Being an athlete is not easy. Usually your performance centers around self-talk, which you may or may not realize. If that self-talk is negative, you can kiss your performance goodbye. I have made a lot of golf products with certain suggestions that really work in training your brain. These suggestions help make you aware of the self-talk within your mind. The more you repeat and reinforce something, the more it becomes an automatic behavior or thought pattern. These suggestions help you to be mindful. Think and speak in limitless ways. Today’s suggestion is: “I take care of myself and practice (mechanics & mental skills) frequently so I feel prepared & confident when I play. I take care on all levels- eat, sleep, hydrate, exercise, practice of mental skills & mechanical skills.”
“I suck at putting…” is one of the statements I hear over and over again with my clients. You may think that phrase is innocuous, but when you speak those words, or even think them, it could change the biology in your body. You tense up, your blood pressure raises, you begin to perspire. What once was just four simple words, becomes your demise. Eternally hearing that in your head is not going to make you perform your best. Ever. Negative self-talk is not taking care of yourself.
Shifting your mind to recognize negative self-talk isn’t easy, but when you realize it, you can begin to plug in some of these suggestions and create positive self-talk. Taking care of yourself is imperative to the overall outcome of performance, or life in general. If you want to have good endurance and consistent energy, during your performance, you need to take care of your body. You need to get sleep, hydrate, and eat like a nutritionist in order to perform your best. I don’t know of any athlete that sits down for breakfast the day of the event and eats poutine. All that greasy, smothered, covered french fries are going to get you nowhere with your energy levels. This is not rocket science. I don’t know who came up with the phrase: “You are what you eat,” but it is so true. Fueling your body is incredibly important not only to the mental side of your game, but also to the outcome of your performance. Certain foods can release certain enzymes in your cells that make it hard for them to conserve energy, which is most likely why you feel that lag towards the end of your event.
There is no way you can come out on top of any event if you are not taking care of yourself in all these categories. You have to diligently pursue your health through eating, sleeping, exercising, hydrating, and practicing. Leaving out just one of these can cause a chain reaction in your performance.
Why do you think every New Year people always assess their health habits and decide on resolutions based on their health habits? Because we aren’t so great at taking care of our bodies, truth be told. How healthy are your snacks? How “sold” are you on the idea of fat-free or lowfat? How much research do you put into the list of ingredients in your food? Your brain is composed of fat and water. That is why it is important to load up on good fats and hydrate. Still think fat-free/lowfat is best?
Your body craves sleep, water, nutrients, use of physical activity, and mental skills. Taking care of yourself in all of these aspects will help you achieve peak performance. Endurance is a key factor for performance but if your body is not up to it, it will not succeed. Take a look and see what you can change about all these aspects of nutrition and physical stamina if you find yourself running out of steam.
Exercise is not only imperative for your muscles, but also for your organs. Regular physical activity decreases the inevitability of certain diseases. However, the most important reason to exercise is because immobility/inactivity changes our brain structures!!! Researchers at Wayne State University School of Medicine recently found that rats who were mostly sedentary for almost three months actually had physical changes in their brains, as a result. Some of the rats’ neurons had extra branches — the parts that help them connect into the sympathetic nervous system, where a lot of our involuntary physical functions are regulated, like breathing. Having too many branches, as the brains of these rats did, could lead to over-stimulation of the nervous system, essentially, it constricts blood flow to the heart and brain. I am not a doctor, but I know that that spells trouble in a big way.
Practicing your mechanics and mental skills are just as important as the above. There is no athlete that believes it is not important to practice. Look at the Shaolin Monks. They embody optimal health and can accomplish amazing feats because they practice both mental and mechanical skills, but also fuel their bodies with nutrition and sleep. These monks are specimens of what you can achieve when all your markers are in the right place. The sad thing is, many athletes only take practice seriously, and nothing else. I have seen this with many clients. One golfer practiced every day. She participated in mental training and hypnotherapy sessions. She was confident and sure of her abilities. But the night before her tournaments, she would go out, party, drink and not get back until the wee hours of the morning. She was so confused why her performances weren’t like her practices. She would break down, get frustrated, fall apart. I mentioned her activities prior to tournaments. I would ask: “Did you get enough sleep?” “Did you eat well?” Did you drink water throughout the day?” And it didn’t matter, she would always say: “That has nothing to do with my performance.”
I’m here to tell you that it has everything to do with your performance. Everything. Your body, inside and out, is what you make of it. When one or more of these things are not fine-tuned, it will show, not only in your sport, but in your life. You can practice your mechanics everyday, for weeks, months even, but if you’re not eating well, or sleeping well, your performance will suffer. Practicing your mental and mechanical skills are just two of the elements that it takes to peak performance.
Your mind is being programmed every waking moment of your life. You have to consciously train your brain to think a certain way, act a certain way all the time, not just when you are applying it to your sport. Putting in effort to mental train is an important aspect of working on your overall performance.
Because I know, at one time or another, your thoughts were like those of my female golf client, I hope you take what I have written into consideration. Each element of taking care of yourself is just as important. Work on this suggestion: “I take care of myself and practice (mechanics & mental skills) frequently so I feel prepared & confident when I play. I take care on all levels- eat, sleep, hydrate, exercise, practice of mental skills & mechanical skills.” throughout your week and see if you are taking care of yourself. What might you change? Are you peaking your performance? Thanks for reading. InJoy your day!