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Mental Performance – Practice, Practice, Practice

We have all heard the old saying, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

That phrase can relate to many aspects of our lives, but especially when we are learning something new. As life speeds up more and more, we get used to a quicker turnaround time when seeking out answers to our problems. We see that in the drive through line at the fast-food place and to the impatience of us learning a new language. We want it now, or at least in the next few minutes. Our impatience usually gets the best of us. We react without due diligence. We stop learning because we have not mastered it quickly. We quit because it was too long.

When I talk with others regarding my mental performance work, there is still a disconnect between the idea of mental performance coaching and the practical aspect of it.

Many agree that our mental selves get in the way of our performance and, quite honestly, our enjoyment and fulfillment of anything we do. That is true in both our professional and personal lives. Whether it is the board room, corporate office or baseball field, tennis court or golf course, many will agree that our performance and happiness can be heavily impacted by our mental game.

However, there is a disconnect here on how to make that happen. Many of us have the understanding that it takes a lot of time and practice to perform well in all those settings. It takes years of education and practical experience to excel in the profession you choose. It takes a lot of practice to get your golf swing, pitching motion, or strength and conditioning to where you want it to excel in an athletic environment.

However, when talking about upping your mental game, there still is a magician’s mentality associated with mastering that. Those mental roadblocks you might be facing should be cured with a phrase, a word or two, or a couple of great quotes from great athletes.

When a player makes a mistake on the pitch, you will hear a common coach response “Just forget about it and move on.” Case closed. Issue resolved. She’s good to go, right?

The third base coach sees his hitter take a timid, forced swing and notices his player his tight. What is a common response? “Hey! Just relax up there!” Case closed. Issue resolved. His next swing is a nice and free rip of a ball out to the center field fence, right?

Just like the physical and technical qualities that must be practiced repeatedly to gain that knowledge and improve technically, the same is true from a mental perspective.

There are a set of skills to learn and practice to help an athlete “just forget” about a mistake and move past that to continue to focus and play to their best abilities.

There are a wide range of skills to learn and practice for a hitter to “just relax” when in the batter’s box waiting to rip a ball to the center field fence.

There is a common thread that although mental performance coaching is valuable and needed, it should be a simple magician’s wave of the hand, snap of the fingers and “Voila!” problem solved.

Lots of practice is needed here, as well. This includes working on mental skills in a practice setting, and on your own, so you can use them in competitive situations. Like a physical skill, it also requires reflection after practice or a game, to see where you did well, where you fell short and what you can work on this upcoming week.

Practice, practice, practice. It’s for your mind, for your mental performance, as well as your body. Like the technical aspects of learning, be patient with it. Stay with it. Grind it out, to use a cliché, and you will begin to see improvements in your mental game.

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