Is Your Head Stopping You From Performing to Your Potential?
You don’t have to be uptight and distracted in competition!
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 you do in important rodeos? Are there particular opponents who you consistently lose to who have no business beating you? Do fears and self-doubts paralyze you and prevent you from performing to your potential. 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 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 cowboys/cowgirls stop. Most serious athletes religiously work on the physical part of their sport. They’ll work on their strength, fitness, quickness and 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 keys to your success in rodeo. Without it, you’ll quickly fall behind.
To perform your best when it counts, you need to learn to control your focus of concentration.
- What you focus on before and during your run determines your confidence level and how calm you are.
- Championship performance comes when you focus on the FEEL of what you are DOING and not your thoughts.
- Keep your concentration “outward” on “seeing, reading and reacting.”
- When your focus turns inward to your thoughts, quickly “reset” and bring your focus back to the action.
- Be prepared to “reset” your focus as many times as you drift pre-run.
- Stay away from thinking about/focusing on the future and the outcome you want or the “what if’s.”
- Train yourself to stay focus in the NOW on what is happening moment by moment.
Unfortunately, this is where most cowboys and cowgirls stop! When they go into a big rodeo, they hope they’ll perform well, they hope that they’ll have their “A” game with them today, they hope that they’ll finish in the money. You would never leave your strength, conditioning or proper technique to chance. So why would you leave the most important part of your performance – the mental side – to chance?
Think about this: Regardless of your event, getting good in rodeo in practice is 95% physical and 5% mental. Translation: You have to work hard on your “physical game” to make it happen. However, once you get ready for that run, the percentages flip-flop. Being successful 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 the roping or riding situation that you find yourself in and being ready to adjust at a moment’s notice to sudden and sometimes unexpected changes. 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 run), 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 moment or event.
You have to believe in yourself 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 rodeo competitor.
Dr. Alan Goldberg is an internationally Sports Performance Consultant who works with rodeo athletes helping them overcome fears and blocks, develop mental toughness and perform to their potential. Dr. G writes on the subjects of peak performance training and mental toughness. He is the author of the revolutionary new book, This Is Your Brain On Sports: Beating Blocks, Slumps and Performance Anxiety for Good! Check out his popular Mental Toughness Training Package.
Calf roping is my best event and I used to get too nervous worrying about needing to be a certain time. You helped me get a handle on my focus so now I am so much faster and winning more!
Annie is ranked 15th fastest youth barrel racer in CHSRA! While shedidn’t make it to Nationals, we are very proud of her performances and of how she conquered her nerves. She improved her times in both events – and her attitude is calmer and more confident. She is now having fun this and is the most important thing!
I had been making silly mistakes whenever I had a good run going and that always left me out of the short go. My getting mad at myself would make things so much worse. Since I have been working with your 14 Steps I have learned to calm down, better focus and put my frustrations away.
Alan, Thanks for all of your help! Your program is fantastic! I sincerely owe you!
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