Jargon? What Jargon?
The mind is a crazy thing. It can either pump you up or completely tear you down. For many athletes and individuals being physically prepared is only half of the battle. The other half is being mentally prepared. What does your “inner jargon” sound like? Do you have a message you tell yourself?
Some strategies that may help; changing your inner jargon, reframing and visualizing.
The voice that plays over and over in your head can have a huge impact on the decisions you make, opportunities you take advantage of… or don’t, how you view yourself, your worth and your confidence. For many athletes, their “inner jargon” is one of the most important things to have under control to help them to perform at their best. Coming off the Olympics, it was very evident that all athletes had a pre-game ritual and the voice inside them had to be there to tell them “that it was their time”. When you’ve practiced for many hours, we tend to put pressure on ourselves and sometimes that’s what destroys the opportunity. Allowing ourselves to get “too in our heads” about the outcome often results in failure instead of just going out there and executing what we’ve practiced and worked so hard for.
I’ll be the first to admit that when I get to a waterski tournament, I have to work really hard on keeping my inner jargon positive and to not tear myself down before I even get into the water. For me, my inner jargon is strongly determined and is influenced with who I surround myself with. Like minds help you to reframe sometimes. This doesn’t only apply to sporting events. It could be the gym you decide to train at, the friends you chose to spend your time with, the clubs you decide to be involved in, the church you attend… you get my point.
If it isn’t a message you would tell a friend then you shouldn’t be telling it to yourself. So chose to reframe what it is that your inner voice is saying.
Lets’ admit, reframing can be one of the most challenging things when what you had prepared for didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Defeat can piss you off right in the moment, but after taking time and reflecting on what just took place you have to think of the things that you can learn from it. I know we’ve all heard that expression that goes something like this, “you have to fail every now and then to make the successes that much sweeter” but there is truth to this. For me, failure makes me hungry to get back to training as soon as possible.
There is always something to learn in many situations. You have the power over your thoughts and the power to control your attitude and not allowing you go into a negative place. My college equestrian coach used to say, “you get one hour to wallow in self-pity and eat a cookie but, then after that it’s time to move on”.
Visualizing is key when prepping for an event, game, tournament, you name it!
Create your own crystal ball. Visualize in your mind how you want things to play out. Again relating back to the Olympics, as I watched them show Lindsay Vonn preparing for her alpine event, she was dialed in going through the motions of what she was about to do. Personally, as I stretch out in preparation for my tournaments, I’m visualizing the whole time about what I need to do in order for it to go the way I want it to. I need to separate myself in a quiet space to get my mind ready to go. A good tip I use that tends to help me is visualizing a past performance that went well to help me gain confidence in the current moment. Fun fact, I read in an article from The National Federation of Professional Trainers that your mind can’t decipher between the actual event and visualization so in turn the more you visual the better chance you have to set yourself up for success. “We might think of this as programming out subconscious.”
If you don’t have a pregame ritual or good pep-talk for yourself, I challenge you to start working on one. It’ll pay off, I promise.