Top performance requires top condition. Whether a car, a horse, or ourselves, if we hope to achieve peak performance, we have to ensure the vehicle to success is well maintained. Most elite athletes are aware of the need to take care of themselves to produce consistent results in competition. Those of us involved in equestrian sports, however, tend to neglect our own needs with the assumption that our horse must be in peak condition for success in the pen.
So why reinvent the wheel? Let's see what is working for those that are successful and then adopt some of their strategies or habits. Which particular mental skills do most successful athletes seem to have in common?
It seems like we just get used to something then it changes. It can be hard to keep up with the constant change and very distracting to our performance preparation.
Let's take a look at some significant changes that the equestrian industry has experienced over the years:
Last week, I challenged you to face your fears. I asked you to consider the possibility that perhaps fear may be holding you back from achieving your goals. Common fears that athletes may face include: fear of failure, and fear of injury or death; however, sometimes, we fear fear itself.
As far as I am concerned, lack of preparation is the root of all evil when it comes to achieving peak performance. There is little else that will cause more anxiety than entering an important event feeling unprepared. Sometimes, however, we may use "preparation" as a crutch or an excuse to never get started at all. If you are stuck in the preparation stage, it may be time to start before you are ready.
Many people head off to the grocery store with a list in hand, or at least in mind, while others prefer to just turn up and wing it. While “winging it” in the grocery store might work out OK for you, I strongly caution the use of this tactic in performance.
One theory in sport psychology suggests that athletes may differ in their predisposed goal orientation. Essentially, the aim of setting goals is to achieve “something,” but how do we define achievement? Whether we succeed or fail depends on our perception of whether we have reached our personal goals or not. This being the case, what I consider to be a success may be a total failure to you, depending on how we each define success and failure.
What an astute statement by Abraham Maslow. Too often we fall into this trap whether in the show pen or in the board room. Once we find a method or technique that seems to work or feels comfortable, we apply it to every situation. It seems like many of us get to a certain level of expertise, then just stop learning.