◊ Edge Mountaineers
Dr. Matt Brown, our resident Mental Performance Trainer and Counselor works with all students - dispensing sound academic advice and helpful hints to build confidence and focus in your performance.
We provide guidance on Post-Secondary preparation, placement (including scholarships), and general student counselling.
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Our resident Mental Performance Counsellor, Dr. Matt Brown, was part of a small team of Sport Psychologist experts who wrote an article addressing Mental Fitness at the different stages of the Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD). You can read the full article here!
Athletes are often told to stop getting down on themselves or to be more positive with themselves. And they resist it. They roll their eyes and the implicit message is, “I’ll be positive with myself when I do something to deserve it.” But their logic is flawed. Consider this; when you’re performing well and feeling good on the ice/the pitch/the course/the stage, do you need a positive voice in your head? No. You’re already where you need to be. You’re already feeling how you need to feel to perform. So when do we need that positive voice in our heads? Right, when we’re not feeling how we need to. When we’ve lost confidence; when we’re underperforming; when we’re frustrated; when we’re down.
So here’s how to get past that barrier. Don’t think of you positive ‘I can do it’ voice as a reward; think of it as the WORK. If you show up to compete and your legs are stiff, you don’t say, “oh well, I guess I have to compete with stiff legs”. Of course not. You warm them up and stretch them. You do the work necessary to make them feel the way you want them to. Treat your mind the same way. If your confidence is low, do the WORK to elevate it. If you’re discouraged, do the WORK to restore hope and optimism.
How we think affects how we feel; and how we feel affects how we perform. So if you’re committed to your performance, use a positive voice in your head to guide how you feel. Rather than treating it as a prize to be earned, treat it as a tool to feel how you want to feel. Performance will follow.
Performance Tip of the Month with ‘Brownie’
Most high performance athletes do some visualizing before they perform. But many are missing out on a very important performance enhancement element: FEEL. Tiger Woods was asked years ago whether he visualized before his shots. His response? “No, I try to feel them.”
Our movement patterns are grooved through repetition in our central nervous system, and the visual is only one sensory element of these patterns. Often a hockey player will be in just the right spot, but his ‘hands’ will betray him. A dancer may know all the steps but have ‘two left feet’. A soccer player may know exactly where she wants to put the ball and still ‘misfire’. The physical execution of all of these skills is feel-driven.
So when you rehearse mentally, instead of just seeing it in your head, try to play the feel that goes with it. This will ‘wake’ those patterns in your nervous system, increasing the chances that they’ll fire properly when you attempt the skill. Feel the weight and rhythm of your swing. Feel the touch of a perfect saucer pass. Feel the balance, posture, and fluidity of your dance movements. Feel the ball leaving your foot on that touch pass up the seam. Feel it in your head so that it will feel right when it matters.
Dr. Matt Brown