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Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings: Use the Strategies of Champions to Enhance Your Performance

by Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc(Hons)

Elite sportspeople think and feel in specific ways to achieve outstanding physical performances. Learn how to use the same champion thoughts and feelings to change negative thinking, non-constructive feelings, and limiting behaviours and enhance your performance - as a coach and as an athlete.

THE MENTAL EDGE
Your performance is profoundly influenced by your thinking - by the things you imagine and say to yourself. Thoughts are powerful - thoughts make things happen. Thoughts are the building blocks from which you create your beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, and every aspect of your performance in your sport, or at work. Every thought you have affects you in some way - either empowering you, or limiting you. There are no 'neutral' thoughts.

Yet few people recognise the enormous power of their moment to moment thinking, and fewer still actually use this awareness in their daily life.

Every performance starts in your mind. The best performances occur when you take control of your performance by taking control of your thinking. All control begins by taking control of the thoughts you think. Champions give themselves a mental edge by standing guard at the door of their mind - by taking control of their thinking, and by deliberately choosing to focus on the positive.

MASTERING YOUR MIND
Everyone knows they're supposed to 'be positive' - to think positively, and to discourage negativity. Yet for many people thoughts just seem to 'happen' before they know about it! People tell me all the time, "I can't help it. I just automatically do it!"

At which point I tell them that's a cop out, and a load of rubbish. Thoughts don't 'just happen' to you - you think them! There can be no escaping the fact that you choose your thoughts - how else could they get there?

Yet even knowing this, some people still indulge in negative thinking, and problem focus - rather than looking for solutions and always expecting the best for themselves.

Part of the problem is, of course, that negative thinking has become a habit - not only for individuals, but for the society in general. Like any habit, it takes effort and willingness to change.

So the issue for many people is to be personally convinced of the detriment of negative thinking on their performance and in their lives, and of the enormous advantages that accrue to those who continually focus on positive, possibility thoughts.

IMPORTANCE OF FEELINGS
However, feelings are just as important to success. Your performance at work; in your relationships; in education; in sport; in fact, in every area of your life, is profoundly influenced by your feelings, isn't it? How you feel affects how well you perform. Your emotional states influence your thinking, your behaviour, your tone of voice, your posture, and even your health.

But, like thoughts, feelings don't 'just happen' to you - feelings are choices. Champions recognise this and choose their feelings. Feelings that empower them, and allow them to fully utilise their physical prowess and mental skills.

Champions have learned how to choose the states they live in.

HOW MANY GOOD FEELINGS DO YOU HAVE ?
How many good feelings do you have? And how much time in a day do you spend feeling good? Likewise, how many bad feelings can you identify ..... and how much time do you spend in a day feeling bad? Think about it for a minute.

If you're like a lot of people, you will probably only be able to think of a few good feelings - but lots of bad ones! For instance, a short list of bad feelings might run like this:

Worried; Depressed; Sad; Frustrated; Unconfident; Uptight; Angry; Tired; Tense; Bad; Embarrassed; Pressured; Jealous; Anxious; Unmotivated; Lonely; Weak; Victimised; Sorry-for-self; Nervous; Powerless; Self righteous; Apathetic; Trapped; Unloved; Pitiful; Heavy; Procrastinating; Lousy; Vindictive; Down; Put-upon; Rushed; Sick; Tentative; Bashful; Grumpy; Hesitant; Confused; Stressed; Uncertain; Uncreative; Pensive; Lost; Betrayed; Itchy; Spaced-out; In Crisis; Directionless; Stuck; Impatient; Hurt; Unprepared; Clumsy; Bored; Sullen; Slow; Fragile; Un-coordinated; Guilty; Greedy; Anguished; Fearful; Selfish; Regretful; Grieving; Isolated; Withdrawn; and Sleepy .... to name just a few!

I think that many people spend more time in the day feeling either bad, or neutral, than they do actively feeling good feelings!

CHAMPION FEELINGS
What do champions feel? How do they use their emotional states to generate excellence in themselves? What champion feelings do they choose? I've listed some below that I've identified in peak performers. Perhaps you can think of others. Why not choose, right now, to experience one of the following champion feelings :

  • Joy - a feeling of intense happiness
  • Enthusiasm - a feeling of being fully alive and energised
  • Purpose - a feeling of certainty and direction in your life
  • Determination - a feeling of being fully committed to a task or goal
  • Courage - a feeling of strength in the face of adversity or risk
  • Focus - a feeling of pinpoint concentration
  • Love - a feeling of caring, and giving of yourself
  • Adventure - a feeling of excitement and challenge
  • Momentum - a feeling of moving to a destination
  • Belonging - a feeling of connection to others
  • Timing - a feeling of being in perfect sync with outside forces

Every instant, you're creating or manufacturing some kind of feeling - whether it be a negative feeling like indifference, anger, sullenness, apathy or unconfidence; or a positive feeling like joy, confidence, enthusiasm, excitement, conviction, or some of the others I've listed above.

The trouble is, that many people simply don't recognise, or label, their feeling states. As a consequence, their behaviour is being directed unconsciously - by feelings they are not even aware of! Because your behaviour is profoundly affected by your feelings, if you don't really know or are aware of what you're feeling - how can you be in charge of your behaviour, or your performances? In order to be in charge of your personal performance, you want to be aware of your feeling states, and maintain that awareness from moment to moment.

Take a moment, right now, and recognise what you're feeling - right now, right this instant! What are you feeling, right now, as you read this article? Don't dismiss the question, or dodge the answer by saying "I'm feeling OK" or "all right", or "nothing", or "I don't know". Find out! Get in touch with yourself, with your feelings, and describe what you're currently experiencing. Put a label on your feelings.

LABELLING YOUR FEELINGS
It's important to label your feelings. If you don't put labels on them you'll find them difficult to change if they're negative, and you also won't understand what is directing your behaviours! Once you've identified a feeling or emotional state, then you can go about changing it if it's disempowering or counter-productive. In addition, if it's a positive and useful feeling or emotional state, then you can actively enhance and amplify it and make it even more effective and powerful in your life.

I think it's so important to have a vocabulary of champion feelings - because if you can't conceptualise or put a name to a feeling, how can you ever experience it? If you don't identify a feeling, then you won't ever feel it - or understand what it is that you're feeling, and how to use it. If a feeling is not in your language, then you won't make use of it in your life.

Why impoverish yourself by limiting your range of positive emotions to just a few? Practice experiencing champion feelings, and use them in your life.



About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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How Mentally Fit Are You? Take the Sports Optimism Test Now.

by Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc(Hons)

Introduction
To succeed in sport, business, education, or wherever, you really want to have an unshakeable positive mental attitude; the attitude and ability to continually focus on the solution and the goal rather than problems, obstacles or mistakes.

What we call optimism.

Optimism equates with personal, business, educational and sporting success. People who are the most optimistic are usually the most successful - and this is particularly true in sport. So one measure of mental 'fitness' is how optimistic your are.

Explanatory Style
Cognitive psychologists suggest that an individual athlete's "explanatory style" is a significant factor in influencing sports performance. Individuals with an optimistic explanatory style consistently outperform those with a pessimistic explanatory style. [Seligman, (1990); Hanrahan & Grove (1990)]. Their work is based on 'attribution theory' - ie. on how people explain 'good' and 'bad' events that happen in their lives. An individual's explanatory style can be used to determine their level of optimism or pessimism - and as a consequence, their performance potential in sport.

To determine explanatory style (and hence optimism or pessimism), psychologists typically employ an Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) to evaluate various "dimensions" such as Personalisation (Ps), Permanence (Pm) and Pervasiveness (Pv) about both negative and positive events which has been suggested ultimately determine optimism or pessimism in explanatory style [Seligman (1990)]. Others, [Hanrahan, Grove and Hattie (1989), Hanrahan and Grove (1990)], have likewise developed attributional style questionnaires measuring dimensions of internality, stability, controllability, globality and intentionality.

Most such questionnaires use very general scenarios and are not particularly sports specific, consequently, the following short questionnaire was developed as a sports contextualised style of ASQ. Using the following short Sports ASQ coaches can obtain a very general guide to their athletes' explanatory style, and establish relative levels of optimism and pessimism between individual players. Such information may be of use in both the recruitment and selection of players (when everything else is about equal choose the more optimistic recruit), and in identifying existing players who may benefit from specific psychological skills training to develop more optimism - and hence improve sports performance.

When using the following questionnaire with players, recognise that it is a simplistic questionnaire - not a proper psychological diagnostic tool - and should be used as a guide only. Should a specific player be identified as pessimistic by this questionnaire, further professional guidance should be sought in establishing the veracity of the result, and in the specific identification and design of a cognitive training program to develop more optimism.

Ideally, rather than a psychological profiling tool, the questionnaire should be viewed and used as a way to encourage players to "think about their thinking" - and to establish a dialogue among players and between players and coaching staff as to the types of thinking which lead to good sports performances.

For those who wish to explore the concepts of optimism and explanatory stye in greater detail, there are validated psychological tools (such as the Seligman Attributional Style Questionnaire) which I recommend and which can be used for specific psychological profiling. For more information about these, contact Sportsmind and I can refer you to appropriate organisations and professionals who have the skills and expertise in this area.


SPORTS OPTIMISM QUESTIONNAIRE

There are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers. Circle only one response per question, and answer every question even though the situation may never have happened to you. Read each description and imagine it happening to you; then choose the response that is most closest to how you would think in that situation.

PmG
1. Situation: You are asked to replace a player in a higher grade who is injured :
A: I am good enough to play in the higher grade.
B: I have filled in occasionally before when needed.

2. Situation: You win a tournament / important game :
A: I was feeling unbeatable that day.
B: I always put a lot of effort into my training.

3. Situation: You do exceptionally well in an interview for a coaching position :
A: I always perform well in interviews.
B: I felt very relaxed and confident in the interview.

4. Situation: Despite being new to the team, you are put in the starting lineup :
A: I was in top form that day.
B: I am enthusiastic and try hard.

5. Situation: You invite a few team mates over for a party, and it's a raging success :
A: I host great parties.
B: I was particularly friendly that night.

PmB
6. Situation: You forget to go to training after a long weekend :
A: My mind was still on holiday that day.
B: I always forget when my routine is disrupted.

7. Situation: You lose your cool with the referee during a game :
A: That referee is biased against me.
B: He / She didn't referee fairly in the game.
8. Situation: You put on a lot of weight over Christmas and have trouble getting back
to your peak weight and fitness :
A: The diet I tried didn't work.
B: It's always hard to get back into training after a break.

9. Situation: Your coach says something that hurts your feelings :
A: He / She is always very cutting with criticism.
B: He / She was in a grumpy mood and took it out on me.

10. Situation: You've been feeling very tired lately :
A: I've been really busy this week.
B: I don't get a chance to relax.

PvG
11. Situation: You successfully resuscitate a person who was pulled from the surf :
A: I stay calm in a crisis.
B: I'm trained in first aid.

12. Situation: Your team is losing, and the coach asks your advice :
A: I know some good plays for pressure situations.
B: I always keep an overall perspective on the game.

13. Situation: You win a 'most improved player' award :
A: I was the most improved player.
B: I had important wins near the end of the season.

14. Situation: Your coach tells you you are at peak fitness level :
A: I stuck to my training program.
B: I'm very fitness conscious.

15. Situation: A team member comments on your confidence :
A: I am a confident person.
B: I've been playing well lately.

PvB
16. Situation: You perform poorly at an event for which you've been training hard :
A: The competition was fierce that day.
B: I'm not a natural athlete.
17. Situation: The coach says you're not working hard enough :
A: I'm not as motivated as everyone else in the team.
B: I have been slacking off a bit lately.

18. Situation: Your romantic partner breaks it off with you :
A: I didn't communicate well with him / her.
B: I'm too moody.

19. Situation: You are in charge of a team training session while your coach is sick, and
no one enjoys the training :
A: I'm not very good at coaching.
B: I didn't put much thought into the coaching session.

20. Situation: You forget to go to an unscheduled training session.
A: I forgot to check my diary that day.
B: I've got a bad memory for things like that.

Marking
Evaluate your answers using the following system:

1. Start by looking at every odd numbered question, and mark an 'A' choice with 1 point and a 'B' choice with 0 points. (For example, if in question 1 you chose response 'A', you would get 1 point for that question.
2. Now look at every even numbered question, and mark an 'A' choice with 0 points, and a 'B' choice with 1 point. (For example if you chose response 'A' in question 2, you would get no points for that question)
3. Next, look at the subheadings : PmG, PmB, PvG and PvB, and add your individual question scores to get a total for each of these categories. There are five questions for each category. Use the table to help you keep tally.
4. Finally, add up your total 'B' and total 'G' scores.

PmB = PmG =
PvB = PvG =
---------------------- --------------------
Total B = Total G =
---------------------- ---------------------

Interpretation
Your scores mean the following:

If your total 'B' score is
* 3 or below, is optimistic;
* 4 - 6, is average;
* 7 or above, is pessimistic.

If your total 'G' score is
* 8 - 10 is optimistic;
* 6 - 7, is average;
* 5 or below, is pessimistic.

It should be noted that the total 'B' scores are the most significant, as they reflect an individual's 'explanations' about 'Bad' events, while total 'G' scores measure explanations about 'Good' events. Since it is much more difficult to remain positive and optimistic in the face of trials and difficulties, hence an individual's total 'B' score will usually be more important.

Seligman suggests that an optimistic explanatory style, particularly about bad events, encourages perseverance: pessimistic athletes are more likely to lose confidence and motivation after a poor performance than optimists, and encouraging optimism in athletes can therefore lead to improved sports performances by encouraging perseverance.. Likewise the identification of pessimistic athletes in a squad can be important. When a negative event occurs - for example, losing an important match; sustaining an injury; not being selected for a team; and so on - then their explanatory style would promote less perseverance, and may be resulting in those athletes not achieving their inherent sports potential.

It's significant to note that one can't not make explanations about the events that happen in one's life; one has to do that in order to make meaning out of the world. However, the consequences of the type of explanations one makes is very different. If we tend to make more optimistic explanations about events, then we'll be more successful in the long run, than if we tend to make more pessimistic explanations - and this is especially true in sport.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

References
Cochran, S. D. and Hammen, C. L.
1985 "Perceptions of stressful life events and depression: A test of attributional models."
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 678-682.
Coyne, J. C. and Gotlib, I. H.
1983 "The role of cognition in depression: A critical appraisal." Psychological Bulletin, 94,
472-505.
Cutrona, C. E.
1983 "Causal attributions and perinatal depression." Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 92, 161-172.
Hanrahan, S. and Grove, R.
1990 "A Short Form of the Sport Attributional Style Scale" Australian Journal of Science
& Medicine in Sport Vol 22 Issue 4: 97-101.
Hanrahan, S., Grove, R. and Hattie, J.
1989 "Development of a Questionnaire Measure of Sport-Related Attributional Style" Int. J.
Sport Psychology 20: 114-134.
Jackson, S.
Peterson, C. and Seligman, M. E. P.
1984 "Causal expectations as a risk factor for depression: Theory and evidence." Psychological Review, 91, 347-374.
Seligman, M. E. P.
1990 Learned Optimism Milson's Point, Sydney: Random House Australia.
Tennen, H. and Herzberger, S.
1985 "Attributional Style Questionnaire." Pp20-30 in D. J. Keyser and R. C. Sweetland (eds.), Test Critiques, Vol. 4 Kansas City: Test Corporation of America.

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Coaching the Mind - PART 1: The Next Step for Personal Training

by Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc(Hons)

INTRODUCTION
Personal trainers are often called on to work with elite sportspeople to provide personalised fitness and strength programs for improving their performance, but with a little more thought and preparation your PT business can offer much more to the elite sportsperson. Specifically, when you recognise that most sportspeople - even at the highest level - are only training half of themselves, it's easy to understand how you can offer a more complete, holistic training service.

Consider the following case studies - what would you do in each of them?

PT Case Study # 1
A young golf professional comes to you for help in designing a fitness program for him. He's motivated and a pleasure to train, and within six months has improved to the point where he has been in contention in major tournaments on a number of occasions ..... however, he consistently folds under the pressure and is now walking and talking like someone who's lost their confidence. What would you do at your next session?

PT Case Study # 2
The mother of an elite tennis player asks you for some assistance with a diet and exercise program for her 15 year old daughter (currently ranked in the top five for her age). After working with her for a month, you discover she suffers from excessive pre-match anxiety - to the point of being physically ill, but she refuses to see a "shrink", and doesn't see it as a problem. What do you do at your next session with her?
PT Case Study # 3
The coach of a footy team that has just scraped into the finals has asked you to provide a training program to get the team fit and ready for their first match. Despite being fit and strong, you hear the players talking negatively about their chances against the more favoured team. What would you do?

Scenarios such as those above are common. Personal trainers, coaches and teachers continually face issues outside of their traditional training. Few would feel competent to handle any of the above situations with confidence, however with a little extra training, there is a lot you can do. In fact, many people see the future of personal training lies in expanding the range of skills and services, and offering your clients a more complete service. A service that isn't just fitness training, or even 'life' coaching, but encompasses much more; a service that incorporates personal performance coaching - coaching the mind and emotions of your clients.

Imagine if you had the skills to help that young golfer overcome his self doubt, and he went on to win the Australian Open or the US Masters? What if you helped the coach of a top footy team prepare his players mentally and emotionally as well as just physically - so they ran out on the field feeling confident and in the peak performance zone. Imagine taking an upcoming young tennis player and sharing their journey from local club competition to satellite events through to a Grand Slam final appearance!

What if you offered some assistance with mental and emotional preparation for your elite athletes, as well as the strength and aerobic fitness work? Athletes are not just bodies are they?

Thoughts and feelings affect sports performances - even more so than physical factors .... yet, how much do you know about training this half of your clients? But then, why would an experienced PT such as yourself bother with the extra training and effort involved in a more complete service to your clients?

Is extra money a good enough incentive? Recognise that elite level sportspeople spend millions of dollars a year worldwide on sports related services in an attempt to gain that competitive edge over their rivals - and this is on the increase. Further, elite level sportspeople - particularly in golf, tennis and football - earn enough to pay handsomely for your services, and are willing to do so on a long term basis. How often have you had clients for a few sessions, then never hear from them again?

How about the prestige associated with working with the best athletes in the world? Does that turn it on for you?

The opportunity is here, now.

There is a huge market of elite level sportspeople needing this more complete personal performance coaching service. I believe it is the next logical step in the evolution of personal training.

Would working with clients who genuinely want to improve do it for you? Have you ever had the experience of 'backsliding' clients? Or clients who 'say' that they want to lose weight, or get fitter, but keep missing appointments, or who lose their motivation? Elite athletes are professional sportspeople - playing sport is their livelihood, their business, so they are more committed and motivated. They are a joy to work with - particularly if you're used to working a lot with 'average' 9 to 5'ers.
So have I excited you about a huge potential new client base, and a new way of working with your old client base yet? Stay with me, because the next question you're going to ask is "How can I do it?"

Which is of course, brings us to the next step - how to understand the unique needs of elite sportspeople, and how to develop your skills in five key areas of this new approach to Personal Training.

How to deal with the Mind Matters of Personal Training. I will be discussing these five key areas and how to apply them in the next article. Stay tuned!

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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Coaching the Mind - PART 2: The Next Step for Personal Training

by Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc(Hons)

In the last article I introduced - and hopefully excited you about - the potential for personal trainers to increase their income and client base working with elite level sportspeople. I mentioned that these clients have unique needs, and personal trainers wanting to work with elite sportspeople, want to develop skills in five key areas - what I term the Mind Matters of Personal Training.

A WINNING ATTITUDE
The first of these keys is to encourage a winning attitude in your clients. Now someone with a winning attitude is not someone who is merely obsessed with victory, but rather someone who has : a solution oriented focus; asks the right questions of themselves; and has powerful, positive self talk.

A solution oriented focus is all about looking for the answers, rather than focusing on the problems. You can encourage this in what you do with your clients, and how you communicate with them.

Rather than dwelling on 'problems', encourage them to consider solutions - how did they overcome a similar situation previously? What do they need to do to move forward?

Which leads into asking the right questions doesn't it? How often have you heard why(n)ing questions from your clients? Why can't I lose weight? What's wrong with me? Why am I so unfit? Why can't I get motivated?

The trouble with these kinds of questions is that even if you get the answer, you're still not left with a solution! This, of course, is the problem with traditional psychotherapy! Who cares where the 'problem' comes from - what your clients want is to know how to get out of it! So help them out by encouraging them to ask 'How' questions. How can I do such and such, and enjoy the process? How can I stay motivated? What can I do to achieve this step towards my goal? How can I stay on my healthy diet and exercise program?

Of course, this is supported by encouraging powerful, positive self talk in your clients. Of course you can do it! Stick with it! You'll make it! You deserve success. You've got what it takes. Perservere. Persist. All champions do.
POSITIVE MOTIVATION AND HIGH ACHIEVEMENT STRATEGIES
Goal setting is an obvious characteristic of elite sportspeople, and you've no doubt heard about goal setting ad nauseam! So I won't belabour the obvious here, but rather note a couple of things about goals of which you may not be aware.

Firstly, do you understand how and why goals work?

There is a part of the brain known as the RAS (reticular activating system) which, in simple terms, controls what we pay attention to. It does this unconsciously, based on what we have consciously decided is important to us.

For example, I recently decided to purchase a new car, and after a few weeks of looking around had decided on a particular brand and model. In the next few weeks prior to my purchasing the new vehicle, I saw that particular kind of car everywhere - whereas previously I had never even noticed them! I'm sure something similar has happened to you - either when choosing bricks or tiles for a new house, a new piece of business equipment, or whatever.

As soon as we consciously decide some particular thing is important to us, then our RAS filters the environment around us, unconsciously, and triggers our attention to items related to that particular thing. Without clear goals, this process cannot happen, and so the individual without goals doesn't notice the opportunities that someone with goals does automatically.

The other important thing about goals is that for someone to actively work towards a particular goal, they have to have a powerful enough reason. Particularly in elite level sport! Every athlete gets to a point in their training when they ask themselves "Why am I doing this?" If they don't have clear, unambiguous and powerful reasons to answer that question, then they will give up, and do something else.

So you can aid your clients be pre-asking this question, and having them list a number of clear reasons for you. Then, whenever their motivation is flagging, you can say: "Remember X? Remember what you're doing this for!"

Having clear, powerful reasons makes the difference between someone who is 'playing' sport, and a sports professional. Having powerful reasons makes the difference between someone who takes action on their goals and dreams, and someone who remains a dreamer.

BUILDING POSITIVE SELF CONCEPT
Self belief, in my opinion, is the single most essential characterising trait of the champion athlete. However, like motivation, concentration, a positive attitude, and so on, it's a learned behaviour - and one which you can help build in your clients.

Without doubt the biggest influence upon self belief and self confidence is the ability to cope with mistakes, failures, poor performances, and outright rejection in your life. Everyone can believe in themselves when things are going well! It's only when the chips are down and your back is to the wall that your underlying self belief is really tested, and either found wanting, or is strengthened by the adversity.

Obviously, positive self belief is closely linked to, and supported by, positive self talk. However, there is one key area that is often overlooked in building self belief, and that is one's attitude to errors, and there is an excellent strategy that I've developed which I call the ARIA technique which is extremely valuable that you can teach to your clients.

I'll explain this in detail in the next article, together with the other two key areas : Emotional Management and Visualisation Techniques. [If you can't wait then you can refer to the Sportsmind book, pages 33 - 35

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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Coaching the Mind - PART 3: The Next Step for Personal Training

by Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc(Hons)

BUILDING POSITIVE SELF CONCEPT
Self belief, in my opinion, is the single most essential characterising trait of the champion athlete. However, like motivation, concentration, a positive attitude, and so on, it's a learned behaviour - and one which you can help build in your clients.

Without doubt the biggest influence upon self belief and self confidence is the ability to cope with mistakes, failures, poor performances, and outright rejection in your life. Everyone can believe in themselves when things are going well! It's only when the chips are down and your back is to the wall that your underlying self belief is really tested, and either found wanting, or is strengthened by the adversity.

So teach your clients some strategies for dealing with the 'down' times. One way to do this is to encourage a positive self talk through the use of positive affirmation statements - short, powerful phrases about what you want to be true for you. For example, "I'm motivated and enthusiastic about training now", or "I enjoy feeding my body healthful foods every day", or "It's easy for me to be calm and focused under pressure now", and so on.

Of course, this is supported by your talk to your clients: Of course you can do it! Stick with it! You'll make it! You deserve success. You've got what it takes. Persevere. Persist. All champions do.

EMOTION MANAGEMENT
One of the most important concepts in performance psychology that every athlete wants to know about, and master, is the idea of emotional state. You know, and have experienced many different states : anger; sadness; boredom; jealousy; happiness; determination; excitement; and so on. Yet states don't just 'jump' on you out of the blue, do they? You don't suddenly experience anxiety, rage, or loneliness, for no reason do you?

States are effects - they are a consequence of something you're doing in your mind. How you think affects how you feel. Teach your clients to control their thoughts to take charge of their emotions.
One simple technique I use with my athletes is called the 'present moment' technique., and it's an effective way to help maintain focus and concentration.

The technique is simply to take ten seconds paying attention to some external visual aspects of your surroundings; ten seconds to your breathing; and then ten seconds visualising success from an 'in-body' perspective.

VISUALISATION TECHINQUES
Visualisation is a common skill we all use all the time; to achieve anything, to do anything, we first 'see' ourselves doing it. So visualisation is not something strange or difficult, but something we all constantly use in order to function in the world ..... we all can visualise. The trouble is, many people use visualisation negatively - they imagine all the bad things that could happen, and then hope they don't!

The important thing to realise is that we human beings are a lot like guided missiles - we move in the direction of our regular and consistent thoughts and imaginings; we move toward what we picture in our mind - particularly what we picture with vividness and strong feeling. Whenever we associate a vivid picture with a strong feeling, it has a magnetic attraction.

So you want to encourage your clients to have a positive focus, and you want to encourage them to practice their visualisation skills. There is overwhelming scientific evidence which demonstrates the undeniable fact that regular visualisation can improve sports performances - and it works because visualisation has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. When you visualise doing a movement, play, stroke, shot, or performance, there is a measurable response by the specific muscles used in that activity in response to your imagined movements.

Neurologically, your body can't tell the difference between a 'real' experience, and a vividly imagined one, and this makes it possible to 'program in' desired shots, strokes, plays, movements, behaviours, and even emotional responses prior to doing them. In other words you can 'groove in' to your body at a cellular level, a 'muscle memory' of what you want your body to do.

For more details on any of the above Mind Matters for PT's consult the Sportsmind or Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings books.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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Sports Optimism: Building a Positive Mental Attitude in Sport

by Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc(Hons)

Introduction
Cognitive psychologists suggest that an individual athlete's "explanatory style" is a significant factor in influencing sports performance. Individuals with an optimistic explanatory style consistently outperform those with a pessimistic explanatory style. [Seligman, (1990); Hanrahan & Grove (1990)]. Their work is based on 'attribution theory' - ie. on how people explain 'good' and 'bad' events that happen in their lives. An individual's explanatory style can be used to determine their level of optimism or pessimism - and as a consequence, their performance potential in sport.

To determine explanatory style (and hence optimism or pessimism), psychologists typically employ an Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) to evaluate various "dimensions" such as Personalisation (Ps), Permanence (Pm) and Pervasiveness (Pv) about both negative and positive events which has been suggested ultimately determine optimism or pessimism in explanatory style [Seligman (1990)]. Others, [Hanrahan, Grove and Hattie (1989), Hanrahan and Grove (1990)], have likewise developed attributional style questionnaires measuring dimensions of internality, stability, controllability, globality and intentionality.

Most such questionnaires use very general scenarios and are not particularly sports specific, consequently, the following short questionnaire was developed as a sports contextualised style of ASQ. Using the following short Sports ASQ coaches can obtain a very general guide to their athletes' explanatory style, and establish relative levels of optimism and pessimism between individual players. Such information may be of use in both the recruitment and selection of players (when everything else is about equal choose the more optimistic recruit), and in identifying existing players who may benefit from specific psychological skills training to develop more optimism - and hence improve sports performance.

When using the following questionnaire with players, recognise that it is a simplistic questionnaire - not a proper psychological diagnostic tool - and should be used as a guide only. Should a specific player be identified as pessimistic by this questionnaire, further professional guidance should be sought in establishing the veracity of the result, and in the specific identification and design of a cognitive training program to develop more optimism.

Ideally, rather than a psychological profiling tool, the questionnaire should be viewed and used as a way to encourage players to "think about their thinking" - and to establish a dialogue among players and between players and coaching staff as to the types of thinking which lead to good sports performances.

For those who wish to explore the concepts of optimism and explanatory stye in greater detail, there are validated psychological tools (such as the Seligman Attributional Style Questionnaire) which I recommend and which can be used for specific psychological profiling. For more information about these, contact Sportsmind and I can refer you to appropriate organisations and professionals who have the skills and expertise in this area.

Instructions

Hand out the questionnaire and encourage your players to complete it quickly, choosing the response that most closely reflects how they would think in the given context.


SPORTS OPTIMISM QUESTIONNAIRE

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers. Circle only one response per question, and answer every question even though the situation may never have happened to you. Read each description and imagine it happening to you; then choose the response that is most closest to how you would think in that situation.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
PmG
1. Situation: You are asked to replace a player in a higher grade who is injured :
A: I am good enough to play in the higher grade.
B: I have filled in occasionally before when needed.

2. Situation: You win a tournament / important game :
A: I was feeling unbeatable that day.
B: I always put a lot of effort into my training.

3. Situation: You do exceptionally well in an interview for a coaching position :
A: I always perform well in interviews.
B: I felt very relaxed and confident in the interview.

4. Situation: Despite being new to the team, you are put in the starting lineup :
A: I was in top form that day.
B: I am enthusiastic and try hard.

5. Situation: You invite a few team mates over for a party, and it's a raging success :
A: I host great parties.
B: I was particularly friendly that night.

PmB
6. Situation: You forget to go to training after a long weekend :
A: My mind was still on holiday that day.
B: I always forget when my routine is disrupted.

7. Situation: You lose your cool with the referee during a game :
A: That referee is biased against me.
B: He / She didn't referee fairly in the game.
8. Situation: You put on a lot of weight over Christmas and have trouble getting back
to your peak weight and fitness :
A: The diet I tried didn't work.
B: It's always hard to get back into training after a break.

9. Situation: Your coach says something that hurts your feelings :
A: He / She is always very cutting with criticism.
B: He / She was in a grumpy mood and took it out on me.

10. Situation: You've been feeling very tired lately :
A: I've been really busy this week.
B: I don't get a chance to relax.

PvG
11. Situation: You successfully resuscitate a person who was pulled from the surf :
A: I stay calm in a crisis.
B: I'm trained in first aid.

12. Situation: Your team is losing, and the coach asks your advice :
A: I know some good plays for pressure situations.
B: I always keep an overall perspective on the game.

13. Situation: You win a 'most improved player' award :
A: I was the most improved player.
B: I had important wins near the end of the season.

14. Situation: Your coach tells you you are at peak fitness level :
A: I stuck to my training program.
B: I'm very fitness conscious.

15. Situation: A team member comments on your confidence :
A: I am a confident person.
B: I've been playing well lately.

PvB
16. Situation: You perform poorly at an event for which you've been training hard :
A: The competition was fierce that day.
B: I'm not a natural athlete.
17. Situation: The coach says you're not working hard enough :
A: I'm not as motivated as everyone else in the team.
B: I have been slacking off a bit lately.

18. Situation: Your romantic partner breaks it off with you :
A: I didn't communicate well with him / her.
B: I'm too moody.

19. Situation: You are in charge of a team training session while your coach is sick, and
no one enjoys the training :
A: I'm not very good at coaching.
B: I didn't put much thought into the coaching session.

20. Situation: You forget to go to an unscheduled training session.
A: I forgot to check my diary that day.
B: I've got a bad memory for things like that.

Marking
Evaluate your answers using the following system:

1. Start by looking at every odd numbered question, and mark an 'A' choice with 1 point and a 'B' choice with 0 points. (For example, if in question 1 you chose response 'A', you would get 1 point for that question.
2. Now look at every even numbered question, and mark an 'A' choice with 0 points, and a 'B' choice with 1 point. (For example if you chose response 'A' in question 2, you would get no points for that question)
3. Next, look at the subheadings : PmG, PmB, PvG and PvB, and add your individual question scores to get a total for each of these categories. There are five questions for each category. Use the table to help you keep tally.
4. Finally, add up your total 'B' and total 'G' scores.

PmB = PmG =
PvB = PvG =
---------------------- --------------------
Total B = Total G =
---------------------- ---------------------

Interpretation
Your scores mean the following:

If your total 'B' score is
* 3 or below, is optimistic;
* 4 - 6, is average;
* 7 or above, is pessimistic.

If your total 'G' score is
* 8 - 10 is optimistic;
* 6 - 7, is average;
* 5 or below, is pessimistic.

It should be noted that the total 'B' scores are the most significant, as they reflect an individual's 'explanations' about 'Bad' events, while total 'G' scores measure explanations about 'Good' events. Since it is much more difficult to remain positive and optimistic in the face of trials and difficulties, hence an individual's total 'B' score will usually be more important.

Researchers suggest that an optimistic explanatory style, particularly about bad events, encourages perseverance: pessimistic athletes are more likely to lose confidence and motivation after a poor performance than optimists, and encouraging optimism in athletes can therefore lead to improved sports performances by encouraging perseverance. [Seligman (1990)] Likewise the identification of pessimistic athletes in a squad can be important. When a negative event occurs - for example, losing an important match; sustaining an injury; not being selected for a team; and so on - then their explanatory style would promote less perseverance, and may be resulting in those athletes not achieving their inherent sports potential.

It's significant to note that one can't not make explanations about the events that happen in one's life; one has to do that in order to make meaning out of the world. However, the consequences of the type of explanations one makes is very different. If we tend to make more optimistic explanations about events, then we'll be more successful in the long run, than if we tend to make more pessimistic explanations - and this is especially true in sport.

References

Seligman, M.E.P. 1990 Learned Optimism Milson's Pt, Sydney, Random House.

Hanrahan, S & Grove, R 1990 "A Short Form of the Sport Attributional Style Scale" Aust Journal of Science & Medicine in Sport Vol 22 Isue 4 97-101.

Hanrahan, S. & Grove, R, & Hattie, J 1989. "Development of a Questionnaire Measure of Sport-Related Attributional Style" Int Journal of Sport Psychology 20 : 114-134.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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What Clients Like About Sportsmind & Jeffrey Hodges

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