Hi everybody.  Welcome to Q&A with Coach Rebecca.  I’m Rebecca Smith.  If you’re asking me, it’s been an interesting and long couple of weeks for me and probably for a lot of other people.  I’ve been working with the athletes in the PerformHappy community on ways to re-emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown as if the shutdown never happened.

I have a hypothesis that this shutdown is going to separate the champions from the recreational athletes.  It’s going to separate the truly dedicated, truly committed, true athletes from the people who were just there for social hour.  What’s going to be a big part of that is who is mentally tough when they return.  So something that I’ve been doing to support my group, my team, my membership is offering daily challenges.

First, we started with an imagery challenge, then we had a challenge that’s specifically for breaking through mental blocks.  This week we’re doing one that’s open to the public, which is the mental toughness challenge.  We have had hundreds of athletes showing up live.  You’re welcome to join us for the last couple of days.  Click here to join with password: iamtough.

The first week of challenges was so important to me to get out right away because that’s an absolute game-changer.  That’s going to make or break whether you are able to go right back in and do your skills or if it’s going take you a total rebuild.  I’m going to give you six different ways to visualize.  I’m using the words “imagery” and “visualization” because I think visualizing is a word we hear more often.  The more accurate word is imagery because it’s not just about seeing yourself doing something like you’re watching a movie, it’s almost like virtual reality where you’re seeing it, you’re smelling it, you’re tasting it, you’re feeling it – everything is happening in real-time as if it’s really happening.  That’s how I want you to approach it.  Your entire sensory experience is believing that what’s happening in your imagery is happening in real life.

1. Find Your Happy Place

On the first day of the challenge, we started off in our happy place.  Now, this can be a place that you’ve traveled to or a place that’s completely made up in your mind.  It can be a little tree you used to climb when you were a little girl – anything that feels happy to you is an amazing place to go and recreate, especially when you’re not feeling so happy in life.  When things are not feeling fantastic, if you’re not feeling like you’re on a winning streak, that’s a great one to pull out.

2. Skill Practice

The second day we worked on skill practice.  I wanted to start them off with the happiness so they could at least get some practice with that polysensory, really detailed way of imagining things.  Then we went into skills.  That means that we broke down skills and imagined them in the best possible way.  When you do this right, your brain doesn’t know the difference between you doing it in your mind and doing it in your body.  Studies have shown that you can improve massively, 23%, even if you haven’t physically executed a skill.  24% if you physically execute, 23% if you don’t.  It’s only slightly less.  Of course, if you’re not doing any practice, you improve zero, so skill practice is really important.

3. Peak Performance

This is going back into the past and imagining something awesome, a performance of your past where you nailed it.  What that does is it brings your confidence up because you think, “Oh yeah, I did that.  Oh I am kind of amazing, aren’t I,” and that primes you for craving more of those.

4. Future Success

So we went to the past and found success and then we went into the future when you imagine what’s possible.  It’s so good!  It gets you motivated.  It gets you ready, like, “What can I do?  I can’t do Yurchenko vault into a pit right now, but darn it, I can do some leg lifts.  I can work my core.  There’s something I can do that’s going to get me moving in that right direction!”

5. Situation Imagery

Situation imagery is taking the scariness out of a conversation or a situation that makes you nervous.  This can be for a job interview or for a tough conversation with a coach – it can be for anything, any situation where you’re thinking, “Oh gosh, what if this doesn’t go well?” And you imagine it going perfectly.  When you do that, you see it going perfectly, then it’s not so daunting.  Then, you actually walk into the real situation with your chin held high, feeling like, “This is going to be great.  My coach is totally going to hear me on this and we’re going to walk out feeling like that was really productive.”

6. Healing Imagery

The last day we talked about healing imagery.  This is recommended by doctors and by lots of sports psychologists because it’s been proven to actually speed up healing and improve outcomes with physical therapy because it keeps people feeling better.  When you feel better, you’re more motivated.  When you’re more motivated, you get your PT done, and it also actually speeds up the healing.

There are some pretty wild studies on how well healing imagery works.  A couple of our girls who struggle with mental blocks use the healing imagery to heal their brain.  They look at their brain like the mental block is an injury, healing it, getting it back in action, building up their confidence.  It was pretty cool how these girls used it.

For any PerformHappy members, you have access to this forever and ever.  It’s in the challenges section and we’re adding to that every single week.  If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll join us to get a little taste of PerformHappy this week in the mental toughness challenge. Also, in the link I’m going to post, you can download the free workbook for the challenge and a peak performance imagery recording where I will actually walk you through a peak performance imagery that you can use to boost confidence.

If you have any questions, reach out to me rebecca@performhappy.com and I will see you soon.

Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.