Is Your Head Stopping You From Playing To Your Potential?
So what kind of a head do you have on your shoulders? Are you competing and playing at the level that you’re capable of? Do you regularly perform better in practice than you do in important competitions? Are there particular opponents and teams who knock you off balance and cause you to underachieve? Do you hang onto your drops and bad throws? Are fears of mistakes and self-doubts paralyzing you? Are you the kind of athlete who regularly steals defeat from the closing jaws of victory?
If some of these questions bother you, then you probably already know how critically important the mental part of Ultimate. 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 players 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, both offensively and defensively. 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 on the field. Without it, you’re game will quickly fall apart.
Unfortunately, this is where most Ultimate players stop. When they go into their games and tournaments, they hope they’ll play 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, technique or game strategy to chance. So why would you leave the most important part of your performance, the mental part to chance?
Think about this: Getting good as an Ultimate athlete in practice is 95% physical and 5% mental. Translation: You have to work hard on your conditioning and technique, the “physical game” to make it happen. However, once you line up against your opponents, the percentages flip flop. Being successful in games is 95% mental and 5% physical. You have the conditioning, technique and the 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 responding immediately to this play and this play only. 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 drop), 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 around with you during the game.
You have to believe in yourself and your teammates and have the self-confidence to focus on yourself and not your opponents 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 competitor. My CD program, The Best Mental Toughness Training Program for Ultimate Players (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 athletes across all sports at every level. In Ultimate, Dr. G has worked very closely with Tina Booth and the Amherst, MA High School boy's team, winner of several national championships. Dr. G specializes in helping individual athletes and teams develop mental toughness, better handle competitive pressure and perform to their potential. He is the author of the revolutionary new book, "This Is Your Brain On Sports." Dr. G was the keynote speaker at several National Ultimate Frisbee Coaches & Players Conferences. Check out his most popular program- Mental Toughness Training Package for Ultimate Players-Special Savings.