By Lisa Brown
Whenever I would choke, my coach, Dad, or sport psychologist would tell me that all I need to do was believe in myself.
They would say things like, “You’re a great athlete, why are you second-guessing yourself like this? Just go out there and play the way you KNOW you can.”
If so, you know how ridiculously superficial and UNHELPFUL this advice is.
Fortunately I refused to give up on figuring out the sports psychology mindset needed to win under pressure.
What I soon realized is that rather than ignore the fact that you’ve choked, you need to ask yourself WHY you choked.
Here’s a typical case study from a real athlete I worked with:
“Lisa I won the first match and was up 18-12 in the second. I just needed three points to close it out. But I got anxious. I hit the bird into the net and then out. He got momentum, I got frustrated, I ending up losing the tournament. Lisa I need more mental strength.”
–Branden, badminton player
Can you see Branden’s MAJOR problem?
What he’s missing?
He’s doing what 97% of athletes do. He’s thinking about the fact that he got nervous and choked.
And he’s putting himself down for choking.
He forgot to ask WHY he got so nervous.
If you try to fix your sport mental game without answering this question first, you’ll spin your wheels forever.
So I asked my badminton player the one question he WASN’T asking: “What was happening in this match that made you so nervous?”
Turns out his opponent was a long time rival.
Branden beat him five months ago by moving him around the court.
See, Branden’s a smart player. He’s quick. He specializes in exhausting the other player so he can’t get shots back.
That’s how he won five months ago.
But then the inevitable happened.
After he got beat, Branden’s rival got mad.
Then he got better.
When he saw Branden again, he was returning Branden’s shots.
This unnerved Branden, who counts on his opponent not being able to get the bird back.
And here’s the truth: There’s a story behind every match, every game, and every race.
There are physical, technical, and tactical REASONS why one side wins.
There aren’t many flukes in sport.
That’s why it’s so sweet when you win.
But Branden forgot to dig up the story.
He didn’t want to face the story.
But that’s how you prevent choking, my friend.
When you get scared, you need to figure out WHY you’re so scared.
There’s usually a very good reason, and it’s often technical, strategical, or physical.
Something is happening out there that’s making you scared.
Once you know what it is, your power is back. You’re now in a position to solve the problem.
Ignore the problem, and your nerves will only get more intense.
That’s why you need to learn the psychology in sport you need to emotionally prepare yourself for every scenario.
Lisa Brown is the founder of the Courage to Win and is considered the world’s leading expert on deep mental toughness for success in career, love, and sport. She has personally coached over 7,200 achievers to new heights and conducted over 1,300 live seminars on mental toughness across North America. She has been featured by major media including the New York Times and Entrepreneur Magazine, who called the Courage to Win “a straight-forward guide to success, highly recommended.” To get your free guide chock full on how to improve your baseball mental toughness click here. And click here for your free guide on how to improve your soccer mental toughness.
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