Do You Lose the Race Before It Even Starts?
So what kind of a head do you have on your shoulders? Are you competing at the level that you’re capable of? Or do you regularly perform better in practice than when it counts the most in races? Are there particular opponents who you consistently lose to who you always out-train and have no business beating you? Do fears and self-doubts paralyze you and prevent you from going fast? Are you the kind of driver/racer who regularly steals defeat from the closing jaws of victory? Have you been labeled a great driver/racer who has “permanent potential?”
If some of these questions bother you, then you probably already know how critically important the mental part of your sport is. If you want to take your performance to the next level, then you have to be willing to take your training far beyond where most drivers and riders stop. Most serious athletes in your sport religiously work on the physical part. They’ll work on their strength, fitness and technique. Is this stuff important? Absolutely! You can’t become successful without “paying your physical dues” in this way. Hard work is definitely one of the main keys to your success. Without it, you’ll quickly fall behind the competition.
Unfortunately, this is where most athletes stop. When they go into their races, they hope they’ll perform well, they hope that they’ll have their “A” game with them today, they hope that they’ll win. You’d never leave your conditioning or good technique to chance. So why would you leave the most important part of your racing, the mental side to chance?
Being successful at race time is 95% mental and 5% physical. You have the conditioning, technique, and proper strategy. To get that great performance to come out when it counts the most you have to be able to stay calm under pressure, keep yourself focused on the right things, believe in yourself, rebound quickly from mistakes and handle last minute negativity, fears or doubts.
Without these mental skills you will consistently sabotage yourself and underachieve.
A number of drivers and BMX riders struggle with incapacitating fears. Their fears may prevent them from being aggressive on the race course when they need to be. Fears within your sport are exceptionally common and are integrally related to the very nature of the sport. Both drivers and BMX riders crash as a normal part of the racing. Sometimes these crashes are exceptionally scary and can result in injuries.
Every time that you have a scary crash, close call or injury, your brain/body memorizes the entire experience in exquisite detail. You unconsciously remember all the sights, sounds, smells, movements, emotions and thoughts from this experience. In fact, long after you crashed and this experience may have been consciously forgotten, it still remains frozen in its’ entirety in your brain/body. The problem with this is the next time you are under pressure or are in any way reminded of that original scary experience, (i.e. trying for the hole shot or being bumped in a race), components from this original upsetting event (images, sounds, emotions, anxiety, physical tension and/or negative thinking) get activated out of awareness and bubble up, interfering with the present performance. Oftentimes when this happens, your body automatically goes into self-protective mode of FREEZE in an attempt to keep you safe from a perceived danger. When this happens, no matter what you consciously try to do to go faster, your body instinctively stops you.
This is the kind of work that Dr. G focuses on with drivers and riders. In addition to teaching them specific mental toughness training techniques to help them stay calm under pressure, focus on what’s important and block out everything else, rebound quickly from mistakes and failures, develop self-confidence, manage last minute negative thinking and self-doubts, Dr. G helps these athletes get over their incapacitating fears using mind-body techniques to help them calm their nervous system down!
With a little work, these mental skills as well as a few important others can be systematically trained to the point where you develop the reputation as a mentally tough competitor. My CD program, The Best Mental Toughness Training Program for Race Car Drivers (ON SALE NOW!) will take you to the next level!
Are you struggling with performane anxiety or a slump? Do you consistently perform better in practice than when it counts?
Call me at 413-549-1085 or email Goldberg@competitivedge.com
Dr. Alan Goldberg is an internationally recognized expert in the field of performance enhancement. As a Sports Performance Consultant, Dr. G works with race drivers, BMX riders and other athletes at every level helping them develop mental toughness, better handle competitive pressure and perform at a high level. Dr. G specializes in helping athletes who struggle with repetitive performance problems overcome fear and blocks and race to their potential. As regular columnist for a number of national and international publications, Dr. G writes on the subjects of peak performance and overcoming fears and performance blocks. Check out his most popular program- Mental Toughness Training Package for Race Car Drivers-Special Savings.