6 Tips to Improve Consistency and Performance
April 18, 2019
Last week I worked with the Arrowhead boys tennis team where I presented a mental conditioning clinic. We discussed how to create mental consistency to keep them in control of their reactions to the many different distractions that occur within tennis matches. We talked about how the brain can be strengthened to help us react effectively when we place a PAUSE in between a stimulus and response. This pause is crucial to our ability to keep our focus on the right things and most importantly to keep our emotions from overtaking us! An example is to take a deep breath after hitting an errant overhead and refocus on the next shot vs. getting mad at yourself and allowing the frustration to carry over into the rest of the game.
Imagine you are riding on an elephant. As the rider, you are the thoughts and emotions, and the elephant is the response to your thoughts and emotions. Once the elephant senses your anger, sadness, loss of confidence, etc., it wants to take off! If it charges with you on it’s back, it will be too late, and you will not be able to control such a huge animal. Your goal is to be a thoughtful and aware rider! It is much like how we can be swept away by our thoughts and feelings; they can lead us wildly into actions that sabotage our potential. When we pause, we are like the mindful rider that chooses to respond in ways that takes control of the situation. This is mindfulness in action.
6 Tips to put PAUSE into practice:
- Become aware of the responses you would like to change and practice pausing before reacting when you are under less pressure.
- Take a breath! Utilize the box breath (I wrote about this technique in my March 22nd email) or simply take one or two deep breaths. This will create a natural pause and calm the nervous system.
- Repeat a Mantra. “Be where your feet are,” is one example that pauses and centers the mind and brings you to the present moment so you focus on the best course of action.
- Use a power pose. Stand tall and confident or fist pump like Nadal! Physical responses create powerful changes in the mind.
- Fix your strings between points (example). Develop a ritual between points or on the side-lines to pause, center and reset the mind.
- Practice, practice, practice! Don’t wait to practice this only in clutch moments. Allow yourself to experience the results in less intense situations. This is brain training that will become your new automatic response once you have created the habit. You will be surprised how your “pause” spills over into all aspects of your life.
High performance is revealed for those who are in the present moment. The mental stillness and control we exhibit will allow our inherent abilities to play out in full force!