For most people that know me, especially my clients, they will testify to just how much emphasis I place on the proper thought and psychological aspects needed to succeed. I’ve written previous blogs on this side to training so feel free to go back to them and have a read if this is something that inspires you to do more to get the best out of yourself.
In Trystan Nolan Training we use my motto “train like an athlete” to not only inspire clients and athletes but to also put across a message that strength and conditioning is far more than just the physical and nutritional side we often are bombarded with.
Much in the same way well disciplined individuals or organisations have bred success, we too believe that a team approach and an individual responsibility from both the coach and client/athlete in question is paramount.
If you look at this example we can see that shaolin monks are one sect of Buddhist teachers yet have responsibility in their dedication and daily practice not only to martial arts but also meditation and following the ways of the “enlightened one”. The physical skills seen here can be witnessed through their amazing acrobatic displays of Shaolin martial arts and yet the mental aspect is seen through how they use their mind to go into a deeper state of relaxation to either raise their own core body temperature or reach a state of relaxation where they transcend the physical realm. Both are very contrasting as one requires action, and the other is so serene and mindful. Yet both examples use the power of the mind to give the outcome. Although the two latter examples are pretty extreme, this just highlights the importance of mental skills training to all forms of training. Whether it is in your work, down time or in this case, the training room.
Knetta and Hassmen (1998) put this well in their journal when they refer to the athlete as a “psychosociophysiological” being. This reiterates my point by showing in training we are mindful, social and physiological beings meaning all aspects are needed for success in our long term development and goal achievement.
When we train we often have too much time to drift in and out of focus. We often lose direction and take backward steps or become easily distracted. On a usual gym floor we can see most people chatting away, having too much rest time between sets only to try and go back to the given exercise with little vigor, which often leads to sub-optimal training outcomes and in some long-term cases, giving up entirely.
The most important thing to do is to stay totally in the present and not let your mind wonder to the future or past events. This will only lead to distraction and give suboptimal arousal to training outcomes in the current session.
I currently work with a young athlete who when I say “focus” means him looking at the laces on his shoes as a way for him to centre himself back to the task at hand. This can usually be for complex lifts such as the clean or deadlift to which full attention must be on the exercise or weight to be lifted. Other examples have coaches getting their athletes wear things like elastic wrist bands and snapping them to get them back into the right mind set before attempting an exercise or lift (Jefferies, 2005). Either way, they are very useful techniques to allow ones self to centre and focus entirely on the present, as is positive self talk which uses positive affirmations the athlete or client knows about themselves to build their confidence in the given task. This all helps stop any self-doubt or negative emotion which can invariably affect the outcomes of a session.
Here is a little cue I have put together to help you out on your next session using the acronym W.H.Y:
What setting to use your positive self-talk, visual or physical cue
e.g. snapping that wristband, rubbing your ring on your finger, seeing yourself successfully in your mind lifting or completing a task.
3). You can do it:
Putting together all the above to create an effective mental cue that assists you through whatever you are doing is integral to successful training. Cooks model of concentration shows us how to get there in the best possible way:
These words say it best by Lao Tzu from his Tao Te Ching:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”