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Training Part Two: The Mind
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You wouldn’t walk onto a stage in front of thousands and play a deadly ol’ solo without first learning how to play notes and chords. You wouldn’t attempt to build a house without learning plumbing, electrical or how to use power tools.
And you certainly won’t be drafted to the NHL without years of practicing skating, stick handling, shooting, and learning the rules of the game.
So why would you rush into running an IronMan or marathon?
Here are our head honchos Chris Cluett and Justin Whittle in the second of a two-part series to talk about the importance of the mind in training for all of life’s big goals, then go back and read the first part and learn how to train your body!
When it comes to sports, 90 per cent of success is mental. Before you ever walk onto the field, before you ever hit the track, your head has to be in the game.
Yet, we exert so much effort on the physical and technical aspects of sport - memberships at fancy gyms, the best cleats, poaching the ringer from the region’s best team - so how do you
train your brain when you’re really focused on what your body can do?
“Your mentality will either hold you down or bring you up. Strive to master your mind rather than being mastered by it.” @Jim Afremow, PhD
Homework: Two Techniques
Motivation is tough to come by, and when you don’t see immediate results, you need to remind yourself that your mind and body have to work together. There are two techniques I’ve learned that make a big difference in my sport performance, but also in daily life: mindful breathing and a body scan.
Much like meditating, mindful breathing can be done anywhere, anytime. No matter what you’re doing or working on, focusing on your breath keeps you focused and better able to perform at your best.
This is a simple technique to help you recognize emotional or physical pain. In a quiet place, breathe in deeply and focus on your feet, notice any tension, pain or discomfort. If your feet feel good move up to your calfs and up the rest of your body to the top of your head. As you scan each part of your body and realize what’s hurting, you can focus on resolving the pain in those areas. Low-back pain? Try a foam roller to work out the kinks. Anxiety in your stomach area? Think about what’s causing it and how to approach that situation after the scan
It’s All in Your Head
It sounds flighty, but sometimes just acknowledging a problem can help relieve the stress from it. And if you’re wondering whether all this mind body mumbo jumbo actually makes a difference, just ask Olympic Gold winning curler Brad Gushue.
In the Real World
Brad showed up to train for the Olympics with Dr. Bas Kavanagh - a sports psychologist who helped the team prepare and work together to take home the Gold. In an interview for the 2006 President’s Report for Memorial University Brad said Kavanagh was "getting us thinking about the way we think individually and as a team … (so that) negative thoughts don't get in the way of our game."
Then their olympic coach was quoted as saying, "The Gushue Rink is the best prepared men's curling team I've ever seen."
Head over heels
Out of a dozen of so national-level men’s and women’s teams Kyle Paquette, a PhD candidate and performance specialist with Curling Canada has said, all but one talk regularly with a mental coach or psychologist.
Peace of mind
So, long before you hit the ice, before you ever pick up that bat, or tie up your cleats think about your game, your team’s approach, visualize the win, and focus on your breath to make the best of your game. And if you need a little help, get in touch, sign up for our newsletter for more training tips to help you reconnect mind and body for your best performance.
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