Take Care of Yourself and Practice: Improve Sport Performance

January 01, 2014

As you prepare to perform in your sport, do you make sure to take care of yourself and practice enough beforehand?  Does this question even seem silly to you, like why would I even ask?  Well, in this article, I will go over one of the hypnosis suggestions from my golf-pro products, and it will help clarify the importance of taking care of yourself.  It is also a self-suggestion, and that is why I offer it to you in this manner so that every day you can repeat it to yourself and begin to believe it more and more. Maybe you are unaware of how you speak to yourself, and the kinds of conversations you have.  Just like anything else, the more you repeat something, the more you reinforce and compound it, the more it becomes an automatic behavior and thought pattern.  So by being very mindful of the types of thought patterns you think in your own mind, or conversations you have with others, you can deliberately cut back on those that limit you or hold you back in your performance.  You do not want to keep thinking in terms of lack, of how you perceive that you are not good enough, or how maybe you do not have enough.  You need to mindfully shift your thoughts so you speak and think in more un-limited ways.  You want to reinforce, compound, and build the areas and thought patterns you truly prefer.  Speaking my self-suggestion is a great way of accomplishing that in your life and in your sport. Let’s use golfing as an example.  Say we are talking about your putting.  Do you constantly look at the areas in which you fall short or have a problem?  Do you think and converse in ways like ”I have a putting problem.  I can’t seem to make the short putt?”  If you do, that builds an anxiety, worry and sense of fear around any short putt you face.  So then when you have to make a two foot putt, for instance, you will walk into that with an expectation of missing it, a decrease in your energy, and a lack of confidence.  All of that will very likely continue to keep you performing weakly in that area.  You need to be aware of how you think.  So let’s look at the suggestion I want to delve into here:  “I take care of myself and practice (mechanics and mental skills) frequently, so I feel prepared and confident when I play. I take care on all levels—eat, sleep, hydrate, exercise, and practice of mental skills and mechanical skills.” Why is it important to have this as a self suggestion?  First of all, it is important that you shift your mind to recognize whether or not you are even doing these things and to see whether or not you are taking care of yourself and practicing in these areas.  Are you making sure you practice your mechanics and mental skills frequently?  Are you eating, sleeping, hydrating, and exercising properly for optimum performance?  Let me give you an example of why it is so important to take care of yourself, although it seems funny to me to even say that because it is almost common sense to me that we have to take care of ourselves—but we don’t.  We may get very little sleep, not eat very healthy, drink enough water, or exercise enough.  Instead, we keep thinking that our bodies should be able to handle it and overcome and be fine, but that is not reality.  Our bodies and the cells of our bodies are living organisms and need to be taken care of and if they are not, they will struggle.  They will go into states of unhealthiness and disease, and obviously your performance will decrease – not just in your sport, but in every area in your life. So let’s say you are a golfer and want to have good endurance—a consistent level of energy the whole time you are out there on all the holes.  Or you are a shooter and you want to feel as energized on the last stations as you do on the first one.  Well, again, common sense would ask; “How well did you sleep last night?  How good are you eating?  Are you getting sugar spikes and then coming down off of them?  Are you skipping meals or not eating healthy, and therefore lacking the nutrients to carry you through?  Are you drinking enough water and hydrating your body enough?”  Your body can easily become fatigued if you aren’t taking care to ensure proper sleep, nutrition and water intake.  Are you exercising?  If not, the strength and endurance of your muscles might not be there when you need them. So honestly, if you really stopped and thought about it, you cannot perform to the best of your ability in your sport unless you are truly looking at these categories in your life.  Of course you have to practice your mechanics and your mental skills, but you must also deliberately and diligently make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy foods throughout the day, hydrate yourself throughout the day, exercise regularly and strengthen your muscles, spine, bones, and even improve your flexibility.  Things like Yoga will help you have flexibility and flow that will also benefit your performance. Even if this sounds very basic, I highly encourage you to resolve to take care of yourself.  Take a look at your eating habits.  Many athletes know to carry snacks with them, but how healthy are your snacks?  Are they causing a sugar spike and then bringing you down from that?  Are they nutrient based or junk food?  Junk food won’t help the cells of your body or clarity and focus in thinking that you need.  If you don’t eat very healthy, are you taking a good, real whole-food based vitamin to at least supplement that you aren’t eating healthy?  There is no getting away from the fact that the cells of your body need nutrients.  In order to think clearly, your brain needs nutrients. You also need to take your sleep patterns into consideration.  Most people need around eight to nine hours of sleep a night.  There may be a small percentage of people who can get by on about six hours of sleep, but they are far and few between.  How much sleep do you get per night?  I hear from a lot of clients that they have to get up at five or six in the morning.  Whatever time you have to wake up, just reverse back eight to nine hours, and that’s what time you should deliberately and diligently go to bed.  You go to bed at that time to get the sleep that your body needs to perform well. I understand that some people have other issues with sleep pattern problems, such as falling asleep with difficulty or waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep.  If that sounds like you, then trying something like self-hypnosis, breathing, or relaxation techniques can help retrain your body and mind to drift into relaxation and sleep. Now you are ready to tackle these areas so you can truly perform to the best of your ability in your sport.  Not only that, but these areas also affect every area of your life.  Drinking lots of water is important because your body is made up of about 90 percent water.  If you don’t keep your body hydrated or replenished when you sweat, or you don’t continue to put the water back in, you will experience various health problems.  Lack of proper hydration can cause headaches, vision problems, skin irritations, and the inability to focus.  The organs in your body all need hydration to function properly, so it affects your life even if you do not participate in a sport. When it comes to exercise, how can you expect to have the strength and endurance to get through an entire day if you ignore that key area?  Especially if you carry sports equipment or a golf bag, or you constantly put physical energy out when swinging a club, kicking a soccer ball or lifting a shot gun?  Whatever sport you play, if you don’t exercise regularly to create muscle strength and improve your heart and lung capacity, it will be impossible to be able to perform well. Or course, the suggestion does include taking care of practicing your mental and mechanical skills.  Taking care of this level of your sport is obviously so important – especially the mechanics.  There is no athlete that can say it is unimportant to practice mechanics.  It’s a given that you need to practice your mechanics.  But I see such an imbalance here, because most athletes only take that one area seriously.  They say, “I must practice my mechanics!”  What I am encouraging you to do is open your mind and realize that it is just one of the elements necessary for good performance. You can practice your mechanics every day for weeks and months, but maybe you don’t sleep well; there goes your performance.  Then let’s say you have been practicing your mechanics diligently, but you don’t eat well.  Let’s go a step further and consider an extreme example.  Maybe you skip meals, and don’t eat the night before or breakfast that morning, and you don’t bring any snacks with you for the day.  How will you perform well?  It makes no difference for your body if you eat cruddy or just skip breakfast.  Depriving the cells of your body with necessary nutrients negatively affects performance. I hope you can see that you need to take care of more than just the mechanics.  It is one of the elements, but it is not the most important.  You have to practice them, but you also have to take care of these other areas.  Of course the mental side is one element that I find to be invisible to most people; especially as a mental trainer.  People don’t usually consider working on mental skills, unless they read a few books here and there.  Even then, they don’t necessarily put those skills to work every day. So I tell my clients they have to practice their mental skills, just like they practice their mechanics; just as diligently, with as much time and effort, if not more.  Your mind has been programmed throughout all of your life experiences.  In every waking moment, your mind is being programmed.  So you don’t just reverse and change the negative programming for your sport, but you must change the way you view and think in all areas since you have only one mind. You don’t take out one mind that you use in life, and then put your sport-mind in to play, and then put the life-mind back in when you are done on the course.  That’s not the way it works.  It is the same mind involved in everything you do.  The training of it can go all day long and really needs to be applied in all different areas, not just when you practice or perform in your sport. So I highly encourage you to take a look in these areas and this suggestion: “I take care of myself and practice (mechanics and mental skills) frequently, so I feel prepared and confident when I play. I take care on all levels—eat, sleep, hydrate, exercise, practice of mental skills and mechanical skills.”  Make this a life statement, and really try to live this way every day.  You will find that you not only improve in your sport, but you should feel and perform better in all areas of life as your body gets everything it needs I am here to help you with this if you need any extra assistance.  I really wish you well in applying this teaching and hope you are able to see some great progress and bring your performance to the next level by taking care of yourself and practicing your mechanics and mental skills.  Have an amazing day!

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