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!