Today’s Topic: Motivation & Consistency
Hello! I’m Rebecca, also known as Coach Rebecca. This is the first installment of our weekly “Q&A with Coach Rebecca.” And I am super excited about this. As some of you guys may know I am a big fan of 90-day goals, so I always encourage my clients to set them (Also, of course, with actionable items that they can do every single week to move forward and feel successful).
This is part of my personal 90-day goal: I am going to, every Monday for the next 11 weeks, be here with you answering questions. If you guys like it, I’ll keep it going.
The Perform Happy Community
I have reached out to the members in my community, the Perform Happy Community. If you don’t know about it yet you can go over to performhappy.com and check it out. It is my new favorite thing. I am building this community of people who are all working on building mental toughness. It’s for families, it’s for kids, and we have an ongoing expanding library of mental toughness training.
For example, this week in there we are going to be doing our third of six fear trainings. So I work with a lot of gymnasts, ice-skaters, trampoliners – different people who are a little nervous on certain skills. This week we’re working through building confidence and figuring out for yourself:
- What your confidence level is now
- Where it needs to be
- How to get there
And then after we’re done with fear we’re going to go to building confidence. When we’re done with that we’re going to go into finding flow, also known as “the zone.” As long as you guys keep building mental toughness I will keep coming up with trainings to keep you moving forward.
I am a sports psychology expert; I have a sports psychology master’s degree. My specialty is working with kids age 8 to 18 on things such as mental toughness, overcoming fear, building motivation, etc.
The first question I’m going to address is from one of my members in the Perform Happy Community. After I go through that I’ll see if you guys have any questions live, so feel free to tap in a question and hopefully I can get a chance to answer it. So we’ll start with this question…
Q: How can my daughter find motivation on bars when she feels she has been pushed aside by her coach for the rest of the season? She’s lost all motivation on bars since he’s told her she will not compete at all this season. It’s as if she has given up. She’s motivated in all other events, just not bars.
This is something that I work with a lot of swimmers on. Sometimes you get stuck on a plateau and it’s really hard when you’re not seeing tangible results. Here are a few ways to find motivation. The first is:
How do you build motivation in general?
My thought is always to see the big picture, because when you’re stuck in the moment of “this doesn’t feel fun” it’s hard to remember that getting out of your comfort zone and doing something “un-fun” is what’s going to get you to what you want (i.e., competing in college, moving up to the next level, or getting the next coach who coaches the next level).
If you think about the big picture it can be a little bit easier to digest a one-day-at-a-time that may feel “un-fun.” Though, my question for her is:
- Why are you doing it?
- Why do you show up?
- Why do you go to the gym?
- Why are the other events ok?
- Obviously it’s a coaching issue, but why do it?
Maybe it’s the fun of flying through the air. Sometimes it’s great to even write down “Why do I do it?” Get a list of why, and what makes it feel good. It may not even be the event. If that event is not fun, there has to be something that she can pull from another. The big picture of it all is something to keep in focus when you’re not feeling very excited. If she can get through it, hang in there, and do the best that she can one practice at a time then what’s next? What is she working toward; where does she want to go?
Here’s something that I am going to be talking about in my community either this or next week, in our fear training, I call it “filling the tank.”
Filling the tank
If you consider that your body, as an athlete, is your vehicle… then you’ve got your gas tank. I like to think of the heart as the gas tank. If your heart is full you can make your body do amazing things. If your heart is empty, it’s really hard. It’s like you’re pushing it uphill. It sounds like that is what’s going on for this particular situation.
What drains the tank?
Some of the things that can drain our tank are negative comments, repeated/perceived failure – often it’s not actually a failure like when you say “I’m failing, what’s the point?”
- Coaches being rude
- Teammates rolling eyes
- You’re not doing the skills
- You’re not having fun
- You don’t feel good
Your heart is draining.
When your heart, or tank, is draining, your ability to do scary, stressful stuff, or perform under pressure goes way down. This is one of the reasons why sometimes people who get blocked up in practice and can’t get their body to do what they want it to do, they excel in meets and competitions. Because there is this overall excitement. Everyone is positive, dressed up, ready to go and it’s fun. You’re in a different environment. Sometimes you can get a little more heart-power in a competition that you don’t have in training.
What fills the tank?
Think about what fills it. What are you grateful for? What’s going well? If your coach is not a source of inspiration, then what is?
I once had a girl who was working with the most awful coach: abusive, demeaning and unkind. She knew when she went to an event with the coach that he would not be the one to fill her up. She didn’t expect that from him. She showed up and he’d give her corrections, help her improve technique and become a better gymnast.
When she was feeling low she would look around at the little girls who are so impressed by her, even on her worst day. She was a phenomenal gymnast who felt like she was not good, doing well, or trying hard enough. But she’d see these big-eyed girls who looked amazed watching her and would shift her focus.
She understood that her progress was not for her coach, but for those little girls watching her. Figuring out what makes you feel good is helpful.
Q: The mental side of practice matches vs. the important matches
What I like to train people to do is to be consistent.
The way that you dissolve the pressure of a big match is by doing the exact same thing for every single practice, important or not.
Every single time that you go to do your sport you prepare in exactly the same way. If you’ve got a song that pumps you up, you listen to that on the way. If you’ve got a certain mantra that you say in your head, you say that. When you start into every single repetition you have the same cue words, the same thoughts, the same feelings. If you really are disciplined and train yourself, then there’s no difference. It is easier said than done.
Figure out where and when you operate the best.
If you operate better under pressure, figure out: what is it about that pressure? Is it that people will be watching? Whatever creates that urgency and drive for excellence, sort out what that is.
Anything that you can create in one scenario you can create in another just by figuring out what it was that set you up for that. Was it the focus? How can you carry out that spirit of “this matters” to every single repetition? Being super disciplined about that can make a huge difference. It makes it so that you show up at the Olympics and think the same thoughts. You listen to the same thing. You stretch the same way You take the same breaths. And you’ve got the same performance. I’ve seen this over and over.
If you’re letting things be different based on the weight of the competition, “important” or “less important,” you’re not going to know which version of the competition is going to show up that day. But if you’re disciplined and you do it day in and day out. It’s like you flip a switch and it’s time to be excellent.
Q: Playing to win vs. playing not to lose
This is a huge thing for perfectionists. I see this a lot with gymnasts where they really don’t want to fall. For a second here I want you guys to not imagine a giant purple bunny who’s holding a red carrot that’s jumping up and down. Don’t picture this purple bunny hopping up and down. Give me a thumbs up if you just pictured this. You probably did. If you tell your brain “don’t…” your brain will do it. It’s going to think about what you’re not supposed to think about. When you think about “don’t fall off the beam,” you’ll imagine yourself falling off the beam. If you think “don’t fail,” you’ll think about failing which makes your muscles tense up. And then you don’t know and you’re unpredictable.
Consistency and stability
A lot of what I do is create consistency and stability by doing the same thing over and over while figuring out what works. So if you’re out there to “not fall,” you’ll often tighten up and won’t go big or do what you’re used to during training. The root of the issue in playing to win vs. playing not to lose is: you’re in the future. You’re in the outcome instead of in the moment (which is where the magic happens). If you hope you don’t fail, you’re changing what you would’ve done naturally and you’re in the future missing important cues. When you’re under pressure, your focus narrows in. You think only about what is most pertinent or most threatening. So if you’re thinking about winning or losing or any of that you are not doing yourself a favor.
The best thing you can do is be present. Keep reminding yourself of this and include this in your routine. Anything mental training-wise should be practiced for at least a couple of weeks before competitions. Do this at practice especially. It doesn’t really matter what the outcome is, because if you’re in the outcome instead of doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re not going to be as good. There’s pressure to it and all it does is distract.
If you guys have questions, please email me at CoachRebeccaSmith@gmail.com or check out my website at CompletePerformanceCoaching.com. I will be back next week for some really interesting questions that I would like to go into. In my community I have regular Q&A’s and training for members. I also have a private Facebook that has a monthly live parent Q&A, so if you want more there are lots of ways to get to me. I hope to see you soon!
Perform Consistently Under Pressure
Sign up below to get my FREE Mental Toughness Checklist. Changing your mindset could change your life.