Let's review our 5 Forces of Mental Mastery:
1. The Unconquerable Mindset
3. Self Control
4. Mental Mastery and Visualization
5. Secret Weapon - The Hero Within
Today we talk about our final Force, The Hero Within. This will be your secret weapon. This will be the difference when you need to come through, when you need that extra push and when you need to step up and reach your highest potential in the moment.
The first 4 Forces talk about very controlled and very practical issues that you can implement and see success from. However, if you went through this Blog Series carefully, you may have realized that there may be some difficult issues within those 4 Forces that you have. Maybe your not good at the Motivation part. Maybe you struggle with some concepts of the Unconquerable Mindset. Maybe you have never really spent time Visualizing and you don't think your very good at it. Maybe you just don't see how you can use these things to get over the fact that you still may be scared to take the winning shot, scared to make another mistake, nervous when runners are in scoring position and so on...
This is where your secret weapon comes in. This is where you introduce the world to your Hero Within. This Hero is the one who steps in and takes control. Whether the Hero is needed in competition, a workout, or in just a specific moment, we are going to activate this Hero to get the most out of our performance and bury all the fear, nervousness or any anxious or negative feelings we may have in the moment.
So how are we going to do that you may be asking. We are going to create a superhero character for yourself. You heard me right, a superhero version of you. Does that mean your going to become the strongest human on the planet, or be able to fly, no it doesn't. But what it does do is get you in the frame of mind where nothing is too big, there is no place for failure, there is no place for fear and it allows you to step up in ways you never thought possible.
Let me give you an example then we will break down how we do this. I worked with a client who hated making mistakes in his basketball games. In fact, when he made a mistake, it effected him so negatively, that he would make another, and another and another. He was so nervous and afraid to make a mistake that he became mistake prone and eventually started to hate the sport of basketball because of it. Everyone knew that if he made a mistake on the court, it was going to snowball into more and more and he would basically become useless out there on the court.
He was a very talented player, but was becoming destroyed by this mental block. So we met a few times and I discovered what the issue was and why he was having this problem. We even dug down and found the roots of where it all started. His confidence was so shaken after he made a mistake that he played in constant fear the rest of the competition. He wasn't like that in practice, or training, just games. So there was some added pressure in competition he felt and this is where he struggled.
I explained to him that he needed to show up differently in competition. He needed to show up as a different version of himself. He could no longer show up as just himself anymore, and especially when he made the first mistake during competition, he really needed to be a character other than himself. You see, he had trapped himself mentally into this thinking. Sure, he could have gone to years of counseling to figure this out, but he needed a quick, long term solution to get him out of this thinking, which is essential in sports.
What did we do to create a new character that he would show up as for his competition? Simple, we listed all the things that he took into competition that he liked, that motivated him, that made him the player he was. Then on a separate list we displayed all the negative things that happened to him when he made a mistake. I showed him, how these things were trapping him and not allowing him to perform like he should. These things we called the "enemy" and we named this "enemy" character. We named the enemy character that was doing everything it could to hold him back. There is a very specific reason we give this "enemy" a name.
Now, in order for us to focus on our existing positives, and have the ability to defeat this "enemy" every time it tried to show up, we needed characteristics that would make our new self show up as never before. We started listing all the attributes required to overcome the fear of making a mistake, and what was needed if a mistake was made to quickly move past it and on to the next play. We need attributes to defeat this "enemy".
We needed courage, we needed mental strength, we needed the ability to forget quickly, have a short memory and we needed a character that we could rely on to be focused, strong and unwilling to bend when adversity hit. We started identifying the characters and people that he knew of that did this. We started naming people first, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady and Mike Trout came to his mind when talking about sports. Then we looked a certain fictional characters that had what he needed, like Superman, Batman, Flash and more. We built a list of all these attributes and who he identified best with.
After putting together our list, we had all we needed. He quickly saw how this was going to help him, how he already had these qualities inside him and how by activating this "new" Heroic character inside of him, everything would change. All we needed to do was name this Hero. And that is exactly what we did, we gave him a name.
The naming of the Characters is so important. As the enemy creeps back up from time to time, it is very easy to identify it by name and just as quickly defeat it, or bury it with the power that the Heroic Character brings. In competition and in critical moments, it is the Heroic Characters time, not the enemy. The enemy is not allowed in during those critical times and it is dismissed when it tries.
You see, one of the most powerful tools we have as human beings is our creative imagination. It can will us through extremely difficult circumstances when needed. Using additional characters, seconds selves, is nothing new to you. Remember as kids we would all pretend we were superheros or other figures while playing. Now we are going to channel that into a powerful and positive character and use it to propel us to our peak performance.
There are additional steps and practices to perfect this, but in my lifetime in working with youth athletes, I have never seen a faster, more effective result to getting where you need to get in athletics when it comes to overcoming mental adversity.
There will always be some weakness, maybe some fears, maybe just on some days you don't feel like showing up, where activating your Heroic Self will allow you to push through and dominate what it is you need it to! No longer do you need to feel trapped. Your are stronger than you know and Force 5, your secret weapon, can bring out more than you ever thought possible.
As always, if you would like to learn more about this strategy just let me know. I have found nothing out there that can help turn struggles around this this method!
In Force 4 of our 5 Forces To Mental Mastery, we focus on an absolute key element of success in performance. Despite the importance, it is often times neglected, or not used properly, therefore holding a lot of athletes back from the true peak performance.
So what is the Mental image and visualization skill set? It really comes down to the fact that it is the process of creating mental experiences that will resemble actual physical experiences.
It is similar to reading a story written in the second-person narrative. The big difference is, it is not on a piece of paper, it is all in your mind.
A lot of people and athletes view the mental visualization part of the game as just a practice they do on occasion. However, to truly see its full benefits, it is important to realize that it is a SKILL! A skill that can be learned, trained and improved, which will have a direct reflection on your athletic performances. It builds confidence, better prepares you and helps you overcome adversity.
When practiced correctly, mental imagery, visualization, mental rehearsal will indeed prepare you far greater than you can imagine and really sets you up for how you expect to perform in your mind's eye.
Weather we're aware of it or not, the mental images we create and carry around with us have a direct impact on our physical and mental performance.
When you begin to train and develop the skill set of mental imagery and visualization, you will notice that you start to stay much more calm during adversity, staying focused on the present, not the past or future. You are much more able to evaluate circumstances and respond to situations logically and rationally, rather than allowing emotions to take over. You are able to demonstrate grit, and the desire to stick to it, even if things get hard. Mostly, you are able to manage the ups and downs that sports can bring and have the ability to switch off the stress button when needed.
For many athletes, they have never done, or are not used to mental visualization. Some do it directly prior to competition and that's it, but to truly take advantage of the skill, it has to become a regular practice. It doesn't take long and it doesn't take much to improve on this skill set. Let me give you a quick example I give my clients to get them rolling in the right direction when it comes to mental visualization:
This example takes the guessing out of mental visualization and will keep you from asking yourself if you are doing it right. It is a simple, 5 step process of going through the exercise.
Step 1. GOING IN = Relaxation (2 to 5 min). Just find a quiet place where you can relax, clear your mind without distractions.
Step 2. CONFIDENCE CONDITIONING / SELF TALK AFFIRMATION (2-5 min). This is where you tell yourself confidence creating messages like, "I control what I can control", " I trust my routine and compete in the moment", "I carry my body language in a positive light always", "I am confident in my ability and know I am getting better everyday".
Step 3. MENTAL RECALL (2-5 min). This is where you focus on previous successes. Things like what you have done well this season, the last competition and in the past. In your mind, bring up those things and focus on the success, how you felt about it and truly capture the moment.
Step 4. MENTAL REHEARSAL (3-5 min). Now you are on to your next performance. What you are going to do. What successes you will have. How your going to handle situations that come up in the competition and how your going to have success dealing with it. Visualize winning, working your hardest, beating your competition and ways in which you will do so.
Step 5. BRING IT OUT (1-3 min). Now your bring yourself out of the visualization. Relax just a couple of minutes. Reflect on what you just did and end with one final thought of positive success in your upcoming competition.
The goal is really simple, its only 5 steps to get you started with visualization and getting used to the practice. There are more advanced techniques, however, for the beginner or someone who may not feel they are doing things right, this is a great place to start!
Of all the skills required throughout the 5 Forces of Mental Mastery, Force 3, Self-control, is one that needs very little convincing of just how important this Force is.
It's time to look at Force Number 2 of our 5 Forces of Mental Mastery
Motivation and Commitment.
A huge amount of hard work is required to reach the top of your sport and be the best you can be. There is no way around that. It takes an incredible amount of effort, coaching and the proper focus to achieve your goals in sports.
Motivation and commitment towards your sport and those goals, is what will drive you closer and keep you moving forward as you face the ups and downs during the process.
Your drive and motivation is what gets you going. Its that energy you feel when you are ready to get started, rolling forward with your goals in sports. Getting started is often times the hardest thing to do and that is where the drive and motivation component are absolutely essential.
Commitment is the single item that keeps you going. It means you have the fortitude and focus to keep moving forward in the direction of your goals. Even when it gets hard, even when you don’t want to go through the push, commitment is what steps up and take you through the task. Remember your why, that is the reason you commit and that is the reason you will find your how you will accomplish you goal.
Why is it so important to have the proper motivation and commitment? There are some days you just don’t feel like pushing through. You may be having a bad day, something may have come up, you may feel like you have other things to do. Those days come, it does to everyone in sports. It is part of human behavior and this is where athletes suffer most to being conquered. Remember our focus is to be UNCONQUERABLE.
It is motivation and commitment that get you past these hurdles. Despite the setback, or things getting in the way that particular day, or just not feeling it, it is motivation, drive and commitment that will make you step up to the plate and get the work done needed to get one step closer to your goal.
I want to take a look at some costly Myths and Mistakes about motivation and commitment that are common with athletes
MYTH 1. Motivation begins before you even get started.
One of the most surprising things about commitment and motivation is that it does not appear magically prior to you starting something. It actually comes after you begin. It is common to think otherwise. Athletes love to read a motivation quote, or watch a inspiring video on YouTube, but that is not where motivation begins, it begins after the task has been started.
Now that’s not saying it cant be motivating to watch a video, or pull inspiration from a quote at the right time. However, the “moment” that is active is far more powerful of a motivator.
Action is what leads to motivation. Remember, objects tend to travel much further once they have started their motion and that’s no different than being an athlete. Once you have begun a task, it is much easier and motivating to keep moving forward and keep doing the action that is leading you to your goals.
You don’t really need a ton of motivation to begin something. Motivation is something you need to keep pushing, to keep in the gym, to get you up when your down and to keep the end goal in mind. These things start when you are deep into the process. It is much easier to often times finish a task then it is to begin it.
MYTH 2. If I write my goals down, they will come true.
Although writing down your goals is a powerful tool, it is not just that simple.
I have worked with athletes and clients that have mapped out and planned their entire goal strategy on paper, yet never accomplish it, yet alone get it off the ground.
Again, writing down your goals is important, but there is far more action required after that. Writing them down doesn’t mean you will succeed and get to your goals, if only it was that simple. Writing down your goals is a great way to start to travel down the path and map out what may need to be done, however there is a ways to go still.
MYTH 3. If you visualize your goal, it will come.
Not quite. I believe visualization to be an incredible tool, but for the purpose of accomplishing your goals, it is not going to get you there alone.
You have to be very careful with visualization. I see lots of people visualize success and that’s all they do. They think about it, visualize what life will be like with their success and accomplishments but never get around to really practicing what it takes to reach their goals.
It is unreal thinking to imagine success and that visualizing success will make it happen. It will actually do the opposite and make it harder to reach your goals if that is all you do.
I see a lot of people spend way to much time fantasizing about success and goals. This is part of the journey, but this is not the only part, not by far, you have to go through struggle, pain and effort through your journey, simply visualizing it will not make it happen.
Assessing Your Motivation and Commitment
Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself regarding your Motivation and Commitment. I want you to answer the following questions to help you get a clearer picture of why your in your sport and moreover keep these answers close to you as it often helps the most when you may struggle at times with the Motivation and Commitment aspect of your sport.
Each athlete is different when it comes to Motivation and Commitment. Some have no issues at all with it, some struggle everyday with it. It is important to look at your answers above and remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. That will make it easier especially on the days that you just don't feel like it!
What is the Unconquerable Mindset?
Mindset is how you see your situation, how you see yourself and the world around you. Simply put, your mindset is your simple perspective on situations in your life.
The crazy thing about individuals mindset is that they are all different. Put any two people in a situation and one will often see things and perceive things completely different than the other. This often is based on our beliefs systems, established when we were young. One person in the situation may see things as frustrating and unbeatable, while the other in the same situation may be motivated, confident and sees victory.
Some athletes see a bend in the road when adversity hits and some see the end of the road. These are products of individual mindset.
The best part about mindset is it is NOT fixed. You can control it, dictate it and respond to it. You have full control. Many of your belief systems were established by the time you were 6 years old. You had very little control of it. Your belief system was established almost 100% by those you were surrounded by as a young child. The key is realizing you control it, you can make it yours and change it. You can shift to a growth mindset and as an athlete you MUST!
You don’t want to be the athlete who always seems to self sabotage when things start going your way. You want the mindset that allows you to learn, stay focused and committed to the task at hand.
You don’t want to be the athlete that plays great in practice, but when it comes to games, you struggle. You don’t want to be the athlete that lets one mistake turn into two, then three, then four and on and on. You want to have the mindset that overcomes adversity, embraces mistakes and learns from them and performs at their peak performance levels every single time you compete.
With the right mental performance training, you can learn to stay calm, develop the necessary routines and habits needed to show up when it matters most time and time again.
This is what mental performance is all about!
The Unconquerable Mindset Equals The Unconquerable Perspective.
Often times our minds see things one way, or that there can only be one way to perceive something. That, of course, is not the case at all.
It is important that we remain open to other perspectives, other ways, other outcomes that exist and choose the one that will be the most beneficial to you as an athlete in a current situation and will help you get from where you are, to where you are trying to go.
Perspective is something that really creates your reality. Your beliefs and how you see things, really does shape your world. Often times, I see the biggest, strongest, most athletic players fail at their craft because their mindset is off. They are constantly falling short of their peak performance levels because they have not developed or even attempted to work on creating the Unconquerable Mindset. They will continue to struggle and continue to fail when it come to reaching their true maximum potential.
As a mental performance coach, I provide the answers of why athletes fall short, or aren’t living up to their potential and more importantly I make sure to share the tools necessary to get athletes performing at their best consistently.
I see athletes train hard in the gym, do all the small things great and work their bodies extremely hard, yet when it comes time to take all that hard work and perform, they struggle. The lack of mental performance training has them unprepared, not ready and often fearful when they compete.
The Massive Importance of a Unconquerable Mindset
One of the biggest challenges as an athlete is to make sure you are in constant control of your performance and have a clear path for any goals you set for yourself.
Without the understanding that you, as an athlete, do control these things, you may struggle to get the results and it may lead to you even giving up or even stop working hard.
Athletes that doubt themselves and don’t realize they are in full control start to doubt several things associated with their sport and things can start to fall apart quickly.
I have worked with athletes that will blame genetics, or lack of talent and make excuses like that is just who they are, there is nothing they can do about it. So they transfer programs, or higher other trainers to work on more physical stuff and the problem just keeps rolling over and over again.
Having the right mindset is so vitally important to overcome any of these negative feelings or circumstances.
As you develop the Unconquerable Mindset, you will start to see how you directly are responsible for bringing the necessary energy to your workouts, training, and games. How you, by staying focused and positive, especially when things get difficult, will step up to the challenge and actually accomplish more than you thought you could. Not only will you see short term positive results for this, but you are building long term sustainable growth, development and promise as well.
By learning these skills and developing the Unconquerable Mindset you will be able to reach your full potential. You can grow and develop your mindset just like you can your body.
The Unconquerable Mindset is so critical because athletes with these two types of mindsets (fixed and growth) think very differently and react to information and adversity very differently. They respond differently and view performance in a different way, that is why it is so critical to get on the path of the Unconquerable Mindset.
Remember, athletes with an average or fixed mindset are most effected and receptive when they are being given information about how they have done. For example, getting testing results or the details or stats during their competitive performance.
The Unconquerable Mindset is most receptive when being told what they can do to improve.
You see the difference? Where the fixed mindset asks, “how did I do?” vs the Unconquerable Mindset asks, “What can I do better next time?”.
The fixed mindset is perceived, the learning mindset is growth, or that of a Champion.
You should be able to see exactly which mindset you want as an athlete looking to reach your full potential.
Athletes with an Unconquerable Mindset deal with adversity differently. The fixed mindset athlete are discouraged by adversity because that hurts the ego that is built into their belief of who they are. This leads often to fear, giving up, not working hard and a lot of negative issues for the athlete.
The Unconquerable Mindset sees adversity as a potential to grow, a potential to improve and an opportunity to learn and get better. This is where you need to be!
Adversity or a setback is a chance to make a great comeback for athlete with the Unconquerable Mindset. They see a small bend in the road, not the end of the road and it tends to make the athlete push and work harder through the adversity. This is absolutely HUGE!
It's time to BECOME UNCONQUERABLE!
Working with young athletes for over 20 years now, I have seen my fair share of how self-doubt can cripple even the best of athletes. Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with athletes, in all sports, that no matter how talented, no matter how successful they are, I have seen several go through the struggle of self-doubt in their moments of impact. I have watched self-doubt keep young athletes time and time again, from reaching their peak performance and even make them scared to step up and make certain plays or impact during competition.
I can remember one instance where I had been working to get a young athlete to be more aggressive offensively in the sport of basketball. All the tools were there, he was athletic, strong and confident in most areas of his game, however when it came to show that confidence on the offensive end of the floor, he just went away. He doubted himself on that end of the floor and instead of looking to score the ball and create for his teammates effectively, he was very passive, he didn’t feel comfortable being aggressive and with the self-doubt and his belief that it wasn’t his role to do so, he became ineffective offensively, which ultimately was not only penalizing himself, but his team as well.
He was frustrated, his parents and coaches were frustrated. Here was a young athlete with all the potential in the world to help his team and reach his peak performance capabilities yet the issue of self-doubt just kept creeping back up, holding him down.
The solution for a lot of coaches and parents, and even the athlete, is to just talk their way out of self-doubt. You often hear coaches from the sideline and in practice say things like, “play with confidence”, “believe in yourself”, and more. You may even parents and coaches asking questions to the athlete such as, “why don’t you play with more confidence?”, “What are you scared of?” and things like that. With good intentions of course, these statements and questions are often put out there, however there is nothing being accomplished by this and if anything, it is deepening the problem and making the athlete even question themselves more.
Believe me, the athlete knows it’s a problem, they are very aware of it, as this young athlete was. The more he heard people make statements about it, the more he thought about it and the more it strengthened his self-doubt. It added pressure to perform offensively, more than the pressure he already felt, and if he failed or made a mistake it would completely take him out of the game. Not only was he fighting his own self-doubt out there, but now he was fighting expectations to get over this self-doubt from coaches, parents and teammates.
As I sat with him to tackle this problem, we had to find a new way of thinking. He mentioned what it was that caused this self-doubt. Even though he was young he was recalling things in his young career of why he felt this way and reinforced it with examples dating years prior. The brain captures a lot of meaning and perceptions through adolescence and in this case most of what he had captured led to self-doubt on the offensive end of the basketball court.
In discovering the issue and how deep it ran; we needed a solution to make a change and make it quick. So, we built a better version of him that he would take on the court from this moment forward. We looked closely at what the negative attributes he was bring every time he stepped into competition and we quickly realized that those beliefs and that self-doubt were actually all in his head, that he did not form those thoughts, feelings and ideas, they were actually just how he perceived them and we made sure he now knew that he controls the beliefs he has in himself and those perceptions he once had, do not control him.
When I mentioned building a better version of himself, that is exactly what we did. As a matter of fact, we created an entirely different identity for him, in basketball, that he would now take onto the floor. We went through the process of understanding and eliminating the self-doubt and created a character, made of the traits from others he admired like professional athletes, super heroes, family members, animals and other things he looked up to or held in high regard, and that’s who was going to show up on the court from this point forward.
Sure enough, his game on the court change dramatically. This new character, or alter ego, we built was given a name and an identity that will always be true to just him. I showed him how to activate this character right before he steps on the court and that is who now shows up and competes. It led to him more then doubling his scoring average and assists and has given him the kind of confidence to continue to grow, improve and even try new things to put into his offensive game.
This is exactly why I do what I do and absolutely love it. It didn’t take years of discovery or massive amounts of therapy, it took a simple idea, implemented the right way and used to create a quick, meaningful response, which it did and still is paying dividends today. The process is fun, it is something young athletes already do, but when given the tools on how to create our athletic alter ego and how to properly activate it, great things usually happen shortly after!
Student athletes are constantly looking for balance in their busy lives. Between classwork, practice, training, the social environment and their home life, it can be stressful and there are pressures that exist that will keep them from performing at the highest possible level in their competitions. Like a Sports Coach, a Mindset and Mental Toughness Coach helps these student athletes improve their abilities and helps them increase their performance to peak levels.
Spending the necessary energy to develop strong mental skills is often what separates the average athlete from the elite athlete. I work very closely with my clients to really identify what strengths they currently hold, what weaknesses may be holding them back and then we discover the break through to make sure they maximize their potential and enter each contest with the proper mindset and confidence level needed to succeed.
What Can A Mindset and Mental Toughness Coach Do for My Performance?
I just don’t help young athletes with their problems and issues they may be having, I work with them to really adjust how they are thinking and approaching their sport. I dig into their state of mind, what it is that they feel holds them back, what they fear, how they look at certain situations and what kind of self-talk they are having on their field of play. At that point is where the shift occurs, and we start to create a new self when entering the field of play, a self that will be more confident, stronger mentally, ready for the adversity and prepared to compete at their peak performance level.
Think about all the time that is spent on the physical aspect of sports. All the training, practice, extra drills and so on, but so little time is spent really tackling the mental aspect. What goes on in young athletes’ heads will influence everything that they do in practices, training and competition.
What are the top benefits of working with a Mindset and Mental Toughness Coach?
Absolutely not! Mental Toughness coaching is a field that will help athletes/students and professionals move to the next level. There are countless athletes, even at the highest level, who meet with Coaches like myself weekly, not only to discuss any issues they may be having, but to make sure they are using all the tools necessary at the disposal to get the most out of themselves when competing, practicing, training or just preparing. It is important athletes are equipped with the tools to become the best possible version of themselves from a mindset point of view.
What are the other benefits outside of athletics that a Mindset Coach can help with?
Sports has a lot of ties to everyday life. When you think about it, life in general is very common to an athletic event daily. You need to deal with adversity, you need to perform, you need to interact and compete and try to get things accomplished. The list goes on and on regarding the similarities. One of the major benefits I see as I work with young athletes is how they then can use the same principles and tools they have learned on how to get better at their sport and apply it to aspects in their lives. This leads to an overall improvement in their life and gives them tools to help with struggle, preparation, social interactions and more.
How much time does it take to see results?
This is a very common question and one I love to answer. In athletics, people want results and they want them quickly. My system is designed specifically to make sure young athletes see some results with their mindset and mental toughness just after our first meeting. The mind is a very powerful organ, and because of that, it is possible to see fast results with the tools I use. As a Mindset Coach, and a former athlete myself, things need to get better in a hurry and that is how I coach. Within just a few weeks, I work with athletes to use the necessary tools to completely change the way they see themselves, how to approach competition and see what is holding them back and how to make the necessary changes to push them to reach their peak performance levels.
If you have ever considered working with, or having your child work with, a Mindset and Mental Training Coach, or wish to learn even more about the possibilities, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime. I will give you a honest opinion after discussing the challenges and answer any questions you may have.