Head games – getting in the right frame of mind for sport – but also for life

Becky Adlington’s Bronze in the 800m swim was brilliant. Her head however, wanted Gold, like the British audience. It was her head that let her down as she blamed the pressure from the British to win gold and that can only be a psychological issue. Isn’t it amazing how what we are thinking in our minds dictates our physical effectiveness? In Becky’s case it affected her technique so much so that she was way off her previous record. I feel really bad for her and can sympathise as we all know what it is like when you are there physically but not mentally. Not just in competitions and in situations when we are required to perform. It can affect us any time – like when you feel you didn’t get out the right side of the bed in the morning and it stays with you for the rest of the day.

I often find on days that I anticipate to be fun/ exciting/ good happy they turn out to be crap and vice versa – why is that? I went out last night with my husband. We were both knackered and didn’t really feel like going out but Mum was coming over to babysit so we had to grab our chance while we could although we just felt like nodding off. I thought ‘great we are so tired, we are just going to be irritable and snappy with each other and have a shit time’. On the contrary I just drove til I felt like stopping, saw a cool looking restaurant at the side of the road and we agreed to check it out and had a brilliant night. I bet you that if we had pre-booked a table somewhere amazing and anticipated a great evening it would have been shit.

With that in mind I try to assume that every day is going to be crap unless proved otherwise – and most of the time this kind of reverse psychology tactic works. If you don’t expect much then you might just surprise yourself and have a good time. Its got to the point that If I am dreading something I know that 80% of the time it will turn out well because I started off dreading it.

In sport it seems that emptying your head of all expectation and just enjoying the task ahead is key to winning over the psyche game. Charlotte Dujardin the GBR dressage rider performed an amazing test because she said she just went in the ring to enjoy herself and not ‘think’ herself out of the test by focusing too hard on each element of it. Being on top of your thoughts and feelings as a rider is particularly important because horses are hyper sensitive to changes in the rider’s temperament and this can make them play up and cock up too.

The fact that we have a team psychologist in Team GBR is proof of how powerful the mind is in winning medals. It is also true of how we enjoy life in general. I firmly believe that there are no limitations except those we create ourselves. Go Team GB!

I typed this while watching the women’s 400 metre final hence the olympic/sport angle and Christine Ohuruogou just won Silver – whoop whoop!

If you liked this post please donate £1 or $1 to Unicef – the whole reason for writing this blog.

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