Stop approaching your sport as a spectator! Players play, coaches coach, administrators administrate, and there can be no overlap in between.
When we competed at the National Duals in college, Coach Zeke Jones reminded us, "We are here to compete, not as spectators." In between rounds we didn't stick around to watch Iowa vs Oklahoma State, rather we moved into an isolated room to recover and focus on our next match.
Identify your role first. You are a player, an athlete, a participant. This means you must think like a participant, not as a coach, not as an administrator, and certainly not as a fan.
Don't get caught up in the "Fan Mentality" when competing.
Fans talk about the importance of the game, streaks, wins, losses, slumps, records, predictions, rankings, and war stories of individuals. They spend countless hours watching matches, posting on Twitter & Facebook, reading articles on the internet, participating in forums, debates, gambling, etc. etc.
Sport Psychology and common sense teach you to focus on things you can control and stop worrying about things you cannot. When you compete, you cannot think about stories, and records, and streaks, etc. You need to stop looking at Facebook/Twitter, predictions, forums, and seedings.
Many people say that these things do not affect them, so they can still be a competitor and fan at the same time. If that is the case, I challenge you to think of past poor performances. Think of at least 3 of them. What were you thinking before and during the competition? If anything had to do with how good or bad your opponent was, this is in part a result of getting involved in the hype. Walk away when friends and teammates start talking about the sport as spectators. Do not let that garbage into your mind.
The “fan mentality” is a difficult habit to break. This will take real work on your part, but the results are well worth it. Stop caring what other people think of you, how they will view your performance, what this all means, records, seedings, predictions, streaks, and stories. Read a book on technique or mindset instead of box scores and newspaper articles. Start thinking like a participant. Destroy your “fan mentality,” and live in your own reality!
Some athletes call it “the Zone” others call it “Flow,” scholars call it “the Ideal Peak Performance State (IPPS).” The feeling that you cannot miss, where time and accuracy seem to be moving and acting at your command. All good athletes and performers know this feeling. When you compete, the idea is to be in this state as often as possible. My next few Mindset Mondays will explore the concept of Flow in greater depth and how to facilitate its occurrence. I do not think Flow is something you can force to happen, as ‘Trying’ seems counterproductive as you shall soon see.
Flow is an experience (not exclusive to sports) where a person is immersed in an activity and has their mind focused on the present moment while losing consciousness of ego, self-evaluations, and the audience and audience evaluations. Things seem to fall into place as the unconscious takes over and a self-transcendence is reached.
Many athletes call this experience being "In the Zone." They use the words in the Zone and Flow interchangeably. I do not believe that the Zone and Flow are one and the same. I can differentiate between the two.
I know I have been in the Zone every wrestling match in which I ever competed. But, it was only in rare occasions where I felt Flow. I believe the Zone may be a prerequisite for Flow. But, being in the Zone will not inevitably lead to Flow. There may be several steps necessary to achieving Flow.
I will differentiate between the two now. While in the Zone, one feels as though they are In the Moment. There is a Buddhist word for being in the Here and Now- Satori. I loved to compete because when I was on the mat, I was not thinking about my school work, girl problems, etc. I became focused on the present moment.
To me, being in the Present Moment, here and now, represents the Zone. I'm sure athletes share this common experience with me. This tunnel vision results from a moderate amount of arousal or anxiety. It can be harmful the tunnel vision becomes extreme. This will close your mind to creativity and fluidity, both necessary components of Flow. But in the Zone you can still be self-conscious and aware of other people's evaluations and expectations.
Flow is the Zone, plus the relative absence of self & others consciousness. You and the experience become one and the same. In a sense, you lose yourself. This principle is by no means new. Many cultures all over the world have known about this concept for thousands of years, not the least of which being the Eastern cultures and the principle of Zen.
As stated above, a major prerequisite of Flow is the loss of one's ego. Listen to how Dr. David Lieberman describes this IDEAL STATE as he calls it:
"Your ideal state of mind is to have no ego and this is achieved by focusing solely on your objective. This will allow you to be unconcerned with how you are coming across and help you avoid second-guessing yourself. If you are absorbed with your objective, the "I" or the ego disappears and you can pursue your goal relentlessly. Focus only on the outcome, not on yourself."
To be continued…
In competition, focus is best spent on the present moment- on actions.
Thinking about past successes or failures will distract you from your mission. Your mission is whatever you have to do right now, not a few moments ago, not a few seconds from now, much less the end of the competition- but right NOW.
Think of this as a blessing. Very seldom in life do you get the opportunity to act without regard for the past or future. In competition or a performance, it is almost always beneficial to disregard everything but right now.
Nothing else matters but the action you are taking right now. Do not let this be a source of stress, but of empowerment. Do not build up the moment, because soon enough it will be gone, and will not matter much because the new moment has now become the topic of your focus.
Mastery comes from getting out of your own mind (evaluations, doubts, fears, regret) and into your senses. Literally your senses- sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. In other words, focus on what you are doing and not what the result of it will be. Because you know that your actions are preplanned from all of your past hard work. From this, you can trust yourself.
A great way to live in the present moment is to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for all past losses, failures, errors, and mistakes. Accept that you are human and thus fallible. Do not let this be an excuse to stop trying to be the best that you can be. Just know that you will mess up sometimes and this is okay. What is not okay is giving up and quitting on something you want.
Forgive yourself your past and future faults. That’s right, forgive yourself for future faults you make. Again, this isn’t to be used as an excuse to not do the best that which you are capable. Just accept yourself as human, and know that the most productive thing you can do with yourself is to proceed confidently, attempting, trying, and doing.
When you compete and perform be like flowing water- adaptable and opportunistic to flow through the cracks, seizing the opportunity. Do not make this a big deal, this is what you do.
Furthermore, this lesson will be of little value if you do not practice this “prescentism” in practice. When you practice competing and performing, be sure to include this attitude, as it will be extremely difficult to compete/perform like this without any practice doing it before. Imagine trying a new skilled technique without ever attempting it in practice first.
Stay in the moment when you compete and perform. You are fanatical! Nothing derails your mission, which of course is whatever you are doing this moment…now this moment…and now this moment.
Imagine yourself as a dot in the center of a circle. The circle represents your comfort zone. The walls of the circle represents your personal threshold- your personal limit.
In the middle, you are well within your comfort zone.
This is where most people choose to remain- never pushing the envelop or risking failure or embarrassment. Their circle remains the same size. Your circle right now is only so big, but it has the potential for unlimited growth.
The only way your circle expands is if your dot repeatedly presses hard against the walls. With regular exposure to your threshold, you too will expand and break through previous limitations- and achieve the impossible.
Threshold training is far more than our approach to wrestling and mindset training, but extends to every aspect of our life. Get Fanatical and leave no stone unturned!
Coaches and parents must recognize if the wrestler is struggling mentally, then consult a mindset expert to fix the problem. Here's the eyeball test:
The 5 Signs its a Mindset Problem
1. Looks like a different wrestler in practice and a match
2. Not attempting many moves in a match
3. Difficulty sleeping the night before a competition
4. Poor body language: moving slowly, head down, timid look
5. Getting fatigued within the first minute of the match
MISS A MINDSET MONDAY CALL?