Is Your Head Stopping You From Playing To Your Potential?
You work on your technique, fitness, and quickness. Do you work where it counts most?
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 games? Are there particular opponents and teams who knock you off balance and cause you to underachieve? Do you hang onto your bad throws and drops? Are fears of mistakes and self-doubts paralyzing you? Are you the kind of athlete who regularly steals defeat from the jaws of victory?
If some of these questions bother you, then you probably already know how critically important the mental side of Ultimate 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 players stop. Most serious athletes 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 physical work is definitely one of the keys to your success on the field. Without it, you’re game will quickly fall apart.
Concentration - work on your mistakes in practice, AFTER the game!
- Peak performance on the field happens when you keep your focus in the NOW of the action
- Focus on this throw, catch, move or play, one at a time.
- When you drop the disc or blow a defensive assignment, quickly let it go!
- Make a deal with yourself before the game to ONLY work on your mistakes later on, in practice
- When your focus does drift back to a mistake, quickly bring yourself back to this play right now.
- Be prepared to “reset” in this way each and every time you drift.
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 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.
With a little work, concentration as well as a few important other mental skills can be systematically trained to the point where you develop the reputation as a mentally tough ultimate player.
Dr. Alan Goldberg is an internationally-recognized Sports Performance Consultant who works with athletes across all sports at every level. In Ultimate, Dr. G has worked very closely with Tiina Booth and the Amherst, Massachusetts, High School boys’ team, winner of several national championships. Dr. G specializes in helping athletes develop mental toughness and perform to their potential. He is the author of the revolutionary book, This Is Your Brain On Sports. Dr. G was the keynote speaker at several National Ultimate Frisbee Coaches & Players Conferences. Check out his popular Mental Toughness Training Package.
If I dropped the disc in a game, I couldn't get myself to stop thinking about it! I'd get nervous, lose my confidence and play even worse! Since you taught me how to concentrate, I have much better control of my focus and when I mess up, I'm able to let it go immediately! What a BIG difference in my play!
Your work with our team and your CDs have helped me lift the level of my game so much. I don't joke about being a head case anymore! You can call me Mr. Mental Toughness instead!
Once again, your talk worked its magic! Not only did we easily win Regionals but our developmental team won regionals in their division too. We had our team meeting last night. Each player spoke and your name and lessons came up repeatedly. Thank you so much!
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