“I learned there are troubles
of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead,
others come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat.
I’m all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
to have trouble with me.”
– Dr. Seuss
Some of you are entering season-ending, nerve-wracking championships and others are in the midst of season-starting, nerve-wracking tryouts and games, and there seems to be a common thread. ANXIETY TROUBLES!
Whether you are starting or finishing a season, there should never be anxiety about anything. Never! There is no room for accepting anxiety as inevitable or turning anxiety into passion or embracing anxiety. You are either in the Zone or you are not. If you want to embrace anxiety, you might want to practice that in practice. But if you’d rather dispense with it entirely, do it and do it well. Aside from learning and being well-practiced in the skills of your game, the biggest “bat” you can use against falling out of the Zone (aka anxiety) is mental rehearsal. Here are three ways you can use it to start your season (with preparing for the tryout or preliminary games) or ending your season (with the playoffs or play-downs or shoot-offs). It is never too late in your season to use it.
1) Mentally rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! That means repeat the process until you KNOW you’ll be on the podium or KNOW you’ll be a valued member of the team. A piece of extra advice here is to do this mental rehearsal in private as the kind of mental rehearsal I’m requesting requires passion (adrenaline), and 100% engagement and a great deal of physical movement. It may look strange and it may feel a bit strange if you are doing it right. And you may look scary. But once you get this down as a “science,” it will begin to feel normal and your game will immediately shift into top form.
2) Mentally rehearse the mistakes and problems you’ll face so that you build a reflex for instant recovery if and when they happen. Make recovery fun. It creates the kind of flexibility where you’ll be able to handle anything, and I mean anything.
3) Last, mentally rehearse your role as leader of your team or of your event. As far as I last heard, all sports have a leader board and winning is all about leadership. You are playing for keeps (versus recreational pleasure), so ensure your rehearsal has you at full leadership stride with no excuses. See, feel and hear yourself leading brilliantly, especially when no one expects it from you.
It is never too soon or too late in the season to resolve anxiety by knowing how your event is going to play out. If you want to be consistent and win consistently, mental rehearsal is your “Big Bat” that will create a huge advantage for you by reinforcing your Zone. Dr. Seuss had it right.