SportsmindCoachmindSalesmindHealthcoachGet the app

Sportsmind

DECISION MAKING: The Importance of a Positive Mind Set

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Importance of Decision Making in Shooting
Sport is a game of decisions - all throughout a match a person is making decisions which affect the outcome of the game. Some of these decisions are made consciously; for example :
Do I serve the ball to his backhand or forehand?;
Do I pass the ball or shoot for a goal myself?;
Do I go for a winner or play it safe?

However, many of the most important and significant decisions are not made consciously at all, and many sportspeople are totally unaware of the pre-programmed patterns of decision making that are limiting their performance.

In this article I take a look at some of the conscious and unconscious decisions that affect shooters, and make some suggestions for improving both conscious and unconscious decision making to improve YOUR performance.

Three Important Decisions
Firstly, it's crucial to understand that both as shooters, and as ordinary human beings, we all are making decisions about three things which affect us enormously : decisions about focus; decisions about what things mean; and decisions about what to do right now.

At every instant you're making a decision about what to focus your attention upon, then once your attention is focused on a particular event or set of circumstances the next decision you make is "What does this mean? Is it good, bad or unimportant either way?" This is then followed by the decision about "What do I do now?".

Let's consider an example. The first decision, "What do I focus on?", most people readily understand and appreciate it's importance on the surface.

At each moment, what you decide to pay attention to, and what you decide to focus your thinking on, affects how you feel, and what you do. A person who is focused on the target and their own successful shooting routine and rhythm is obviously going to perform more consistently than another performer thinking about someone watching them from the audience, or who's mind is on their hot date after the shoot!

The best players in any sport have learned how to manage this crucial triple decision making process to get the best out of themselves.

However let's probe a little deeper into this process. Consider an example from the game of golf. You tee up your ball on the first hole, (a par 5), and hit a glorious drive straight down the middle of the fairway - the best drive you've done for ages! Feeling good, you walk down to the ball and take out your 3 wood, again striking the ball sweetly and watch with pleasure as it comes to rest just an easy pitch from the green! You walk up confidently, take out your wedge, and with a smooth flowing swing, connect solidly with the ball, and watch in bliss as it sails in a perfect arc directly for the pin.

Suddenly, a freak gust of wind drifts your ball into the steep right hand side bunker!

Now ...... what you decide to focus your attention on at that moment determines how you feel and how you perform!

What do many people choose to focus on in such an instance? The misfortune of going into the bunker, perhaps thinking things like: "There goes my birdie chance now"; or "I hate that bunker; I never play it well. Last time I was in that bunker, it took me three shots to get out, and I ended up with a triple bogey"; or "I always manage to mess up a good drive"; or even "There goes my round today"!

Or perhaps their attention gets captured by thoughts of "I should have ........ I should have aimed further to the left", or "I should have used a different club" ..... etc. etc.

In order to do better at something, it's useful to ask the question, "What do the top people focus on at any point in time, and in particular circumstances?". In this instance, invariably champion golfers focus on their strongly desired goal, and committed standard of performance. They choose to focus their attention on the excellent drives they just did, and on previous good bunker shots, and imagine successfully getting up and down in two, to still make birdie, rather than dwelling on the misfortune of landing in the bunker.

Relate this to your own shooting - what decisions do you make in similar situations? How might you direct your decisions about focus that would lead to more consistent performance?

Your Consistent Focus is What is Important
I like to suggest that we human beings are a lot like guided missiles - we move toward whatever we regularly and consistently focus on and picture in our imagination and thoughts, with feeling.

It's not what you think about occasionally that's important, but what you're consistently and regularly focusing your attention upon that influences your life, and performance.

Think for a minute about when you were a younger person - didn't you imagine yourself there as you watched your heroes at the Olympics on TV, and think to yourself, "I want to perform like that!" Likewise, we first imagine ourselves into every new job, relationship, activity and performance, before we do it in reality.

So realise that your decisions about what you focus your attention upon are directing your life. Ask your self, right now, "What have I been thinking about most today, and this week? What has my focus been upon? What have I spent most of my time thinking about?"

It's interesting to note that for many people, their focus is often on what other people are doing : the latest office gossip; which celebrities have been sleeping with whom; the racing form; or details of the recent performances of their favourite sports stars.

Champions tend to be much more concerned with themselves and their life to focus for too long on other people.
Every thought has one of only two consequences - it either moves you closer to your dreams, or it takes you further away. There are no other choices, and no 'idle' thoughts! What you decide to focus upon and think about moves you in that direction.

However, many people allow their focus to be distracted and controlled by other people and events, rather than being directed by their own dreams and desires.

For many people, life is like a river, and they're just floating along with the current - current fashions and fads, current events and current problems. The trouble is that sometimes that current can smash you into the rocks or over the waterfall - so it's a good idea to have a direction in mind for where you want to go, and regularly and consistently focus your thinking on that.

Directing Your Focus
What this means in practice is to develop the discipline to consistently focus your attention and thinking on what you want.

For many people, thoughts are things that happen to them - I hear it all the time! "I can't help it; I always do it" they say, as if someone else was actually putting the thoughts in their head! That's garbage!

No-one is in charge of your thinking but you; no-one but you directs your thoughts, so quit whinging and bitching or making excuses - and learn to discipline your mind!

All mental training MUST begin with the discipline of training your focus, and realising that YOU control and direct your thoughts. Thinking positively doesn't always guarantee success, but when has thinking negatively ever done you any good?

In the next issue I will discuss the other two, less conscious, decision making processes that influence your confidence, self belief and performance consistency.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
6420 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

What do great shooters have in common?
Over the past year or so, I've had the privilege of working personally with a number of excellent shooters on some mental training techniques, and I thought it might be instructive to outline the principles, techniques and approach to mental training that shooters can use to enhance their performances.

But first, think for a moment about a shooter who you admire ..... What precisely do you admire about them? What is it that makes this person a champion in your eyes?

Obviously, they are skilled shooter, and they use excellent equipment - yet there is more to being a champion than technique and equipment. Champions have also learned how to get the best out of themselves by developing the skills of the sports mind.

Yet consider this : it's an observable fact that most shooters spend much of their time on the range, training and refining the technical and tactical aspects of their performances. However, as most players, professionals and watchers of any sport would agree, the major obstacles to improved performance are generally not physical at all, but rather mental or emotional obstacles : lapses in concentration; pre-performance anxiety; poor motivation; loss of confidence; negative mental attitude; 'choking' under pressure; and so on. It's the person with the mental and emotional toughness who succeeds most often in the long run.

You're more than just a body. Your mind and emotions also play an important part in your performances. If you're just training your body, you're only training less than half of yourself!

You don't build physical fitness with one or two gym workouts do you? You don't develop consistent shooting skills and techniques with an ad-hoc approach to training, do you? Yet, many shooters - even at the elite level - leave their mental and emotional preparation to chance! They just hope that they'll be confident and focused on the day.

This just isn't good enough any more! The best shooters leave nothing to chance, so don't leave your mental and emotional preparation to chance. Learn how to train your mind ... train your emotions ... by training the seven skills of the sports mind.

The important thing to realise is that attributes such as tough-mindedness, confidence, relaxed concentration, emotional control, and positive self belief and expectation can be learned and improved. Over the coming issues, I will share with you some simple mental training techniques of the best shooters and greatest sportspeople in the world. Techniques which are all simple and easy to learn and apply skills - secrets that you can learn to significantly improve your shooting, with very little effort.

Learn how to be self motivated, with high self esteem and a positive self image; know how to handle stress and pressure, and to be self directed with clearly defined goals supported by strong values and leadership qualities. Learn to develop the following seven mental skills for shooting success :

  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence
  • Precision Visualisation Skills

I want to begin in this issue with a discussion on Visualisation for Successful Shooting. I believe Visualisation is the foundational and most important mental skill - one which all shooters want to master first. This is because all the other mental skills require competent visualisation techniques .... to achieve goals, you have to see yourself doing so; to improve a technical aspect of your shooting or change a limiting emotional reaction or behaviour, you have to picture yourself doing that, and imagine a new self image. - which will include some basic and advanced visualisation techniques to help you improve your driving distance and consistency, short game and putting accuracy.

POSITIVE VISUALISATION
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, most 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 be careful of what you picture with feeling, because you will be pulled in that direction.

Have you ever 'imagined' doing something you didn't want to do ... only to find yourself almost magnetically compelled to do just that - despite all your best 'willpower' efforts?

It's important to remember that imagination is more powerful than willpower - so the first mental skill to develop is to learn to control and direct your imagination ...... rather than letting your imagination direct you!

SELF ONE AND SELF TWO
There's a wonderful book by Tim Gallwey called the Inner Game of Tennis, and in it he talks about the concept of the two selves. Tim Gallwey was a tennis coach, and he noticed people talking to themselves on the court, and from this he suggested that we actually have two 'selves'.

Self 1 is the conscious, 'telling' self, and its the part of us that is always telling us to "Keep your wrist firm", "Watch the ball", "Follow through", or whatever. Self 2 is our non-conscious 'doing' self, and it is the part of us that Self 1 is giving the commands to. You could call Self 1 our conscious mind, and self 2 our body.

Now the interesting thing about self 2, our body, is that is understands vivid pictures and images better than it does words.

It's similar to a computer in that it understands a very particular and precise programming language - however the programming language of self 2 is not MS DOS or WINDOWS XP, but rather vivid visual images. Self 2 is a very competent servant and it accurately follows the instructions given to it in its language.

However most people try to program self 2 with words - they verbally command their body to do something without having a clearly visualised and precise picture of exactly what they want to happen. But it just doesn't work effectively - it's a bit like talking in a foreign language.

If I said the Japanese phrase : "Katate mochi Nikkajo Osai Ni", would you know what I wanted you to do?

It's just the same when you 'talk' to your body - it just doesn't understand the words you use. The way to command, or 'program' your body effectively is to use vivid images - particularly images associated with strong feeling, or what I call 'feel-mages'.

This concept is supported by comments from champion sportspeople. Jack Nicklaus has said "I never hit a shot, even in practice, without having a clear, in focus picture of it in my mind." Greg Liganus, after hitting his head on the diving board in one of his dives in the 1988 Olympics, was asked by one of the television crews if he wanted a copy of the dive to see where he went wrong. He refused, saying he didn't even want to consider the possibility that Greg Liganus could hit his head on a diving board!

You want to have a positive focus, and you want to communicate that positive focus to your body in a way that it understands - by giving it clear, vivid images. It could be said that your level of performance is directly related to the quality of the communication and the level of trust you can establish between your self 1 and self 2.

WHY VISUALISATION WORKS
There is overwhelming scientific and anecdotal evidence which demonstrates the undeniable fact that visualisation can improve your sports performances. In my own research, the feedback I've received from athletes is that they improved their performance from 10% to 50%!

Visualisation works - but do you know why? 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.

For instance, in order to make a perfect shot in reality, a specific 'program' of neuro-muscular circuits has to fire in order for that to happen. However, if I just vividly imagine doing that shot, it's been found that micro-muscular stimulation occurs in those same muscles used to do it in 'reality'.

In fact, neurologically, your body can't tell the difference between a 'real' experience, and a vividly imagined one. You consciously know one experience is real and the other is imagined, but at the cellular level, your body can't tell the difference.

Because there is this muscular response to visualised activity, it 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.

Further, visualisation allows you to practice your techniques perfectly - without error, and so 'groove in' the optimum neural pathway for future successful performances.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
4098 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: Motivation Part 1

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

The secret to motivation is the way you communicate - with yourself, and others. Communicate in a particular way and all you'll get is resistance and apathy; change your communication style and you will get enthusiasm and positive action - from yourself and in those you coach!

This is the third article in a series of articles on mental training for improved shooting performance.

Previously I have mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success :

  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence
  • Precision Visualisation Skills

Importantly, I believe each of these mental skills are learnable and teachable.

In the past, qualities and attributes such as tough-mindedness, confidence, relaxed concentration, emotional control, and self belief were thought to be 'innate' ..... a shooter either 'had it' or they didn't, and as a consequence coaches have spent most of their attention training technical shooting skills and more recently physical fitness.

However all the skills of the sports MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I introduced the first of these mental training techniques in the previous two issues when I spoke about Visualisation.

I said that Visualisation is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body.

I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

In this issue I want to talk about the important topic of motivation.

WHAT IS MOTIVATION?
What is motivation, and where does it come from? How do we 'get motivated', and how can we motivate others in an effective manner? How come some people always seem to have so much motivation and energy, while others struggle with apathy and lack of direction?

Put simply, motivation is an energy - an energy to do, to accomplish. In order to understand this energy a little better, take a few moments now to think of a specific time when you were really motivated - a time when you felt that energy to do, strongly. Take the time to remember where you were, what you were thinking, and how you motivated yourself.

How did you communicate with yourself in order to get motivated?

You will no doubt have found that you used one of two simple motivation strategies - either a positive motivation strategy, or a negative motivation strategy. Now in this context 'negative' doesn't necessarily mean 'bad', and positive doesn't necessarily mean 'good'.

I define negative motivation as a form of motivation that moves you away from a negative happening or experience - moving you away from something you don't want to happen. The essential motivating part of negative motivation is the thought of something 'bad' happening.

Negative motivation often comes from an external source with the threat of some kind of punishment if you don't do something. For example, your parents telling you you have to clean up your room, or mow the lawn, or you won't be allowed to go out on Saturday night. Or your teacher saying you must have the assignment handed in by Monday morning, otherwise you'll get detention. Or your coach shouting that you should concentrate harder or you'll never make the team. And so you motivate yourself to do whatever it is, because you don't want those negative consequences to happen

Of course, you can also motivate yourself in this negative way - for example, leaving early for work because you don't want to be late; doing your homework assignments because you don't want to fail; watching the foods you eat because you don't want to get fat; preparing carefully for a shoot because you don't want to lose; and so on.

POSITIVE MOTIVATION
In contrast, positive motivation is a form of motivation which moves you toward a positive happening or experience, moving you toward something you do want to happen, and the essential motivating part of positive motivation is the thought of this 'good' experience or result happening.

Some examples of positive motivation are someone working out at the gym four times a week because they like the way they look and feel when they work out regularly; or working to a study timetable because you want a good grade; or putting in 100% effort in training because you want to do ell in the shoot on the weekend.

It's useful to recognise that while both negative and positive motivation can have important roles in motivating us to avoid personal danger, get out of bed in the morning, earn a living, keep healthy and fit, achieve recognition in our sport, and so on, there is a significant difference in the consequences of using each type of motivation in your life.

Negative motivation can result in excessive anxiety and tension, while positive motivation tends to positively energise and arouse you. Negative motivation causes you to think about what you don't want, while positive motivation gets you focused on what you do want.

Having a positive focus, particularly as a shooter is just so important - because we move toward what we think about. I like to say that human beings are like guided missiles, and the guidance system of us is the thoughts we think. Think about not wanting to shoot an '8', and that's often where your shot ends up! Think about not wanting to get nervous and mess up the important speech, and that's often just what you do! Think about not being late for that important meeting, and often everything seems to conspire to make you late!

We move toward what we think about, so it's important to imagine and picture what we want rather than what we don't want. It's been identified that the top performers in any sport are invariably more positively motivated than negatively motivated - what motivates them are strong desires for their dreams and goals, and this is one reason why having goals is so important. [More on this in the next issue]

HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE?
One way to identify your current motivation strategy is to simply pay attention to the words and images you use when you're motivating yourself, or others. What words do you use when you want to motivate yourself, or someone else, to do something? How do you communicate with yourself and others to achieve motivation?

If you're saying to yourself things like, "I have to go to training today"; or "I've got to improve my fitness"; or "I must concentrate harder"; or "I ought to practice more"; then you're using a negative motivation strategy, and you're not managing yourself as effectively as you could.

Remember, positive motivation grows out of desire and wanting - not from should's, have to's, ought's, and must's. I believe the more you can choose to live your life and do every task from a "I'm doing it because I choose to and want to" way of thinking and talking to yourself, the better your life works, and the more successful you are in the long run.

Working in this way with yourself, you manage yourself better and you don't get 'resistance' from yourself because you feel forced to do something against your will. Remember how you felt when your parents said you had to help with the dishes, or had to mow the lawn, or had to do some other chore, when you wanted to watch television or play with your friends? You felt pushed and of course you resisted, and as a result your heart wasn't in it when you did the chore, was it?

The same thing happens if you communicate to yourself in that way - if you use "have to's", "ought to's", "should's" and "must's", then you'll find yourself unconsciously resisting yourself, even if it's a task that's worthwhile, for a cherished goal you want to achieve.

The thing to realise and understand is that often in sport the only thing that keeps a competitor going is their heart - and if your heart isn't in something, you'll eventually give up. Communicating with yourself using negative motivation language is a sure way to lose heart, and you're too good for that.

So from now on, every time you hear yourself say "should", or "ought to", or "must" or "have to" about any task that you're undertaking ..... stop, and deliberately change your language to 'want to". You want to "want to"! Rather than should, ought to, have to and must, use words like want to, like to, desire to, love to. You want to do this to enhance your motivation!

Of course, if you're a coach, or teacher, wanting to build motivation in others, then this information is doubly important, isn't it? Listen to how you've been talking to your staff, players, students or clients lately. Have you been building "want to's" based on strongly desired goals and dreams, or have you been telling them they "should" train harder, or "have to" concentrate more, or "must" be more determined to win?

SIX TASKS
I encourage you to try it right this instant. Right now, think of six tasks that are on your agenda to do this week. They might be work tasks, an assignment due for some course you're doing, home chores, or training for your sport - it doesn't matter.

As you think of each task, rather than say to yourself, "I have to do such-and-such", think instead: "I want to get that report to my boss by Friday morning"; or " I want to go to the gym three times this week"; or "I want to practice my shooting for a couple of hours three afternoons this week"; or I want to get the washing and ironing done tomorrow". I now use this process for everything I choose to do - including wanting to put in my tax return on time!

Did you notice the difference in the way you felt about the tasks when you changed the language you used? You would have felt more relaxed and at ease about doing the tasks, and felt more 'motivated' to do them.

MOTIVATING OTHERS
I recently read that because so many people are so used to motivating themselves negatively, in order to be most effective in motivating others, first state what you DON'T want, and then state what you DO want - in the same sentence.

What is important is the sequence in which the negative and positive aspects of the directions are given. For instance, if I were giving instruction to a football or basketball team about improving on their defence, notice how the order of what I say influences your response. Which of these two statements is more appealing to you? :

"This time, let's start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the entire match. No missed tackles, fumbles, or sloppy passing."

OR

"This time, no missed tackles, fumbles, or sloppy passing. Let's start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the entire match."

Most people find the second statement more useful, because you are made aware of what to avoid, and then given a positive direction or goal at the end - which is what remains most clearly in your mind.

Of course, in my opinion, an even better alternative would be a pure positive motivation statement such as :

"This time, make every tackle, hold on to the ball, and pass accurately. Let's start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the entire match."

Why accede to others' negativity at all? Let's teach them how to be positive!

In the next issue I will discuss how to establish a compelling, positive vision for your success using the power of commitment.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
3656 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: Motivation Part 2

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

This is the fifth article in a series of articles on mental training for improved shooting performance.

Previously I have mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have already covered the first skill of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

In the last issue I introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation.

Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

Negative motivation is characterised by the use of self talk with "should's", "have to's", "ought's", and "must's", while positive motivation uses "want to's", "like to's", "love to's" and "will's" as self talk. It is this self communication which results in either resistance and apathy, or enthusiasm and positive action - from yourself and in those you coach.

I want to continue by talking about the importance of turning motivation into positive momentum.

BUILDING CHAMPION MOMENTUM
The key to your achieving success in shooting, or any endeavour for that matter, will not be as a result of a different diet, or through a new cross training regimen, or with the latest technologically advanced pistol, or software package, or gee-whiz laptop computer - it will be a result of your ability to establish and maintain physical, emotional and mental momentum toward the realisation of your personal sporting vision.

Understanding, and employing, the principles of making things happen allows you to turn a vision from an attractive dream into a fulfilling reality - by chunking it down into achievable goals and action plans. In this article I will show you how to generate irresistible personal momentum to turn your dreams into a reality.

TURNING DREAMS INTO REALITY
Once you have identified a personal vision which you have committed yourself to - the next step is to go about achieving it! Having a dream is important - but lot's of people have dreams, yet they never achieve them. So how do you turn dreams into reality?

One of the keys is to understand how you got to be where you are now - because where you are, now, was at one time just a dream wasn't it? There was a time, for instance, when you hadn't even started playing or competing in your chosen sport, or working in your current career - and to reach the level or position you're currently at now was just a dream. Isn't it so?

So what was it that brought that dream into reality? What is it that precedes all your actions, all of your behaviours, and all of your performances in every area of your life?

It's your decisions, isn't it.

Your decisions precede all your actions and therefore determine who you become. Everything in you life, including your current sports performances and your current level of financial and career success, is determined by the decisions you have made, and are making right now. Your decisions determine what you think, how you feel, what you do, and who you become.

THE POWER OF DECISIONS
If you're wondering why someone is currently achieving a greater level of success than you - in any area - then the answer is simply that they have made different decisions than you.

Different decisions about how they spend their time; different decisions about how they respond to setbacks or 'defeats'; different decisions about who they hang around with; different decisions about their approach to training or work. But most importantly, different decisions about what they expect of themselves, and about what they want to achieve in their sport, career, and personal life.

Yet, unfortunately, most people don't make these kinds of decisions consciously - they just hope to do well, and then wish they had done better! However, hopes and wishes are not good enough for champions - nor are they good enough for you!

Recognise that if you don't consciously make these kinds of decisions - about what level of performance you expect of yourself, and what you want in your life - then you've really made a decision by default anyway. You've decided to let other people, or the whims of the environment, direct your destiny.

No one likes to think they're being controlled by other people, yet I hear time and again excuses why people haven't achieved more in their sport : "I don't have the right build"; "I'm too old"; "I haven't had the opportunity"; "I haven't got the experience"; "I don't have enough time"; and so on.

I'm sure you've heard similar excuses, and perhaps you've used some of them yourself - I know I used to, and I still occasionally fall into this trap. Yet I quickly realise, as I hope you do, that all these things are conditions - and it's not the conditions in your life that hold you back, but rather the decisions you make!

What you decide to do, given whatever conditions you currently have in your life, makes the difference in your performances, and in your life.

Of course you can argue that some people are born with certain advantages - a fantastic sports physique, financial resources, a supportive family, or an opportune environment. However, lots of those people, even given these advantages don't achieve their potential, do they? They're not as successful as they could be.

Then there are other people, coming from the poorest conditions and with physical, environmental and social limitations who shuck off the bonds of those conditions to achieve sporting, political, financial or career performances way beyond expectations.

How do they do it? Simply by making committed decisions. The power of a committed decision cannot be underestimated in its ability to positive affect your performance.

TRUE DECISIONS
However, for your decisions to make a real difference in your life, they have to be true decisions. Many people don't understand what a true decision is - they use the word loosely, and so decisions for them have become just preferences, things they'd like to have happen, rather than real decisions.

In contrast, a true decision evokes a firm commitment to make it happen, leaving no choice for any other option.

For instance, if you make such a committed decision to give up smoking, then that's it, you'll do it, and you no longer even consider the possibility of your smoking again. If you truly decide to improve your fitness, or lose weight, or increase your monthly income, then you'll find a way to make it happen.

However, most people state preferences rather than make committed decisions: "I'd like to give up smoking"; "I wish I could improve my shooting performances in competition"; "I hope I get the promotion"; "I'd like to earn more money this year"; or "I hope I'm selected for the team - all of which are just wish lists, and have no power to positively change your life or enhance your sporting performances.

MAKING YOUR GOALS DECISIONS
Here's a little exercise for you to do. Think right now about a true decision you've made recently - something you definitely decided on, and followed through with. A decision about buying a new car, or house, taking up a new job, or maybe even the decision to read this article! Notice how you thought about it, and identify the exact moment when you actually decided - when you said "Yes, I'll do it".

Now think about something you've been 'considering', but haven't made a definite decision about yet. Again notice how you think about that, and compare the differences in what you see, hear, and feel to the time you made a definite decision.

You'll notice that you think about the two experiences very differently.

Now consider: HOW have you been thinking about the dreams you've identified for yourself? Is it more similar to the first way, or to the second? Are you thinking about your sports goals and dreams like a true decision, or just something you're 'considering', that you'd like, or hope, to achieve 'one day' but haven't really committed yourself to yet?

You want to think about achieving your dreams in the same way that you think about getting a loaf of bread from the shop, or picking up that pen over there ...... simple, easy, no questions - I'll just do it.

COMMITMENT TO ACTION
Think about your dreams as true decisions, not just preferences ............ but how do I know if I've made a committed decision?

True decisions are always followed by actions.

For instance, if you truly decide to buy a new car, you'll go and see a car dealer, or place an add in the paper to sell your old one. If you truly decide to end a relationship, you'll confront your partner and talk about it, or you'll pack your bags! And if you make a true decision to play to a higher standard in your sport, or reach a cherished sports goal, then you'll do something about it - you'll take some action. Until the point of action, it's just been something you've been 'considering' - action makes it a true decision.

The interesting thing is that when you make a definite commitment to a particular decision, it unlocks the energy within you to achieve it.

I'm sure you've had the experience of agonising over a decision about something for weeks or perhaps even months - you know how such indecision can totally sap your drive, because you have no clear direction. However, as soon as you've hopped off the fence and decided one way or the other, you're able to start moving again.

In the next moment, right now, you could use this power of a true decision to change your life. The motivation, the power, the energy to succeed comes from making committed decisions.

Why not make some for yourself, right now?

In the next issue we'll move onto the third mental skill and I'll share some ideas on some powerful goal achievement strategies and principles to help you actually get what you want - once you've committed yourself to it!

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
3894 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: The Power of Goals Part 1

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have spoken of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific visualisation applications for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I also introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

With the beginning of a new season our thoughts turn to what we want to achieve - what goals we want to set for upcoming competitions, and for next year.

Goals are important because they provide direction, motivation and focus. Goals are especially important in shooting - those who have clear goals, and an action plan to achieve them are more successful in the long run

There are two types of goals that you want to be aware of : outcome goals, and process goals.

Outcome goals are the end result: winning a competition; being selected for the state squad; achieving a ranking in the top 100; etc.

Process goals are the specific steps, actions, behaviours, technical skills, moods, and mental processes required to achieve the desired outcome, for example maintaining a consistently correct posture; following a specific mental and physical routine before each shot; staying calm and focused if a distraction occurs; and so on.

In recent years, some people have suggested that it's wrong to set and think about outcome goals; that we ought focus upon and set just process goals.

However both goals are important to success: without a clearly defined and desired outcome, motivation flags and there can be a loss of direction; without process goals we don't have a clear plan or means for getting what we want. If you don't have a specific destination in mind, you might be a good shooter, but you'll end up going nowhere in particular - and this is what happens to many talented sportspeople, simply because they don't set long term goals. You want to have a desired outcome and not be afraid of setting it, and going for it. However you also want to have an achievable means by which you're going to get your outcome - and these are your process goals.

What is important is knowing when to focus on outcome and when to focus on process.

Generally, the time to think about outcome goals is prior to and after a performance; the time to focus on process goals is during a performance. If you think about winning during the shoot, your attention and concentration on the moment by moment performance can suffer as you imagine the future, or regret past mistakes, instead of being in the present.

What would give you a real buzz to achieve for yourself in the next twelve months, and 3 to 5 years? The goals you set want to be big enough to challenge and inspire you, but not too far out of reach to be unrealistic. Remember the quality and scope of the goals you set influences not just your direction, but also your character and personality. Most people set goals that are well below their capabilities, simply because of fear of failing.

Face the fear; be courageous.
Write down now your two most important outcome goals to accomplish for this season and within 3 years, and a long term goal - something you'd like to achieve within 5 - 10 years.

MY GOALS
This Season [ Or next six to twelve months ]
#1

#2

Winthin 3 years
#1

#2

My Long Term, or Dream Goal [ Within 5 - 10 years ]
#1

In the next issues, I'll discuss two essential principles if you are to successfully achieve these goals you've just written down!

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
3492 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: The Power of Goals Part 2

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have spoken of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific visualisation applications for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I also introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

This led to a discussion about the power of goals and of the importance of setting a direction for yourself by identifying some short, medium and long term goals, and explained the difference between outcome and process goals, and the importance of knowing WHEN to focus of each type of goal.

So if you haven't set some goals yet, then do so now! If you have, then ………….. congratulations .... by setting some specific goals you're way ahead of most average sportspeople already!

However, just setting goals is only the first step. Anyone can set goals. The difference between the person who sets a goal and achieves it, and the person who sets the goal and just dreams of achieving it, is twofold.

Firstly, the achiever makes a committed decision backed by powerful reasons.
Secondly, the achiever designs an action plan, and puts it into practice.

Pick the most important goal you want to achieve, and write a paragraph about WHY you want to achieve it; what are the reasons for wanting it? How would you feel if you didn't achieve it - what would you miss out on? And how are you going to feel when you DO achieve it?

After you've written the reasons, design an action plan - what you're going to do today, tomorrow, next week, next month, etc. to achieve the goal. How will you go about achieving it? What help do you need? What areas do you need to improve? What process goals do you want to set in order to achieve the outcome you want?

Ask yourself :
* What skills would I have developed, and to what level?
* What will be my fitness, strength, flexibility, agility, concentration, emotional control, desire, etc., and how will I have developed these?]

Finally, write your name in the space below for the committed decision and sign it. Commit yourself to your goal - but only do so if you really want it. If you're really serious, have your coach, or parent, witness it and enlist their help in your achieving it.

Finally, remember to celebrate when you achieve your goals - and thank those who helped you!

REASON
I want to achieve _______________________________________ (goal), because ..............

ACTION PLANS
I plan to take the following actions to achieve my goal ................

MY PERSONAL COMMITMENT
I __________________________________________ (your name), truly want the above goal. I now make the decision to fully commit myself to achieve it.

Signed _________________________ Date ________

Witness ___________________

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
1904 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: The Power of Goals Part 3

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have spoken of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific visualisation applications for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I also introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

This led to a discussion about the power of goals and of the importance of setting a direction for yourself by identifying some short, medium and long term goals, and explained the difference between outcome and process goals, and the importance of knowing WHEN to focus of each type of goal.

So if you haven't set some goals yet, then do so now! If you have, then ………….. congratulations .... by setting some specific goals you're way ahead of most average sportspeople already!

However, just setting goals is only the first step. Anyone can set goals. The difference between the person who sets a goal and achieves it, and the person who sets the goal and just dreams of achieving it, is twofold.

Firstly, the achiever makes a committed decision backed by powerful reasons.
Secondly, the achiever designs an action plan, and puts it into practice.

Over the past two issues I've explained about the importance of goals, the difference between outcome and process goals, the importance of knowing WHEN to focus of each type of goal, and how to write goals that are supported by powerful reasons and practical action plans.

In sports coaching this concept of goal setting has taken on the status of an immutable 'truth' - something so accepted as to be rarely, if ever, questioned, and it is an invaluable tool.

However, I've recently developed an extended approach to high achievement which is even more effective than simple goal setting.

Problems with Goal 'Setting' You see, the problem with goal 'setting' is two-fold. Firstly, what happens when, (as often happens), you don't get the goal you set?

For example, I'm sure every football team had 'set the goal' of winning the premiership this year - yet many teams didn't even make the top four! Here are professional sports teams and managers who are worth millions ….. - yet they didn't get the goal they set!

Haven't you had the same kind of disappointing experience? Haven't you 'set' yourself goals - whether it was to increase your fitness level; or to change your diet and lose some weight; or to win a particular comp; or get a particular job; or attain a certain result in your studies .... and you didn't do it!

Tell me how did you felt afterwards? What was the end result of your goal setting? Loss of confidence in your abilities. Erosion of your self belief. Perhaps not wanting to try again - giving up?

Yet we're told, "Don't give up!" The answer is simply to try again - to set yet more goals.

Don't worry - the problem isn't you! The fault is with the process. Goal 'setting' is not the answer!

The second fatal flaw with goal setting is that it encourages an unhealthy and unrealistic emphasis on outcomes and results.

Too often an athlete's happiness, self worth, and even identity are dependent on achieving the goal, the result ... and when (as often happens – because there can only ever be one 'winner') an individual doesn't get the goal, win the event, achieve the result - they feel cheated, disappointed, and can lose heart, and even fall prey to depression.

Further, goal 'setting' too often leads the individual to associate all the pleasure and joy with the final attainment - as if life were a result, rather than an on-going process! This often then consigns the actual 'process' of achieving the goal to the role of a 'sacrifice' - something to be suffered through in order to attain eventual happiness!

What this unhealthy obsession with the end result creates then is an emptiness, even in the athletes who get to the top, after the 'magic moment' of successful attainment is over, as they look around after years of 'sacrifice' and wonder, "Is this all there is? Is this what I gave up my life for?"

The Solution
If goal 'setting' isn't the answer, what is? Is it possible to achieve at the highest level with a different kind of process? I believe so, and I believe this new process is both more effective and leads to long term joy and fulfilment - rather than infrequent, fleeting pleasures.

The 'goal' is to happily achieve; rather than achieve to be happy.

This new process - which I term the Sportsmind Routine Achievement approach - involves two radical changes in thinking.

Firstly, the understanding that achievement is a process, not an end result.

In order to achieve any goal, there must be a process involved; and this process involves specific routines.

The key to successful and satisfying achievement then, lies in identifying the routine, which if followed, will inevitably lead you to the desired 'goal'. This is done by simply asking the question : "What routine, or set of routines, - if adhered to consistently and conscientiously - would inevitably lead to the successful attainment of goal X"

The task then is to simply focus on doing, and enjoying, the routines - confident that your training will lead you where you want to be.

Secondly, associate the greatest pleasure with the training - not the end result. Love your training - otherwise you're going to be spending most of your time not enjoying your life, and I see so many sportspeople who dislike training, and only do it because they feel they 'have to' in order to get the goals they want! This is exactly the same as the many people working in jobs they hate! Why spend your life doing something you hate? Either change your attitude to training, or go and do something that you do like!

The way to do this is to continually ask yourself about your training, "How can I enjoy this more? What can I do to make this even more fun and enjoyable for me?" Remind yourself regularly while you train, "I LOVE shooting!... I LOVE training. I'm so lucky to be doing this - some people have to actually WORK right now; I get to PLAY!".

Achievement as a Personal Management Process Having made these two important points, let me now say it IS important to have goals!

However, achieving significant goals in sport, particularly at an elite level, involves more than just the process of setting them.

Achieving big goals is a personal management process involving establishing a goal, breaking it down into smaller sub-goals, determining a viable action plan, implementing and enjoying this plan, evaluating progress, adjusting the plan, celebrating achievement, and finally choosing a new goal.

Goals are important to success, because without a clearly defined and desired outcome, motivation flags and there can be a loss of direction. If you don't have a specific destination in mind, you might be a good player, but you'll end up going nowhere in particular - and this is what happens to many talented athletes, simply because they don't have long term goals.

You do want to have a desired outcome and not be afraid of setting it, and going for it - however you also want to temper this outcome focus by establishing strong achievement routines, and associating great enjoyment to your day-to-day training.

For instance, consider a journey. At the beginning of the journey you think of your destination - where you want to end up. Then you get in the car and pay attention to the traffic around you; stop at lights and intersections; change gears; accelerate; turn corners; refuel when necessary; and deal with any delays and flat tyres along the way.

Now just imagine if you didn't have that destination in mind at the start - what would happen? You'd just hop in the car and start driving, and you might drive extremely well, but you'd end up going nowhere in particular.

What is different about the Sportsmind Routine Achievement approach is that we remember to enjoy the journey, and focus on what you need to do each step of the way. Remember that choosing a direction is important, but placing too much emphasis on it leads to problems.

For instance, on your journey you'll have an accident if you think too much about the hot date you're doing to visit, but if you don't want that hot date in the first place, you'll probably never get the car out of the garage!

Likewise, if you think about winning during the competition, chances are your attention and concentration will suffer as you imagine the future, or regret past mistakes, instead of being in the present - and you won't perform to your potential.

Enjoy your training; love the doing of your sport - it is after all the most important part!

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
1929 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: The Power of Focus

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

This is the seventh article in a series of articles on mental training for improved shooting performance.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have already covered the first skill of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

In the last issue I introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation.

Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

Negative motivation is characterised by the use of self talk with "should's", "have to's", "ought's", and "must's", while positive motivation uses "want to's", "like to's", "love to's" and "will's" as self talk. It is this self communication which results in either resistance and apathy, or enthusiasm and positive action - from yourself and in those you coach.

I want to continue by talking about the importance of turning motivation into positive momentum.

YOUR FOCUS OF ATTENTION

There is one particular decision that you're making all the time that's especially important - and that is, your decision about what to focus your attention on.

At each moment, what you decide to pay attention to, and what you decide to focus your thinking on, affects how you feel, and what you do.

For example, consider a game of golf. You tee up your ball on the first hole, (a par 5), and hit a glorious drive straight down the middle of the fairway - the best drive you've done for ages! Feeling good, you walk down to the ball and take out your 3 wood, again striking the ball sweetly and watch with pleasure as it comes to rest just an easy pitch from the green! You walk up confidently, take out your wedge, and with a smooth flowing swing, connect solidly with the ball, and watch in bliss as it sails in a perfect arc directly for the pin.

Suddenly, a freak gust of wind drifts your ball into the steep right hand side bunker!

Now ...... what you decide to focus your attention on at that moment determines how you feel and how you perform!

What do many people choose to focus on in such an instance? The misfortune of going into the bunker, perhaps thinking things like: "There goes my birdie chance now"; or "I hate that bunker; I never play it well. Last time I was in that bunker, it took me three shots to get out, and I ended up with a triple bogey"; or "I always manage to mess up a good drive"; or even "There goes my round today"!

In order to do better at something, it's useful to ask the question, "What do the top people focus on at any point in time, and in particular circumstances?". In this instance, invariably champion golfers focus on their strongly desired goal, and committed standard of performance. They choose to focus their attention on the excellent drives they just did, and on previous good bunker shots, and imagine successfully getting up and down in two, to still make birdie, rather than on the fact of landing in the bunker.

I like to suggest that we human beings are a lot like guided missiles - we move toward whatever we regularly and consistently focus on and picture in our imagination and thoughts, with feeling.
It's not what you think about occasionally that's important, but what you're consistently and regularly focusing your attention upon that influences your life, and performance.

Think for a minute about when you were a child - didn't you imagine yourself playing a particular sport as you watched your heroes play, and think to yourself, "I'm going to do that!"

Likewise, we first imagine ourselves into every new job, relationship, activity and performance, before we do it in reality.

So realise that your decisions about what you focus your attention upon are directing your life.

Ask your self, right now, "What have I been thinking about most today, and this week? What has my focus been upon? What have I spent most of my time thinking about?"

I think it's interesting to note that for many people, their focus is often on what other people are doing : the latest office gossip; which celebrities have been sleeping with whom; the racing form; or details of the recent performances of their favourite sports star. Champions tend to be much more concerned with themselves and their life to focus for too long on other people.

Every thought has one of only two consequences - it either moves you closer to your dreams, or it takes you further away. There are no other choices, or 'idle' thoughts! What you decide to think about moves you in that direction.

However, many people allow their focus to be distracted by other people and events, rather than being directed by their own dreams and desires. For many people, life is like a river, and they're just floating along with the current - current fashions and fads, current events and current problems. The trouble is that sometimes that current can smash you into the rocks or over the waterfall - so it's a good idea to have a direction in mind for where you want to go, and regularly and consistently focus your thinking on that.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
2021 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: On Thinking

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have already covered the first skill of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I also introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

This led in the last few issues to a discussion about goals and how to attain them, and I want to conclude my information about goals by talking about the role of your thinking.

What is thinking, and how do the processes of our thoughts influence our ability to achieve our goals?

On Thinking

If you had a chance to listen to, and really hear, the news conference given by Ian Thorpe announcing his retirement, you would have picked up some really valuable insights into just how important thinking is to all sportspeople - and not just champions.

Ian walked us through his thinking behind his decision, and it was interesting to note his mention of how he was "questioning himself" a lot prior to his ultimate decision.

This is important, because if you question anything enough, you will begin to doubt. Self doubt, lack of direction, unmotivation, loss of confidence, and so on, are often the result of continuous questioning, or of asking the wrong kinds of questions.

Questions such as : Why am I doing this? What's wrong with me? Why does this always happen to me? Why can't I .................. (whatever).

What I call why(n)ing thinking.

This is not to say that Ian made an incorrect decision, or that after ten years of extraordinary achievement in his sport, he doesn't deserve the right to move on and do other things in his life.

I simply wonder if he had enough psychological support over the past six to twelve months, to aid him in the process - because it's very easy to allow the 'why' questioning process to become self-sustaining - and ultimately destructive of an athlete's direction and motivation.

I think we've all been there at some time in our life - questioning "Why am I in this sport / job / role / relationship / whatever?"

Those who moved on obviously didn't find a satisfactory answer; while those who stayed found a way to answer the questions - and then got on with it.

If you keep asking 'why' questions of yourself, over and over again, the only result is going to be self doubt, and ultimately, giving up.

For this reason, I recommend to the athletes I work with, that they take some time to find really powerful answers to questions such as : "Why am I playing this sport?".

Answers that are personally meaningful for the athlete, and which they can have ready in their mind whenever those little doubts or questions surface - either from themselves, or from others.

It's important to recognise that every athlete will ask, or be asked, these 'why' questions at some point in their sporting careers, (and probably many times), and if they don't already have really strong, convincing answers, then the process will continue to build and feed on itself ........ until they decide to do something else.

Elite, competitive sport today is a tough business, and only those individuals who are really clear on why they are there - and fully satisfied with those answers - will have the mental and emotional energy to handle the challenges and setbacks they will inevitably face.

Having heartfelt, powerful reasons for why you're playing / competing in your sport provides the motivational fuel that will sustain you through the hours of arduous training; the constant, fickle media scrutiny; the niggling injuries; and all the other challenges on your way to success.

The bygone aspiration of many of our sporting champions in the past -"to represent Australia", is no longer enough any more ...... and really, why should it be?

When athletes see company directors sitting in $500,000 corporate boxes with government bureaucrats, politicians, and other parasites feeding off their athletic efforts like some emotional vampires unable or unwilling to engage their own spirit; why should they be satisfied with idealism?

So take some time today to think about it .... WHY are you playing your sport - or doing what you're doing in your life right now?

Find at least six really meaningful and heartfelt reasons; acknowledge them to yourself; and then get on with it!

For athletes to succeed consistently over a long period of time, these reasons must include a love of the actual playing of your sport - including the training. It's also helpful to see competition in a very personal way ....... to compete for yourself first; to test yourself and hone your skills and your spirit, rather than for the rewards or glory.

Once you've found these personally meaningful reasons, trust, and tell yourself that you HAVE made the right decisions - and commit to them. Of course, you may want to re-evaluate your life from time to time, (at the end the year, or at the end of the season for example), but excessive questioning is counter-productive.

The Structure of Thoughts

Having explained just how important questions are, it's useful to recognise that questions are just one aspect of the thinking processes which affect sports performance.

Think about thinking for a moment. What is thinking? What happens in your mind when you think - what actual processes happen?

Thinking comprises two processes: visualisation and verbalisation (or other internal auditory stimuli), and usually both simultaneously. We think visually, by imagining, or picturing, or dreaming - seeing things in our mind's eye. We also think auditorily by talking to ourselves, or by hearing music or other sounds in our head.

It's interesting to realise and appreciate that all of our performances and behaviours are directed by these two simple processes!

All that you have done and become - and will yet be - is a consequence of how you manipulate your thinking processes.

Further, in relation to the auditory aspect of thinking, it can be divided into self talk and other sounds. The self talk component includes the questions, which I have already discussed, and statements.

'Statements' are verbalisations of what you believe about your sport, the world, and life in general - and often relate to yourself. For example : "I'm not a morning person"; "It's hard to get to the top"; "I've got a strong forehand"; "Women are fickle"; "Men are bastards"; "No pain, no gain"; "I'm not a lucky person"; "People are cruel"; "I'm a good cook"; etc.

These statements are often very subtle and the individual is barely conscious of them. The trouble is, that these internal verbalisations -especially the ones that relate to you - influence your performance and behaviour. What you say about and of yourself, becomes true for you.

So, an important key to mental training for sportspeople is to assert some control over all these thinking processes - to take charge of the imagery, questions and statements that happen in their mind.

Recognise that you are the master of your mind. Your mind is your servant - not the other way around!

All mental discipline begins with the simple acknowledgement that you are not your mind! With this simple understanding, you can reassert your authority over the mind.

Too many people allow their mind to direct them, instead of them directing their mind!

A good example of this happened recently with a golf professional who came to me for some assistance with his mental game. He said he found his concentration wandering regularly, and often imagining negative things - which of course then happened.

I gave him a simple remedy : YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND. I instructed him to write out the following phrase and say it often to himself throughout the day :

I am the master of my mind. I see myself playing well, now.

The solution to negative thinking is to not allow them to arise in the first place! Have your mind so full of positive images, statements and encouraging questions that there is no room for negative thoughts to germinate and take hold.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
1941 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: Concentration & Emotion Management part 1

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have already covered the first skill of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I also introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

This led in the last couple of issues to a discussion about goals and how to attain them, and about the role your thinking, (notably what questions and statements you are making on regular basis), has on your ability to achieve your goals.

What follows now is a two-part series on concentration and emotional mastery techniques for successfully coping with pre-performance nerves, anxiety and competition pressure - skills which all shooters want to acquire in order to perform consistently at their best!

Part 1 : Positive Emotional States

Positive emotional states - such as one-pointed concentration, enthusiasm, tenacity, motivation, and even happiness - are influenced by three important factors: your physiology, your ideology, and by the environment. Your state is under your control, and if you want to prepare yourself - emotionally - for competition, you will want to understand these three factors.

STATE

One of the most important concepts in performance psychology that every athlete and coach wants to know about, and master, is the idea of state. State is all about how you're currently experiencing the world, emotionally. 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 violent rage, or deep loneliness, for no reason do you?

States are effects - they are a consequence of something you're doing in your mind. States are also processes, they're not static - you change 'state' regularly throughout the day don't you?

Now we can ask two questions about state that are particularly important to all shooters: Firstly, what states are most useful for success in shooting?; and secondly, how can we deliberately create those states in ourselves?

Think about these questions for a few moments.

Some examples of states that sportspeople usually mention are : Relaxed; Confident; Positive; Focused; Determined; and Hungry to Win. Feeling a sense of Enjoyment, and Happiness or Fun when playing also rates highly for most successful sportspeople.

However, few people ever answer the second question - how do I create those states in myself? This is because, for many people, their state is not under conscious control. They just 're-act' to external circumstances and situations rather than choosing a state that would be most useful to them in a given context, and deliberately building that state in themselves, prior to performing. They just leave their state to chance, and 'hope' they perform well.

This just isn't good enough, and it's important to know how to create states in ourselves, so you can manage your state .... so you can deliberately build the most resourceful and capable states in yourself before you even step up to shoot. So let me ask you to stop and think again - how do we create states in ourselves ..... what are the 'building blocks' of state?

BUILDING BLOCKS OF STATE

I've identified three major building blocks of state, and whatever answers you came up with, you'll probably find that they fit into one of the following three categories : Physiology; Ideology; and Environment.

The building blocks of our emotions - our states - are our physiology, or body posture, facial expression, breathing and movements; our ideology, or what you're imagining, and saying to yourself; and the environment around you, both the physical and social environments. Lets look at each of these in more detail now.

Physiology . It's easy to recognise how our physiology - our body posture, breathing, facial expressions, and the way we move - affects our state. For example, think how differently you feel if you hang your head, breath shallowly, slouch, and slowly shuffle around ........ compared to holding your head up high, breathe deeply with an erect posture, and move quickly.

How is your state right now? Are you feeling energised and enthusiastic about your life, and about your shooting? If you're not, try changing your physiology now. You can change how you feel, quickly and easily simply by changing how you move, how you breathe, and how you use your facial muscles - the habitual facial expressions you hold.

Take a few moments right now and stand up straight .... take five deep breaths .... and walk briskly around for a few moments. It's a simple thing, but changing your physiology is one of the quickest and easiest ways to change your state, isn't it?

Let's move on to ideology. Your ideology is the combination of what you're imagining and saying to yourself in your mind - and again, this has a powerful impact on your state. For instance, for someone to feel nervous and unconfident about asking someone out on a date, what kinds of things would they imagine? What would they say to themselves?

If you imagined being rejected, or worse still, laughed at when you asked them out, and you said to yourself "Oh, they'll never want to go out with me ... I'm not interesting enough", it's easy to see how you could quickly create that negative state, isn't it?

Now relate this concept to your shooting. Think of a time you were performing really well, and were feeling confident and focused. What kinds of things were you saying to yourself? What did you imagine?

Why not do these things deliberately to create the kinds of positive states you want to experience in yourself, every time you shoot?

What could you imagine and say to yourself to create more confidence? More hungriness to win? More relaxed and positive states? What could you imagine and say to yourself to feel more enjoyment in your training and competition?

Recognise that changes in your thinking don't just relate to changing the content of your thoughts, but changing some of the visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic submodalities you use in your thinking can have a profound impact on your state. It's not just what you say, or imagine, that affects your state, but also how you imagine the pictures, and how you hear the words.

For example, I'm sure you have at one time or another, criticised yourself for something ... a silly mistake, an oversight, a poor performance, whatever.

Take a moment to recall that critical voice, and as you do, notice the direction it comes from. Do you experience it from your left or right, from in front or behind you? How far away is the voice - does it seem close, or far away? How loud is the voice, and what is its tone like?

Now, just as a bit of an experiment, change each of those submodalities and hear your voice say the same thing in a different way. For instance, if the voice seems to come from just behind your left ear, up close ..... then move it further away, and hear it coming from out in front of you. If the voice is loud, make it softer. If it has a high pitched, whining tone .... change it to be a deep throaty voice. What happens when you do this? It's hard to still feel lousy when your internal critic sounds like a sultry paramour out in front of you, doesn't it? I mean, if you're going to critique your performance, why not have it sound like Tina Turner or Demi Moore?

Likewise, if you have a poor performance and you continue to picture that up close, big, bright and right in front of you .... how do you think it will affect your state? Or if you put in a personal best performance, and you remember that as a tiny, black and white, postage stamp sized picture, behind you .... how much effect will that have on your state?

One of the consistent things I've found in all champion performers - whether they be athletes, or business people - is that they do just the opposite to this. Champions remember their good performances as big, colourful, bright pictures, up close and nearby to them. And of course, this gives them the confidence to attempt their next big goal - and succeed. When they have an off day, they let it go by seeing it small, and dim, and they deliberately push it away and out behind them so it no longer affects them.

How do you think about your good and not-so-good performances? Realise that how you're thinking may very well be holding you back. Deliberately choose the type of words and pictures that are going to build those positive states I spoke of earlier.

Lets move on to Environment. Environment consists of all the other things around you that can influence your state. It includes the weather conditions; the venue; your opponents; the officials; the audience; your coach and team mates; your equipment; your clothes and personal grooming; and so on.

To give you an example of how environment can affect performance, imagine competing in a place and it's a cold windy day .... and the venue is dirty, and littered with papers .... and the equipment is old and poorly maintained .... and the officials disorganised and inefficient .... your team mates slovenly and disinterested .... and there's half a dozen bored looking spectators barracking for the opposition. Maybe you've even experienced times like that!

Compare how you would feel in that situation, to another day ..... where its warm and sunny with a light breeze blowing .... and the venue is clean and fresh looking .... all the equipment is new and well maintained .... and everything is run like clockwork by the officials .... and your team mates are sharp and dressed smartly ..... and there is a huge crowd of your supporters buzzing with excitement. It makes a difference doesn't it?

Another example of how environment can affect your state is given by the person who is performing really well ... until they notice one of their relatives, or close friends, or someone they really want to impress, in the audience .... then their shooting falls apart!

I think it's important to also recognise that, while environment can affect your state, it does so only in as much as you allow it to affect the other two - your physiology and ideology. Really, the environment can only affect your state through its influence upon your posture and your thinking - and by attending to building positive states using strong physiology and a positive ideology, you can maintain peak performance states regardless of the environment.

Having said this, I think it imperative to point out that the effect of the environment is often very subtle and unconscious, and so giving some attention to building a positive environment for peak performance is a good way to encourage positive states - particularly in those athletes who have not yet developed the ability to consistently self-manage their own state.

This is precisely what the English Rugby Union team did when in Australia for the last rugby World Cup: their dressing room was decorated to look just like their home dressing room at Twickenham, so wherever they played, it 'felt' like a 'home game'.

TRIGGERS

One of the best ways to develop this personal facility of control over your own state is through the use of what are known as sensory triggers. A sensory trigger is simply a physical stimulus that you train your body to associate with a particular state, and which you can use to 'switch on' that state in yourself as required, by using the trigger. It's what is know as simple 'stimulus - response conditioning', and it works in the same way as a light switch. You train your neurology to automatically respond in a precise, positive way to a specific stimulus - in the same way that flicking the light switch turns on the electric light.

In the second part of this article, in the next issue, I will discuss how to build these positive emotional triggers for yourself.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
3205 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: Concentration & Emotion Management part 2

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have already covered the first skill of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I also introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

This led in the last couple of issues to a discussion about goals and how to attain them, and about the role your thinking, (notably what questions and statements you are making on regular basis), has on your ability to achieve your goals, and an introduction to concentration and focusing techniques through managing your state.

A two-part series on concentration and emotional mastery techniques for successfully coping with pre-performance nerves, anxiety and competition pressure.

Part 2 : Mastering Your Emotions

In the first part of this two-part article I pointed out that emotions are influenced by three factors: our physiology, or body posture, breathing and movements; our ideology, or what you're imagining, and saying to yourself; and the environment around you, both the physical and social environments.

TRIGGERS

I also mentioned that one of the best ways to develop a personal facility of control over your own emotional states is through the use of what are known as sensory triggers. A sensory trigger is simply a stimulus of some kind that you train your body to associate with a particular state, and which you can use to 'switch on' that state in yourself as required, by using the trigger. It's what is know as simple 'stimulus - response conditioning', and it works in the same way as a light switch. You train your neurology to automatically respond in a precise, positive way to a specific stimulus - in the same way that flicking the light switch turns on the electric light.

Triggers are common in human experience - the trouble is, that most people have built negative triggers for themselves, rather than positive ones. Some common examples of triggers which affect our state are: phobic responses such as fainting at the sight of blood, or freaking out on seeing a spider; and also common emotional reactions such as feeling threatened by a particular facial expression or tone of voice; a certain smell 'triggering' a vivid past memory; hearing a particular song on the radio which reminds you a past relationship; being fearful of walking to your car in a dark lonely car park at night; or getting 'stage-fright' in front of an audience; or pre-performance jitters before the club championships.

Common examples of triggers in sport are the automatic response to stop playing on hearing the umpire's whistle; over-anxiety prior to a big match; or getting angry at a dubious line call. Of course there are examples of powerful positive triggers as well: the Maori Haka that the All Blacks use prior to a rugby match is a great example of a trigger for building very powerful team spirit and aggressive states in the players; and you can see how being on the verge of losing is often a trigger for top sportspeople to switch up a gear.

Triggers are usually simple physical stimuli - such as clenching your left hand strongly, or saying a particular key word, or visualising a specific symbol to yourself - which you use as needed to generate the positive state you want. Of course you can have lots of different triggers for different positive states, and I've generally found that after using them for a while, they become automatic, and you will only need to use them if for some reason you lose your concentration or confidence.

One good idea is to associate your positive states to something that is always in your performance environment. For example, when I give public talks I like to have a lectern - not because I use it all that much, but because it's a trigger for me. If I feel I'm not reaching the audience, or I forget what I want to say, I simply walk over to the lectern and get back into a positive state.

Likewise, you can have some item of equipment - a sweat band, a pair of shoes or socks, etc. as your positive trigger. One basketballer I know, uses the smell of the basketball to switch himself on! Of course, be aware that if you depend too much on external triggers, you can lose confidence if that special thing is not there! I encourage you to build strong self-based triggers for the kinds of state you want to experience.

BUILDING A TRIGGER

How you think affects how you feel; and how you feel affects your decisions, actions, and performances. To master your emotions then, you want to master your thinking. Your mind is always active - it needs to have something to focus on. If you don't deliberately direct it's focus to the kinds of positive thoughts you want to have, then it's just as likely to come up with negative thoughts and images.

Good performances don't happen by accident - they're a result of good thinking. Don't leave your thoughts to chance - train them. Consistent good thinking only comes with consistent training. Train your thoughts by establishing a peak performance vocabulary; a list of key words and powerful images which you can deliberately choose to think in specific situations and contexts to take charge of your emotions and performance. These key words can then become positive triggers for those positive emotional states.

To build a positive trigger for yourself, think how you would like to feel in specific situations, and come up with a set of powerful key words and phrases (and/or visual icons) that generate those feelings, and rehearse them until they become 'anchored' as a habit.

It's been wisely said that the trouble with positive thinking is that you have to think about it! You don't want to have to try to be positive; you don't want to have to try to feel confident and relaxed. You want it to be an automatic and unconscious skill you can call upon in an instant!

What could you say or imagine in each of the following situations to feel more capable and confident: Your opponent is leading?
You're anxious?
You're leading?
Your concentration is lapsing?
You're selected to train in the state or national squad?
You lose an important match?
You're feeling fatigued?
You've lost motivation to train?
You win an important award?
There is friction with your coach or other team members?
You win a major event?

Having key words for both positive and negative scenarios is equally important.

Identify now some typical situations which occur for you, and write down a key word or phrase you can use to feel more empowered :

*

*

*

*

Key words and visual icons can also be used to focus more effectively on important aspects of performance. You might have a key word, phrase, or image to help generate endurance, or concentration, or will-to-win, or relaxation.

Make a list below of what performance aspects are important to you, and note beside it a key word, phrase or image that you will use to generate it.

*

*

*

*

Remember when anchoring in your key words, to use powerful auditory and/or visual submodalities to generate powerful emotional responses. Key words spoken clearly in a deep resonant tone, close and in stereo are much more impacting than a distant whispered mumble in a nasal monotone! Remember, it's your self talk - so make it the kind of self talk that is inspiring, empowering, and motivating!

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
4201 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: How Mentally Fit Are You?

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have already covered the first skill of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

This led to a discussion about goals and how to attain them, and about the role your thinking, (notably what questions and statements you are making on regular basis), has on your ability to achieve your goals.

Most recently I provided a summary of some concentration and emotional mastery techniques for successfully coping with pre-performance nerves, anxiety and competition pressure - and I emphasized that the important positive emotional states necessary for optimum performance, (such as one-pointed concentration, enthusiasm, tenacity, motivation, and even happiness), are influenced by three important factors: your physiology, your ideology, and by the environment, and shooters can master their emotions by understanding and mastering these three factors.

In this issue I want to explain how your mental attitude is a powerful influence upon your shooting performances, and how you can improve your results by learning to be more optimistic.

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. Answer the following twenty questions to gauge your level of optimism - mental fitness.

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 shooter at a higher level who is sick :

A: I am good enough to compete in the higher level.

B: I have filled in occasionally before when needed.

2. Situation: You win a significant tournament / match :

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 squad, you are put in a leadership role :

A: I've been shooting well recently.

B: I am enthusiastic and a good leader / role model.

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 officials during a match :

A: That official is biased against me.

B: He / She didn't didn't treat me fairly in the match.

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 coach asks your advice :

A: I know some good ideas for pressure situations.

B: I always keep an overall perspective on things.

13. Situation: You win a 'most improved shooter' award :

A: I was the most improved shooter.

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 performing 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 shooter.

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.

Understanding Optimism

The above questionnaire measures what is known as your 'explanatory style' - or how you explain to yourself 'why' events happen to you. It's based on cognitive psychology which suggests that there are two types of explanatory style, and they significantly affect our behaviour and performance.

A pessimistic explanatory style leads to feelings of helplessness, while an optimistic explanatory style provides feelings of self empowerment. In essence, how you explain to yourself 'why' events happen, (and particularly how you explain why negative events happen), determines how you face up to those events and how helpless, or empowered, you feel in the situation.

This is incredibly important because what we are measuring here is essentially the quitting response - how much of a fighter you are; how likely you are to give up when the going gets tough. How persistent you are.

Let me explain. When something negative happens to us, (for example, not being selected for the state team; or our partner leaving us; or losing a job; or walking to our car only to find we've got a flat tyre; whatever), all or us - no matter how positive we are - feel momentarily 'helpless'. However, after that moment of helplessness, how you respond to the situation from then on is determined by your explanatory style.

If you tend to explain the negative event in an optimistic way, you'll be more likely to pick yourself up and do what needs to be done, than if you explain the event in a pessimistic way.

Now persistence is really important to shooting / sporting success, isn't it? To succeed in any particular sport requires persistence to overcome the numerous trials, setbacks and obstacles along the way. I don't know of any great sportsperson who's had an 'easy' road, do you?

Your personal explanatory style affects how you deal with those setbacks, and identifies how persistent you are - how much of a fighter you are.

Psychological researchers have worked with literally thousands of individuals, determined their level of optimism or pessimism, and discovered beyond any doubt that an individual's, (or a team's), level of optimism significantly influenced their performance in all areas of life. Optimism has been shown to be of significance in career performance, school and college results, sports performances, political fortunes, and even personal health and longevity.

Optimists are more likely to win when running for public office; generally have better health and immune function; achieve higher grades at school and college; succeed more often on the sporting field; and even live longer. Pessimists are more frequently depressed; fail more frequently, even when success is attainable; exhibit more and more protracted periods of illness and injury; generally don't achieve their potential in their careers or sport that their talents warrant; and die younger.

Your personal performance in all areas of life is profoundly influenced by your explanatory style - by the explanations you're making about 'why' things happen to you. The more optimistic your explanations, the more likely you are to succeed in any endeavour .

What many people have always said about the importance of being positive and having a positive mental attitude, and now been proven my modern psychological research to be true.

Optimism research has even been used to accurately predict an individual's, or a team's, performance based on prior measurement of their explanatory style. In work with college freshman and army cadets, researchers were able to successfully predict which students and cadets would drop out based on their optimism scores. In work for large corporations, it has predicted which new sales recruits would go on to become the best sales people. And in working with the National Baseball and Basketball Leagues in the USA it even successfully predicted which teams would win matches based on their collective optimism scores.

The good news is that optimism is a learned behaviour - and everyone can improve their level of optimism and positivity, and hence improve their performance.

In the next issue I will discuss this in more detail, and provide practical suggestions for developing a more positive mental attitude.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
2688 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: The Challenge of Excellence

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have already covered the first skill of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific applications for visualisation for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

This led to a discussion about goals and how to attain them, and about the role your thinking, (notably what questions and statements you are making on regular basis), has on your ability to achieve your goals.

I then provided a summary of some concentration and emotional mastery techniques for successfully coping with pre-performance nerves, anxiety and competition pressure - and I emphasised that the important positive emotional states necessary for optimum performance, (such as one-pointed concentration, enthusiasm, tenacity, motivation, and even happiness), are influenced by three important factors: your physiology, your ideology, and by the environment, and shooters can master their emotions by understanding and mastering these three factors.

In the last issue I spoke about the mental fitness and provided an 'optimism' test. I want to continue on this topic of mental attitude by discussing the importance of setting high standards for yourself in your shooting, and its relationship to self doubt and negativity.

Average Mediocrity

It seems to me that much attention is paid in today's society to the 'average' person - what the 'average' person thinks about such and such; what is the 'average' wage; what is an 'average' mark to be attained by students in order to pass their studies.

I believe this focus on the 'average' person is a recipe for mediocrity, and I think this is readily observable in our society today, with its 'average' values, 'average' work standards, 'average' relationships, and 'average' concern for our environment and future generations.

This is particularly true in Australia where we are afflicted with an appalling behavioural disability - that of attacking the tall poppies and trying to pull them down. What has happened to the values of excellence and quality in our lives?

There is a saying: "If you don't stand for something, then you'll fall for anything". If you don't vigorously stand up for your beliefs, principles and values - whatever they might be - then you will lose them. All things of worth, whether they be a garden patch, a relationship, a business, or a set of personal values, must be defended against the forces of entropy and apathy.

The worst disease and the biggest challenge facing us as a society is not AIDS, or pollution, or global warming - but rather, human apathy ....... human neglect.

The Disease of Personal Neglect

Neglect is like an infection. Left unchallenged it will spread throughout our entire system of disciplines, values and beliefs and eventually lead to a complete breakdown of personal integrity and success, and the destruction of the positive and supportive institutions in our society.

Neglect your body, and it quickly becomes overweight and disease ridden. Neglect your garden and it gets overgrown with weeds. Neglect your relationships, and you will find your friend or partner soon finds someone else. Neglect your children and they become difficult and undisciplined social misfits.

As a sportsperson, if you neglect your training, if you neglect to maintain high standards and your values of discipline, positivity, determination, confidence, and so on - all the skills of the sports MIND of which I've been speaking over many issues - then you will quickly begin the slide down the ladder.

We all have access to what we need to be more prosperous, happier and successful - yet many people simply neglect to take advantage of those resources. They neglect to read the books or attend the courses. They neglect to listen to the wisdom of teachers, coaches and leaders. They neglect to do the simple little things each day that lead to success in any endeavour.

Neglect - not doing what we know we could, or should, do - causes us to feel guilty, and guilt erodes your self confidence. When our self confidence diminishes so does the level of our activity; and as we do less and less, our results inevitably decline.

This leads us to falter in our resolves .... our attitude weakens and becomes increasingly negative and complaining, and we begin to feel more and more a victim of circumstances rather than the designer of our life - and we begin to doubt ourselves. Of course, when we feel like a victim - that what we do doesn't matter - then our self confidence diminishes even more .... eroding our level of performance and attitude even further .... and on and on it goes until self doubt and neglect has made us like the many negative, complaining victims in society - blaming anything and everything but themselves for their circumstances.

Self Doubt to Determination

Many athletes are tough fighters and never give up when confronting an external opponent, but against these inner opponents of neglect, negativity and self doubt they give up too easily.

Self doubt is not a physical, tangible 'thing' - it has no substance, so it doesn't 'really' exist. [Can you get me a kilo of self doubt?] However, it is a very real human feeling, that almost everyone has experienced at one time or another in their life. It is of course a construction of the mind - a feeling which results from a specific thinking process.

The self doubting thinking process is really a self questioning process. For example : "Can I really do this?" "Am I good enough to make the squad?" "Am I fit enough?" "What do my team mates think of me?"; and so on, most often with comparisons of self with others. If you question anything enough, you will begin to doubt it!

One way to combat self doubt is to treat it like a real external opponent - give it face and fight as hard as you would against a 'real' flesh and blood opponent. Secondly, the way to deal with any negative emotion - including self doubt - is not really to fight against them, but rather to transform them.

You do this in two ways. Firstly, by developing the mental discipline to ask different questions; and secondly by allowing the doubts to arise if they will, then use them to make you stronger.

Just think how it makes you work harder when someone you don't like or respect, doubts your ability; when they say you "can't" do something? Don't you want to prove them wrong? Don't you want to show them up? Don't you do your damnedest to do your best? Well do the same with self doubt if and when it arises! Do your best to prove it wrong, and eventually you will find the self doubt disappears.

There was a time, wasn't there, when you didn't even know how to drive a car, or tie your own shoe laces, or even read or write! ..... and you doubted you'd ever learn, then! But now, you don't even think of questioning these abilities do you?

Realise that YOU are driving your own bus - YOU are the one who chooses each thought you think; each question you ask yourself. Choose your thoughts wisely - choose the questions and statements that are going to lead you to feel confident and certain of your abilities, rather than doubtful.

I have said previously that how you feel is affected by two key mental processes : your focus of attention, and the meaning you associate to what you're currently focusing on.

So, in order to feel self doubt, what would an athlete have to focus on, and what meanings would they attribute to those things? Of course, they would have to think about their mistakes; or real or imagined weaknesses; or poor performances - and they would have to understand those as permanent limitations preventing them from performing well.

How else might this individual direct their thinking to obtain a different and more positive result? Firstly, they could change what they focused on - they could choose to think about their strengths and best performances. Alternately, they could change the meaning they ascribed to the mistakes / perceived weaknesses and used them as fuel to motivate themselves.

Of course, an individual's capacity to respond in this way depends a lot on 'where' they are in their sport.

Where are you in your sports journey? Are you just 'drifting' ... 'hoping' to play at your best; to do well in an upcoming competition? Or have you made a committed decision to achieve some specific goals in your sport, and have a plan for doing so? Self doubt is often associated with neglect : a lack of direction, indecision, unmotivation, and mediocre standards.

I urge you to face up to the challenge of neglect in your life - and especially in your sports performance and your training. Are there any values that you have neglected to encourage? Is there anything you've let slide in your life? What standards have you set for yourself to achieve in your training, and in your competition performances? Have you fallen prey to the negativity of the 'average' person? Stand tall! Maintain your vision and your values.

Rather than cutting down the tall poppies, my vision is of the tall poppies lifting everyone around them to greater heights of personal achievement. Let's be proud of the champions around us - but more than that, let's be like them.

Accept the challenge of excellence in your own life - don't settle for the average and mediocre in your relationships, in your work, in your studies, in your sport, or in your health. Expect the best of yourself, and the best from others.

Do recognise that this is a challenge - the path of excellence and quality is not the easy, well worn path. The words of Robert Frost come to mind :

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference."

In the next issue I will discuss mental toughness further, by providing practical suggestions for developing a more positive mental attitude.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
3050 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Mental Skills of Champion Shooters: The Structure of Decisions

By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.

Previously I've mentioned that there are seven essential mental skills for shooting success, all of which are learnable and teachable :

  • Precision Visualisation Skills
  • Positive Self Motivation
  • Powerful Goal Achievement Strategies
  • Emotional State Mastery
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Strong Concentration & Focusing Abilities
  • Positive Self Image & Unshakeable Self Confidence

All these skills of the SPORTS MIND can be learned and improved with some simple mental training techniques.

I have spoken of Visualisation, noting that it is the most important mental skill for shooters, and that to direct your shooting performance effectively you want to use clear visual images with feeling, not words, and that visualisation works because it has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. I also noted the importance of getting into the right mental state to visualise, outlined six specific visualisation applications for shooters, and gave some simple tips for getting the best out of your visualisation sessions.

I introduced the important topic of motivation and said that motivation is an energy - an energy which is influenced by how you communicate with yourself. I noted that there are basically two simple motivation strategies : positive motivation and negative motivation. Negative motivation moves you away something you don't want to happen, while positive motivation moves you towards something you do want to happen.

This led to a discussion about goals and how to attain them, and about the role your thinking, (notably what questions and statements you are making on regular basis), has on your ability to achieve your goals.

I then provided a summary of some concentration and emotional mastery techniques for successfully coping with pre-performance nerves, anxiety and competition pressure - and I emphasised that the important positive emotional states necessary for optimum performance, (such as one-pointed concentration, enthusiasm, tenacity, motivation, and even happiness), are influenced by three important factors: your physiology, your ideology, and by the environment, and shooters can master their emotions by understanding and mastering these three factors. I also discussed the importance of a positive mental attitude and provided a simple 'optimism' test.

In the last issue I spoke about the challenge of excellence and how to turn self doubt into self determination. I want to digress a little in this issue and speak about the structure of decision making in sporting performances with a view to making better decisions as both a performer and coach.

The Structure of Thinking

As many readers no doubt realise by now, the theoretical basis of all the Sportsmind material comes from the science of what is known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

NLP is a powerful new human performance technology, that has provided elegant tools for improving human performance in the areas of management, education, sales and counselling - as well as sport. Essentially, NLP is about modelling excellence - identifying the cognitive strategies and emotional states that provide the means by which anyone achieves success in any endeavour. NLP is essentially the study of subjective reality - it studies the mental processes of people who are excelling at something, be it sport, sales, management, or whatever.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

NLP originated from the work of Richard Bandler and John Grinder when they pooled their considerable talents to observe and model the therapeutic techniques employed by superb psychotherapists such as Fritz Perls, Milton Erickson, and Virginia Satir. What resulted was an effective model not only of excellence in psychotherapy, but also a unique model of human behaviour, and a specific technology of human behavioural modelling and behavioural change, based on a specific theory of the structure of human subjective experience.

Essentially the NLP theory of behaviour suggests that behaviour is a consequence of mental processes, or strategies, and that these strategies have an identifiable structure and content.

Human cognitions can take the form of one of five sensory components - visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory and gustatory, (that is, we can see something in our mind; we can hear something or talk to ourselves; we can feel things internally; and we can experience smells and tastes mentally), and these specific mental representations of experience link together to establish behavioural strategies, which then direct our behaviour - and our sports performances.

Behaviours as Mental Processes

A behavioural strategy is simply the specific sequence of sensory systems used in a mental process to achieve a specific behavioural outcome. In other words, a strategy is just a combination of sensory 'steps' that results in a particular behaviour - or in sport, a particular performance. All our external behaviours and performances are driven by internal mental processing strategies - much in the same way that specific computer programs enable a computer to do mathematical calculations, search a database, or type these words on the page.

This is an important recognition, because for most people, behaviours (and hence sports performances) just seem to 'happen' to them automatically - there is little sense of personal choice or control in the matter. Some days you shoot well and other days you don't!

However, I believe YOU are primarily responsible for your own subjective experiences - for your own thinking - and through this, your own performances. If you have a 'good' shoot, it was because your behavioural strategy - your mental processes - were appropriate. Even though at times it seems like something 'just happens' to us - like getting nervous before a big event, or even such supposedly intangible experiences like feeling happy, or feeling worried - all these behaviours are a direct consequence of an ongoing mental process over which we DO have control.

Strategies

One way to talk about and visualise strategies is to liken them to using a telephone. Imagine our sensory systems as like the numbers of a telephone : the way we join them together results in different outcomes (different behaviours and performances), in the same way that ringing different sequences of numbers on the telephone will get us different towns and different people.

So all human behaviours, (and hence sports performances) - including motivation, desire, decision making, concentration, creativity, and so on - are a result of sequences of 'thoughts'. All thoughts are represented in terms of one of the five senses, with the primary building blocks of thinking being the Visual (V), Auditory (A), and Kinaesthetic (K) senses. So every behaviour can generally be described as a sequence of Visual, Auditory, and Kinaesthetic steps - and this is called a mental processing strategy.

For example, a very simple motivation strategy might be :

Visual (Picture my goal) ---> Auditory (Tell myself to go for it) ---> Kinaesthetic (Feel good about it) ---> Do it!

Some strategies are much more effective than others, and being able to identify an individual's strategies - and change them if they are ineffective - can greatly assist them in achieving their desired outcomes.

There are important criteria in such behavioural strategies which identify whether or not a particular strategy is 'well formed'. Strategies which adhere to these criteria are more effective in securing a successful outcome - be it in making a good decision; learning a new skill; motivating yourself to do a task; or whatever.

For example, it's easy to recognise that obtaining information from all our senses would be important - you can see things you can't hear, you can feel things you can't see, and you can hear things you can't feel. Consequently it would make sense to include all sensory systems in one's strategies. However, it is clearly observable that not everyone does this - some people make decisions just on how they 'feel' (kinaesthetic) about something; others attempt to learn by simple rote repetition (auditory); or attempt to motivate themselves without any clear images of the desired outcome. (visual).

Consider the process of making decisions - an essential element in successful shooting. In order to make a decision about something, (for instance about buying a new car or a new dress - or when to pull the trigger on a shot), an individual may first talk to themselves about it, then get a feeling about what to do, and then act upon the decision.

Thus the decision making strategy can be represented as :

A ---> K ----> Decision

However such a simplistic decision making strategy relies only on two of the three sensory systems, and consequently an individual using such a strategy may well miss important information. In addition, there is no external check in this strategy, and no looping to consider and evaluate additional information.

Decision making strategies can be improved by ensuring that both internal and external sensory checks are made (i.e.. visually checking the 'reality' of the situation as opposed to relying on how you 'imagined' things were; or obtaining verbal feedback from someone rather than relying on what you 'thought' was their meaning; etc.), and by including an evaluation loop with reliable comparisons prior to the making of the decision, as in the example below :

V ----> A ----> K + / - = ----> Decision

<--------------------------- ?

In this instance, the individual first thinks about the possibilities in a visual way. For example they may look at the situation and compare what they see externally with an internal visual remembered image of a previous success. They then think it through verbally, talking it over to themselves in their mind. This internal discussion is then evaluated by their feelings. Does it feel right to do it or not? If the feelings are clear and strong in a particular direction (either definitely positive or definitely negative), they will exit the strategy and make the decision to go ahead or not. If the feelings indicate some uncertainty about the action, then they will recycle through the strategy - look at it again, talk to themselves, get a feeling - until a evaluation feeling is reached.

Consider how this may be relevant to your shooting? How do you make decisions? What senses are included? What are the mental steps you go through?

Since any and every behaviour can be usefully represented as a sequence of identifiable sensory based steps, these steps can be learned, and reproduced, to effect a similar behavioural outcome .

What this means is that if you can recover the thinking process you - or someone else - used in a previous top performance, you can replicate that thinking process to repeat the performance.

Further, maladaptive behaviours, (for example pre-performance anxiety, unconfidence, etc.), can be reduced to their component parts, and specific interventions designed to ameliorate the problem, quickly and effectively by changing steps in the negative and limiting mental strategy.

The challenge of course is to identify these mental steps accurately - particularly when, for most people, the strategies have been operated so frequently as to have become completely unconscious.

There are ways to do this, particularly for coaches to recognise, through the development of an awareness of some specific non-verbal signals which can reveal an individual's internal processing steps.

In the next issue I will discuss these sensory awareness techniques for coaches and provide some practical suggestions for developing non-verbal sensory acuity.

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

Share this article:

Continue reading
3303 Hits
0 Comments

What Clients Like About Sportsmind & Jeffrey Hodges

  • 1.jpg
  • 2.jpg
  • 3.jpg
  • 4.jpg
  • 1.jpg
  • 2.jpg
  • 3.jpg
  • 4.jpg
  • 5.jpg
  • 6.jpg
  • 7.jpg
  • 8.jpg
  • 9.jpg
  • 10.jpg
  • 11.jpg
  • 12.jpg
  • 14.jpg