Trust In Competition
Letting go of conscious controlling tendencies and allowing one’s skills to be run off from motor memory (or what you practiced) instead of conscious directives from the mind. There are two mindsets that control much of an athletes performance: Practice Mind set, and the Trust/Performance Mind set.
Trust in Competition
Definition of trust:
Letting go of conscious controlling tendencies and allowing one’s skills to be run off from motor memory (or what you practiced) instead of conscious directives from the mind.
In sport psychology we talk about two mindsets: Practice Mind set, and the Trust/Performance Mind set.
The trusting mindset is the ability to rely on practice, play freely and let it flow. Athletes in the trusting mindset are confident in their skills and ability to put their performance on automatic pilot and just let things happen.
The trusting mindset is what all athletes need to excel in competition and is characterized by the ability to react to the environment and play automatically. Trust is based on a solid foundation of confidence, repetition, and prior practice. With high levels of confidence in one’s skills, trust flourishes
The training mindset is characterized, as a mind set that is good for practice. It is the ability to train in order to get better for competition. The training mindset embodies the motivation, dedication, and commitment necessary for high levels of performance and improvement.
Both mindsets work in harmony to produce “zone” performance.
Most athletes have challenges in competition because they are stuck in the training mindset. Refinement of skill or is an infinite process with greater results or improvement coming early in the learning process. Refinement of a skill in sport is a conscious skill. At some point mid way through the learning process less conscious effort is required to execute a task. The more we work at perfecting a particular task the more finite our results become. The deeper in the learning process the more intricate skill refinement becomes. As we progress through the process of learning and refinement becomes more intricate the mind begins to disengage. The mind disengages over time because our mental memory has developed a structure for the skill and knows how to execute without the mind being in a conscious state. The more the mind disengages, the greater a sense of skill mastery is achieved.
The problem that some athlete’s encounter is that they try to control or over-control a motor behavior that is already well learned and has reached the stage of automaticity. For many different reasons, some athletes cannot perform freely void of the training mind set. This is called a breakdown in trust. If you take this training mind set into competition what is going to happen? More than likely you will get stuck analyzing mechanical things rather than being consciously unconscious and acting in the flow of the moment. If you are not acting automatically, you are dividing your thought process and not fully focused in the moment. The end result is something less than par or what you had set out to do. You end up paralyzing yourself because of over analysis. At some point you have to let go of the training and analysis and simply trust the process.
So far this fall we have been working on mechanics in order to build a base from which confidence will develop. Good sound mechanics will aid in the deliverability of success. Success in pitching is all about throwing strikes. Success in hitting is all about putting the ball in play when you want and where you want. The more you throw strikes or put the bat on the ball the more your confidence builds. The more confidence builds, the more one develops a trusting mindset.
Over the next few weeks we will shift the lion’s share of our focus on mechanics to one that will focus on developing a trusting mind. Mastery of and the ability to feel comfortable with your mechanics will lead to an automatic delivery of mechanical success. The end result = more success without conscious thought. The less you think about mechanics in competition, the more you will develop a belief in your ability and therefore train your mental memory to react without thinking.
The first step in this process is to have a plan during practice. Organize practice into “your” practice. Divide practice into a mechanical phase, and then a performance phase. There are tools you can implement to help you make the transition from the practice mind set to the performance mind set. Start by setting up a plan to organize your practice. If you are working in the bullpen organize the first 15-20 minutes into a practice/mechanics workout. Afterwards, shift your mind into more of a competitive/performance mindset and focus on mini performance objectives. In my next email to you I will provide you with some suggested ideas that will help you make this mind transition.
John R. Ellsworth, M.A., Mental Game Coach, ProtexSports, LLC, 800-608-1120