Thursday, 15 October 2020

How to be your best friends in sports

 By Dr. Patrick Cohn at Peak Performance Sports, LLC.

Do you beat yourself up after competitions and only focus on your mistakes? Self criticism hurts an athlete but the effect of criticism is doubled when it comes from within the athlete’s mind.

Being self-critical is the quickest way to shatter confidence. Many times, athletes describe themselves as being their own biggest critic.

This mindset is viewed by some in a positive light meaning that this type of athlete pushes to be perfect and nothing less is sufficient. However self-criticism never pushes an athlete towards excellence.

Self-criticism post competition sends the message that you are not good enough and, no matter what you accomplish, that is not good enough either. 

A lot of athletes destroy their confidence between competitions by being too judgemental. When they don’t perform up to their expectations, they tend to beat themselves up.

Rather than focussing on your mistakes, don’t take it home with you. Leave the competition on the stage/field/rink and transition. If you’re thinking about it all night, you’re taking that performance too personally. Give yourself 30-60 minutes tops to assess your performance and then move on.

Secondly, have a post game/show routine where you start to behave a bit differently after the competition. How? First step is to focus on what you did well. For instance, ask yourself what are two things you feel you did well? It’s important to focus on the positive first. 

Step 2 is NOT focussing on your mistakes but rather learn and grow from your performance. It’s vitally important to keep your confidence from competition to competition and not destroy it afterwards. Try to do an honest, objective assessment of your performance. Use that information as a launch pad to know what you need to focus on in your next practice/prep. It’s about growing and getting better and then taking that to practice and applying that. Assess your performance in a way so that you can apply those lessons learned in future practices and competitions. That becomes an objective to improve that specific skill.

 If you need guidance on how to become your own best friend in sports, please contact me at (416) 805-6155 or email me at lesley@timbol.ca so I can help you transition, determine the lessons learned and strategise for optimal performance.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Prepare for the Unexpected

By Lesley Timbol (Adapted from Dr. Patrick Cohn at Peak Performance Sports, LLC.)

You’re told to capitalize on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. What if you don’t know about a weakness until it happens? What if that happens during a competition? How do you prepare for that? How do you react when the unexpected happens?

Does adversity put a damper on achieving your athletic goals or does it motivate you to find another way to keep momentum moving forward?

Not expecting speed bumps, roadblocks and obstacles is unrealistic. You shouldn't go through the season expecting the worst, but you need to be mentally flexible to handle the adversity when it unexpectedly pops up.

A popular saying is "expect the unexpected" but it is more important to be prepared for the unexpected.



As long as you’re an athlete, you will face adversity. Gymnasts will fall in major competitions, softball and baseball players will suffer injuries, soccer goalies will give up last minute goals, hockey players will be caught out of position, bodybuilders will sabotage their diet or get injured.

Being prepared to act when the unexpected happens takes resilience, confidence, and mental toughness. How can you prepare for the unexpected?

Regardless of your sport, how do you react when things don’t go as planned? Can you recover quickly? Do you regroup or do you dwell on what is going “wrong”?

Like many things, recovering or regrouping is a skill that needs to be practised. Rather than “hoping for the best” and that everything goes optimally from every angle, accept this is a rarity. In other words, expect shit will happen. You don’t know what shit that will be but expect it. 

And then you adapt. Like a chameleon changing to fit into his environment, be open to adapt to whatever changes have presented themselves. Accept there will be times you will struggle but be aware that the struggle isn’t the issue, it’s how quickly you recover from the struggle that’s important.

Do you have confidence in your preparation for your competition or game? Do a quick mental recap of what you did to prepare for this moment. Now how are you going to strike back? What are you going to do right now to regain control of the situation?

With practice, you can develop some “go to” actions to deal with unexpected adversities. Start by mentally formulating some hypothetical situations. Ask yourself how mentally tough athletes would respond in such challenging situations. What does that look like and how can you practise that skill? Quite often, these skills are applicable to a variety of situations which will enable you to move forward towards your athletic objective regardless of the obstacle.

If you need guidance on how to develop mental toughness and mental preparedness, please contact me at (416) 805-6155 or email me at lesley@timbol.ca so I can help provide you with the boost needed to meet and overcome the unexpected.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Unleash the Beast

Enough is enough. It’s time. In fact, it’s way past time. Bodybuilders are foaming at the mouth to compete. Some of us have been in prep since the beginning of the year. And what a year it’s been with shows being cancelled or postponed to a later date and/or different location.

And for those bodybuilders who decided to compete next year and use this year to put on size, work on weaker areas, rehab, etc. good! You have a plan so stick to it!

Regardless of your decision, it’s time. Like a lion waiting in the long grass about to pounce on its prey, bodybuilders worldwide are training with a vengeance. Covid prevented many of us from training the way we’re used to but as gyms open up and athletes have invested in home gym equipment, it’s time to unleash the beast!

Perhaps many of us took training for granted but no more. Every training session is an opportunity. Avoid focusing on the gains you’ve missed as gyms were shut down or how behind you are. 

Get your head back in the game. Focus on the now. Right here; right now. Before you even begin your physical training, engage in your mental training to block everything else out. Focus on the body part(s) you’re about to train. Focus on every rep, every set. If you get temporarily distracted, picture a stop sign and focus on what you should be doing right now.

The beast is hungry. Are you going to feed it? The beast wants iron. The beast wants healthy and proper macros. The beast wants repair and sleep. The beast is circling its prey. Do you have a strategy of attack?

With a glint and stare in your eyes, furrowing of your brow, snarl of your lip, tensing of your crouched body ready to spring, take what is yours!

It’s time.

Unleash the beast!

 


Monday, 7 September 2020

Do you know how to do this?

Change. Many people talk about changing. Why? Because they want a different result. But change isn’t easy. You have to think about it. You have to plan what you’re going to do differently. The word change is associated with work and sometimes we’re just lazy.



Do you know how to pivot? The word ‘pivot’ seems to sound less ominous. Pivoting indicates a slight movement in a different direction whereas change sounds like significant movement. In short, pivot takes less effort.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting a different result. Yet getting a different result doesn’t have to involve big changes but rather small pivots in a different direction.

Maybe your life is good but are you settling? Could it be better? Sometimes people are afraid to pivot because they’re comfortable with where they’re at. It works for them to some degree. They’re even aware of the pitfalls but that seems okay rather than the unknown of what will happen if they do something differently.

Maybe there are areas in your life you’d like to improve upon but don’t know how. There are a few approaches to address the ‘how’, i.e., trial and error, google search, talk to others who have gone through it, and seek professional guidance and support.

Yet even if we want to change something, we still resist it even though we know it could help us. Why? Because any type of change, even a small pivot, takes effort. Somehow we want life to magically make our circumstances better when in reality it’s up to us to make different choices to get better results.

The next challenge is even if we commit to making the effort to change, we don’t know where to start. Remember to pivot and start small. For instance, if you haven’t worked out since Covid and have been emotionally eating, you can pivot by taking a short walk. If your gym has opened up, you can pack your gym bag and plan when you’re going to go.

The fear shouldn’t be trying to pivot; the fear should be what will happen if you don’t pivot? Nothing changes and that can be scary.

If you need assistance on how to pivot, please contact me at (416) 805-6155 or email me at lesley@timbol.ca so I can help you make changes in the right direction.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Do You Worry About What Others Think?


Many athletes worry too much about what others think of them. These athletes worry that their teammates, coaches, parents, family, sponsors, social media followers, and/or friends might think badly of them. We call this social approval.

If you think this way, you want to be admired, accepted, respected, or liked by other people. Part of this is just human nature, but it can turn into a confidence killer for many athletes.

Athletes who worry about what others think engage in a process called false “mind reading.” Mind reading is when you make invalid assumptions about what others might think of you.

When you think others think you are not performing well, this can hurt your confidence. You end up becoming distracted that can result in making mistakes or atleast sub par performance.

Do you try to read the minds of your competitors or coaches? Or take to heart the responses of your social media followers responding to your posts? 

Focusing too much on what you think others think. That’s called mind reading. You don’t know for sure but you believe what you think as if it were true.

The truth is you don’t know what they’re actually thinking unless they say something to you. There’s a difference between guessing and actually knowing.

What does guessing what people are thinking do to your confidence? If you assume someone, e.g., coaches, audience, judges think you’re not doing well, it affects your performance, i.e., ability to pose, execute a move, etc.

Who are you mind reading about? What are you mind reading about? What are the false assumptions or the narrative you’re making up in your head that’s creating havoc for you?

Worrying what others think becomes a distraction, confidence killer, and a source of pressure when you do mind reading.

If you catch yourself worrying what others think, what do you do?  Step 1 is awareness. When you become aware you’re mind reading, cut it off. Picture a stop sign. Step 2 is recognizing what you’re doing and refocus on doing what is more important, i.e., the next pose/transition/action.

If you need guidance on how to handle worrying about what others think, please contact me at (416) 805-6155 or email me at lesley@timbol.ca so I can help you refocus so you appear not to miss a beat on show/game day.

Friday, 21 August 2020

No Mask Needed

No you don’t need a mask for this. Get out of your head! The “should’s”, “can’ts”, and the “buts” can stop any athlete in their tracks; however, you can change the verbage to I “will”, “can”, and “it will be done”.

How do you prepare athletes or how do athletes themselves prepare when they don’t know when or how they’ll be competing again? In times of uncertainty, it’s time to look at the “certains”.


Rather than focusing on what you cannot do, focus on what you DO know and CAN control. As an athlete, you DO know how to train, practise, eat, and prepare for a competition.

Mental skills training addresses various challenges to help you approach your show with focus and confidence, staying centred, setting routines, being mindful how you’re feeling when you’re training as well as during the rest of the day, properly dealing with the temptation to watch your competitors’ progress on social media, targeting self doubt, regaining control of your mind when it drifts to negative scenarios, and so on.

Look in the mirror. Like it or not, that’s what you have to work with. Like playing cards, you don’t need a loaded hand to do well. It’s all on how you strategically play your cards. Play them one at a time with planned thought. Focusing on what the other players may have is a distraction. 

Take note of your competition’s strengths, as that is human, but move on from any distracting thoughts. Dwelling on others progress does more harm than good. Focus on your hand and play your cards to the best of your ability.

What if you’ve screwed up at a recent show? Are you banging your head against the wall as a form of punishment?  Welcome to the world of competition; we all make mistakes. 

The real question is what did you learn from that mistake? If you can strategize what you’d do differently the next time it happens, it no longer becomes a mistake;  it becomes a lesson learned. And it’s likely a lesson you won’t forget.

I can recall one show, if not two, where afterwards I thought and said out loud that I was never going to compete again. And I did mean it at that time and for a while afterwards but then, my mind changed. 

Why? After eating some carbs and reflecting on the situation, I recalled my reasons for competing. Yes I want to win. Who doesn’t? But to expect I’ll win at every show isn’t realistic. I do like a challenge and I reflect on my personal reasons for competing.

As competitive athletes, we make up the upper echelon of people. In other words, we’re not like normal people. We follow strict eating guidelines and training routines. We make sacrifices. Others may look at us and comment that we’re “crazy” for doing what we do. Maybe we are but we have a smile on our face and we choose to continue competing so it can’t be that bad.  ;-)

Other people don’t walk in your shoes so avoid taking their words to heart. 

I also invite you to unmask YOUR “should’s”, “can’ts”, “buts” and so on. You don’t need that mask of limitation. You’re an athlete. You’ve already broken various limitations and you will continue to do so.

Change your strategy. Learn from past mistakes and pivot in a new direction. Oftentimes that pivot takes us into an even better direction than our original plan.

Dominate.

Reformulate.

Persevere!

And embrace your inner, “I can/will”. If you need assistance in this area, please feel free to contact me at (416) 805-6155 and it will be done.


Friday, 7 August 2020

Don't use this language

Words are powerful. Words are how we communicate to others as well as to ourselves. Have you listened lately to what you say to yourself? 

When was the last time you called yourself a “failure”, “loser”, “fat”, “useless”, “pathetic”, “idiot” and so on? Sometimes we mutter under our breaths, i.e., with saying “I’m stupid”, when we make a mistake.

Don’t use this language! Not only is it not accurate but this language negatively affects our self-confidence (our ability to complete a task) and self-esteem (how we feel about ourselves).

What if this negative self-talk, what we say about ourselves to ourselves, comes out before we can stop it? Then correct yourself even if it’s after the fact. For instance, as you’re walking on a path, you trip and call yourself “stupid”

I was showing my kids how to use some weight equipment and they asked how much weight I could do so I did a set. They exclaimed, “you make it look so easy” and referred to themselves as “weak”. I informed them I’ve been weight training for many years so I wasn’t born this way. Everyone has a starting point and if they continue working out they will only get stronger.

Another example is when I invited my kids to do a drop set doing bicep curls. My daughter gave me that “teenage look” and said “you suck”. That kind of language made me smile because I knew she was going to do the drop set despite not liking it. And she still loved me afterwards so all is good … until the next time I practise tough love.  

Getting back to the negative self-talk. How do you change it? How do you stop yourself from calling yourself names, putting yourself down, or never being happy with the way you look (both the general public and bodybuilders)?

The solution is to talk back to the negative side but use logic, facts. Once you’re aware you’re using negative self-talk, get real! Ask yourself what fact are you basing that thought/feeling on? If there is some truth to it, then ask yourself what can you do to change that truth? For instance, if you’re calling yourself “fat”, strategize or hire a coach for direction and accountability to work on fat loss.

When was the last time you did the word balance game? This is finding the positive ‘spin’ to a negative thought. I’ll use myself as an example. I’m stubborn (yes that’s a fact) but oftentimes stubborn is seen as a negative trait. My positive spin on being stubborn is being relentless, persistent. I don’t give up. I may need to change my direction but I keep going.

If you’re struggling dealing with your negative self-talk, please contact me at (416) 805-6155 or email me at lesley@timbol.ca so I can coach you on strategies that squash that talk.