Carrie Cheadle - Mental Skills Training Coach » Mental Skills Training http://carriecheadle.com Master your mental game & take control of your sport performance Tue, 17 Feb 2015 20:09:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Persistence: How to Embrace Plan Bhttp://carriecheadle.com/persistence-embrace-plan-b/ http://carriecheadle.com/persistence-embrace-plan-b/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 17:48:15 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4198 It was supposed to be sunny and it’s raining You thought it would be a blowout and now you’re behind You go to the pool for your swim and showed up on the wrong day You were on pace for a PR, but missed a course marker and added 5 miles to your bike You […]

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One stone at a time

One stone at a time

  • It was supposed to be sunny and it’s raining
  • You thought it would be a blowout and now you’re behind
  • You go to the pool for your swim and showed up on the wrong day
  • You were on pace for a PR, but missed a course marker and added 5 miles to your bike
  • You were working towards a goal and thought it would take six months, but it’s become clear that it will take more like a year and a half

Sometimes (in sport and in life), things don’t go as smoothly or easily as you would like. Or things don’t go the way you expect. When expectations meet reality and the two don’t match up, it can throw you completely off your game.

When faced with this kind of challenge – do you give up or do you adjust?

I was inspired to write this blog after I posted the quote pic you see here on my Facebook page.

 “The man who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones.” Chinese Proverb

When I first read the quote, I imagined that the man looked up at the mountain and immediately knew that there would be no way to move it all at once and began his task of moving the mountain, stone by stone. But then I thought, maybe he did try to move the mountain all at once and eventually over time realized he was going to have to do it one stone at a time.

There are times when you will face a challenge, like moving a mountain. You come up with a game plan, commit to the plan, attack the challenge with everything you’ve got, and the mountain doesn’t move. You try to push the mountain again and nothing. This time you turn around and try to push with your back and you happen to look don and see the stones, but you stick to your original plan trying to force your expectations to influence reality. You keep pushing against the mountain because when you look down at those stones, they make you angry and then they make you want to cry. You don’t want to go to Plan B.

We don’t like having to change our game plan. I talk about this in my book (it’s in Chapter 6: Choosing Your Focus). I talk about how one of the distractions that can shift your focus from where it needs to be is this idea of “fighting against the present” or “butting heads” with what’s happening. You can get so caught up not wanting things to be the way they are, that it can be really difficult to shift your focus to where it needs to be.

Sure … it would feel amazing to move the mountain with one enormous and courageous push and feel the instant power of that incredible and monumental shift. To have it play out exactly the way you had hoped it would – the way you had it planned in your mind. You have to stop pushing against the mountain waiting for it to move. The quicker you realize and accept the fact that pushing against the mountain is not going to work, the quicker you are to discover that you can still move that mountain, just not the way you had originally thought.

You tried to move the mountain and it wouldn’t budge – so you can quit – or you can pick up a stone. It’s just as amazing – and sometimes more so – to create that shift moving one stone at a time. The key is to pick up that stone and know that the action means you are adapting and persisting – not pick up the stone and think the action means you have failed. It can be tempting to feel that it’s more tolerable to give up than to have to pick up a stone.

You will still have a moment before acceptance where you will feel confused, angry, frustrated, sad, annoyed, and utterly disappointed. And then you take a deep breath and let persistence keep you going. The key to persistence is being able to adjust. Being able to change your game plan and not see that as failure. Persistence means that you keep going despite the difficulty surrounding the task. Persistence means if you can’t move the mountain all at once then you start picking up stones.

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Build Confidence with Deliberate Practice and Simulation Traininghttp://carriecheadle.com/build-confidence-deliberate-practice-simulation-training/ http://carriecheadle.com/build-confidence-deliberate-practice-simulation-training/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:01:43 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4118 I’ve got a major newsflash … YOU GET GOOD AT WHAT YOU PRACTICE. It’s crazy, but it’s true. OK – I know that you already know this – but it’s amazing how sometimes we don’t actually put that thought into action. This podcast pulls together two imperative concepts for improving your athletic performance – simulation […]

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Practice, practice, practice

Practice, practice, practice

I’ve got a major newsflash … YOU GET GOOD AT WHAT YOU PRACTICE. It’s crazy, but it’s true. OK – I know that you already know this – but it’s amazing how sometimes we don’t actually put that thought into action. This podcast pulls together two imperative concepts for improving your athletic performance – simulation training and deliberate practice.

When you’re an athlete and you want to be On Top of Your Game, you need to build your fitness, but you also need to be a student of yourself and a student of your sport in order to build your performance.

Simulation training means creating opportunities to practice some part of your performance in a way that is as close as possible to actual competition. You’re simulating in training what you will be facing in your game or race. Deliberate practice means actually using your training to deliberately work on some aspect of your performance versus just going through the motions and checking your training off of your to-do list. When you pair these two things together, not only do you boost your confidence, but you work on becoming an expert in your sport as well. You get better at what you practice so be sure you’re practicing right. Listen to this podcast to hear tips on how to build your confidence and work on your mental game by creating your own opportunities for simulation training and deliberate practice.

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Reframing the Butterflies: How to Feel Calm and Confidenthttp://carriecheadle.com/reframing-butterflies-feel-calm-confident/ http://carriecheadle.com/reframing-butterflies-feel-calm-confident/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:22:43 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4109 There isn’t an athlete out there that hasn’t experienced some pre-race nerves at some point in their athletic endeavors. When you’re competing and pushing yourself to the limit, feeling nervous and anxious is just part of the package. However, there does come a point when some normal pre-race nerves move from manageable to miserable. For […]

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Are there butterflies buzzing around in your stomach?

Are there butterflies buzzing around in your stomach?

There isn’t an athlete out there that hasn’t experienced some pre-race nerves at some point in their athletic endeavors. When you’re competing and pushing yourself to the limit, feeling nervous and anxious is just part of the package. However, there does come a point when some normal pre-race nerves move from manageable to miserable. For some people, those butterflies feel more like unruly dragons clawing at the walls of your stomach trying to burst out. I know, at times, that’s how they feel to me! In Chapter 4 of my book, I share a story about the debilitating butterflies I felt every time I approached my home resort to go out for a day of snowboarding … and I wasn’t even competing!

Too many butterflies not only feels miserable, but those nerves have physiological and psychological impact that can negatively effect your athletic performance. On this podcast I share a technique you can use (it’s one I use!) to help calm those butterflies and feel more confident, excited, and in control of your performance.

 

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Want to Perform Better – Start Writing Stuff Downhttp://carriecheadle.com/want-perform-better-start-writing-stuff/ http://carriecheadle.com/want-perform-better-start-writing-stuff/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:29:00 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=4033 Anyone that’s ever worked with me knows that I love giving people homework. I love making people write things down. When I give my athletes homework and ask them to write things down, most of them are willing participants in the process. But every once in a while I work with an athlete somehow keeps […]

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Choose Your Writing Instrument

Choose Your Writing Instrument

Anyone that’s ever worked with me knows that I love giving people homework. I love making people write things down. When I give my athletes homework and ask them to write things down, most of them are willing participants in the process. But every once in a while I work with an athlete somehow keeps “forgetting” to do their homework, but really they just hate writing!

The act of writing gets a bad rap. The connotations invoked by the idea of writing stuff down often makes people think of:

  1. visions of homework they didn’t want to do (and certainly don’t want to do now)
  2. memories of time wasted at work
  3. images of 13-year-old girls writing the words “Dear Diary …” in a pink journals with a tiny “fool-proof” lock, recounting the boy troubles of the day (and yes – I’m quite certain I have a few of those entries in my journaling past)
  4.  a list of excuses including but not limited to… my spelling is bad, my hand-writing is bad, and I don’t know what to say

However, when you’re an athlete, the other type of writing you might encounter has more to do with data and logs versus processing your feelings and emotions. But even some of you out there would rather not have to write out your data and logs as well. If you’ve been on the fence about writing things down, here are three compelling reasons why you should consider making it happen:

1)   Your memory isn’t reliable

You can’t just rely on your memory when you’re trying to recall how you performed at a specific competition. When trying to recall a past memory it’s more like our brain tries to re-create the story and there are many things that can affect the re-creation of a memory. Many times these stories are a re-creation of the emotions we felt and not an accurate depiction of what really happened. Writing things down ensures that you have a better record of the true event.

Not only does writing it down create a more accurate reflection of the events, but the physical act of writing causes your brain to bring it to the forefront of your mind, which makes you pay more attention to it and increases your chances of remembering it.

2) It’s like “feng shui” for your brain

Writing stuff down often helps you clear the “clutter” out of your mind. Through the act of writing you process what’s actually important and what isn’t, which is why people often feel lighter when they’re done. If you have a lot on your mind as you’re going into practice or competition – you can “write-it-out”, as in write it down and get it out of your head so you can save that energy. When the clutter is gone it allows space for more higher-level and creative thinking.

Writing can also help shift your emotional state and bring you back into the present moment. If you’re upset about how something went down and you need to regroup and move on to your next performance, writing things out can help you let go and move forward (Try out the “Incident Report” worksheet from Chapter 9).

3) It makes your experience “real”

Once you’ve written something down, you’ve created something tangible. By putting pen to paper you’ve solidified your experience.

It can also increase your feeling of commitment to whatever it is that you wrote down. For example, writing out your Post-Competition Evaluation (check out the worksheets from Chapter 8) can help solidify accurate attributions for your successes, which enhances your expectations for future success and can also solidify what you learned from the experience so you can improve upon it moving forward. Writing things down moves you from going through the motions to building on each performance.

“But Carrie … what if I don’t like writing stuff down?”

Guess what? You don’t have to! But if you kind of want to, yet somehow keep not doing it, here are some tips:

  • Keep it simple
  • Make it easy
  • Do what works for you

If you’d rather do it on the computer, then do it on the computer (although studies do show that handwriting is better for learning). If you’d rather write with pen and paper, then write with pen and paper. If you’d rather not type or write at all, then get a program like Dragon Dictate to do it for you. If creating a template makes it more likely that you’ll fill it out, then create a template. Just pick one thing and try it out. Do a couple of the mental skills training worksheets or commit to writing out post-competition evaluations. Or if you do want to log more regularly, you can create “recovery” from logging as well. Give yourself two days off a week or one week off a month from logging. Figure out what works for you.

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Stop Getting Distracted: How Athletes Choose Their Focushttp://carriecheadle.com/stop-getting-distracted-athletes-choose-focus/ http://carriecheadle.com/stop-getting-distracted-athletes-choose-focus/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 21:25:53 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3774 The Olympians competing in Sochi have a lot to teach us about dealing with distractions. From the lead up to the games to the moment of competition, these athletes are constantly having to decide what they need to pay attention to what they need to let go of. There have been numerous external distractions – […]

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2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

The Olympians competing in Sochi have a lot to teach us about dealing with distractions. From the lead up to the games to the moment of competition, these athletes are constantly having to decide what they need to pay attention to what they need to let go of. There have been numerous external distractions – just to name a few:

The list could go on and on.

And then there are the internal distractions. The thoughts and worries that can occupy their minds. The pressure that they put on themselves. Thinking about the sacrifices their families have made. What it means for them to be there competing for their country. Holding onto concerns about how they performed (or didn’t) in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. For some, knowing that this might be their last Olympic Games. Not to mention that any athlete that has had any hardship or trauma will be hearing about it in the media over and over again leading up to their event (think Lolo Jones, Bode Miller, Emily Scott, Lindsey Jacobellis … just to name a few.) The potential distractions are endless.

This is a tremendous thing to ask of these athletes – to have to hold onto all of this as they approach the moment that they’ve been training for the past four years. The ability to focus on the things that are relevant to your performance and let go of the things that are irrelevant is one of the most essential mental skills an athlete can have.

Even if you’re not an Olympian, there are still numerous distractions that you must navigate. There will be times when you are going to need to compartmentalize. Yes – you could think about all of these things and still compete, but I can guarantee you won’t perform to your potential. You have to figure out how to hold onto and focus on the aspects of competition that are in your control and let go of the ones that aren’t. Especially when they add no value and only take away from your performance. It’s not an easy choice, but it is a choice. Give yourself permission to stay in the moment and on what’s relevant to your performance.

You can go to my website and download free mental skills training worksheets from Chapter 6 of my book On Top of Your Game to work on your focus on not letting distractions sabotage your performance.

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How to Break Through a Performance Slumphttp://carriecheadle.com/prevent-performance-slump/ http://carriecheadle.com/prevent-performance-slump/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2013 18:05:56 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3107 Even the best athletes at the top of their game have times when their motivation is low. When it comes to motivation, it’s natural for everyone to go through periods of ebb and flow. There will be times when you feel like your motivation is unstoppable and that you have endless drive and energy for […]

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Batter strikes out again.

Batter strikes out again.

Even the best athletes at the top of their game have times when their motivation is low. When it comes to motivation, it’s natural for everyone to go through periods of ebb and flow. There will be times when you feel like your motivation is unstoppable and that you have endless drive and energy for training and competition. Then there will be times when you have to force yourself out the door to get to practice and feel like you want to quit your sport altogether.

This blog post is an excerpt from my eBook Inspired: Monthly Motivation for Athletes. It’s a free eBook available to folks who join my mailing list. This excerpt is just one small example of the incredible content available to help you proactively work on your motivation. Each month provides a quote, an inspirational story, a motivational mental skills tool, and an assessment page to reflect and solidify what you learned about your own personal motivational journey over that month.

I hope you enjoy this tip and be sure to get on my email list if you want the whole book!

Breaking Through a Plateau

At some point during your athletic career, chances are you will hit a plateau. You’re working hard and motivated to improve, but feel like you’re moving nowhere. How you deal with this situation will either send you down the road to retirement or bring your athletic performance to the next level. Hitting a plateau can be cancerous to your motivation. It can make you start to question your confidence and doubt your ability. It’s time to get your mojo back.

Make the decision to turn it around

If you don’t play your cards right, your plateau can turn into a slump. Don’t let your plateau snowball out of control. Make the decision today to turn it around. That doesn’t mean that everything will magically get better, or that you’ll be back to your old self in a few days, but it does mean that you are committing to change you attitude and take back control.

Diagnosis: Is it physical or mental?

It’s important to rule out whether your plateau could be related to something physical versus something mental. Are you fighting off a virus? Has there been a change in the weather or your level of intensity? Are you utilizing optimal nutrition and hydration for athletic performance? Are you playing with an overuse injury? Peak performance is a combination of optimal body and mind. Make sure that both are working to their potential.

Top 25

What would it take to be at the top of your game? Use the next page to list 25 things that you need to do in order to be at the top of your game. You may not need to do them all, but you have to be willing to do them all if you truly want to bust through this plateau. Pick one item off the list and set a goal with a timeline for when you will achieve that goal. Then pick another item. As you accomplish things off of your list, use that momentum to keep moving you forward.  Pretty soon you’ll find yourself on the upward swing.

If you like this post and want to work on your own motivation, be sure to sign up for my email list and get your free copy of my eBook Inspired (just scroll to the top of this post and look to the right or scroll to the bottom of the post  – enter your email and you’ll instantly get the book)!

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Goal Sabotage: Is Fear Holding You Back From Going After Your Goals?http://carriecheadle.com/goal-sabotage-is-fear-holding-you-back-from-going-after-your-goals/ http://carriecheadle.com/goal-sabotage-is-fear-holding-you-back-from-going-after-your-goals/#comments Wed, 24 Jul 2013 16:32:14 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=3069 Have you noticed how sometimes it seems that as you grow older, your dreams grow smaller? Maybe your priorities change over time as your responsibilities increase …  Or maybe when you think about a potential dream or a big goal you start to calculate the required effort against the probability of accomplishment and decide it’s […]

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Kid dreaming of being a pilot

“Someday I’ll be able to fly that plane …”

Have you noticed how sometimes it seems that as you grow older, your dreams grow smaller? Maybe your priorities change over time as your responsibilities increase …  Or maybe when you think about a potential dream or a big goal you start to calculate the required effort against the probability of accomplishment and decide it’s not really worth the investment. Or maybe it it all comes down to the dreaded, dream-sabotaging, four-letter word:

FEAR

When you’re a kid, you weren’t afraid to dream big and set big goals (I want to be President, I want to be an astronaut, I want to be the fastest runner in the world, etc.) and it wasn’t an attack on your self-worth when you didn’t get accomplish that big dream goal.

As you get older those big dreams end up giving way to all of the “what-ifs” and fears you have. You hold yourself back from dreaming big because you’re afraid of what it means if you fail.

  • What will people think when I tell them my big goal?
  • Will they laugh at me? Think it’s ridiculous?
  • What if they don’t believe in me?
  • And what if I tell people and then fall flat on my face?
  • What will people think? What if I can’t do it?

We decide to remain right where we are because not knowing whether or not we could have accomplished that big goal is emotionally safer than trying and failing. Holding yourself back from going after a goal because you might not accomplish it is like buying a toy and never taking it out of the package to play with it, “Well I don’t want to take it out of the package and play with it because someday it might break and then what will I do?” Not knowing what it’s like to play with your toy prevents you from the heartache of the day when your toy MIGHT break. You let your fears and doubts and what-ifs talk you into either automatically assuming you aren’t capable of accomplishing the goal or tricking you into thinking you don’t really want to go after that goal anyway.

It gets even more complicated when you add in your feelings around what it means to be successful with your goals. W. Clement Stone once said, “Aim for the moon, if you miss, you may hit a star”. The problem is that we define “hitting a star” as “EPIC FAIL”. The stars aren’t the moon so it’s not good enough to just land among the stars. The act of going for after your goals can be just as worthy and fulfilling as actually accomplishing them if you allow yourself to open up your definition of success and be OK with the risk of not accomplishing the goal. You don’t focus on the fear of not accomplishing your goal, you simply accept that the risk of not accomplishing that goal comes in the same package with the possibility of accomplishing it.

I often get asked, “But how do I know if I am holding myself back, or I’m just being realistic?” Sometimes it takes a little exploration to figure out where that line is. But usually if you’re honest with yourself when you do your gut check – you know the difference between holding back because of fear and holding back because of reality. My homework for you is to think about how can you get back to looking at the world through those big wide eyes? Seeing the world through the eyes of possibility instead of the eyes of defeat. Instead of seeing fear and doubt, see courage and strength. What’s a dream you have that feels like it’s a little too big, but when you think about it you feel that spark of excitement in your belly? Take a minute to see the possibility of accomplishing that goal through those big wide eyes and see how it feels to take a step forward. Allow yourself to be excited about the possibility. Allow yourself to be afraid and go for it anyway. Have you been inspired? What dream goal are you going to go after?

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Inspiration, Patience, and Giving Yourself a Breakhttp://carriecheadle.com/inspiration-patience-and-giving-yourself-a-break/ http://carriecheadle.com/inspiration-patience-and-giving-yourself-a-break/#comments Wed, 19 Jun 2013 14:57:23 +0000 http://www.carriecheadle.com/?p=3029 I’m back from another amazing camp. Some of you know that I am the Mental Skills Director for Diabetes Training Camp. I just got back from a week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we have held our last 2 camps at Franklin & Marshall College. While in the midst of being challenged to practice what I preach […]

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I’m back from another amazing camp. Some of you know that I am the Mental Skills Director for Diabetes Training Camp. I just got back from a week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we have held our last 2 camps at Franklin & Marshall College.

Home of "The Hub" for 2013 Diabetes Training Camp at F & M College

Home of “The Hub” for 2013 Diabetes Training Camp at F & M College

While in the midst of being challenged to practice what I preach and being slapped in the face with a very big dose of what is in my control and what is out of my control (I am dealing with lost files and emails which is affecting what I was going to work on today) – I decided to shift gears to something that is in my control and write this post!

Every year we tell the campers that we learn just as much from them as we humbly hope they have learned from us – and every year that is true. Here are the top 3 lessons I am taking away from camp this year:

Surround yourself with inspiring people

From the campers to the staff – I am surrounded by amazing people at each camp that I go to. To be around people that are motivated and willing to work hard and struggle, but are open to learn and ready to challenge themselves is truly amazing. To be able to work with a staff that is not only incredibly competent, but passionate about the work is phenomenal. The lesson here is to surround yourself with people that inspire you. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good and share your passion for what you love to do. People that will both push you, encourage you, and inspire you to be a better person and a better athlete.

Have patience when dealing with change

I’m in the midst of my own “fundamental” changes (shifting everything from Outlook to using Gmail and Google Calendar) and let’s just say there have been some significant hiccups along the way. When you are making fundamental changes to your game (or your life) that will be beneficial in the long run, know that you may experience some frustration in the short run. The lesson here is to be patient. Not only do you need to be patient, but when you do feel that frustration, you need to reach out for the support you need so you can trust your plan and persevere.

You’re doing better than you think

When there is so much you want to do and improve upon, it can be hard to recognize the good you are already doing and be able to see how far you’ve come. Give yourself credit and give yourself a break. You are often your own biggest critic. The lesson here is to acknowledge your efforts and challenge your definition of “success”. Don’t withhold praise for yourself until you have reached some point of achievement in the future – a date you keep pushing further and further away as you up the ante. Be proud of the journey and the milestones along the way.

And the biggest lesson is: if you ever have the opportunity to go to a camp – go for it!

 

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Why Striving for Perfection Might be Hurting Your Performancehttp://carriecheadle.com/stop-letting-your-perfectionism-get-in-your-way/ http://carriecheadle.com/stop-letting-your-perfectionism-get-in-your-way/#comments Tue, 05 Feb 2013 18:43:29 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=1751 Perfectionism is a hot topic to explore in sport psychology. When you’re working with athletes that are striving to be the best in the world, how can you tell them that perfectionism isn’t something they should be trying to achieve? Could an athlete’s perfectionist tendencies actually be beneficial? There is a difference between striving for […]

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Gymnast focusing before vault

Is your perfectionism holding you back?

Perfectionism is a hot topic to explore in sport psychology. When you’re working with athletes that are striving to be the best in the world, how can you tell them that perfectionism isn’t something they should be trying to achieve? Could an athlete’s perfectionist tendencies actually be beneficial? There is a difference between striving for perfection and being a perfectionist. Perfectionists will do everything possible to not fail. If you are a perfectionist, when you don’t reach perfection, you judge yourself harshly for it. Striving for perfection means you will try to do everything you can to succeed. They may sound like the same thing, but there is a world of difference between them.

My own perfectionism reared it’s ugly head and was in fact the catalyst for this post. I recently did some work to my website and somehow ended up with this:

A Screen Shot of a Mistake on Carrie's Website

Why is this happening to me!!??

At the top of my site was a a seemingly permanent sentence that read “Warning: illegal string offset blah blah blah.” It wasn’t something that could be fixed right away and I had a major meltdown thinking about all of the people that would come to my website and see this horrible glaring imperfection right at the top of the screen. What will people think!!? I’ll tell you what they’ll think; they will think I’m a total unprofessional hack! In my mind that sentence read, “Warning: Here is possibly the most ridiculous ‘professional’ you will ever come across in Mental Skills Training.” Harsh – I know. Luckily, my wonderful husband talked me off the ledge and I was actually able to let it go and know that it would be fixed as soon as possible (breathe) and then went and enjoyed a day of snowboarding instead of letting it ruin my trip (and my entire life). So how did I do it? How was I able to go from my perfectionist meltdown to an impervious imperfectionist?

If you really want to stop letting your perfectionism get in your way you need to do these three things:

  1. Stop judging: Stop judging everyone and everything around you – including yourself. Recognize when you are judging yourself and let that judgement go. It will be the most rewarding and liberating thing you will ever do.
  2. Have compassion: Give yourself a break. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You would never think those awful thoughts about anyone else, so stop thinking them about yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back for all of your hard work and efforts. If you’re having a hard time saying something nice, contact me and I will do it for you!
  3. Have a sense of humor: Laughter has an incredible stress-reducing and mood-lifting affect. Cultivate the ability to laugh at yourself; laugh, shake your head, and move on.

Perfectionism will hold you back. It seems like a strange thing to say when referring to an athlete trying to achieve peak performance in sport. But if you are constantly judging yourself, you won’t have the courage and confidence it takes to make the mistakes you need to make in order to improve your performance.

I recently found myself in a space of needing to deliberately work on managing my stress and yoga always felt like a moving meditation for me so I worked up the courage to try out a yoga class at my gym. One of the things I like about the instructor is that she does a great job of helping you to just focus on yourself and be OK with where you are currently at – both mentally and physically. When we are holding a balance pose and someone falls out of the pose, she reminds us to have a sense of humor about it and smile versus getting frustrated and embarrassed about being the only person not standing like a tree (yes – that was me… and yes – I was actually able to smile about it). Because of her words, she helps you to shift your focus from comparing yourself to others to being OK with where you are at in your own practice. In short, she helps you to stop judging where you are or aren’t, have compassion for yourself, and have a sense of humor about the whole thing. It’s only by doing this that you will allow yourself the room to grow and improve as an athlete.

Leave a comment and share how your own perfectionism has helped or hurt your performance.

photo credit: Simon & His Camera via photopin cc

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Attitude is the Secret to Winninghttp://carriecheadle.com/how-to-win-the-superbowl/ http://carriecheadle.com/how-to-win-the-superbowl/#comments Tue, 29 Jan 2013 17:03:09 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=1931 Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can feel that the air is charged with energy and excitement for the upcoming Super Bowl XLVII (yes I had to look up how to convert the number 47 in roman numerals). I can’t wait to watch the game this Sunday and I’m not the only one. […]

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Getting mentally ready for the big game

Getting ready to play the big game

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can feel that the air is charged with energy and excitement for the upcoming Super Bowl XLVII (yes I had to look up how to convert the number 47 in roman numerals). I can’t wait to watch the game this Sunday and I’m not the only one. There are many exciting stories, both inspirational and controversial, that are happening with this particular Super Bowl (the fact that the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens happen to share the same last name because they are brothers, the choice to keep Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers starting quarterback over Alex Smith, the controversial Ray Lewis story), but the thing that motivated me to write my very first football inspired blog post was hearing John Madden talking to San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

I was driving home from working with a team on the subtleties of how beliefs and desire impact sport performance when I caught these two accomplished football coaches talking to each other on KCBS. At one point Harbaugh, recognizing that Madden has A LOT more experience with Super Bowl games than he does, asks Madden point blank, “What advice can you give me; 1st time coach going to the Super Bowl?” After first praising Harbaugh for being a great coach, he then gives him two pieces of advice for increasing his chances of winning the Super Bowl game AND THEY ARE BOTH MENTAL. Madden basically said:

  • Whichever team gets down there and complains the most usually loses.
  • Whichever team gets down there and is celebrating the most usually loses.

What John Madden told Jim Harbaugh is that in all of his years of experience, these are the two most important things to consider when headed to the Super Bowl. He’s telling Harbaugh not to let his team lose focus on why they are there and what they are there to do. So take this to heart for your own performance. If you have an important event coming up, follow John Madden’s advice:

Don’t complain: Complaining usually means that you are wasting your precious energy and resources focusing on things that are out of your control. The teams and athletes that can roll with the punches and make the adjustments are usually the ones that claim victory.

It’s not over until it’s over: I’m all for celebrating success, but there is a time and a place. Do it too soon and it becomes a distraction that negatively impacts your performance. I learned this lesson the hard way recently (OK fine… it was a few years ago, but it was really scary – and also hilarious) when I finally succeeded in navigating a switchback on a mountain bike descent and found myself celebrating as I rode right off the trail. (Lucky for me it was into a rocky field and not off of a cliff!)

When you go to the “big game” it’s hard to keep your head exactly where it needs to be. Between all of the nerves and the excitement you can find yourself straying from the mental and physical game plan you would normally engage in before competition. Take Madden’s advice, (and the advice based on years of research in sport psychology!) and remember to be resilient and stay in the moment.

So… any predictions? Will it be the 49ers or the Ravens? You know my vote – Who do you think is going to win Super Bowl 47?

photo credit: ALalto via photopin cc

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How to Get Out the Door When You Don’t Want to Workouthttp://carriecheadle.com/how-to-get-out-the-door-when-you-dont-want-to-workout/ http://carriecheadle.com/how-to-get-out-the-door-when-you-dont-want-to-workout/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 17:05:31 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=1521 “I don’t want to workout today!” This is the time of year when it sometimes becomes difficult to get your workouts in. When it’s cold and wet outside, you start to think that maybe it would be OK to skip your workout today. When you’re overbooked with obligations and holiday parties, the thought of getting […]

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Carrie at trail run on a cold day

Maybe I should just go back inside…

“I don’t want to workout today!”

This is the time of year when it sometimes becomes difficult to get your workouts in. When it’s cold and wet outside, you start to think that maybe it would be OK to skip your workout today. When you’re overbooked with obligations and holiday parties, the thought of getting up early or getting in your training after work feels like the last thing you want to do. Just scanning through some recent facebook and twitter posts  – I’ve read pleas from people asking for some inspiration for getting their workouts in.

I am not immune to those work-out sabotaging thoughts and feelings when it comes to wanting to skip a workout. Being an expert in this stuff, I have many tools in my belt that I can use to help me boost and sustain my motivation. I’m going to share with you two of the Mental Skills I use (and suggest to my athletes) that can help you get your workout in and feel good while you’re doing it.

Getting yourself to workout

It’s natural to have times when you don’t feel like working out. Sometimes that feeling is a message from your brain to your body letting you know that you need to take a break. But sometimes it’s your inner-toddler reacting to being overbooked that wants to stomp his or her feet and say “NO! I’m NOT going!” And let’s face it – sometimes we just want to be lazy. These last two are examples of times when you really need to mentally shift gears in order to get yourself motivated to go get in your training. When you have a workout planned and you start to feel the pull of not wanting to go – do this:

Spend some time visualizing yourself working out. Here are some of the elements you want to include:

  • See yourself getting dressed for your workout
  • See yourself leaving the house to go get in your workout
  • See yourself feeling strong and enjoying yourself during your workout 

When you see yourself doing these things in your mind first, you’re more likely to make them happen. If you have to get up early and get your workout in – take time to visualize before you fall asleep. If you plan to head out after a long day at work – take time during your work day to visualize. When you take this small step, you’ve already mentally mapped it out. You’ve created a stronger neural pathway to reinforce the behavior you want when it actually comes time to chose whether or not you are will go work out. Try it and then come back and tell me how it went! I swear you’l be amazed.

Enjoying your workout

So you got yourself out the door and you’re working out – but now you’re dragging your feet and feeling like you wish you had just stayed home. During those moments when you’re working hard and the effort you’re exerting feels like it’s more than you can handle, try this:

In that moment when you’re suffering, visualize yourself accomplishing your ultimate goal. When you feel like you want to quit, see yourself actually doing what you’re training for.

For me, the picture I go to in my mind when I’m running and I want to stop, is seeing myself snowboarding. I see myself flying down the mountain feeling strong. When I run this movie in my mind, I immediately feel better. My entire attitude (and pain tolerance) changes in that one moment. I know that there is a purpose to what I’m doing and that there is absolutely no where else I would rather be than right here, making myself stronger so I can make a live version of that movie.

When you do this, you base your immediate decision on what you really value versus what you want right now.

Two simple steps that increase the odds that you’ll get out the door and feel better when you do.

And really… do you ever regret getting your workout in? :)

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Why Do I Keep Sabotaging My Performance?http://carriecheadle.com/why-do-i-keep-sabotaging-my-performance/ http://carriecheadle.com/why-do-i-keep-sabotaging-my-performance/#comments Mon, 22 Oct 2012 16:10:14 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=1504 When it comes to sport psychology and working on your mental game, I have to remind people that first and foremost, there are some realities to how we operate. In fact, we are animals before we are humans, and we are humans before we are people. And believe me, when it comes to emotions and […]

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Wrong Way

You’re headed the wrong way!

When it comes to sport psychology and working on your mental game, I have to remind people that first and foremost, there are some realities to how we operate. In fact, we are animals before we are humans, and we are humans before we are people. And believe me, when it comes to emotions and behaviors, people are complicated creatures. But in this post, I want to share with you some biological behavioral principles that are at the core of why you choose to engage in certain behaviors.

Do you ever find yourself continuing to do something that you don’t really want to be doing? Do you ever contemplate on why it’s so hard for us to change from one behavior to another? Without getting into all of the nuts and bolts about what s going on in your brain and body during this process, what you need to know is that ALL behavior follows patterns determined by consequences and the consequences of our actions will shape what we choose to do in the future. Your behavior is serving some sort of function that is filling a need. Even when you think the behavior is unhelpful and even detrimental – the behavior is serving you in some way.

Here are some sport specific examples of behaviors that you could be engaging in that would sabotage your performance:

  • Not preparing optimally for performance
  • Not pushing yourself to your limit
  • Skipping your workout
  • Second-guessing and not listening to your gut
  • Not getting enough recovery or sleep
  • Obsessively checking email (ahem – OK that one is I there for me)

Obviously there are a lot of different factors that could contribute to these scenarios, but sometimes you get stuck repeatedly engaging in one of these behaviors and logically know that you are just making things worse for yourself, but you just can’t seem to stop. If you feel like it’s important for you to engage in a certain behavior (like getting 8-9 hours of sleep most nights or making sure you’re getting your workouts in) and you can’t seem to find a way to make it happen – it’s time to dissect what your current behavior is doing for you.

When you are trying to change a behavior, you need to know that the current behavior is serving you in some way. Even if you feel like the behavior is dysfunctional and you don’t want to engage in it anymore, if you still find yourself doing it – it’s because the behavior is either reinforcing something you want, or allowing you to escape from something you don’t want. The consequence of your behavior is meeting a certain need and the problem is that you are butting up against conflicting needs.

For example, the consequence of hesitating and not listening to your gut during competition is that you don’t have to deal with the feelings of fear and anxiety that come with the possibility of failure. Not taking the risk provides you with security. Your desire for security is battling with your desire to have an optimal performance and you usually can’t have both. When you can really dissect your current behavior and give it a name, you can let it go and move onto a behavior that will now better serve your needs.

 DO THIS: Pick something you are currently doing that you would like to change and write down your answers to the following:

  1. What is the current behavior?
  2. How would you like your behavior to be different?
  3. How is your current behavior serving you?
  4. How is your current behavior not serving you?
  5. What do you need to change in order to let go of the current behavior and adopt the new one?
  6. What is the first step you need to take in order to make this happen?

Don’t just nod your head and think “Yeah that’s a good idea – that makes sense…”, go right now and actually right out your answers. Behavior change doesn’t come easy or quick. There can be a long transitional period of going back and forth between the old behavior and the desired behavior so go easy on yourself, have patience, be courageous, and keep reminding yourself that you are ready to let go of the old and bring in the new!

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3 Reasons You Should Set a Race Goalhttp://carriecheadle.com/3-reasons-you-should-set-a-race-goal/ http://carriecheadle.com/3-reasons-you-should-set-a-race-goal/#comments Thu, 12 Jul 2012 18:45:30 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=1452 In honor of my upcoming workshop at the Wipro San Francisco Marathon Expo, I decided to write a post for all of you amazing athletes out there with an upcoming race! (If you’re going to be out at the expo the day before marathon, come check out my workshop at 9:30a the day before the race! […]

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Athlete focusing on her goals before the start of a race

Ready for Race Day

In honor of my upcoming workshop at the Wipro San Francisco Marathon Expo, I decided to write a post for all of you amazing athletes out there with an upcoming race!

(If you’re going to be out at the expo the day before marathon, come check out my workshop at 9:30a the day before the race! The workshop is all about mentally preparing for the challenges of race day. I’ll be sharing the top 5 essential mental skills training tips for “enduring your endurance event” and accomplishing your race day goals!)

QUESTION:

“Do I have to have a race goal?”

ANSWER:

No. But you may decide that you want to after you read this post. Some athletes shy away from having race goals because they feel like it puts too much pressure on them to perform. For those athletes, just thinking about setting a race goal produces anxiety. If you find yourself in this category (and even if you don’t!) here are three specific benefits to convince you to reconsider the importance of having a race day goal:

  1. Race goals help direct your energy and focus -Race day is full of excitement, energy, and distractions. Having a specific goal for your race will make it less likely for you to be distracted by cues that are unrelated to your performance. With a clear goal it will be easier to conserve energy by deciphering what is important to pay attention to and what isn’t.
  2. Race goals help you persevere in the face of race day challenges –When you have a specific goal you are working towards and you are committed to that goal, you are more likely to see ways to adapt and adjust to race day challenges. Rather than seeing them as insurmountable obstacles and giving up, your goal helps you to be resilient and keep moving forward.
  3. Race goals help you push through when your body is ready to give up –If you’re just along for the ride, you are less likely to push yourself in that moment when the going gets tough. When your body is suffering due to the exertion you are putting out you often come to face a psychological hurdle.

 “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up.”Gen. George S. Patton, Olympic Pentathlete

If you reach the end of your race and feel like you could have done better, there was a moment during your race when you held back. Having that specific goal helps you dig deep in those moments and overcome that psychological hurdle so you know that at the end of your race you gave everything you had to give.

Time to Set a Goal

If your heart starts racing, palms start sweating, and you feel a little nauseous when it comes to setting race goals, chances are that you’re only thinking about an outcome goal for your race. Think about an upcoming race and finish this sentence: “It would feel amazing if I could walk away and say that…”

If the end of that sentence is an outcome goal, then you need to set another goal that tells you what do you need to do during the race in order to accomplish that outcome goal. Setting a more task-related goal helps keep your focus where it needs to be and puts the control into your hands. Instead of feeling pressure to perform and keeping your focus in the future, it keeps you grounded in the moment and focused on what you need to do right now in order to set yourself up for success. Even if your goal for every competition is to win, you still have to have the goal that tells you how you’re going to do it.

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Letting Go of Past Mistakeshttp://carriecheadle.com/letting-go-of-past-mistakes/ http://carriecheadle.com/letting-go-of-past-mistakes/#comments Thu, 10 May 2012 21:50:05 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=1407 Have you ever noticed that sometimes you have a hard time letting things go? You made a mistake or wish you had done something differently and you obsess about it, driving yourself crazy, and no matter how much pain and angst it causes you, somehow you just can’t manage to move passed it. One of […]

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Cut the rope holding you to past mistakes

It’s time to cut the rope

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you have a hard time letting things go? You made a mistake or wish you had done something differently and you obsess about it, driving yourself crazy, and no matter how much pain and angst it causes you, somehow you just can’t manage to move passed it. One of the greatest skills you can have as an athlete is the ability to let go of a mistake and move on from it. You can expend a tremendous amount of energy ruminating about a mistake you made in the past. If you have a mistake that your mind keeps wandering back to, that mistake ends up being an anchor tied to your waist; an anchor that keeps you tied to the past. It keeps your energy and focus tied to an event that is shrouded in feelings of frustration, anger, and doubt.

As long as you are tied to that anchor there is energy being directed toward the past and that expenditure of energy would be more useful in the here and now. As long as you are tied to that anchor, those emotions that are connected to the event also stay tied to you and you will continue carry the weight of that anchor and those emotions into every performance until you can cut the rope. If you work on one thing this month, focus on letting go of just one of those “mistakes”.

Think about a scenario that you wish had gone down differently. Which one does your mind keep coming back to? If the thought of not focusing on that event fills you with a sense of relief, that’s a good one to choose. Here are a few different ideas for how to let it go and move on:

  1. ACCEPT – Accept that things went down the way they did. Accept that it wasn’t fair. Accept the role you had it in. Whatever it is you need to come to terms with, it’s time to do it. As long as you keep fighting against it and wishing things had gone differently, you will remain stuck in the past.
  2. LET IT GO - You need to make the conscious decision to “forgive and forget”. It doesn’t serve you to keep punishing yourself by staying tied to that anchor. It’s time to cut the rope and let it go. Part of what continues to keep that memory fresh in your mind is that there is a strong negative emotion tied to it. Help yourself let it go by re-framing the situation and connecting it to emotions that are more facilitative to your performance. What did you learn from the situation? How was it potentially beneficial to you? How have you progressed since then?

Beating yourself up over this thing is no longer serving you. If you want to work on improving focus and confidence, you need to work on living in the present and cutting the rope to the anchor that ties you down. Accepting that it happened leads to forgiveness and forgiveness leads to moving on. Just pick one. You don’t have to let go of everything all at once. Truly focus on just letting one thing go and you will immediately feel how much that anchor has been weighing you down.

Read more blog posts about mistakes and resilience!

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Snowboarding Camp Wrap-up: Goals, Reflection, & Recognitionhttp://carriecheadle.com/snowboarding-camp-wrap-up-goals-reflection-recognition/ http://carriecheadle.com/snowboarding-camp-wrap-up-goals-reflection-recognition/#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2012 19:35:56 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/?p=1378 This is the final installment of my unscripted video blog. I’m back home and sharing my tips for how I got the most out of that final day of camp and the two key Mental Skills to employ AFTER your event. Final Day  As I got back to my room after a full day of […]

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This is the final installment of my unscripted video blog. I’m back home and sharing my tips for how I got the most out of that final day of camp and the two key Mental Skills to employ AFTER your event.

Final Day 

As I got back to my room after a full day of snowboarding and hanging out with fellow campers, I started to unwind and get things ready for the next day. I was lucky enough to get a reminder from my sister that completely influenced my last day of camp. She sent me a text to see how my first day went and after I asked for some support through our text conversation – she told my I should write down three goals I had for the next day.

Many of us fall into the trap of just going through the motions when it comes to training and practice. A key skill to develop if you really want to drive your performance forward and improve is to have goal-directed practice. Setting goals before practice helps you be deliberate about what you want to improve and how you want to use your time. It helps tune in your focus and allows you to really use practice instead of just showing up, going through the motions, and checking it off your list.

Camp Wrap-up

One of the things you may have noticed through this video series, is that MST doesn’t just happen while your engaged in your sport. I was working on essential skills both before and after camp. The work you do on your Mental Skills Training before and after competition not only impact your immediate experience, but have a tremendous impact how you feel about and approach future experiences as well. The two essential components to Mental Skills Training that I did after my snowboarding camp were on reflection and recognition.

Reflection: In order to solidify what you learned from your experience you need to spend time on this often neglected Mental Skill. Engaging in reflection provides you with essential feedback in order to build on your performance. At the very least, after your event you need to answer the questions:

  • What did you learn?
  • What do you want to carry forward with you?

Recognition: You need to be proud of yourself. This isn’t being boastful. You not only want to recognize your actual accomplishments, but what you really want to recognize is the effort you put in – regardless of the outcome. Do something in honor of your effort; a small (or big!) gesture that is consciously done in order to recognize your hard work. There are many small things that have added up to the bigger accomplishments and those need to be recognized as well.

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Snowboarding Camp Take 3: Asking for Supporthttp://carriecheadle.com/snowboarding-camp-take-3-asking-for-support/ http://carriecheadle.com/snowboarding-camp-take-3-asking-for-support/#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2012 17:24:31 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/blog/?p=1296 Video #3! I took this video at the end of my first day of camp. After we got set up into our groups and went out with our coaches for the day, I started to feel like the expectations I had for the camp weren’t matching up with how the camp was going. I had […]

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Video #3! I took this video at the end of my first day of camp. After we got set up into our groups and went out with our coaches for the day, I started to feel like the expectations I had for the camp weren’t matching up with how the camp was going. I had moments where I had to both adjust my expectations as well as be vocal about what I needed. And that is what this video blog post is all about – asking for the support that you need.

Be proactive about asking for support: For any goal that you are working towards, you are going to need support along your journey and the type of support you need will be different along the way. An essential Mental Skill is to be able to both recognize the type of support you need and then be proactive about going out and getting it. As you witnessed in my first video on this series – I was very nervous about coming to camp. In the days leading up to camp I was reaching out for some motivational and emotional support. Then when I was at camp, there were other types of support that I needed. Part of my motivation for going to camp was to help push through a performance plateau so I was going to need some informational support from my coaches. I also ended up needing some tangible support from another camper when I realized that the fact that I was leaving camp a day early meant that I was going to need a place to stash all of my stuff after I checked out of my room. I got ALL of the support I needed, however, the support I ended up getting didn’t just come to me, I had to ask for it.

Working with your coach is a collaboration: The second lesson here is that you have to be able to communicate with your coach about what is working and what isn’t working – and at the same time – be open to their support when they give it to you. Trusting your coach and being able to communicate with him/her is imperative. You and your coach are on the same team – you both want to see an improvement in your performance. If you don’t feel like you’re on the same team, you need to do something about it. You can’t be afraid to talk to your coach and for the most part – they want to hear from you! Don’t assume you know how he/she will react or that your assumption of that reaction is even accurate. You can’t control the response your coach gives you, you can only control the fact that you communicated with them. When I told one of my snowboarding coaches that I needed more individual feedback she immediately responded and was happy to do it. Coaches are there to guide you and teach you and YOU are an essential part of that equation.

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Snowboarding Camp Take 2: Trust Yourselfhttp://carriecheadle.com/snowboarding-camp-take-2-trust-yourself/ http://carriecheadle.com/snowboarding-camp-take-2-trust-yourself/#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2012 17:58:30 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/blog/?p=1281 This is the 2nd video blog post documenting my “Carrie Goes to Snowboarding Camp” adventure! This series of posts includes unscripted videos of me describing my thoughts and demonstrating how I’m using Mental Skills Training throughout my experience of getting to camp and snowboarding while I’m there. This video was done on Day 1 of the […]

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This is the 2nd video blog post documenting my “Carrie Goes to Snowboarding Camp” adventure! This series of posts includes unscripted videos of me describing my thoughts and demonstrating how I’m using Mental Skills Training throughout my experience of getting to camp and snowboarding while I’m there. This video was done on Day 1 of the camp after lunchtime. We spent the morning getting checked in and getting set up into our groups for the camp. The snowboarders headed up to Chair 5 at Kirkwood Mountain Ski Resort to get warmed up and so the coaches could start observing us and breaking us into our groups for the camp.

I was super calm during the whole evaluation process when in the past I would have been incredibly nervous. Part of the reason for that was because I had a HUGE mental shift from video #1 to video #2. I did some work on moving myself from feeling nervous about camp to getting excited for camp and it helped tremendously. The next issue I dealt with on this journey came when I had to switch things up at the last minute and leave on Thursday instead of Friday. The last minute switch meant that I wasn’t going to get a chance to do my PPP (pre-performance plan) I was hoping to do in order to get my focus and confidence dialed in during my preparation for camp.

Ideally, you want to have the time before your event planned out so that you are setting yourself up to be successful when it starts. Preparation = confidence. However, in addition to crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s – you need to know that you can handle anything that comes your way. You need to trust yourself and trust your ability and know that you can handle it if everything doesn’t fall into place. You can handle it if you run into an obstacle and have to go to Plan B. Things don’t have to be perfect in order for you to have a good day and perform your best. (And when you can’t prepare the way that you normally would – you may even find a new way to prepare that actually works better for you.)

So the big word for this video is TRUST. That trust comes from the foundation of work I have done on my mental game over the years and the deliberate work I did on my mindset in the moment. TRUST involves motivation, commitment, emotion control, self-talk, and confidence… and it’s working on all of the aspects of Mental Skills Training that allows you to be able to call on those skills and use them in the moment when you really need them.

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Getting Pre-Performance Nerveshttp://carriecheadle.com/getting-pre-performance-nerves/ http://carriecheadle.com/getting-pre-performance-nerves/#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2012 17:15:50 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/blog/?p=1266 The Mental Skills Coach is going to Snowboarding Camp… and she’s nervous. Pre-event jitters. It’s normal to be nervous when you’re taking on a new endeavor or getting ready for an upcoming event. For some of you, the closer you get to the “big day”, the knots in your stomach get tighter and the voices […]

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The Mental Skills Coach is going to Snowboarding Camp… and she’s nervous.

Pre-event jitters. It’s normal to be nervous when you’re taking on a new endeavor or getting ready for an upcoming event. For some of you, the closer you get to the “big day”, the knots in your stomach get tighter and the voices in your head gets louder. Instead of looking forward to your upcoming game or race, it starts to feel like a countdown to D-day.

I decided to do a video blog series about my experience at snowboarding camp and how I am (and will be) using my own mental skills training throughout the experience. In this first video you will see me talking about my pre-camp nerves and the biggest “symptom” of that is my mind continuing to fill with all of the “what-ifs”. As you approach the day of your event, experiencing louder and louder “what-ifs” will be especially true if you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone or you’re feeling unprepared for the event you’re about to do. For me and snowboarding camp, all of the what-ifs swimming around in my head continue to be ways of providing myself with excuses for how I could get out of going to camp because I’m feeling nervous. So – it’s time to practice what I preach and use the tools I work on with my athletes for my own performance. Here are the 2 main tips from this first video:

#1 – It’s OK to be nervous.

SO many of us fight against that feeling of being nervous. Your body is designed to get rid of that feeling of anxiety. We don’t like how it feels so it gets us to act by triggering our “fight-or-flight” response. As you know, that response gets triggered during times when it’s not actually a life-threatening situation. Attending snowboarding camp is not a life-threatening situation, but once my stress response is triggered, my body and mind responds as if it is. One of the greatest skills you can work on is being OK with the feeling that arises when you get nervous and moving forward anyway.

#2 – Spend some time thinking about what you are looking forward to.

You can get so wrapped up in feeling nervous that you forget that you are making a CHOICE to compete and that this is something you LOVE (or at least enjoy a little). You can get consumed with negative thoughts and feelings and the only thing that can change that is you. Spend some time feeling excited about your upcoming event. What are you looking forward to? What will you gain from this experience? To help make that shift, I wrote down a list of things that I am looking forward to so I could reind myself that even though I am nervous, I am also excited.

So even when you’re an expert in working with athletes on their performance anxiety (ahem) that doesn’t mean that you will never get nervous. It means you’re human, like everyone else, and certain things trigger that response and you have to use the tools you have to deal with it – like everyone else.

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How Your Ego Impacts Your Performancehttp://carriecheadle.com/how-your-ego-impacts-your-performance/ http://carriecheadle.com/how-your-ego-impacts-your-performance/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2012 23:01:11 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/blog/?p=1240 The topic of humility has been coming up in my work a lot lately. It first came up while I was reading the book Assault on Lake Casitas, by Brad Alan Lewis. The book is the story of Lewis’ journey to the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games where he competed in the double scull. (It […]

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RowersThe topic of humility has been coming up in my work a lot lately. It first came up while I was reading the book Assault on Lake Casitas, by Brad Alan Lewis. The book is the story of Lewis’ journey to the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games where he competed in the double scull. (It is a great read for any athlete that is working hard to reach the pinnacle of their athletic career. Lots on sport psychology and the mental aspects of elite performance!) In the book, Lewis was describing three rules he followed for racing, the second of which was the practice of humility.

For any athlete that finds himself wanting to push to the next level – there is a great lesson to be learned here. In order to win any game or race, especially at the elite level, there is going to be some ego involved. You have to believe that you are just as capable and just as deserving as any other athlete out there. You have to have some ego to be the best at your sport – to be able to look around and say “That’s right – I’m here to kick some ass. Who’s first?”

However, there is a difference between having a healthy ego and being egotistical. Once you cross the line to egotistical – it can be detrimental to your performance. There’s a continuum that has self-assured on one end and arrogance on the other. When you’re self-assured, you’re confident in yourself and confident in your ability regardless of the competition and what’s going on around you. When you’re arrogant, your “confidence” comes from exaggerating your importance and belittling others.

Working on humility helps you move towards the self-assured side on the continuum and a great way to work on humility is to stop passing judgement on others. We ALL do it. At some point you’ll find yourself talking shit about someone else in order to feel better about yourself or your own situation. We don’t consciously realize we’re doing it, but that’s exactly what we’re doing. One of the most AMAZING impacts of actively working on humility and having a deep respect for the people around you, is that it can actually help you improve your own performance. When you stop judging others, you stop judging yourself. When you stop focusing on them, you start focusing on you.

So it’s time to stop talking shit. Everyone is working their ass off to figure out their way in the world and you are not any more important than them. You are also not any less important than them. I find that when athletes work on their humility, they are working on their own confidence and self-worth as well. Let go of judging others, it will become easier to let go of judging yourself.

When you are self-assured you can have a healthy ego (which you need to excel in your sport) AND simultaneously have respect for the people around you.  When you are self-assured, you don’t over-estimate or under-estimate your competitors – you have respect for them and respect for yourself.

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Athletes “Getting” a Second Chancehttp://carriecheadle.com/athletes-getting-a-second-chance/ http://carriecheadle.com/athletes-getting-a-second-chance/#comments Sun, 22 Jan 2012 02:34:26 +0000 http://carriecheadle.com/blog/?p=1074 I recently sat down to read my February 2012 issue of Outside Magazine and one of the articles highlights Lolo Jones, an Olympic hurdler. Jones is one of the fastest female hurdlers in the world. If you don’t know what hurdling is, imagine sprinting at a breakneck speed and, without breaking stride, jumping over a […]

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Spilled Milk

I recently sat down to read my February 2012 issue of Outside Magazine and one of the articles highlights Lolo Jones, an Olympic hurdler. Jones is one of the fastest female hurdlers in the world. If you don’t know what hurdling is, imagine sprinting at a breakneck speed and, without breaking stride, jumping over a fence the size of a Great Dane… and then do that nine more times!

During the 2008 Bejing Olympics, Jones had the lead in the 100m hurdle until the second to last hurdle when she clipped the hurdle and lost her chance at the gold medal. In the magazine, they highlight Jones because the article is a list of the things the editors “like” and the title of her section is called “Second Chances”.

Any sports fan can easily list a dozen inspirational comeback stories. (I have some great ones in my eBook Inspired: Monthly Motivation for Athletes.) However, sometimes saying that someone is “getting” a second chance is a misnomer. In sports you don’t get a second chance, you make one. After experiencing a huge upset, we all want to go crawl under a rock to hide and possibly never come out. As Lolo Jones makes her way to this year’s 2012 London Olympic Games, all of the stories we hear about her will include a comment about the dreaded 9th hurdle during the 2008 Olympics. But we don’t hide and neither does she. There’s no crying over spilled milk. We get up, dust ourselves off, and try again. Jones isn’t getting a second chance at the gold – she is working her ass off and making it happen, just like every other athlete that has ever been “given” a second chance. The next time you want to go crawl under a rock, remember that one event doesn’t define you and that your accomplishments wouldn’t feel as good or be as rewarding if you didn’t have to overcome some challenges and encounter some heartbreak along the way.

© Photographer Lksstock | Agency: Dreamstime.com

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