Maintaining Your Positive Focus
One of the toughest times in any sport is dealing with those uncertain moments during the heat of competition when something can happen which triggers your mind into a sudden bout of negativity. This often tends to get magnified (to the power of 10) during performance, because they’re combined with powerful emotions that are taking place within you while you compete.
Your conscious mind can suddenly begin throwing thoughts of doom and gloom at you, telling you all kinds of horrible stuff such as “you are not good enough”, that you’re not going to win, that it’s all slipping away, the world is falling, etc etc.... I think you probably know what I mean - because everyone experiences it!
Negative Thoughts are Natural
Negative thoughts can happen at all kinds of different times during an event, which can affect different competitors more than others – for instance, for some it might happen after making a mistake, or getting a bad call by an official, for others it might be being behind in the score – there are many times when these thoughts can hit you, sometimes even for no real apparent reason.
These events are actually quite natural and common – but when they happen, it's important to remember they are not the end of the world as we know it! 99% of the time negative thoughts are simply our emotions reacting, exaggerating, and blowing the whole thing out of proportion – and everyone goes through this for moments here and there during performance, and the good news is that it definitely happens to all your opponents as well!
So this means that if you happen to become the one who can control these moments better than the others, you will naturally have an edge on them in competition. So first of all, part of the natural ‘process’ of victory can often mean experiencing various setbacks along the way - some days more than others.
Bouncing Back from Setbacks
Whenever these setbacks occur, we have an immediate choice – we can either react negatively to them and allow it to affect the next 5 or 10 minutes of our performance, which magnifies the event even further and hands the opponent a welcome boost – or otherwise we can get straight back into it - channelling all that emotion into our performance instead, so that you come roaring back better than ever.
You see, when setbacks occur, your conscious mind will try and test you out to see if you have the power and the spirit to fight back, and turn the result around – it is a challenge, a test, of who you are and what you are made of.
There are no more powerful times than these which separate the true champions from the rest – as they test your ability to come roaring back, stronger than ever, at times when many can become swallowed up with frustration and sometimes even give up, blaming anyone or anything they can think of, and coming up with thoughts such as “oh well, its just not our day”. Champions are programmed differently to everyone else – they simply never, ever allow themselves the luxury of thinking like this.
It 'Aint Over Till It's Over
Champions never accept defeat unless the performance is completely finished, over, and the result is decided - even if its only one or two minutes out from the finish – they know that while the game is alive, they have the ability to turn absolutely any situation around, and can still pull off a miraculous result, which most would not dare dream of, or contemplate ever achieving.
Champions also know that when their opponents are ahead, they can also be at their weakest and most susceptible to an aggressive comeback – because they may be beginning to experience those nice, cosy thoughts that they are going to run off as the winners that day, and so they might just take their foot off the gas rather than continuing to compete as they have been.
These are the vital times when true champions strike back, and show what they are made of – and pull off miraculous wins which can even eventually become folklore and talked about for many seasons to come.
Opponents often make the big mistake of not always showing the true level of respect that champions deserve, sometimes expecting their opposition to just ‘roll over and die’ when behind, rather than fighting back – but under-estimating the power of a champion is exactly what champions use to their advantage, often securing amazing victories even when it may feel like the first half of the performance can feel like a complete disaster.
During times such as these, it’s often the last minutes when champions truly show their opponents, and everyone watching, just what they are made of. So it is important to become amazingly skilled in the powerful art of bouncing back – overcoming negatives, snatching success from the jaws of defeat, coming roaring back when all looks lost, coming up with the goods at times when it counts most, and achieving miraculous turn-around victories that will have everyone talking about them for months.
Mastering Your Emotions and Thoughts
The key to work on is to become a master of remaining rock solid and in control mentally and emotionally throughout the performance, regardless of whatever happens, as this keeps their level at a consistently high standard throughout – while your opponents will experience the usual emotional rollercoaster ‘highs and lows’ which will also give them similar results.
So when your opponent is a long way ahead, it's not so much how you ‘feel’ about it but your REACTION to it that makes all the difference – which must be to instinctively come roaring back, stronger, better, faster, and more powerful than ever.
Another champion quality is to never dwell negatively upon the past which cannot be changed, or never bask in self-pity about the things that don’t go your way - instead go into ACTION mode - remain totally and 110% focused, positive and ‘in the moment’, and supercharge your levels of motivation, morale and performance to their highest levels.
When setbacks occur, these are the times when champions increase their levels of positive talk, focus and determination – going on a ‘quest’ for ultimate success. Always remember that champions use setbacks to make themselves even stronger.
These are the defining moments which allow champions to finally prove to themselves and everyone else, what they are truly capable of. Once word gets around that you are a competitor who simply never, ever gives up – like a ‘Terminator’ who never stops until you succeed - then it means that you will go out there with an automatic psychological edge over all your opponents – who will always know that they are in for a heck of a tough time every time they compete against you.
Once this happens, it can instil that four letter word - fear - into the opposition, even before they go out there to compete – just like all of the greatest champions of the ages have always done, whenever they competed. Champions fear nobody – and the key is to get everyone to fear you, through your actions, attitude, and performances.
Champions throughout all sports possess the unmistakeable ability to dig deep at the most crucial times, and do extraordinary things that no-one is expecting – and this what gives them this mystical 'X factor' that brings fabulous levels of success. They are fuelled by an unquenchable and relentless will to win – but the vital key is to develop it in training, to make it an everyday habit, so you can freely access it whenever you need it.
Make It A Habit in Training
Practice developing this quality every time you train, putting in that extra effort, extracting 110% from yourselves and each other in every session – pushing each other to even greater heights – and becoming familiar with deepening your vast well of inner power and resources, which you can draw power from whenever you need it in competition - and getting your mind and body accustomed to using it so that it becomes second nature to fight back and win if you ever need to.
This develops your will to win until it becomes an ingrained habit that follows you to training and competitions every time you go out there - in fact, it simply becomes a part of who you are. dont worry, your inner resources are virtually endless - the more you dip into your vast well of inner power, the deeper it becomes.
The very thought of giving up never enters a champions thoughts. In fact, more importantly - they never even consider taking their foot off the accelerator, not even for a moment. They possess an attitude of absolute relentlessness that powers everything they do. This attitude of relentlessness is something along the lines of:
"I will never at any time, ever - give up. Day to day, week to week, and year to year – I will, and always will be - a major contender. I will never hand victory to anyone - and if anyone is going to beat me, they will always have to well and truly earn it – in the hardest possible way imaginable. I expect the best every time because I give nothing less than 100%, without question. I will always be there, I will never go away, and you’d best get out of my way because nothing can stop me achieving my goal".
Now, its important to know that even champions can go through seemingly unexplainable losses occasionally, or even slumps in form. But if this ever happens, the key is refuse to allow them to permeate your deeper mind, because you must always remain a winner on the inside even if the score says something different on the outside.
Sure – like all champions do, you would examine the performances and look for ways to strengthen areas that you require to improve from those results – but regardless of what the result is, you must always allow the relentless fire to burn in your heart that says I am a champion. This means that it always only be a matter of time before you are back in the winners circle again – because champions are not out of there for very long.
Stay In the Moment
The most powerful mindset you can have while competing is one where you are totally ‘in the moment’, and not thinking about the past or the future – just being in the present moment.
This means not bothering to think about what might have just happened, or of what could possibly be happening in future – the power lies in totally being ‘right there, right now’, out there.
Doing this also has another important benefit - it prevents your mind from dropping a truckload of fear into your thoughts. Fear is the enemy of the athlete, the one thing that can make us freeze up and prevent us from realizing our full potential – because it makes us pause and question ourselves, our ability, and our decisions. This could be a fear of making mistakes, or fear of what might happen next, fear of losing ……..it’s all the same, it’s just fear.
As the old saying goes “a life lived in fear, is a life half-lived” – because life is too short to worry about making mistakes, or wondering what might happen next – the only way to cure fear is with 100% action.
You just have to get out there and get on with it, and never let anything ever make you hesitate or question yourself – going in with 100% belief. Why? Because when we hesitate, we question ourselves and our ability, and this allows fear to come in. And you know what fear is? It’s just a thought. That’s all. But luckily, action cures fear.
Sure – mistakes will happen at times – because they happen to everyone, it’s just a natural part of sport – but the key is not to compete with the fear of making mistakes. Instead to go out there and perform boldly and instinctively, as this brings out our most powerful performances. When we do this, and put all our focus into the performance, fears simply disappears – because fear can only affect us if we allow ourselves to hesitate and question ourselves.
Performing on Auto-Pilot - The Zone
But when we perform from our instincts rather than overthinking our actions, it helps us to click into The Zone. The Zone is the most powerful mental state known in all sport throughout the world, which brings out these powerful and instinctive performances – and is capable of producing super-human performances, miraculous and inspired performance, winning streaks – you name it, almost anything is possible when you are in the Zone.
This is a well-known term in many sports, and any athlete who is in this mental state is virtually unbeatable at their competition level – and at events such as the Olympics, it often brings world records in many different sports. Being 'in the zone' means having almost a trance-like level of focus – a kind of ‘tunnel vision’, if you like - removing absolutely every other thought from your mind which is not necessary.
It’s almost as if nothing else exists outside of the competition arena – because when you are in the Zone,
Your focus becomes deep and relaxed, all at the same time.
When this happens, your performance reaches close to the very peak of your potential – the best you can possibly give that day – and surprisingly, this is when you are actually moving and performing on auto-pilot, virtually without any conscious thought so that all of your movements have become completely instinctive, natural and intuitive.
The Zone can be an exhilarating mental state and amazing level of performance, and can sometimes be accompanied by the strange sensation that the performance is being guided by some other, more powerful force - and this is actually true. This force is your subconscious mind - the sleeping giant and mega-computer that resides inside all human beings, which controls all bodily movement, and which contains all your past experiences in your vast memory bank.
When a player is 'zoning', their conscious mind (our normally busy, active chattering mind) allows your actual performance to be run by the more powerful subconscious – which virtually runs on 'auto-pilot', the way a computer runs software. This allows every part of your performance to reach its absolute best, via your subconscious. So when you are competing at your absolute best, your body is actually performing intuitively and instinctively from your subconscious.
Your Body Knows Exactly What to Do
Of course, this is not to say that your body is playing without instruction whatsoever - on the contrary, it is simply getting its instructions from a far more powerful and reliable source. You see, you have practiced and trained so many times in the past, your body already knows what it needs to do – it doesn’t need instructions to suddenly be taught how to perform – because it already knows how.
Right now, you have thousands of past memories of your training sessions in your memory bank which provide you all the experience you have at this point in time, and this experience is what makes you such a strong competitor.
If those memories were suddenly erased for some reason, say by amnesia, then believe it or not, you would suddenly be a beginner again, like the first day you went out to compete. But of course, you’re not - because you have so much experience, which is stored away in your subconscious memory bank. That never leaves you.
Your body already knows exactly what it needs to do, in almost every situation – instinctively, naturally, intuitively.
This is why the champions seem to always be in the right place at the right time – they intuitively know what they need to do.
By contrast, the other process – of allowing your conscious mind to think out every single situation, make a decision, and then instruct your subconscious to command your body to make the particular movements required – produces far slower, and inferior, results – and simply cannot compare with going directly to the all-powerful master and commander, the subconscious mind.
Be In the Moment
Yes, the answer to virtually every situation is right there in your mind, waiting to direct your body when you are out there – all you need to do is allow your instinct to come through you – ignoring all the unimportant aspects and focusing 100% on your goal, and nothing else.
The clearer your mind can be on the performance, the more easily your subconscious mind can ‘click in’ and command your performance. Being in the zone also means that your body is functioning at peak efficiency, getting the best possible result using the least possible amount of energy.
The secret is to stay in the moment - do not project your mind backward or forward in time - just ‘be here now’ and allow yourself to instinctively play as you have been trained. Remember that there is never any fear in the present moment – fear only comes from thinking abut the past or the future.
Remind yourself that there is only now, as this reduces stress, improves your clarity of thought, focus and concentration, helps you reach ‘the zone’, and also removes all fear so you will never question yourself again.
Bring Committment and Relentlessness into Your Performance
When times get really tough for some competitors, many can get a little down and will struggle with their own levels of inner belief, and begin to question whether they are good enough, and whether success is still any longer possible.
But let’s say you go out there with a completely different attitude – an attitude where you totally and utterly commit yourself to the performance, unconditionally, and that you will never entertain these negative thoughts even for the tiniest nano-second.
Instead you are going to do absolutely everything humanly possible that day to achieve success, for each and every single minute you are out there - regardless of the score, and that you are going to completely remove all possibility of ever letting up, even for a second - then this makes everything much clearer to your mind and body when you competing.
Once you have established that negative thoughts such as these are no longer an option, and you build up a regular daily habit of delivering total effort every time, your mind eventually stops asking these negative energy-sapping questions at these crucial moments – which are when you need every atom of mental and physical energy you have available.
Taking away these negatives can produce absolutely transformational results to your performance – because your mind and body automatically moves into power mode any time when you need to dig deep into your vast resources.
So with this attitude of total commitment, there is now only one course of action you can possibly take – and that is to go forth and conquer. There is no longer any room allowed for the classic destructive thoughts which are famous for creating temporary lapses in performance - such as self-abuse, self pity, anger, criticism, hopelessness, etc.
Nobody Wants to Compete Against a 'Machine'
Leave these negatives to your opponents instead. You are now a machine, who is programmed only for success, and nothing else – so the only option for you now will be to power forward, positively and aggressively – regardless of what the situation, or score, may be.
This especially applies even more so to those classic tough times, when you might be trailing your opponent, or if you just happened to make a costly mistake, missed an opportunity, whatever.
So now, your only response will be to react positively, powerfully and aggressively -
focusing deeply on your own performance, and coming back even better, stronger and more determined than before – until you reach your goal of success.
And when the times occur occasionally that you find even this is not enough to bring success, then you will no longer ever have reason to feel any regret about how you performed, what you did, or to question your ability – because you will know you gave everything you had, you put in 200% - and you left it all out there.
Everyone will eventually realize that you have transformed into an immoveable force - who never lets up, never gives up, and who no longer ever doubt themselves, not even for a moment. Now that is a competitor that would be truly frightening to compete against!
6 Power Thoughts
And from now on, that going to be you. I like to call this the attitude of relentlessness. This means that you are simply never, ever going to stop, until you succeed – and it’s an attitude that most champions possess, which is capable of wearing down even the greatest of rivals.
Relentlessness can also create a huge psychological impact upon the minds of your competitors – because once they realize they are competing with an opponent who gives 200% regardless of the day, the time, the conditions, the venue, the temperature, the competition pressure etc etc....then it begins to play heavily on their mind before they compete against you. There's nothing like relentlessness to build a powerful reputation!
Once you go out there and demonstrate these amazing, legendary qualities each and every time you perform, it can wear down the opposition and eventually set up huge mental barriers in their minds for the future performances – and this can eventually grow to the point where opponents will almost totally dread meeting you again in competition. Once you have been able to place just a little uncertainty into the hearts and minds of your competitors - even before they go out there to compete against you - this is a truly monumental, major advantage.
Make A Pact with Yourself
So I want you all to make an unconditional, unbreakable pact right now – to cement this attitude once and for all, right into your very soul, and vow that you will forever believe in yourself and your ability, and never question it, and that you will never let up, or give up, even for a split second while you are out there, and that you will from this point onward, always be a powerhouse of positivity, regardless of the situation or score.
I am including a few other Power Thoughts, as I like to call them, that you might also like to focus upon later on, for further improvement – you might like them all, or you might just like to focus upon particular ones that appeal to you.
The best way is to instil them within you is to focus upon just one at a time, for say, an entire week, and allow each one to totally wash through your mind and body, throughout that week’s training - then, the following week, you might focus upon another one, and so on. This way they eventually become part of your everyday mental attitude and can create a major shift in your performances.
So we know that Power Thought no. 1 is the power of Relentlessness – that says “I never give up, and I never stop until I succeed”. This is the big one I really want you to instil within yourself until it becomes a natural part of who you are, when you compete. Now, for a few others that you might like to think about for later on:
No Limit Attiude + Enjoyment = Formidable
Power Thought no. 2 is “I Love this Sport and I Love Being Out Here” – this is just focusing upon the pure enjoyment of performing. You might have noticed that success and enjoyment have always seemed to automatically follow each other, far more than say, ‘success and fear’, or ‘success and stress’ have ever done.
So the fact that you enjoy what you are doing when you are playing out there, not only means that you are having fun – but it also means you are far more likely to succeed!
So always make sure you are enjoying yourself, if you want to succeed – it’s one of those powerful forces which are behind every champion. When you truly enjoy the actual competition and challenge your opponents are giving you (rather than fearing it), then somehow….. almost mystically – the breaks will suddenly start going your way.
Somehow, the breaks rarely seem to ever go towards the person or team who is fearful or tense – for two reasons, which we have discussed a little already: we get what we expect, and whatever we focus upon, expands. The luck that players and teams make for themselves always seems to favor those who are the most confident, and also who are having the most fun.
Power Thought no. 3 is “I have No Limits”.
This is where you say to yourself something like: "I feel great and there's nothing I cant do today”.
This reminds you that there is absolutely nothing to stop you putting in a great performance today – that you are pure unbridled talent with an iron-clad commitment for success – so what can possibly stop you? All week you would focus upon the fact that you are totally unlimited, unstoppable, unbeatable, supreme and all-powerful – building up your internal confidence and power to boost your performance.
Power Thought no. 4 is “What’s Great About This?”
This is the mindset that you use to search for all the reasons why you will succeed that day, which focuses your mind upon all the positive aspects, and also on all the conditions which are absolutely perfect for you to play brilliantly today (and also ensuring you are not focusing upon any of the negative factors). Doing this regularly helps to eventually create that feeling that every day is a perfect day to go out there and play excellently – regardless of the conditions.
Power Thought no. 5 is “I’ve Put in the Work - and I Totally Believe in My Ability”.
This is the mindset that says:
"I deserve to win – I have done the work, put in the hours, and as somebody has to win this - why shouldn’t it be me? We deserve to be here, and we totally deserve to win”.
This helps to believe in yourself by ensuring that you feel worthy of success – as most self-sabotage comes from those who don’t believe they deserve to succeed.
Power Thought no. 6 is “You have ME to Worry About!”.
This helps to increase your internal confidence by using a little reverse psychology, to remind yourself of just how intimidating you must be, looking through your opponent’s eyes, and reminding yourself of how extremely difficult you are going to be for your opponents to handle today.
Congratulations upon making this unbreakable vow of relentlessness to yourself – and I look forward to hearing how it slowly transforms your results over the months ahead. Remember to also have fun, know there are no limits, remind yourself of how great everything is and how perfect the conditions are for you, that you have done the work, and have the ability, and that your opponents have YOU to worry about. Now go forth, and conquer!
PS. Feel free to contact me
by email anytime.
While mental training often creates quick improvement at competition standard, the real value is in the long-term, permanent transformation it creates in your performances and results, over the months and years ahead.
For those who seek constant improvement and the edge on their competitors, the question to always ask is:"how will tomorrow be any different from today?" Mental training is the answer. Check out our list of sports, and other sports-related programs, here - Sports Mental Training List or dont hesitate to email your and we will be in touch.
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"The Mind controls the body, and the mind is unlimited". Craig Townsend