At Winner's Edge Softball we teach that how your athlete thinks will directly determine her level of success on the playing field. Therefore the critical question is what kinds of thoughts does she have? Does she focus her thoughts on seeing success or expecting failure?
Scientists claim that we each have in excess of 50,000 thoughts each day bombarding our minds. As with your athlete the quality of those thoughts has enormous impact on the life any of us experience. Our thoughts have immense power to create the conditions that show up in our lives, so we all must choose our thoughts wisely.
For a teenager, speaking as both a father and mental skills expert, it can be a hard sell to convince her that she has control over her thoughts, but in truth she does. If she does not control her thoughts, as I am prone to preach to my own daughter, then tell me who dies and I will have a talk with them!
[Remember, your athlete may be supremely confident about certain parts of her game, but lacking confidence in other parts of her game. This post is addressing the elements of her game she worries about most and has exhibited a poor performance record with.]
This avalanche of negativity creates a virtual wall in her mind preventing her from success. And each subsequent failure or result less than desired will only reinforce her beliefs that she is not good enough or cannot complete a task successfully. Her future failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
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Likewise if your athlete's dominant thoughts are on success she will likely have a much higher probability of achieving that success on the field. Why? The mind-body connection we all have dictates that the mind tells the body what to do. If the mind is positive and filled with the expectancy for success the body will perform optimally because the mind is in a relaxed state and focused in the present moment and on the task at hand.
If your athlete is engaged in negative thinking her mind will be in turmoil, exhibiting high levels of anxiety and fear. This chemical reaction in the body brought on by perpetual negative "can't do" thinking will show up in the body as lack of focus (engaged in future or past focus: "Oh gosh, I struck out against this pitcher last game, I'll probably do it again."), dry mouth, sweaty palms, excessive adrenalin, increased pulse rate, reduced reaction time, and reduced visual acuity. This expectancy for failure creates a dramatically devastating effect on the body and the performance results are predictably poor.
The bottom line is what is your athlete thinking? Does she focus on success (through positive thinking and mental imagery) or does she focus on failure (through negative thinking and catastrophizing)? The choice is always hers, although she is likely unaware of it. As an adult you can help her to become more conscious of the power her thinking has to determine her athletic success.
To learn more about the 21 Mental Performance Killers than can sabotage her success visit us at: Winner's Edge Softball.
Read a free sample chapter from John Kelly's new book, How She Thinks is How She Plays.
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