This post was first published on Upwind Ultimate's Health Blog and can still also be found there at: www.upwindultimate.com/health
I’m guessing at some point in your Ultimate or athletic career, you’ve heard advice like this:
“Keep your head in the game!”
“The only point that matters is this point!”
“Stop worrying about the past or thinking about the future, just stay in the now!”
Were you able to do it on command? Or were you left wondering how to do it?
If you’re in that latter group of people left wondering how to keep your mind in the present instead of wandering back to the past or into the future, I’ve got a quick exercise you can use to train your mind to come to the present moment on command.
The exercise itself is simple and often works in the moment you need it. However, for the most lasting effects and to develop the most control over your mind, I highly recommend practicing regularly. I’ve suggested a few example times to use this exercise below, and would love to hear from you all about when/where you find it most useful!
TODAY'S JOURNAL WORK:
The Grounding Exercise
Anytime you would like to be grounded in the present moment, wherever you are, think of…
3 things you can see
3 things you can hear
3 things you can physically feel
For example, at a tournament this might sound like:
See: my teammates, people’s stuff on the sidelines, and the green grass.
Hear: cheers and sideline talk near and far away, cars driving by the fields, and some team’s block rocker playing music.
Feel: the heat of the sun, the slight breeze, and the earth under my cleats.
Suggested moments to practice Grounding:
-Right when you arrive
-When you are cleating up
-When your coach/captain is about to explain a drill or strategy
-As you’re throwing to warm-up
-When you first arrive at your field
-Anytime you start to feel a little nervous or jittery
-Between points or games as a ‘reset’ button
-On the line before the pull
-While you’re driving
-When you’re working out
-At school/the office when you’re overwhelmed
-Anytime you find your mind somewhere else when you’d rather be in the present
**A super-cool bonus to this exercise is that you can use it with another person. If you notice a teammate zoning out, overwhelmed or unable to focus, ask if you can walk them through an exercise to help them come back to the present. You might be surprised at the results!**
Into the Unknown
This post came to mind when a friend text me and said he was “getting in his head” about playing at Master’s Nationals next weekend. When I asked him what was specifically going on in his head, he said he was worried about playing with new people he didn’t know and that he won’t be good enough.
I’m guessing there’s a lot of us out there in a similar position: worried about the unknown.
For all of you out there who are facing some ‘unknowns’ this upcoming weekend at Master’s Nationals – or for anyone who has ever, or will ever, head into a situation where things are unknown – this one’s for you.
Maybe it’s that we have never played with this team before and we don’t know if we’ll have fun or how we will fit in or whether we’re good enough. Maybe it’s that we haven’t played at this high of a level before, or if we have it has been a while. Maybe tiny humans or a new job or school demands have prevented us from training as rigorously and seriously as we are used to.
…and we don’t know how any of these things are going to play out over the weekend.
Here’s the thing:
Playing with new people might be awkward/scary/no fun OR it could be comfortable/awesome/super fun. You won't know ‘til you get there.
As for your skill, you might not be 'good enough' or you might be totally good enough/top of roster. You won't know ‘til you get there.
The same goes for any other unknown element on your mind: you won’t know ‘til you get there.
You don't know whether those things will slide your way you way or not, but what you can make slide your way is your mind. You can control whether your mind is helping you or hurting you, how you prepare and how you show up physically, mentally and emotionally on Friday.
TODAY’S JOURNAL WORK:
To propel your mind down a helpful path, write out a list of all of your strengths:
*Physical strengths (speed, height, quickness, throws, etc),
*Mental/emotional strengths (field sense, composure, fire, etc)
*Interpersonal strengths (friendly, peacemaker, good communicator, etc).
It might feel uncomfortable or challenging to list out your own strengths. This is likely because we are often taught not to ‘toot our own horn’ or to ‘be humble.’ So let me be clear: I’m not saying to create a list of your strengths and then post it to Facebook or print it on a t-shirt. I’m just asking you to take inventory for your own self-awareness. If you’re still having a hard time, I highly suggest talking to someone who knows you well and asking for their input.
This is the list of things you bring with you no matter where you go or who you play with. It can even be helpful for non-Ultimate situations.
Being deliberate about knowing your strengths and keeping them top of mind can help you be yourself and play to your potential - that's all you can control and all you can ask for.
Best of luck to everyone headed to Master’s Nationals (see you there!), Heavyweights, and any other tournament this weekend!
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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