Are You Beating Yourself on the Strip?
So what kind of a head do you have on your shoulders? Are you fencing and competing at the level that you’re capable of? Or do you regularly perform better in practice matches than at tournaments? Do you mysteriously lose your aggressiveness when you step on the strip? Do fears and self-doubts paralyze you and prevent you from performing to your 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 fencers stop. Most serious athletes in this sport religiously work on the physical part of the sport. They'll work on their strength, fitness and quickness. They'll work on the proper technique. Is this stuff important? You betcha! 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 lose.
Unfortunately, this is where most fencers stop. When they go into their matches, 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 would never leave your conditioning or technique to chance. i.e. “I hope I’m in good shape today.” So why would you leave the most important part of your fencing, the mental side to chance?
Think about this: Getting good as a fencer in practice is 95% physical and 5% mental. Translation: You have to work hard on your conditioning and “physical game” to make it happen. However, once you face off against your opponent, the percentages flip flop. Being successful is 95% mental and 5% physical. You have the conditioning, technique and proper strategy, now you have to make sure that you stay calm under pressure and keep yourself focused on the right things. For example, your concentration needs to stay in the moment, on executing this lunge, parry, feint or riposte. If you let your mind jump ahead to the future, (i.e. thinking about winning or losing) or slip back to the past (i.e. a previous mistake or match), then you’ll end up getting yourself too uptight and distracted to perform to your potential. This means that you have to be able to rebound quickly from your mistakes and not carry them into the next point or match.
You have to believe in yourself and have the self-confidence to fence your own fight, rather than your opponent’s when you’re under pressure. You have to be able to handle last minute negativity and self-doubts. You have to be able to master your fears.
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 fencer. My CD program, The Best Mental Toughness Training Program for Fencers (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?
Dr. Alan Goldberg is an internationally recognized expert in the field of performance enhancement. As a Sports Performance Consultant Dr. G works with fencers, boxers, wrestlers, martial artists and other athletes across all sports helping them overcome performance fears andblocks, develop mental toughness, better handle competitive pressure and perform to their potential. As a regular columist for a number of national and international publications, Dr. G writes on the subjects of peak performamce and mental toughness. He is the author of the revolutionary new book, "This Is Your Brain On Sports." Check out his most popular program- Mental Toughness Training Package for Fencers-Special Savings.