Dr. Robert Heller’s Mind-Body Newsletter
“Strategies for Performing at Your Best in Sports and In Life”
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Nothing Succeeds Like Success”
Confidence is built upon succeeding at gradually and progressively more challenging tasks. Too little challenge and the success become meaningless. Too much challenge and frustration builds up leading to a lack of effort and an assumption of failure.
This month, why not set a goal and break it down into smaller tasks of increasing difficult that you can reasonably expect to succeed in with a consistent amount of moderate effort.
This week, PBS featured a story of a former female soccer star who upon learning that a scout for the Olympic team was watching her play, “choked” and missed blocking a relatively easy ball in her position as goalie. Although she didn’t make the Olympic team, she turned the disappointment into a quest to understand and manage the problem of “choking” not only within herself but for the thousands of people who choke, freeze up or under perform whether it be on the playing field, taking a test or speaking in front of an audience. She is now making it her life’s work to develop strategies for performing at your best.
One of her experiments evaluated the effectiveness of “journaling” in improving performance. She divided up a group high school students who were nervous about taking their biology test. The control group did not receive any treatment while the experimental group was asked to write about their fears and worries for 10 minutes just before the start of the test. The result was that the control group scored n average of B- on their test, while the experimental group scored an average of B + on their test.
It would seem then, that the act of writing about one’s fears and worries, reduces the anxiety and results in an improved performance.
Performing at Your Best
Tennis great Roger Federer is a great person to investigate when seeking strategies to perform at your best. He uses a strategy commonly found in yoga and meditation practices, “being in the present moment”. According to Federer, “I try to stay very much in the present tense. To think only about the moment I am in the point and to not even think about that if I can.”
Of the many excellent strategies to perform at your best, “forgetting” is my favorite. In the heat of battle, great players look forward and not back. When you turn off the volume of your television and just look at the body language, it is very difficult to tell if the player has won or lost the point. Their emotional expression remains relatively unchanged. As soon as the point is over, it’s over. They are already focused on the next shot. So, work on “selective forgetting”.
The workshop of Yoga and Sports: Blending yoga and psychology for improved results, is being re-scheduled for February.
Dr. Robert Heller was recently interviewed by USTA magazine regarding his sports psychology consulting with tennis players. You can view the article on www.mentalskillstennis.com
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