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Sports psychology advice
Are your nerves getting in the way of your game?
When playing sports we can suffer from over stimulation; we are so motivated to perform that we instinctively prepare for battle, tensing up and taking a serious blow at the golf ball - that flies way over the target.


Any game can be improved by adopting the right mindset
Any game can be improved by adopting the right mindset

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25.05.2014 - Former Wimbledon Champion Michael Stich whose game, and physique at 1.9 metres tall, made him a very tough opponent on grass courts was not well suited to clay.  However, a few years later he surprised himself and everyone else by getting to the final at Rolang Garross.  When asked, he said he knew it was not his tennis surface so he just took each match at a time and felt no pressure.  It is easier said than done, and indeed the question is having an adequate amount of motivation, since being under-stimulated can also lead to problems.  This explains the surprise losses of some great players against weaker rivals.

Nonetheless, we cannot allow our satisfaction and self esteem in doing the activity to rely on our ability to perform.  There is  a phrase in the ancient Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita  where Arjuna, the story´s main character, is about to enter a battle, and Krishna, the story´s God, tells him to go to the din of battle but leave his heart under the Lord´s feet.  Religious considerations aside, the story depicts the lack of attachment to winning you need to practice when feeling over motivated to do so.  This will not only help you in your game but in life as a whole, since we are instinctively driven to survive and have thus developed a tendency to magnify problems because, back when our instinct was being molded, any small infection or social quarrel could have drastic consequences.

If I tell you to not think about a white bear, you will be right now thinking of one, because of the way the mind operates.  Furthermore, if you tell yourself you desperately need to sleep right now, you probably will have more difficulty in doing so.  The latter seems contradictory but it is due to the fact that our brain not only hears our intention but its emotional intensity, and it is the latter that triggers the excess motivation and fight mode that makes you not fall sleep or hit the ball way out of bounds.

The good news is that the brain is like a programming system we can reformat to an extent, the way you talk to yourself is incredibly important, and changing thinking habits is a long process but extremely helpful.

If you start telling yourself words and phrases that you believe in when, for example, reaching the green while golfing, it will reduce the importance of doing well, and paradoxically you are bound to do better in the long run. Another key element is being in the present while playing, tuning in all your concentration to the actual moment.  Let go of any mistakes you made earlier in the game, and don´t worry about how desperately you think you need to win this point to win (remember the insomnia allegory).  One point at a time. Finally, remember to breathe, when you start breathing rapidly it will be more difficult to have control of racing thoughts which in turn can make you more anxious, spinning off a vicious cycle.  All these techniques we have looked at: changing your self-talk, reducing the importance you give to things and breathing more deeply when under stress can also help you in your regular life, but above all: remember, it’s just a game.

 

Call Ignacio Rosillo on 696 685 996 between 12pm and 8pm to arrange help with psychological issues.  

By Ignacio Rosillo



Gallery: Are your nerves getting in the way of your game?
Any game can be improved by adopting the right mindset 
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