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Mind Matters for Sport Educators

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

There is a difference between a truly positive attitude and just saying positive affirmations. This difference is having an understanding of the building blocks of behaviour, and the ability to encourage successful learning states in yourself and in the people you're teaching. The most useful and effective behavioural change model for educators comes from the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP], and teachers and trainers who have a working knowledge of NLP are just that much more successful in their work.

Introduction
Most educators have a lot of knowledge and skill in the specific aspects of their chosen areas of expertise, and many also are up to date in their knowledge of teaching and learning theory and practice, however an important aspect of education that is often not recognised is that, particularly in sport education, successful learning often involves behavioural change.

Whether you're working with an elite athlete or sports team preparing for an important competition performance; providing a new routine for a referee; or implementing a new administrative system; the most successful coaches and sport educators are not those who have an intuitive understanding of human behaviour and behavioural change techniques.

Behavioural Change is 90% Mental
It's often said that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Likewise, it seems like you can provide your people with the most researched and effective approach, but you can't make them follow it. Or can you?

Some people suggest that successful behavioural change is 90% mental, yet few educators - in sport or elsewhere - understand the psychological basics of personal motivation, and positive behavioural change. Understanding the psychological processes of successful behavioural change - and how to initiate it your people - is of significant benefit to educators, because those who don't usually experience resistance to change that can take the form of unmotivation to deliberate sabotage or open hostility. Education courses devote very little time to this important area, and even traditional 'psychology' courses offer few practical tools and techniques for educators.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming - What is it?
The field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, offers a huge range of very powerful and easily-applied techniques and educational approaches that encourage positive behavioural change in both individuals and teams.
NLP is a powerful human performance and behavioural change technology based on modelling excellence - identifying the motivation and thinking strategies of highly successful people, and providing practical tools for teaching these to others. NLP has demonstrated success in the areas of management, education, and counselling, and new SPORTS-NLP applications have recently been designed for sports performance and coaching contexts. SPORTS-NLP techniques provide verifiable, sensory based descriptions of an individual's subjective experience, and practical tools and specific techniques for improving motivation, persistence and performance.
Building Blocks of SPORTS-NLP
There are three core building blocks of NLP that are of significant use in sports education and training : VAK Strategies; Preferred Learning Style; and Anchoring Techniques.

VAK Strategies
One of the main concepts underlying NLP is that all human behaviours - 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!

We all have specific strategies for motivation; for learning; for decision making; for creativity; for belief; and for memory. 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 you in helping them achieve their learning 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).

Preferred Learning Style
Most educators are probably familiar by now with the concept of visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic learners. [This information - though rarely credited by most people who refer to it - came from the work of NLP researchers Richard Bandler and John Grinder] Some people learn best if they can see the information, if they can map it out in their mind and have a clear image of what is to be learned. Others prefer to learn through listening to talks and lectures, by discussing salient point and debating different opinions. Still others learn best through doing, by jumping in and having a go and working through things a step at a time until they have a handle on it.

Of course, most people can learn in all of the above ways - however, most of us tend to have a preference for one or other of the visual, auditory or kinaesthetic presentation styles. Interestingly, an individuals preferred learning style is very easy to identify - simply pay attention to the kinds of words they use.

For instance someone who is very visually oriented will often use words or phrases such as : "I see what you mean"; "I'm not clear on that"; "Let's look at this from another perspective"; "From my point of view"; etc. Someone who is very auditorily oriented will often use words or phrases such as : "I hear what you're saying"; "I think such and such"; "You're not listening to me"; "Let's talk about this"; "Sounds good to me"; etc. Someone who is very kinaesthetically oriented will often use words or phrases such as : "I don't grasp what you mean"; "I'm not comfortable that, it just doesn't feel right to me"; "Let's just do it and work from there"; "I want to move forward a step at a time"; "That sits well with me"; etc.

The consequences to educators of such sensory preference are profound: if you're just communicating in one way, you may not be reaching two-thirds of your audience!

Anchoring Techniques
Anchoring is another name for the sophisticated stimulus-response conditioning techniques used in NLP. Anchoring techniques can be used by an educator, covertly or overtly, to disrupt negative emotional states and to lock in positive resource states in students. Self anchoring techniques can also taught to your people, to encourage positive states in training, competition performance, and other areas where you want them to experience powerful, positive emotional states and feel more confident and 'in control'.

Anchors can be established in any of the five sensory systems, with the most commonly used in teaching being visual and auditory anchors. You, yourself, can in fact become a positive visual anchor for your people - just seeing you can help shift them into a positive learning state !

SPORTS-NLP Training
For sport educators and coaches wanting to obtain training in SPORTS-NLP, the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research offers a programs of study in SPORTS-NLP varying from one to three weeks. Courses can also be undertaken by correspondence, and have been accredited with the Australian Fitness Accreditation Council for Continuing Education Credit (CEC) points.

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

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

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

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

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From PT to PC: The Future of Personal Training

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

Introduction
What might the Personal Training industry be like in five years time? Ten or twenty years from now what will PT's be doing with their clients? Who will be their clients in an aging community? What are the trends of client needs at the moment? What populations are not being serviced at present that could be tapped as new markets for your services? What innovations and new approaches are you going to implement in your business over the next year? What things are working for you and your clients, that you want to remember to do again next week? What are you going to study or do to further your own development as a PT over the next couple of years? Where will your business be in the future?

These questions are important because those personal trainers who are open to the changing needs of their clients, and who innovate and provide leadership in the industry will be among the most successful and the most respected.

Do pause for a few minutes and find your answers to these questions right now.

Predicting the Future
Obviously crystal ball gazing is an uncertain science, however it might be useful to reflect on previous trends in the industry as one way of predicting the future.

Reflect for a moment on the history of personal training. In it's current form it has a short history, but we could say that most people would agree that physical fitness training has its origins in the military and martial arts going back for thousands of years. We all have memories of watching old war movies with cadets going through boot camp being harangued by the drill sergeant, and seeing them do exercise drills including the star jumps, push ups, sit ups, and so on of what was called callisthenics.

Those old enough will also remember early school days with the PE teacher doing straight leg sit-ups, burpees, and other exercises in the thirty minutes per week allocated to 'Physical Education'. The 1970's saw the widespread acceptance of a new form of exercising choreographed to music : Jazzercise and Aerobics. This quickly developed more professionalism with graduates from Human Movement Studies courses bringing their expertise to gymnasiums, (previously restricted to huge, tough, tattooed men), and businessmen looking for a quick buck. Remember those early exercise chains where we all got started in the industry, but the owners of which were really only after the money?

While the collapse of that bubble hurt the industry in the eighties, it resulted in more integrity both in business terms and in providing more professional and widespread services for a greater range of clients: aerobics classes graded for fitness level and intensity of exercise, low impact workouts, aqua-aerobics, circuit classes, step classes, and so on. Gymnasiums had now become 'fitness centres', and their clientele often included more women than men - particularly in the aerobics room. There also developed the concept of the personal fitness assessment and gym exercise program. After the initial assessment clients were taken through their program under the supervision of a qualified gym instructor for a few times and then usually left to their own devices with a review of their program every three to six months.
Then someone (don't ask me to name the first person to coin the term 'Personal Trainer') thought to offer a more consistent supervised program of exercise for clients outside of the normal gym setting: the client's home, outdoors, etc.

Most recently, innovations have included group exercises using weights ('Pump', etc), Swiss or Fit balls, choreographed routines derived from boxing or other martial arts ('Boxercise', etc), and Yoga like stretching, breathing and relaxation classes ('Mind-Body').

Thus far it appears that the trend in innovation has been for a greater variety of types of physical exercises, and for more training accessories and 'gimmicks' such as stretch bands, step boxes, barbells, fit balls, etc. etc.

So what will the next innovations be?

To my mind there are limits as to how much further such variations in physical activity and gimmickry can go, and they really don't address the core issue anyway - that of exercise adherence and behavioural change. In addition, if we were to be honest with ourselves such accessories really have little to do with keeping fit and healthy, but are used to maintain interest by adding variety to exercise programs.

In my opinion, the true innovations of the future are not going to be just further variations of the variety or 'exercise gimmick' concept - though of course these will continue to appear and provide current 'fads' in the industry. Rather, for the serious Personal Trainer, innovation will come from an expansion of personal education and training - particularly in the area of the psychology of motivation, exercise adherence and behavioural change.

Exercise Adherence and Behavioural Change.
Consider for a moment the real reason clients use your personal training services.

There are really only two types of clients:
1. The person who wants to stay trim or lose weight, and feel better about their physical body.
or
2. The committed sportsperson who wants to get fitter, stronger and more flexible to enhance their athletic performance.

The second type of client is usually very committed and highly self motivated, and needs your expertise primarily for tailoring an exercise program to suit the specific muscle strength and flexibility that will lead to the best performance in a given sport - be it golf, tennis, rugby, or whatever - and hence each client's needs differ depending on their specific sport. These client's usually number a smaller portion of most personal trainer's clientele.

Consider then the first type of client - those people who come as basically unfit or overweight individuals wanting to trim up, lose weight and feel good about themselves. These people form the majority of PT clients, and who in my opinion need your help the most. But what specifically are they looking for help with?

The answer is motivation and behavioural change.

These clients don't have the self motivation to exercise, or the self discipline to change poor eating patterns or other limiting behaviours - otherwise they would already be doing it! They look to the personal trainer to help motivate them and to help them change the patterns of behaviour which will lead them to becoming the 'new' person they want to be.

Clients come to you to change themselves - and personal change is all about changing behaviour. So how much do you know about behavioural change? How much of your professional studies was devoted to understanding human behaviour and personal change?

Whether you're working with an elite athlete or sports team preparing for an important competition performance; providing a fitness regimen for a busy executive; or designing a weight loss program for a special client; the most successful personal trainers are not those with the latest exercise routines or diets, but rather the people who have an intuitive understanding of or professional training in behavioural change techniques - and how to initiate and maintain personal change in clients.

Almost all of the issues clients present with concern either the person wanting to change a limiting or inappropriate behaviour (eg. lose weight, stop smoking, get fitter, etc), or change a negative feeling state of some kind (eg. have more energy, be more confident, control pre-performance anxiety, etc). So understanding the psychological processes of successful behavioural change - and how to initiate it your clients - is essential to personal trainers.

Yet the fact is that current courses in Personal Training devote very little time to understanding these key issues. PT's are expert in the physiological basics of fitness and health - yet successful behavioural change is 90% mental, so PT's also want to understand the psychological basics of exercise adherence, motivation and personal change. The most effective and powerful behavioural change technology available is known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming - or NLP. Professional training in NLP can provide personal trainers with so much more to offer their clients.

So the significant innovations in personal training in the future will come from educating PTs about behavioural change, and providing them with specific tools and techniques with which to support their clients in personal change.

Once more PTs master NLP behavioural change techniques - and it is already beginning - the title 'Personal Trainer' will rightly change to Personal Coach. So we will progress from PT to PC. A personal coach provides much more for a client than just an exercise routine or a healthy diet: they support their clients to become happier, healthier and more successful people. You can't do that if you limit your education to exercise physiology and nutrition, so get out there and learn about behavioural change - learn about NLP!

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

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

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

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

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Mastering the Mind Games: SUCCESS Counselling Skills for Personal Trainers

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

Psychological and emotional issues outside of the professional expertise of Personal Trainers may arise as the personal relationship with your client develops. How are these often difficult issues best dealt with? Where do we draw the line between PT and Counsellor? This article provides a six step S.U.C.C.E.S. strategy for keeping you and your clients 'on track', and some simple 'self preservation' skills for PT's.

Introduction
It's natural to build a close friendship with your clients as your professional personal training relationship grows over time. As with all friendships however, sometimes the other person asks for your opinion or advice about an issue outside of their fitness or lifestyle program, or is in serious need of help to resolve an issue of mental anguish or emotional distress to themselves.

For the most part, such calls for help will be of a relatively 'light' nature, and the person is really just looking for a sounding board rather than seriously asking for your suggestions for action. However, there will be those times when the person would benefit from some gentle personal guidance, or referral to a suitably qualified therapist for serious issues of distress. How can personal trainers, who are certainly not expert in psychological counselling, to approach this situation - both ethically, and practically?

Four Guiding Principles
One could say that the best approach is to leave well enough alone, and simply explain that you're not 'qualified' to offer counselling advice. However, the problem often becomes identifying the rather blurred distinction between the person just 'having a chat' about a problem at work or in a relationship, and a genuine overture for assistance. The person themselves may not even be aware that the issue is a 'problem' for them - and will often deny that it is - so how can a personal trainer judge effectively?

There is also a reluctance by some people to seek professional 'therapy' because it can be misconstrued as being 'weak' or somehow psychologically disturbed, and so even if the personal trainer correctly identifies an important emotional issue and suggests referral to a professional, the client is as likely as not to do nothing about it - even if it is suggested.

Further, one of the issues that makes personal training so effective and beneficial for clients, is the fact that the personal trainer is someone, hopefully, that the client can admire and look up to; someone who is not just taking them through an exercise routine or designing a diet for them, but rather a mentor - someone they can really aspire to be like. It is difficult in such a mentor role then to deny a request for help, particularly when one is being paid by the client, and their continued custom is contingent upon the level of friendship and trust you've established with them. Friendship and trust are established by sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and the personal trainer who keeps aloof and seemingly uncaring of their client's day to day issues may soon lose business.

Therefore, I suggest the following four guiding principles for personal trainers as providing both an ethically acceptable and practical procedure for dealing with potential counselling situations in personal training. [ An even better option is to undertake further professional training - there are some excellent short counselling, psychology, and sport psychology courses currently available - and it would add an extra string to your bow wouldn't it? Whichever one you choose, do ensure it includes some basic Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP] techniques, as without doubt NLP offers the most effective and practical counselling and personal development tools]

They are:
1. Establish Personal Boundaries
2. Exhibit a COMMAND PRESENCE
3. Identify and Refer Serious Issues
4. Stay on Track - Using the S.U.C.C.E.S Model

Lets consider each of these in turn, and discuss how you can put them into practice to enhance your reputation as a professional personal trainer of the highest standard.
1. Establish Personal Boundaries
In order to be of most effective help - both from a personal training and 'counselling' point of view - it's important that your relationship to your client is not clouded by your own emotional entanglements. You're not going to be as effective if you end up having an emotional or sexual relationship with your clients, and you will soon get a reputation and lose credibility.

Keep your relationship professional by clearly establishing personal boundaries and a conduct of behaviour that clearly signals to the client what is and is not acceptable - for both you and your client. This includes simple things avoiding physical contact, and if required, (for example, in assisting with or demonstrating a particular exercise or stretch), asking for permission to touch them before doing so; politely asserting, immediately, that any touching of yourself by them is unacceptable in a professional personal training relationship; saving 'flirting' for outside of work times; and so on. Needless to say, the above suggestions are doubly important when dealing with married clients!

Of course, you may choose to become involved in a relationship with a client - however, ensure it is by considered choice rather impulse reaction, and if you do, you'd be better off deleting them from your client list, and seeing them in a non-professional capacity.

In the long run, professional trainers who keep their relationship with clients strictly professional earn the respect of both clients and colleagues, and can provide that 'neutral' emotional perspective that is so necessary to truly offer counselling assistance if required.

2. Exhibit a COMMAND PRESENCE
Command presence is such a sense of complete confidence in what you're doing, that your clients are literally dragged along by the force of your own personality and willpower. I'm sure you've seen it in great speakers, teachers, actors and public figures - something about them affects the people around them.

You can deliberately cultivate this in yourself as a personal trainer by making yourself someone worthy of respect. Set high standards for yourself, and demonstrate these standards in your own behaviour. Walk, speak, and act like a mentor - because that's precisely what you are to your clients.

When you do this, often the specific 'techniques' or 'approaches' you use are really irrelevant - what makes them work is the simple presence of you.

3. Identify and Refer Serious Issues
It's important to be alert for signs of more serious problems which may require referral to a qualified professional. These can be broken down into two simple categories: high energy and low energy problems.

High energy problems may indicate overstress and include symptoms such as insomnia or sleeping too much; poor appetite or overeating; confusion; circular thinking; and an inability to relax. Low energy problems may indicate depression and even suicidal tendencies and include symptoms such as low energy and lack of motivation; apathetic attitude towards life/work/family; and accident prone.

A helpful idea is to have a list of professionals and services to refer your clients to, and this might include : masseuse; GP; naturopath/homoeopath; domestic violence unit; chiropractor; drug and alcohol unit; and psychotherapist.

4. Stay on Track - Using the S.U.C.C.E.S. Model
Another way to ensure you maintain a truly professional approach with your clients is to stay on track. Even if there is no temptation of emotional entanglements, still many personal trainers lose clients simply because they either haven't identified precisely what the client wants initially, or the larger goal gets forgotten in the day to day training routines over time. Problems occur for people because they either 'don't know' what they really want, or they haven't taken the time to flesh out their desired outcome thoroughly enough.

Identifying, describing and committing to a desired goal is half the battle - and it's far easier to maintain interest and motivation when a client has a clear picture of where they are going, and demonstrable progress steps along the way.

The following SUCCESS model provides an easy to use, and very effective way of clarifying a client's, (or your own), desired goals, and is especially useful for working with elite level performance. The process is just as powerful whether you're dealing with other behavioural issues (such as wanting to give up smoking, be more relaxed in public speaking, cope more satisfactorily with change at work, etc), as it is with fitness or weight loss/gain goals.

I use it in my work with elite athletes, sports teams and corporate training. It is the first step I take in working with my clients, and I find it to be the single most powerful tool in achieving peak performance.

The model comes from the human technology of Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP], and you can recognise that while this outline provides a useful introduction, mastery of its use also requires some professional training in NLP - in particular, meta-model questioning skills. The model is modified from McClendon & Associates NLP Practitioner Training Course, and I highly recommend their NLP training and certification courses as among the very best available.

To clearly see and get a feeling for how you can use this with your clients, I suggest you go through the SUCCESS model with a desired goal of your own right now, and explain it to yourself in your own mind as you go through each step.

So, what do you want to achieve for yourself in the next year or so? Pick something you'd like to change, do, learn, or have.

Here are the steps:

S. STATED POSITIVELY. I want to .....
The first step is to elicit a precise, positively stated desired outcome.
What is important here is to ensure that the goal is phrased in positive terms - ie. what they want, not what they want to avoid, or don't want. For instance, someone stating a goal such as: 'I don't want to feel tired all the time', or 'I don't want to smoke or overeat any more', or 'I want to not get nervous before important matches', will want to rephrase them to be something like: 'I want to feel alive and energetic', or 'I want to eat healthily and be a non-smoker', or 'I want to remain calm and confident before important matches'.

Clarity and precision is also important, and goals such as 'I want to get fitter', or 'I want to lose weight', or 'I want to play better golf', or 'I want to be a better speaker', and so on require further clarification, to: 'I want to be fit enough to easily complete the Gold Coast half marathon next year', or 'I want to maintain an athletic, trim build and weight of 75kg', or 'I want to reduce my golf handicap from 18 to 10', and 'I want to prepare and rehearse my talks well, remain calm and confident, speak clearly, and hold eye contact with my audience.'

U. UNDENIABLE REALITY : I know this to be true when ..... (sensory-based description)
The next step is to identify how the person will know when they have achieved their goal, emphasising a sensory-based description of this knowledge.

While this might at first seem obvious, it becomes a little more challenging when dealing with desired emotional states or behaviours. Consequently, it becomes necessary to identify in sensory specific terms, precisely what the person will see, hear and feel when they will have achieved their goal. A simple example for achieving a desired weight goal might be: 'I see the bathroom scales reading 75kg when I step onto them; I feel light and energetic; and I hear my friends and work colleagues telling me how great I'm looking'.

An example of a desired change to your telephone manner might be: 'I hear myself using a helpful, polite tone to the customer; I picture myself providing a standard of service and helpfulness that meets and then exceeds their expectations and I imagine them smiling and content; and I feel relaxed and confident, knowing I can help the customer and the satisfaction of being truly helpful and service oriented.'

This is a really important step, because you will identify the specific behaviours you want in either yourself or your client in order to achieve success.

Too often in desired change situations the emphasis is placed on the outcome, rather than the means by which you will achieve the outcome - and it's the process that provides the specific information and direction for you or your staff to follow.

C. CONTEXTS : The places and times I want this are .....
The next step is to identify in what specific situations and contexts the person wants to experience the behaviour/feeling.

It's important to recognise that even positive emotional states like confidence and relaxed, might not be appropriate in all circumstances - for instance, would you want to feel confident and relaxed walking alone late at night in a dark alley in a known criminal area? A more useful feeling state might be cautious alertness wouldn't it?

By doing the process with several specific situations your client will then generalise the behaviours to other areas by themselves.

Note, it's quite common for a person to also identify contexts that are related to work or other personal areas in addition to those that specifically relate to their fitness or sports goals. Some simple examples relating to positive eating habits might be: 'when I open the fridge', or 'when I feel bored', or 'when I eat out at restaurants with my friends', or 'when I'm visiting my parents'.

C. CONGRUENT WITH PERSONAL VALUES : I want this because .....
The next step is to ensure that the desired outcome is in line with their personal values and higher level goals.

Sometimes, a person can want something that either goes against another strongly held value, or they may want it for a self destructive reason - for instance, someone wanting to follow a strict dietary regimen 'to punish myself'.
Asking for what purpose the desired outcome is, can ensure you help the person work toward constructive goals and those that are in harmony with their important values and beliefs.

An example from someone who is aiming for a higher sports performance might be: 'I want to achieve more and do it with ease to give me a feeling of satisfaction and contentment and self worth'. An example from someone wanting to improve their telephone manner might be : 'I want it because it will help me advance in my career, and increase my volume of telephone sales.'

E. ECOLOGICAL : Does any part of me object to being/doing/having this?
This step is to check that the desired change is in harmony with all 'parts' of your client.

This leads on from the issue of values outlined in the previous step, and is a simple check to ensure that there is no inner resistance from the client to the desired change. This is important, as one of the main reasons for 'backsliding' in effecting positive behavioural change, is that if there is a 'part' of the person that didn't really want to change, then it may sabotage the process.

It is more common than not to have some objections - and this makes sense when you think about it. If the person whole heartedly wanted to be that way, they already would be in the first place! They are the way they are now, precisely because the way they are now is doing something of a perceived positive nature for them.

So when you come across objections, the trick is to identify the positive intention behind the objection, and find at least three other more useful way of achieving that same intention. For example, a common objection to giving up smoking is that smoking currently gives the person a way of feeling relaxed and at ease, so in designing a positive change for such a client, you would want to teach them three or four other ways of feeling relaxed and at ease. Likewise, a common positive intention for being overweight is that it gives the person a sense of protection or solidity, and so in your personal training you would want to teach them three or four other ways of feeling safe and solid.

It is recommended that at least three other behaviours are provided for the person to allow them a range of choice in selecting how they want to behave in a given context.

S. SELF INITIATED AND MAINTAINED : How can I take charge of doing this myself?
The final step is to ensure that your client can initiate and maintain the desired change themselves.

The most effective work is done with clients who eventually don't need you isn't it? This ability of a personal trainer to train so well that your clients no longer need you is an indicator of the very best trainers - because you empower others to positively and successfully take charge of their own lives.

The most effective, positive changes occur when the responsibility for that change comes from within the individual themselves, rather than being imposed from outside. So establishing self control of the new behaviours in your clients is essential to the S.U.C.C.E.S. process.

An example for an elite athlete might be: 'Develop a pre-performance mental routine. Control negative self talk in stress situations. Use posture, movements and emotional triggers to generate positive states prior to big matches'.

Likewise, an example for someone who wants to control over anxiety in public speaking might be : 'Develop a pre-performance mental routine of visualising and thinking about the desired positive outcome. Stop negative self talk, and use a confident posture, movements and emotional triggers to generate positive states prior to the presentations'.

Another helpful hint is to establish the old behaviour as the trigger for beginning the new one! So the feeling of desire for a cigarette now becomes a trigger to engage in some deep breaths or a quick walk to relax and let go of stress; the feeling of nervousness and unconfidence before dealing with an angry staff member or customer now becomes the trigger for active listening to their grievance, building positive rapport and feeling confident about finding a positive solution.

S.U.C.C.E.S ACHIEVEMENT / CHANGE MODEL

S = STATED POSITIVELY : I want to .....
Example : feel confident and relaxed; be determined and aggressive; to produce my best; to be positive, at ease and looking forward to it; sleep well the night before; etc.

U = UNDENIABLE REALITY : I know this to be true when ..... (sensory description)
Example : Feeling .... I feel taller; relaxed around my shoulders with even breathing; I experience a sense of strength throughout my whole body; I move in a way that shows I mean business and am on a mission; there is a warmth over my whole body; and face relaxed.
Seeing .... I clearly see everything around me; and I picture myself doing what I'd like to do successfully. The pictures are in front of me about 5 - 6 meters away, bigger than life and in dynamic lifelike colour, bright and with movement and action.
Hearing .... I hear all the sounds around me, and experience internal silence.

C = CONTEXTS : The places and times I want this are .....
Example : # Before major tennis events - state or national titles.
# When I have to play someone I don't know.
# If I'm given a new task and deadline by the boss.
# When I'm around my older sister or her associates.

C = CONGRUENT WITH PERSONAL VALUES : I want this because .....
Example : - I want to achieve more and do it with ease to give me a feeling of satisfaction and contentment and self worth.

E = ECOLOGICAL : Does any part of me object to being/doing/having this?

S = SELF INITIATED : How can I take charge of doing this myself?
Example : Develop a pre-performance mental routine. Control negative self talk in stress situations. Use posture, movements and emotional triggers to generate positive states prior to big matches.

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

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

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

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

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Positive Sportsmanship

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

1. CHAMPIONS IN YOUR LIFE
Identify someone who was / is a good sportsperson and who you respect. It may be a team mate, a coach, a friend - but pick someone who you personally know and are familiar with. Describe their personal qualities and character. What was it about the behaviour and performance of this person that inspired, motivated and influenced you?

What personal changes and achievements did you accomplish under the influence of this person?

2. THE POWER OF INTENTION & THE MEANING OF WINNING
"A while ago we were playing a game of 'Stuck in the Mud' with the juniors at the Dojo. I noticed that if the children were left to play the game they quickly organised around the principle of trying to stay free themselves. Following this principle they were all quite quickly tagged by the chasers. I asked them to change their method and focus only on freeing others who had been tagged. Using this principle the majority stayed free permanently. Since that time I have repeated this experiment always with the same result. I believe there is a very important lesson in this principle and that it relates to the manner in which outcomes can change under no greater influence than a difference in INTENTION. This warrants considerable thought."
David Dangerfield, 3rd Dan Black Belt of the Aikido Institute.

"Success is the peace of mind that is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. Furthermore only one person can ultimately judge the level of your success - you."
John Wooden, famous basketball coach.

"It's great to win, but its also great fun just to be in the thick of any truly well and hard-fought contest against opponents you respect, whatever the outcome."
Jack Nicklaus, winner 4 US Opens, 3 British Opens and a record 6 Masters titles.

"Even when I went to the playground, I never picked the best players. I picked guys with less talent, but who were willing to work hard, who had the desire to be great."
Earvin "Magic" Johnson, NBA player

"If you can react the same way to winning and losing, that's a big accomplishment. That quality is important because it stays with you the rest of your life, and there's going to be a life after tennis that's a lot longer than your tennis life."
Chris Evert, champion tennis player.

It's interesting to note that Chris Evert's winning percentage .8996, (ie she won nearly 9 out of every 10 matches she played against the best in the world), is the highest in the history of professional tennis. Yet she says that it's important to see winning and losing in the same way. It's interesting to recognise that probably the greatest golfer ever, and the greatest woman tennis player of all time - both have a broader intent when they play. That winning for them is not just about winning the game. Read the biographies or some of the quotes from any of the greatest sports champions of any generation, and you will find that they actually see their sport in a much broader way than just 'winning'. I believe when you hold a broader intent - then you win more anyway - and because of that attitude, you also win even if you lose the match! Many of the problems we see in sport today - performance enhancing drugs, gambling corruption, excessive violence, eating disorders, and so on are a result of a having just a narrow, winning intention, rather than a broader appreciation that sees sport as personal development.

Copyright J. Hodges 2000. For more coaching resources and handouts call 07 5445 7994

Having read the previous quotes, what do you think? What does 'winning' mean to you? How do you define success? Relate your answers to the first question on champions in your life.

MY VISION OF SPORTSMANSHIP
This exercise is designed to give you a chance to imagine a personal, positive vision of sportsmanship for your team - whether you are a player, coach or parent - and to identify specific behaviours that you can do to encourage positive sportsmanship in the team.

A vision is an ideal, an inspiration towards which we want to strive because it matches our values and beliefs. Without a vision, individuals, teams, and even nations begin the slide into mediocrity and apathy. However a vision that is too general, and that is not grounded in clearly achievable behaviours remains an unreachable dream. Ensure you think of specific behaviours that characterise and support your vision.

1. Describe your vision of the relationship between coach and players, and between members of the team.

2. Describe how you would like individuals and the team as a whole to respond to defeats.

3. Describe how you would like individuals and the team as a whole to respond to victories.

4. Describe your vision of the relationship between players, coaches and officials.

5. Describe your vision of the role of parents and supporters.

Copyright J. Hodges 2000. For more coaching resources and handouts call 07 5445 7994

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

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

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

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

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Uke as a Metaphor for Success Life Skills

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

Introduction
One of the primary distinguishing features of Aikido as contrasted to other martial arts, and to other sports activities in general, is the concept and role of Uke, or training partner. This introduces into Aikido training a principle of true teamwork between Shitei and Uke which involves learning and mastering not just the physical aspects of timing, correct distance, blending between the two, and of course technique, but also the mental and emotional dimensions of commitment, facing fear, trusting in another, and learning through feeling rather than thinking.

Uke as a Metaphor for Life
It is generally recognised that Aikido is not simply a martial art, but a way of life - a way of life which seeks to use the principles of Aikido in daily living as well as on the dojo mat.

What message then does Uke provide for daily living?

When I first took up Aikido, at age 37, my previous sporting experiences were limited to mostly very 'individual' and non-contact sports such as squash, tennis, golf and volleyball.

While I had trained for two years in my teens in Tae-Kwon-Do, still my experience with physically being thrown or tackled was very limited, and I had deliberately avoided sports like football because of my perception of their danger. Hence when I began Aikido, I was almost constantly in a state of fear of being hurt - particularly given most of the others training were many years younger and stronger than me, and seemed oblivious to such fears!

That fear for my safety still arises from time to time, and I don't think I ever banish it entirely, however what training as Uke has taught me is to feel the fear and do it anyway. This is such a great metaphor for life! How many times do we not take action because we fear rejection, failure or disappointment? How many times have you not spoken to someone you were attracted to, simply because you were afraid of rejection, or feeling foolish? How many times have you not gone for a job, not asked for a raise, or not asked for something that you really wanted because you were fearful of them saying no? How many times have you not taken up learning something because you feared you would fail?

It's been wisely said that in old age most people regret not what they had done in their life, but rather, what they had not done. I believe that the truly successful people still feel fear of rejection, failure, and so on - but they act anyway. Uke teaches us to act in spite of our fears.

Uke also teaches the life lesson of commitment - of being fully involved in what you're doing. It is only through a fully committed Uke that Shitei can do a technique properly, and of course only by being fully committed can Uke feel the technique applied, and so learn themselves.

Again this is an important lesson in success life skills, for who ever succeeds if they are merely 'interested' in something? The people who make a difference are those individuals with a passion and true commitment for what they want to achieve - a commitment that doesn't give up when the first obstacle rises to block their path; a commitment that persists until the goal is attained.
- 2 -

Having participated in mostly 'individual' styles of sport, I have developed a great self reliance and independence which has stood me in good stead, and enabled me to make significant personal achievements in my education and career. However, I have come to realise that truly outstanding achievement cannot be attained alone - one needs to involve others, and work with others in a spirit of trust in their ability. Truly it is said that if you get to the top of success mountain alone, you'll probably jump off! Uke teaches us that we can progress faster with the assistance of, and partnership with, others.

Finally, Uke offers an opportunity to learn by doing, rather than by thinking. Both Shitei and Uke learn without words as you offer Shitei your committed body and energy to apply the technique to. This teaches us the importance of feeling and of developing an awareness of our body. What more important lesson in a society in which a majority of the population is experiencing either physical debilitation (obesity and poor physical condition) or emotional stress, primarily because of an overemphasis on thinking rather than feeling?

Conclusion
Hence it could be said that one of the greatest achievements in one's Aikido training is to become a 'good' Uke. Certainly in my training, I believe that my greatest leaps forward came more as a result of my concentrating upon and developing my Uke skills, than upon Shitei technique.

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

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

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

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

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UNDER FIRE!: Maintain Your Focus Under Pressure

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

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 change a negative state - in yourself or someone else - simply change one of these three factors.

STATE
One of the most important concepts in performance psychology that every tennis coach and player 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 sports people: Firstly, what states are most useful for success in your sport?; and secondly, how can we deliberately create those states in ourselves? Some examples of states that tennis players commonly mention are : Relaxed; Confident; Positive; Focused; Determined; Aggressive; and Hungry to Win. Feeling a sense of Enjoyment, and Happiness or Fun when playing also rates highly for most successful players.

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 isn't good enough.

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 onto the tennis court. 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 state are 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 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, 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 sport? 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 hold your head.

Take a few moments right now and stand up straight .... take five deep breaths .... and walk briskly around. 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 sport. Think of a time you were playing 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 your sport, every time you play?

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 how you imagine and say things in your mind 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, 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 Tina Turner or Demi Moore, isn't it?

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 in front of 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 .... 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 .... 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 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 playing really well ... until they notice one of their relatives, or close friends, or someone they really want to impress, in the audience .... then their game 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.

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.

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 of a past relationship; or getting 'stage-fright' in front of an audience.

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 players 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, but 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, you can have some item of equipment - a wristband, a pair of 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 exhibit.

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

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

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

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

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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

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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

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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:

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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

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