Reflecting on an experience may call up certain thoughts and feelings. When we recount an event to ourselves – for review, to relive it, or for whatever reason – there may be an internal dialogue about what happened. Any internal dialogue has to be expressed in language and word choice may impact your memory of the event and your expectations for the future.
You may hear things like:
· I always let up an early game goal
· I gas out every time I go past nine rounds
· He always lands low kicks on me
· I always initiate too soon on team fights
· We never win against them at home
These statements have a theme of permanence and uncontrollability. When we think about ourselves and our experiences like that, we glance things we can control and the fact that the event is likely fixed in the past. If we monitor our internal dialogue and catch these phrases as or after they arise, we have the choice to begin the process of change. We may be able to preserve our confidence and identify ‘controllables,’ if we revise statements to be accurate to what happened and when:
· I let up an early game goal the past five games, three of which were stoppable shots.
· I gassed out more than half the time when we went past nine rounds in training and that’s what happened in my last fight.
· I always eat low kicks when I change angles.
· The past four games, I’ve initiated too soon on team fights over objectives when I play Illidan.
· We haven’t won against them at home this season.
We can go a step further with each of these. Figuring out how to specifically adapt to each situation is up to you, your coach, and support staff – so, take these examples with a grain of salt as I’m no tactician:
· I let up an early game goal the past five games, three of which were stoppable shots. On those three shots, I can be more patient waiting for the puck carrier to make a move.
· I gassed out a third of the time when we went past nine rounds in training and that’s exactly what happened in my last fight. I can work with my coach and strength coach to figure out if it’s conditioning, eating too many body shots, game plan to end the fight earlier, or a combination.
· My past two fights, I ate low kicks to my lead leg when I changed angles to the left. I can review footage to see if I telegraph, have a hitch in my technique, or I need to get faster at checking kicks after I angle change to the left leading with that leg.
· Games at Battlefield of Eternity and Towers of Doom, I’ve initiated too soon on team fights over objectives when I play ‘divey’ assassins. I need to be more patient for the rest of our team to be ready, then execute on our ‘order of operations.’
· We haven’t won against them at home this season. I know, when we’ve played them in the past, I make more neutral zone turnovers than usual when somebody bodies up. I can be more accurate on my passing and talk to our offense coach and head coach about how best to get the puck up-ice.
With each of these examples, the key points are to take the permanence away from general statement and figure out what’s temporary, in your control, and what you can take do to improve in the future. On the opposite side of the coin, and it’s not always textbook, but I’ve never stopped an athlete from building themselves up with blanket statements, like:
· I’m better, because I’m smarter and I train harder.
· I’m too fast. I can’t be defended – I’m too fast.
When something comes along that challenges the broad, confident notion about personal qualities you possess that make you better than an opponent, you can always take that specific situation and break it into a temporary, changeable scenario that builds you toward a performance outcome. The perspectives shared here aren’t prescriptive. If you do want to make changes in your mental game, there are professionals who have a breadth of experience and education to help you tackle your goals. You can look up who’s in your area using the Association for Applied Sport Psychology’s Find a Consultant Tool (www.appliedsportpsych.org/certification/find-a-consultant/). If you have any questions or want direction to more information, I’m always happy to help.
By all means, shoot me topics to write about!
Keep your stick on the ice,
Stacey and Associates Athletics