Breaking Bad Habits and Repetitive Mistakes



How quickly you fix mistakes is up to you. How hard that process feels is up to you, too. Mindfulness training makes changing weak points in your game easier on you.


When you fine-tune a skill or try to break a habit (e.g. more patience under pressure, a hitch in your swing), you’ll make errors. Mistakes are even more likely as you: pick up the pace, add unpredictable elements to a drill, include an opponent, or add a timer. How frustrating and emotionally difficult practice becomes is up to you.

How frustrating or emotionally difficult practice becomes is up to you

Judging errors as something ‘a bad player’ would do or believing you cannot make ‘that’ kind of mistake and be a good athlete makes practice feel more difficult and less enjoyable. Frustration or upsetness are natural when you want something to be different, but it's not happening for you yet. Often, those emotions come with self-judgment and label-heavy thinking, like the examples above. It’s important to recognize that you are the one ‘creating the rules of the game.’ You choose which thoughts to engage versus 'let be' and are the on who labels things as good, bad, acceptable, or unacceptable. You get to choose, when you feel a normal, expected emotion like frustration, what to do with the thoughts that follow. Do you feel frustrated and think frustrated thoughts? Or just notice the feeling as a normal part of change and choose to put your attention on your game?


Enter practice with an openness to errors, especially knowing they're natural and expected when the intensity of a drill picks up. In this way, you get to practice without expectations about how well you need to do and a readiness to catch troubling thoughts that arise with errors. Frustration is a natural process that occurs when you're not getting something you want, when you want it - treat it like 'just another emotion' or 'just what I'm feeling right now.' When you engage in a ‘bad habit’ and get caught in your head judging how awful it must be or how wrong you are, try to see a mistake for what it is: a single instance in time that doesn’t mean something about you, just about that particular rep of a specific drill that informs you of what needs to happen.

View errors objectively and stay focused on what you need to do in the drill, making it easier to let mistakes go and be intentional with your next rep.

Take yourself out of the equation. That means taking self-judgment out of practice and not equating a single bad rep to 'being a bad athlete.' View errors objectively and stay focused on what you need to do in the drill, making it easier to let mistakes go and be intentional with your next rep. When you’re ready for one-on-one help with your mental game or want a workshop for your team, send me a message (michael@staceyandassociates.com). Or, get some more tips at the blog.