It’s not every day that we get to publicly celebrate our clients, but today is one of those days.
The KC Current are playing for the NWSL CHAMPIONSHIP! It’s this Saturday and we’re so pumped! Yes, that’s the same KC Current club building the first ever women’s professional sports stadium. Trail-blazing for sure.
Dr. Sterling is honored to be working with the KC Current players on sport mindset and mental wellness this season. It’s so exciting to see their mental and physical training pay off.
While we love getting to celebrate this with all of you, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate ALL of our Sterling Sport Mindset clients.
gained insight and made changes from the initial consult alone.
got quick tips with our outside-of-session support over the weekend.
received their Playbook in the mail and start this week!
You’re doing great work out there.
We maintain your confidentiality, so you won’t see us posting about how you just qualified for state, beat your rival, committed to a college team, kept your cool when the calls didn’t go your way, or battled through some really tough challenges.
We don’t post about it, but we see it. And we’re so proud of you.
The mental game doesn’t get much press, but we know it’s a game changer, for your sport and your life. We’ve seen you make it happen.
Keep implementing your plans. We’re cheering you on!
It’s postseason time for spring sports. The time when the lights are bright. The moment your season and your goals are on the line. How’s your postseason mindset?
When you’re in these high stakes situations, things change. You’ve got to know what components of your mental game need to be adjusted and what needs to stay the same.
What Changes When the Lights are Bright
Adrenaline. During big competitions, you can count on adrenaline. Extra energy, extra jitters, heightened emotions.
Spotlight. In the postseason, there are more eyes on you. When you make it to the big games, you’ll notice that more people are watching/interested in the outcome than in the regular season.
Pressure. This shows up in your thoughts, feelings, and actions. The pressure can be real or perceived—they feel the same. It can be external (from teammates, coaches, spectators) or internal (from yourself, your high expectations, the goals you want to achieve).
More fanfare. In the postseason, there’s more going on. More people. Press, athlete, and coach passes needed. Bigger lines at the concession stands and bathrooms. T-shirts to buy. Might not seem like a big deal, but all of this signals to your brain that something is different here.
Longer travel. Change in event details. Once you make the postseason, odds are you’ll have a greater distance to travel and possibly a hotel stay. Postseason is also known for more rule enforcement and sometimes changes in how the event is run.
Now that you can anticipate these changes, you can make a postseason mindset plan. When we develop a Complete Mental Game Plan with our clients, they know what to do, when to do it, and how to adjust for the uncontrollable…not control it…but adjust accordingly.
What to Adjust & What to Leave the Same in YourPostseason Mindset
Let’s talk about a few components that you’ll want to adjust.
Intensity Level. This is the big one. Our athletes know what intensity level works best for them. They know how to hype themselves up or calm themselves down when needed. Taking into account the adrenaline that comes from playing on the big stage, you’ll need to look at how that’s changing your intensity. Do you play best at a 7, but know the environment alone will have you at a 9? Or maybe the build up had you too hyped too soon and now you’ve dropped to a 5. Check in with yourself. Do a quick body scan to see where you are and have strategies to get back to your zone.
Green Zone. This is the zone leading up to your performance. When they begin the timer or start keeping score, you’re in the gold zone. Gold zone doesn’t change, but the green zone will look different. Sterling Sport Mindset athletes have mapped out their green zone and know what they’re doing and what their target intensity level is in each zone. Know that those zones change for big competition days. You’re likely on the bus longer. There’s more going on in general. Your warm-up time might be extended or cut short. There may be extra rules or restrictions that weren’t enforced during the regular season. Take some time to think about these changes and where you want your energy and focus to be during each. Remember your “switch flip” and gold zone stay the same.
Imagery. Add details specific to this competition to your imagery. If you’ve competed there before, add in a few things you can remember from the venue. If not, add in what you know will be different, larger/louder crowd, etc. Make sure to include extra excitement in your imagery and seeing yourself settling into your optimal zone before you compete.
Now, here’s a few things that should 100% remain the same. Please don’t change these!
Taking out the Mind Trash & other Daily Mindset Tasks. If you work with us, you likely have daily mindset tasks like thought downloads, breathing exercises, activating thoughts, etc. Keep doing those. Sometimes when we need our routines the most is the time we let them go. Don’t let that be you. There may be extra excitement, extra practice, or fun send-off parties happening. Enjoy the moments, but stay focused on the goal. Keep doing the mental reps that got you to where you are.
Performance & Refocus Routines. Hopefully all of you reading this have a specific routine. If you’re a Sterling Sport Mindset athlete, I know you do! This 3 part (paired with a breath) routine should not change. We’ve developed it in a way that it’s available to you at every competition. No matter what, even when. The reason your routine is so powerful is because it can get you focused and in the right head space regardless of what’s going on around you. Don’t change it. Rely on it. – If you think this competition changes your routine, then you need a different routine, one that can be consistent at every competition. Your routine is gold. Use it.
Game Day You. Our athletes know their “Game Day You” the athlete you become when you take the field, approach the starting line, etc. If you’re not a Sterling Sport Mindset athlete yet, think of this as your alter ego. Who you become when it’s game time. Like your routine, this doesn’t change. You’re still going to flip the switch into Game Day You when you make the Green/Gold Zone transition. This allows you to be in the mindset you’ve planned for in this moment. Own it.
Bright lights and big competitions can feel daunting, but you simply need to know where to adjust and where to go all-in on your mental game plan. You’ve got this!
Game Day is Your Day.
The Sterling Sport Mindset Team
Competing in the postseason? Or have a plan to play in future big games? You’re in the right place to develop your postseason mindset! Schedule an initial consultation for our signature Complete Mental Game Program. We have immediate openings. Need after school or after practice sessions? We’ve got you!
Goal setting is one skill that seems like a no-brainer, right? In reality it’s often overlooked, avoided or goals are set too attainable (Don’t worry I’m going to explain what I mean.). Although goal setting is something we are told to do, I see it done ineffectively way too often.
Let’s start with “goal setting is overlooked”.
How many times have you thought about what you want to achieve or accomplish and that was it? There is your goal. You thought about it, and now you’re good to go.
Thinking about it is great. But as the kids say these days “it hits different” when your goal is written down and you lay out a plan to achieve that goal.
Writing it down makes you automatically accountable for your goal. When you write it down, it becomes real that this is really what you want to achieve and this is what you’re really going to work towards.
And don’t forget about the plan. While writing it down makes it real, creating a plan takes your goal to that next level of “realness”.
Your goal plan is like your own personal tour guide to achievement. Like a tour guide, your plan will tell you what’s on the itinerary. You’ll know what you need to do, how you need to show up, and the mindset needed to achieve your goal.
There are also people who want to set goals. They know the benefits, but they avoid it. Why?
Oftentimes there is a fear of failure. The thought that if they don’t set a goal, they can’t disappoint themselves or others. Or maybe they didn’t achieve a previous goal so now they think “what’s the point?” because they believe they aren’t ever going to achieve their goal.
Fact is, setbacks, obstacles and failure are NORMAL when going after your goals. We always see others celebrating once a goal is achieved, but you hardly ever see the obstacles and failures they had along the way. And spoiler alert: you WILL face adversity along the way!
So rather than avoiding your goals, write out what obstacles you might face along the way. What are the worries, doubts and fears you have when you think about your goal? Write it all out. Then, create a plan to overcome those obstacles, doubts and worries. And, take time to believe that you will overcome any obstacle. Believe that you will achieve your goal. Believe with a “no doubt about it” attitude.
Now I know most goal setting gurus will tell you to “set attainable goals”.
While I (sort of) agree with this, I want you to ask yourself if you’re selling yourself short? Are you lowering your goal to be attainable just to ensure that you do achieve it? Are you only setting goals that you know for certain you can achieve?
If you are, then you are holding yourself back from being the athlete you really want to be. If deep down you want to go for more and reach higher, but you talk yourself out of going for what it is you really want to go for, then you are holding yourself back.
Don’t talk yourself out of what you really want! Set goals that you are excited about, not goals that you have to talk yourself down to.
As a mental performance coach I know the importance of setting goals. It’s such a key aspect to success. No matter who you are or what your profession is, goals are beneficial if they are done right.
It’s track and field season for my family. This means I’m out of my office and at sport venues more frequently. Obviously, I love to cheer on my kids, but I also enjoy the chance to think sport psych while I’m there observing.
Both of my sons are on the high school varsity team, but they compete in very different events. My senior is a distance runner and my freshman is a thrower. While the events are very different, one thing that remains the same is the need for green/gold zone strategies.
What are green and gold zones, you ask? Read on!
The green zone is everything leading up to the event, right up until the moment it counts.
The gold zone is the game-on moment. It’s when the timer starts or the distance is measured.
Every athlete needs a green/gold strategy, but especially when your sport requires you to transition from green to gold and back several times during the competition.
Let’s stay with track and field. Running athletes have the time before and between races (green zone) and then the time when the gun goes off until they cross the finish line (gold zone). This happens for every race of the day (back to green then back to gold).
Throwing/jumping athletes have the time before their event begins (green zone), the moment they enter the ring/start their approach (gold zone), and the time between attempts (green to gold again).
While we’re using track and field as an example, softball, baseball, swimming, and several other sports also have frequent switches between green/gold zones.
Why is it important to differentiate between these zones?
The gold zone requires you to be “on.” You need to be in your “Game Day You” mindset. Focused, intentional, confident, and composed. If you’re doing that right, you can only stay there for brief periods of time. You’ll need to save that type of intensity for the gold zone.
The green zone is equally important, but less intense. This is where you start working up to your gold zone mindset. In track and field, the green zone starts with arriving at the track and progressively builds up in intensity as your event nears. When it’s the third & final call for your event, you should have yourself pretty close to locked in and at the hype level where you perform your best.
If you’ve done this right, it’ll allow you to save your energy and focus for the gold zone, which is when you need it.
How do you make your green/gold zone plan?
Write out all of the moments associated with your sport in chronological order. (e.g. on the bus, set up camp near the track, warm up, check-in, more warm-up, waiting for your heat/flight, compete)
Decide what intensity level is best for your performance. Then decide how you’ll build to that level throughout the green zone so that you’re there for the gold zone. (e.g. You like to compete at an 8. You’ll want to be at a 4-5 when you start warming up and a 7 when you’re waiting for your heat/flight)
Determine how you’ll get yourself there, what actions you’ll take during each green zone phase. (e.g. Have a playlist that gets more intense as the event gets closer. If you tend to get too hyped, have a plan to stay loose. If you need more focus, have some silent game-face time as the competition nears).
This green/gold exercise will help you get in the right zone at the right time while conserving energy, which is so important for success in longer competitions.
Now you’re ready to put this in action. You’ve got this!
Dr. Sterling & The Sterling Sport Mindset Team
Have questions? Want more help personalizing a plan for you specifically? That’s what we do!
Sport psychology/mental performance/sport mindset coaching…it’s called so many things!
Since even the field itself struggles with what to name it, we can only imagine how difficult it is for an athlete and their family to know what happens when they sign up.
When we meet with clients for the Initial Consult or a quick chat after a Team Talk, we often get asked, “So what does this actually look like?”
Well we thought we’d go over that with you today!
We can do this imagery style. Please read the following in your best imagery-style voice.
Imagine…you’re an athlete who has reached out to us. You might be experiencing the following:
Maybe you’re already killin’ it on the court, but you know that the mental game separates the good from the great, and you want to be great.
Maybe it’s all becoming a little much. The give-it-your-all, all-the-time sport culture is demanding and it would be amazing to talk to someone who gets it.
Maybe you’re experiencing some mindset challenges. You’ve always felt like you had a pretty good mental game, but something has shifted lately and you’d really (like seriously, today) appreciate the ability to regain your confidence.
Okay, do you see it? Picture yourself feeling those feelings, thinking those thoughts, and searching the internet for someone to help.
You’re kind of nervous about this whole process. You know that athletes work with sport mindset coaches, but you have no clue what that actually means.
Luckily, you find Sterling Sport Mindset! Okay, they really seem to understand. You’re feeling optimistic.
You schedule an initial consult at a time that fits your schedule. It’s so easy with the simple online scheduling system and a variety of times available. So far so good.
You click the link in the appointment confirmation email and you meet with the amazing Kelsey – Intake Coordinator Extraordinaire. You feel at ease. You feel relief. You know you’re in the right place.
During the consult, Kelsey goes over what it looks like to work together. The change in your mental game, the number of sessions, the awesome Playbook, outside of session support…it sounds perfect.
But you’re still a little unsure of what it looks like. You have questions like, What will we actually do in a session? Do we just talk? Do I have to prepare anything?
Let’s continue our imagery.
You’ve signed up and you’re pumped! You can already feel your mindset shifting, just knowing what’s ahead.
You receive a welcome packet in the mail, including the Complete Mental Game Playbook. You know this is legit. There’s a note inside, letting you know you’re free to look through the book, but that you’ll go through it with your sport mindset coach. Okay, awesome, still feeling great about this. Before the first session, you think about what’s going on for you now and the goals you want to achieve. You write a few things down, but know that you don’t have to. You’re feeling “prepared” for the first session.
When session time arrives, you feel excited. There’s no rush. No need to get online or to the office (for in-person KC clients) too early. The session begins right at session time.
In person KC clients, your coach walks you from the chill waiting room to the office. You have a seat on the comfy couch.
Online clients, you find a comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted then click the link to start the session.
You’re greeted by a smiling, welcoming sport mindset coach. You instantly feel at ease. Your coach explains more about the Complete Mental Game process and you know this is the right place!
No need to stress about the process. It feels like you’re just talking, even though it’s a game changing conversation. Your coach guides you by asking questions. You collaborate to develop your personalized game plan. You share your experiences. Your coach listens and shares techniques. Together, you decide what works best for you and your situation. You feel like you can really talk with your coach and that they’ll listen and help. It’s so good to have 50 full minutes dedicated to you and your mental game plan. It’s also great knowing that you can check-in with your coach via Voxer in between sessions. You feel so supported. Totally the right call.
And there you have it. You can read the rest of this in your regular voice.
Now that you know what it looks…and feels like, let’s get started!
New clients, you’ll schedule an initial consult today. Former clients, you can reach out to your coach or visit our contact page to start back up.
Imagine if you believed in yourself 100% every time you stepped on the field. What if you went into every game without a shadow of a doubt that you had all of the skills and abilities you need to be successful?
What would change for you?
Having unshakeable confidence will allow you to go out and play without questioning whether or not you’re going to make the right play. It will allow you to accept pressure and allow it to drive you rather than crush you. You won’t allow others expectations get in your head because you have a clear vision for yourself, and believe in that vision. Most of all, you will have fun on the field! You won’t be worried about judgement from others or making a mistake, allowing you to enjoy playing!
Having confidence in yourself on the field is a game changer. But where does confidence come from?
Some people assume confidence is something you either have or you don’t. As if one person is born with it and one person isn’t. That is a myth. Confidence can be developed just like any other skill. And it comes from you! It comes from the way you talk to yourself, the beliefs you have about yourself and the way you think about yourself.
When you’ve made doubting, worrying, and judging yourself a habit, it takes time to change that. Building confidence requires you to continue to form a new habit of lifting yourself up and becoming your own hype woman. But more than that it requires you to continually check in with yourself, celebrate your wins, believe in yourself, and talk to yourself as if you’re talking to your best friend.
This means letting go of constantly nagging yourself for making a mistake. You will need to let go of replaying the negatives rather than the positives. And you will need to learn to turn to yourself for positive feedback, rather than relying on other people to provide you with positive feedback.
So how do we build your confidence?
Remind yourself of what your strengths are rather than your weaknesses. You don’t need to continually remind yourself, “I can’t shoot with my left foot”. Write down a list of your strengths, what you are good at and ways that your strengths contribute to your team. Read through it daily!
Celebrate your accomplishments. After every practice and game, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “what did I do well today?”. Before you say, “nothing!”, force yourself to come up with a minimum of 3 things.
Relive past successes. Think of a time where you played your best and replay that in your mind. Think of the way you felt when you were playing. And relive that experience to remind yourself of what you’re capable of.
Create a routine that makes you feel confident going into your day. No matter what it is, we all have something that allows us to embrace the strong, powerful, and confident person within us. Listen to a song that lifts you up. Wear your hair a certain way that gives you confidence. Repeat a mantra to yourself that reminds you how great you are. Find what it is that allows you to hype yourself up and feel positive about yourself.
Building confidence is something that takes just as much dedication and effort that learning a new sport skill requires. You will be forming a new habit of embracing your strengths, celebrating your wins, and lifting yourself up!
I’m sure you have heard the saying “practice makes perfect”. This saying is meant to motivate individuals to continue practicing so that over time they will improve. While this phrase of striving towards perfection may motivate you as an athlete, does it create a mindset that embraces failure and setbacks as you work towards your goals?
The fact is, you will always be working towards perfection because perfection is unattainable. No one has ever woken up and said, “Well, I’m perfect, so I can stop practicing.”. There has always been more to strive for. That’s why records are constantly being broken and new heights of achievement are being reached.
While perfectionism can push you to be extremely motivated and hard working, your mental game will most likely suffer. So what happens when you get so focused on perfection that it holds you back from being great? This may sound familiar if you tend to be a perfectionist on the field.
Perfection in athletes can lead to low self-confidence. Have you ever made a mistake causing your confidence to go from 100 to 0 really quick?
You expect yourself to make zero mistakes. Unrealistic expectations can overload you with pressure and anxiety on game day.
You are extremely critical of yourself. After every game are you replaying all of the bad moments rather than celebrating the good ones?
The opinions of others are very important to you. You will oftentimes determine whether a performance was poor or good based on the feedback others give you, whether it’s a coach, teammate or parent.
Many athletes have some degree of striving for perfection, but it can become an issue when it affects your confidence, performance and ultimately enjoyment of your sport. So what can you do to combat any unrealistic expectations of perfection you have for yourself?
Give yourself permission to be imperfect! You have told yourself over and over “be better”, “don’t make a mistake”, “you have to perform well”, but have you ever given yourself permission to make a mistake? There has never been an athlete that hasn’t made a mistake before. Acknowledge this truth and give yourself permission.
After each game and practice write 5 things that you did well. Take time to acknowledge the positives before you can ruminate over the negatives.
When assessing how you played, talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend. So, if your best friend just played exactly as you did what would you tell her? My guess is that you would focus on the positives and hype her up. So do that for yourself!
Change your self-talk from “Don’ts” to helpful instructions. For example, instead of saying “Don’t strike out.”, tell yourself “Watch the ball hit the bat.”
Remember why you play. Why did you begin playing your sport? What do you love most about your sport? The answer to those questions can remind you of the joy and purpose your sport provides you with.
Having high standards as an athlete is a great attribute, but your standards shouldn’t be so rigid that you don’t allow room for failure and mistakes. Failure and mistakes are part of the process to becoming a better athlete. You will learn and improve the most when failure and mistakes occur. So embrace those times and give yourself the permission to allow them to happen.
Mindfulness has recently become a buzzword, but it is still oftentimes misunderstood.
When most people think of mindfulness they think of meditation or sitting in silence to “clear their mind”. While meditation is a form of mindfulness, there are many other ways you can practice mindfulness that provide benefits to your game.
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is really being in the here and now without judgement. It’s allowing yourself to be fully present in the moment. It is going through the present moment with purpose and intention, by focusing on your thought processes and how you are perceiving the world around you.
Mindfulness can be a simple practice that you implement within your day such as:
Stretching your body
Taking a few deep breaths
Paying attention to your senses (savoring the taste of food when eating, paying attention as you brush your teeth)
Looking around and noticing your surroundings
Turning off your phone for an hour
You may be thinking, “Okay and how does being mindful apply to me as an athlete?”.
Mindfulness helps you to get out of your head and in the game. It allows you to focus on what is important in each moment, rather than a past mistake or things outside of your control. Mindfulness helps to ease performance anxiety, by slowing down your thoughts and letting go of detrimental thinking. It also helps you process difficult emotions and become less reactive when emotions like anger and frustration arise within a game. It can also help you be more positive and optimistic about your circumstances.
After a game have you ever thought to yourself, “I was in the zone today.”? Most likely you were out of your head and playing present. You were allowing yourself to be fully immersed in the game from moment to moment. That is a result of being mindful and being in the present moment. If you have not experienced this or do not experience it enough, try implementing some of these mindfulness practices into your routine.
Here are some of my favorite mindfulness techniques for athletes to implement into their routines in order to help them play more present.
Deep breathing. Take a few deep breaths, focus on filling your belly with air as you breath in through your nose, then slowly breathe out through your mouth. As you breathe in, say “In”, and as you breathe out, say “Out”. This can be done anytime; at practice, during a game, at home. Deep breathing allows you to slow down and focus your attention on the action of breathing in that exact moment.
Stretch. Take time to stretch your body, and notice where you feel tight. Then, observe that tension being released throughout the process. Focus on one area of your body at a time and feel your body getting loose as you go through this process.
Gratitude. Write down 5 things you are grateful for each day. Gratitude allows you to remain in a positive mindset by appreciating what you have on your way towards what you want.
Journal. Write down your accomplishments, what you are doing well, what you could improve on, a lesson you learned. Or use journaling to get your thoughts out of your head and on paper. Journaling helps you to get you in the present by letting go of thoughts and negativity that can cloud your mind.
Turn off your devices. Give yourself some time away from social media, the tv or texting. Allow yourself to use that time away from technology to be more present. Go watch the sunset, have a conversation with someone and listen intently, find other forms of entertainment (read, play a board game, do a puzzle).
If you would like to talk about mindfulness and how it can help you get your mind to work for you rather than against you, schedule an initial consult today.
Championships, season changes, and soaking it all in. It’s that time of year for fall sport athletes. Time for re-dedication and sometimes re-direction to whatever comes next. Before you re-dedicate or re-direct, don’t skip the reflection.
What was the story of your season? Have you taken time to think about it?
Before the season started you probably spent a lot of time dreaming about how it would go. Your hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the season.
When it’s over, we sometimes get in that “okay, next one” mindset and jump to the next season without stopping to take it all in.
Soak It All In
You’ve probably been told by many former athletes to “soak it all in.” “You’ll look back on these days and wish you had really enjoyed it.” You may have dismissed this wise advice and mumbled something about “look who’s trying to re-live their glory days.” Maybe. That might be part of it. But maybe they’re onto something.
As a member of the former athlete club myself, here’s my advice: Before you say “okay next,” it really is a good idea to stop and “soak it all in.”
Now that the former athlete in me has given you sage advice, the sport psychologist in me will explain how to do this. Just like I wouldn’t tell you to FOCUS! without following it up with details, I won’t do that here either.
At Sterling Sport Mindset, we don’t just talk sport lingo, we break it down and make it doable. How does one “soak it all in?” Here you go.
The Story of Your Season
Set a timer for 30-60 minutes.
Find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be interrupted. This can also be done on a solo walk/run if that’s more your thing.
Close your eyes (if you’ve chosen the sitting option) and take yourself back…
The day before practice began:
What were your goals, hopes, fears, worries?
How was Day 1?
What was your mindset as you thought about the season ahead?
Where you excited, nervous, ambitious, focused, driven?
What beginning of season message from your coach stuck with you?
What were those early competitions like?
What funny moments did you have with your team?
How about the tough times?
Which memories will you never forget?
How did your goals shift?
How did the rivalry go? Was it your year or theirs?
End of season:
Did you achieve your goals? Crush them? Fall short?
How did that last competition feel? What emotions came up?
Think about the final whistle, the last play, the finish line.
What hit you in that moment?
What will you take away? Build on? Grow from?
Soak it all in.
When the timer goes off, jot down any insight you want to remember.
Take a mental snapshot or a highlight video of the season.
Breathe for a moment.
Then celebrate. Celebrate regardless of how the season turned out. You earned that season and the season deserves to be celebrated.
Tell your story. Soak it all in. Celebrate!
Reward yourself for your effort. Doesn’t have to be big, but it needs to be intentional. Here are a few idea that our clients have done recently.
Get your favorite Starbucks drink & savor it. Congratulate yourself with the first sip.
Spend an afternoon doing all of your favorite everyday-type things.
Buy a small item that represents this season and all of the effort you put in.
Print (yes, actually print–or order it online) and frame a photo that captures your fondest season memory.
However you choose to celebrate the story of your season, make sure to soak it all in.
An important step in many mental performance exercises is something very simple. So simple that we do it all the time without even noticing, and at times it can fly under the radar. Because of this, it is in my opinion that:
the BREATH is FAR TOO UNDERRATED.
Breathing is hands down one of the most important things anyone can do. I mean, it is one of the things that is needed to stay alive after all. So, tell me it’s not important, because you will lose in that argument. Not only do you need it to live, but it is a focus point during workouts, yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. It is also a big factor in mental performance techniques and one that we here at Sterling Sport Mindset go over in our Pregame to Podium team talks. For example, when you have a routine, you do your three steps and then what do you pair it with??
When you are working on only focusing on the things you can control, what’s one thing you can control?
What is one thing that is used to help reduce anxiety, stress, and calm your nerves?
You probably know the answer by now but I’ll say for the ones in the back…
Now don’t start feeling bad for not giving the breath all the credit it deserves. It wasn’t until I joined SSM that the importance of breathing was even brought to my attention. It wasn’t until I attended my first team talk as an intern that I had even heard about belly breathing. Then, when I start practicing mindfulness I learned how to properly breath from my diaphragm instead of my chest. Ever since, breathing has helped me tremendously and is my biggest go-to in high pressure situations.
Since breathing is something we do without even having to think about, it’s easy to see why it’s something we can forget to do at times when it is needed most. Adding breathing exercises into your daily routine can be a beneficial habit to have. Another trick is to have a key word that you and a friend could say to each other as a reminder to take a step back from a situation and breathe. A friend and I like to use the word snowball. Sounds kind of funny, but to me it makes sense. To avoid the snowball effect of things escalating to quickly, the word snowball helps remind us to pause for a second and just take a deep breath.
So, use key word snowball or any word of your choosing to remind yourself and others when it’s time to take a nice deep breath. Work those breathing exercises into your daily life, and maybe even think twice before hitting the dismiss button when your watch tells you it’s time to breathe (Apple Watch owners will understand this reference).
Ready to learn how to incorporate the breath in your mental game? Schedule an initial consult today!