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Do you choke under pressure

We are all skilled at what we do. We are so good at some of the things we do, we perform them without even thinking sometimes.

Take walking for example.

For most of us, we stand up and put one foot in front of the other but this has always been the case. Think about a toddler learning to walk. Walking isn’t natural for them. They have to learn to pull themselves up, learn to stand alone, and take a few tentative steps with lots of falls in between.

Only months later, the coordination of the mind and body allows the toddler to walk safely and competently.

Simple yes?

Not always because although we learn skills proficiently, we don’t always execute them correctly especially under pressure.

In sport, we call this choking.

Imagine this scenario.

You are due to take part in a race, competition or match, you have trained hard and if you have a routine, you know it well.

However, when you finally take part, you start to overthink it. You start making mistakes or get tired, you think some more, and you lose your train of thought and start telling yourself, you aren't good enough.

You get ‘Paralysis by analysis'

Don’t worry there are some powerful techniques that you can use to stop overthinking.

Keep it simple:

When I am working with my gymnasts, I help them to contain their thoughts to just one main focus just before they execute the skill. Many use the word “Stick” to help them stick a landing.

You can do the same in any performance situation.

You can use words such as ‘Confident’, ‘Composed’ or ‘Relax’. This will get you in the right state of mind and focus on your manner rather than the pressure.

Stop using negative words:

We have all been there. We are waiting to speak to someone important or doing a presentation and we start telling ourselves:

‘Don’t mess up ’
‘Stop being a D**k ’
‘I can’t show that I am nervous’

The mind doesn’t recognise words such as ‘Don’t, Stop and Can’t’ so guess what you are telling yourself!

Do this exercise:

‘Stop thinking about Chocolate!’

What are you thinking about?

CHOCOLATE!

Think about what you want to happen and it may well happen.

MIND Dump:

If you find that you are overthinking. Get into the habit of mind dumping.

This is your moment to write down all of those negative thoughts and get them out of your head.

If you do think after a 10-minute mindfulness session, you will be amazed at how much you will write down.

Then replace the thoughts with positive intentions, visualise them, and make them come alive.

This way you will focus only on the task at hand and not your limiting thoughts.

If you are an adult that takes part in sport or fitness, I have just set up a new Facebook Group Sport Psychology for Adult Athletes I would love you to join us. I have set it up as I understand that as adults we do sport for different reasons than youth and elite sport.


However, if you are in this category, you can join The Mental Performance Hub For Sport

Much Love

Jox

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How to overcome the Yips in Tennis

Every time he played a competitive match, his backhand shot disappeared?

 

Liam had been playing tennis since he was 7 years old. He was excellent at it… He was told that he had so much potential.

Until he hit his teenage years, his backhand shot became inconsistent.

He was able to compensate when he was playing in the junior league but when he went to university, he could no longer able to disguise it.

He would play against other students and every time the pressure to win came up, he messed up his backhand.

 “WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?”

He got so frustrated with himself. He knows that he is better than some of the players” but for some reason, he could not get his backhand to work when it matters.

He began to doubt his ability and it was creeping into his coaching job as he would mess up when giving a demonstration which for him was humiliating and embarrassing.

He was beginning to wonder if it was worth carrying on.

So he came to see me

THE YIPS

When we first met, we came on the topic of the yips.

He had heard of the yips but he didn't know what it was.

We spoke about it being a loss of a skill that you have already mastered. Some call it a mental block, but in tennis and golf, it is better known as the yips.

Technically, you don't actually lose it, it just that you train for years to perfect a simple skill like the backhand, and then one day—out of nowhere—it starts to be inconsistent, you get stress and the skill gets worse.

For some, it is a blip and part of the learning process, the skill comes back on its own and the player just gets on with it.

IS THIS PHYSICAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL?

The yips is more likely to affect experienced players rather than beginners. These skills are usually established skills and the muscle memory is imprinted in the brain. This enables us to perform the skill automatically.

Then something happens and the skill disappears. We start to overthink it. we start to panic and we start to wonder if are doing something wrong, do I need to change my grip?

This makes it worse!

What happens is paralysis by analysis.

HOW IS IT CAUSED?

The main cause of a skill loss, not a change in technique but the anxiety caused when you make the mistakes over and over again. We think that when we master skills, it is there forever but even when we have consolidated a skill, at times it will disappear from our memory just like when we forget where we have put our phone down. 

However when it happens again… The anxiety and over-thinking increase, and you’re in this downward spiral of thinking we can't do it anymore.

As this then creates an inconsistent performance, we start focusing on the loss skill instead of the rest of the performance. We create tension that affects the fine motor muscles, our confidence suffers, and self-doubt kicks in. 

THE 5 STEP PROCESS

SELF-AWARENESS: 

The first thing you need to do is to get a journal and create a log of your thoughts, actions, performance, etc. Do this for at least 2 weeks and look for patterns, particular language you tell yourself, and your emotions.

STOP TELLING YOURSELF THAT YOU HAVE THE YIPS

So many people say that they have a mental block, the yips or anxiety. You do not have it, you do it.

Tell yourself that you do the yips as this distracts the condition from you as a person. 

EMOTIONAL REGULATION

All sports have different optimal points of emotional regulation for optimal performance.

For example in tennis, you need to have a higher energy point for serving than if you are doing a drop shot which needs more precision.

If you go over this energy point, your performance will suffer. 

Discover what is your optimal level of energy for your best performance and learn to regulate at this level during pressured situations.

RELAXATION

We have spoken about regulating your emotions for optimal performance, relaxation is a great way to learn how to relax and relieve tension. Strategies like progressive relaxation and breathing techniques can help bring down your levels of anxiety to a more productive level.

VISUALISATION

What we know about the mind is that it doesn't know what is real and what is imagined, visualisation can be very effective to help improve performance. What people don't realise is that when they are worried about a particular skill not working, you are reinforcing the error.

Therefore it is important to start imagining performing the skill correctly and how it changes your performance. This way you are reinforcing the performance you want and not what you don't want.

When you follow these steps, you will see a huge difference in your performance and the yips will subside once you change your focus.

 

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Worry Monsters

A few weeks ago, my daughter came home from school raving about a worry monster that the teacher had brought in to use with their children.

The concept is that they write down their worries on paper and feed the monster (He has a zip on his/her mouth. When the child is asleep the monster eats the letters and the worries disappear.

I know that some of my clients use worry dolls, the worry monster I guess is the next step as it allows parents to support their children on a higher level.

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Coping with competition nerves (Not our child's nerves, our own

Who relates to this? Your child has their first competition. They are excited and looking forward to show everyone how good they are. You, however, are a nervous wreck. So, what can you do with coping with your competition nerves?

Here are a few things that may help. Firstly, it is ok to feel nervous for your child. Anxiety happens because we care, and we want our child to do well. However, this could be detrimental to their performance as you could be transferring your nerves onto your child or cause a distraction!

So what can you do to calm these nerves and support your child to be super confident?

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Every Day you see a cow

 

About 8 years ago, I read that every day, each and every one of us see a cow in our daily life.  At first, I thought as I live in the suburbs away from fields and farms, I couldn’t even recall when I last saw a cow, never mind seeing one every day. What I hadn’t been doing is opening my mind to all the different places that I see a cow without realising it. As it was now in the forefront of my mind, I started to notice cows everywhere. The point is that the phenomenon wasn’t about seeing real cows in a field, it was about seeing cows in my fridge, on TV adverts and in films and TV programmes that I was watching. What I found most amazing what the fact that I went past a sign with a cow on it every time I visited my dad, yet until I heard this comment, I had never noticed it. Now, my 6-year-old daughter is shouting “There’s a cow mummy” practically every day.

Law of attraction has been around for hundreds of years and ‘The Secret’ has been watched or read by many people believing that if they ask the universe for what they desire, they will manifest this into their lives. Whilst this is true (I know this, as I have manifested numerous things since I discovered ‘The Secret’), there is a lot more to it than that.

IN ORDER TO HAVE WHAT WE WANT IN LIFE, WE MUST CHANGE HOW WE THINK.

Below are a few ways to create a wealth of desires in your life:

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