Is Your Head Getting in the Way of Your Performance?
What does it take for you to reach your potential as an athlete and rower? The true challenge in rowing and other endurance sports is the competition between you and the race course, you and the clock, but primarily between you and your mind. Success in rowing is all about your mental ability to handle the pain and fatigue of oxygen debt, about your ability to master the limits that you think you have. The endurance sport athlete's most formidable opponent can be found in the mirror. Look at yourself! You are both the problem and the solution!
Are you mentally tough as a rower? Is mental training an active part of your preparation or simply an after-thought? Do you know how to consistently harness the power of your mind to lift the level of your performance? Or are you your own worst enemy out there, the kind of athlete who beats him/herself up well before the race's finish? Perhaps you have that knack of always going faster in practice than in races? Maybe there are certain opponents who you should be beating, but you always seem to lose to? Do you always seem to choke when it comes to those important erg tests?
How's your motivation as a rower? Do you have the inner drive to do what's necessary to achieve success? Do you have a meaningful goal that helps keep you focused and moving forward through the brutal and sometimes monotonous grind of daily training? Without a "big enough WHY" or a personally competlling goal your motivation will stall out. You have to be able to ask yourself on a daily basis, "how is what I'm doing right now going to help me get to my goal?" Far too many rowers make a "deal with the devil." That is, they trade what they want the most, for what they want right now.
Additional demands in crew include...
- Consistently practicing "pushing the envelope." You have to be willing to regularly bust your butt. That is, you must live the winner's creed, get comfortable being uncomfortable!"
- Developing the ability to handle competitive pressure. If you can't learn to control your nerves, then you'll never race to your potential. Staying cool in the clutch is a mental skill that you can easily master with practice.
- Mastering pain and fatigue. This means that you have to know two things: first, how to control your focus when you begin to hurt; second, how to neutralize the negative thinking and self-doubts that almost always tag along with the pain.
- Concentration. You must develop the ability to focus on what's important and block out everything else. Your mental skills in this area directly affect your ability to effectively handle pressure. In fact, the wrong focus before and during your races is the #1 cause of choking and psych-outs.
- Ability to deal with adversity, setbacks and failure. Winners build their success on their failures. They learn from their mistakes and then leave them behind. What kind of "reboundability" do you have?
- Mental preparation ahead of time. Do you know how to use imagery, mental rehearsal or visualization to maximize your chances of success? Did you know that mental rehearsal can significantly help you stay calm in the clutch and build your confidence?
Remember, you can’t become a winner without first paying your physical dues. However, once you’ve put all that time into your physical training, you need to then work on systematically developing the mental toughness of a champion. Don’t leave this all important part of your sport to chance.
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 Crew (ON SALE NOW!) will take you to the next level!
Are you struggling with performance anxiety or a slump? Do you consistently perform better in practice than when it counts?
As a Sports Performance Consultant, Dr. Alan Goldberg works with rowers and other endurance sport athletes of all kinds, helping them develop mental toughness, better handle competitive pressure and perform to their potential. He has worked with high school, collegiate and Olympic caliber rowers from around the country. Dr. G writes on the subjects of mental toughness for a number of national and international publications. He is the author of the revolutionary new book, "This Is Your Brain On Sports" and "The Best Mental Toughness Package for Athletes." Check out his most popular program- Mental Toughness Training Package for Crew- Special Savings.