2. Reflect on how it influences you
Is your story effective? Is it helping you moment-to-moment? Is it helping you somehow over-time? Or is it doing more harm than good? How is your Ultimate story influencing your play?
3. Decide what to do with it
If your story is helping you, you’ll most likely choose to keep it and perhaps even reinforce it. Identifying or clarifying that story can make sure you’re using it to your fullest advantage.
If your story is harming you, or is just not effective, you can decide if you would like to ditch it altogether or modify it a bit.
If you decide to ditch or change your story, try these strategies:
*Be sure to write the thoughts you have and your reflection on them in your journal.*
If you’re the kind of person who stays after practice to do a few extra sprints, you’re probably also the kind of person who wants to do more with your mental game. These “Extra Sprint” posts are just for you - extra, quick-hit activities to help you develop your mental game even faster.
Your assignment from the first post was to identify your biggest mental stumbling block and your biggest mental strength from last season. In this EXTRA SPRINT post, we’re going to build on that first assignment and gain greater self-awareness. It may sound boring or overly simple...but if we don’t know where we’re starting from, how can we get to where we want to go and how can we track our progress?
If you have questions, it is likely someone else does as well. Post your questions in the comments and I will answer them for everyone. Or, if you'd prefer, you can always contact me directly at Petra@PerformanceColorado.com or start a conversation on Facebook or Twitter
One last note: What you put in is what you get out. Be sure to set aside some dedicated time to complete this activity...it goes better than if your attention is divided.
Special thanks to my friends and beta-testers (Claire Chastain, Molly McKeon, Candace Yeh, Alyssa Kelly, Pogo, and Lauren DiCredico) for completing this activity in advance and providing valuable feedback!
This blog is devoted to helping you, the Ultimate player, develop the mindset, mental skills and mental toughness you want and need to perform at your best when it matters most.
Let's get started.
We’ve all been there - in that moment where we needed to be performing at the top of our game and we just couldn’t make it happen. It might have been at a tryout, a game against a rival team, the semi-finals of a tournament or the game-to-go to Nationals. Wherever it was for you, I’m guessing it wasn’t fun. I’m guessing it was frustrating and confusing.
You might be wondering why I’m starting on such an awesome note.
The reason is this: those moments when our performance matters most tend to come toward the middle or end of the season. And too often, we (as players and coaches) don’t think about the impact of our mental game on our performance until that moment - the one when we need to perform and we can’t. Sometimes, even if we know the importance of the mental game, we rarely take the time to train it properly and deliberately from the start of the season.
What you’ll need to start training:
-A journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should be something durable - something that can withstand the treachery of living in your Ultimate bag. Why? Because training your mind requires entering your mind, reflecting and doing something with what you find. You’ll want a place to keep notes and track progress.
-Hunger & humility. I’m excited to be your guide and your coach, but this entire process is really up to you. Be wary of those offering hacks or quick tricks to enhance your mental toughness. There is no shortcut and there are no hacks. Training your mind requires the same commitment, effort, and work as training your body. I’ll give you questions to reflect on, exercises to practice, and prompts to think about, but the progress you make depends on the work you put in. The work we do here together is about cultivating sturdy and effective habits.
Ready for your first assignment?
-Pull out your journal. Take a minute or two and reflect on your past couple seasons. What do you believe was your biggest mental stumbling block? What was your biggest mental strength?
This assignment is just to start developing your own self-awareness. But if you feel like sharing, I would love to hear what elements of the mental game you are most interested in working on this season and you might be suprised to hear that others have similar thoughts and questions. Feel free to post a comment below or email me at Petra@PerformanceColorado.com. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.
Hi! I'm Piers. I am an Ultimate player, spouse, parent, and human performance coach. My passion and my profession is to help individuals and teams perform at their best through research-based mental skills, resilience, leadership and team dynamics training.
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