COMMUNITY JOURNALISM: Work out mind as well as body

JR Ogden
Published: December 14 2012 | 11:31 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:22 am in
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Editor’s note: Adam Rees is founder of GRIT GYM, a gym based on results, creating a culture and lifestyle of performance, strength, health and freedom to live life on your own terms. Rees attended Wartburg, worked under nationally recognized strength coach Matt McGettigan at ISU and is generally a glutton for information and improvement in all forms.

By Adam Rees, community contributor

It’s widely agreed that 90 percent of any game is mental, which means 10 percent is technical.

So why do we spend more than 90 percent of our time on technique and less than 10 percent on the mental side?

Much like mental hurdles already are built in us. We learned as children and have had a lot of reps over the years. Reacting to our experiences with anger, anxiety, shutting down, running away, giving up, etc. These reactions are based on fear and it’s not about getting rid of the fear. We all have to have it — fight or flight is built on fear and without it we wouldn’t survive.

The idea is to recognize when it affect us and refocus.

We need fear, it’s presence is not the issue. The issue is how we manage it. Acknowledging it, learning about ourselves, recognizing it and refocusing for continual improvement is what we need to do.

There is a mind/body connection we can measure. This is the science behind Omegawave, a “optimized training program based on each individual athlete’s actual physiological readiness for today’s session leads to maximum sports performance,” according to www.omegawave.com.

Cortisol and adrenaline in blood, heart rate variability, grip strength, vertical jump all are measurable and directly related to the biology. The body doesn’t differentiate between stress. A fight with a friend, a hard day at work, a football game or a broken bone, stress is stress.

It’s hard work that takes time, as well as a coach. Much like a baseball pitcher changing throwing mechanics, it takes 1,000 good reps before a change in technique is made permanent without thinking about it.

It’s recognizing when we feel these reactions, then accumulating good reps. No one is perfect, we all stumble, but we have to learn from each time and move forward.

Talk about it with your coach, go in depth with a behavioral therapist about what’s really going on. This person also is the coach, giving feedback on the arm action during the pitches. Your behaviors are the pitches and your mind is the arm action, and it could be clear down to foot placement.

A few sports psych things to think about:

- Anger is an aggressive display to push others away from seeing our fear. As kids we're taught that being afraid is weak and shameful. From the logic side of the bystander, we show anger to create distance so others won't see that we're afraid. Afraid to be afraid because fear is weak. This is unreasonable.

Could be fear of failure, who knows, but that athlete has no idea why they're mad let alone that they're scared. Think of that the next time you see a football player throw his helmet (he didn't perform good enough, fear of failure). We'll never play up to our best potential when we're angry. Too much internal focus, can't think. We can feel or we can think, not at the same time. It's about management and learning through repetitions, the sooner we can start recognizing this and performing GOOD reps the better.

-Anxiety can be seen two ways. It's a call to action, to make a decision, to be courageous (do the right thing even if it's not the feel good thing). Or a fear that we won't be good enough, won't perform well enough, aren't big enough, strong enough, smart enough, fast enough, successful enough, etc. This is where perfectionists, workaholics, and cortisol addicts live.

Why get nervous before a wrestling match? It's an opportunity to showcase all the hard work. It should be exciting, amped up, ready to go. Instead we get nervous and scared of not being good enough to win so athletes compensate that with anger to hype up that way. Now there's some fake courage to take into the match, not enough external focus, and too much internal focus, so can't think. Athlete's should be excited, not scared. Excited is when they'll perform their best and that's when they'll have the best experience.

- The passive athlete is so scared to do their best that they wont even take the bat off their shoulder. It's a depressive's attitude. Hoping for the world/others to satisfy them. In this case that'd be a walk from the pitcher and/or umpire. Trouble is the only other outcome is to strike out. Home run, hit, walk, or an out. Three-fourths is a lot better than half, especially when the 1 (a walk) isn't all that great. No risk, no investment, no reward.

The outcome of a competition is dependent on if the best an athlete can do that day is better than their opponents best that day. It's not a cop out. Any day this can go both ways. The whole "control" thing is an illusion, the more fear we have, the more we attempt to control. It's not about controlling anything, it's about performing up to a personal best that day.

It's all about managing these fears, and through that we can start learning from our repetitions.

When we enjoy playing and working out more — doing so for the right reasons and making more progress than we thought we could — we’re better athletes who have a better experience.

We can be enough for ourselves. Not content, but our best would be enough.

Check www.GRITGYM.com/resources and adamrees.blogspot.com for more on this story and others. Email Rees at adam@gritgym.com Adam Rees

You can join our Community team by emailing J.R. Ogden at jr.ogden@thegazette.com

 

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