If you’re here today, it’s because you’re ready to find out how to play your best more consistently.
Before we dive in, I want to remind you that there is no quick fix.
This blog isn’t about me telling you some magic formula or inspirational words that make you mentally tough and a better player. This blog is about the work you’re willing to put in to get better. I remind you of that because today’s post is comprised mostly of activities and questions that you have to complete on your own. The more deliberate you are about this process, the better able you’ll be to perform at the top of your game more often – but it’s likely going to take some time and effort on your part.
If you're still ready, take out your journal because today's post is almost all journal work!
TODAY'S JOURNAL WORK:
The first step to being “switched on” more consistently is knowing what “switched on” feels like for you. After all, how can we get to our destination if we don’t know what that place is?
Pause and do some imagery: Close your eyes and think about those times you’ve felt like you were “switched-on” or “in the zone” – those times when things seemed easy, everything just flowed, you played to the top of your potential. You weren’t thinking about yourself or your performance…you were just doing. As you watch yourself in those great performances, tune-in to:
Once you’re done with your imagery (or perhaps even as you go along) write down answers to each of the prompts above. Don’t judge yourself for what you write down – everyone is different. Some people feel super physically amped up, some people feel calm. Some people feel positive emotions and some people perform best when they’re angry. This is about you and what helps you perform at your best. Take your time on this activity. Repeat the imagery if necessary because this is the critical data that will help you better understand what “switched on” feels like for you.
Now that we’ve got some raw data about what “switched on” feels like for you, let’s fine-tune the data to gain greater understanding.
For each word you wrote down above (physical, emotional, and mind) rate how strongly you want to feel each of those things on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is low and 10 is high) in order to perform at your best. Once you rate each word, rank order them from high (these things are really important for me to feel to play at my best) to low (these things play a role in my optimal performance, but a less significant one).
What you should have in front of you is a profile of sorts. You should be looking at a description of what you feel like when you perform at your best. Hopefully, looking at this profile brings you a sense of certainty – like, “Yeah, that’s how I feel when I play my best and that’s how I want to feel more often!”
For some people, simply completing this profile is enough to help you get to this place more often. This is most likely because having this awareness in your mind will prompt you to subtly shift the way you prepare. Like I said before, if you know where you want to go you’ll have a better idea of how to get there.
While this intuitive shift in preparation is a good start, the next few blog posts will help you to become even more deliberate in shifting your preparation including recognizing when you’re not in the right place and how to adjust accordingly.
When I work with individuals and teams, I often start by asking them to vividly imagine and compare two past experiences: one of their worst performances ever and one of their best. Then I ask what the difference was between these two performances: was the difference more physical/technical/tactical or was it more mental/emotional?
Athletes overwhelmingly answer that the difference was mostly mental and emotional.
On their worst day, they had all the same skills as their best day, but they weren’t “ready.” They weren’t in the right mindset. They were distracted. They couldn’t muster the right level of energy – they were either too pumped up or not pumped enough. They felt sluggish. They were stuck thinking about personal stuff. Whatever it was – they weren’t ready…they weren’t “switched on.”
And the thing is, not being “switched on” might not result in your worst performance, but it might result in a simply average performance.
My next line of questioning goes something like this: Do you know what it feels like to be “switched on”? What I mean is…are you aware of how you want/need to feel at the start of a game to increase your chance of playing “in the zone”? How confident are you in your ability to be “switched on” at the beginning of a game? Are you in control? Do you have some kind of plan to get yourself to that point or do you leave it to chance?
If you're sitting there thinking you don't know what it feels like to be switched on and you don't know for sure how to get there...don't worry. Most athletes I work with – even the most elite – often do not know how they want/need to feel at the beginning of a game and they often leave that feeling to chance.
Stay tuned for the next post and leave a note on Facebook if you have any questions or comments you’d like me to address specifically in the ‘switched on’ post!
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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