Archive for August, 2012

Sports Psychology Simplified

What is it?  The difference between staying in the game and quitting! It is a behavioral science that helps athletes identify what is in the way of the athlete reaching her goal. What it is not is judgement.  It makes no difference what the issue is, it’s about putting strategies in place to put the past in the past and be in the present.

Many people athletes or otherwise have an internal conversation that is some version of I’m not good enough.  It could look like I’m not smart enough, fast enough, thin enough, tall enough; feel free to insert your own adjective.  It makes no difference  -how- we are not good enough; what does make a difference are the strategies we have in place to override this internal conversation, how is it we can not buy into the popular or personal ideas of what is ‘good enough.’  If we can quell this internal dialog, we can allow our passion to guide our sport of choice.  Michael Cleveland is a blind fiddle player considered by many of his peers to be the best in the world.  He leads his band on an album he calls “Let er go boys,”   He encourages his sighted band to do what he has learned;  to get out of his own way because he cannot see and not hold back but Let er go!

Many times this underlying “not good enough” conversation will outwardly look like fear, an unwillingness to take risks or put forth all of our effort, perhaps even inability for us to participate at all!  Many parents of young equestrians really want to ride but have a litany of reasons ( likely all valid!) why they are not, so they live their childhood dream of riding through their children.  This is an example of a “not good enough” conversation getting in the way of us living our dreams! It’s not about competition, but about having a life we love.

Putting aside raw talent, in competition, sports psychology is the difference between first and second place.  You don’t have to be the best that shows up, you just need to be the best who can fully ” be with” what’s so and do your best.  I heard a great performer say it this way ” I have butterflies in my belly every time I need to perform, it’s just that I’ve taught my butterflies to fly in formation!”  That is sports psychology.

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We Must Progress!

  A Hot August Saturday Break Under a Tree

Who must progress?  Each in the horse and human team. Student, horse and teacher.  We all need to become calmer, braver and smarter, more coordinated, confident and athletic. We all need to progress to being better problem solvers, more aware, more able to see what we see, softer, more thoughtful, considerate and progressive! We need to blur the lines between who is teaching who and dwell in what is possible!

What is progress? Growth or development (dictionary.com) So that means we progress from wherever we are to somewhere else, a movement, in an appropriate increment,  toward a goal. It could mean progressing speed – doing something faster (extended trot) or slower (passage), distance – closer to you (cantering by your shoulder) or farther away from you (cantering at the end of your longest line) ,  or quality(more on this later.)

When should we progress?  Now.

Where? Wherever we are. Bring what you know with you!  Add to that or modify it.  Create excitement and interesting things right where you are.  This is where progressing our creativity from where it is to somewhere else comes in.  Here is where the impossible become possible.

Why? Because this is what keeps us all in this game! Because if we are not progressing we loose interest, horses become work and expensive.  When we are progressing it is a labor of love and money well spent!

How do we progress? Pay attention (Observe) to where you are now without judgement and keep track of your progress (compare)

Journal or at least keep a calendar where you can track your thoughts, the time you put in, your goals and then REMEMBER TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE JOURNEY!