Saturday is fast approaching and with it comes the 1 Mile Kettlebell Swing Challenge.
Last Saturday I was very lucky to witness 5 of my athletes take the platform at the Irish Kettlebell Lifting championships. One of whom had never been involved in competitive sport and another who is dealing with a chronic injury. Every one of them looked and behaved in a very professional manner and every one of them hit personal bests.
The two events are making me think about the mental side of performance and how we get ourselves right in order to perform on the day. Especially in something as mentally taxing as kettlebell sport and the Mile. These are strength/power/endurance events, they involve explosive lifting of a weight again and again and again. Every one who experiences kettlebell sports for the first time is blown away by the sheer intensity of it.
So how do we get our minds right?
How do we know that on the day we’ll be able to pull it out of the hat?
There is no one answer but here’s my take.
Routine. When one of my guys begins preparing for a competition or event, we get them into a warm up routine and never change it unless absolutely necessary. This means that on the day they have this to hold onto. They may be in a strange location surrounded by strange people, but they have their routine to go through, something they’ve done so many times that they can do it with almost no thought processes. This routine acts as a switch, they are used to going through the sequence in preparation for training, they know as they warm up they need to mentally switch on.This rarely fails. On the other hand when an athlete does a different warm up to the one they’ve practised in the gym, very often their on stage performance suffers.
Visualisation I heard a lecture from a top Irish Sports Psychologist recently and he talked at length about the power of visualisation. My first coach and mentor, Jack Parker spoke about visualisation, in his own inimitable way, constantly as I was growing up in St Martins Junior Karate Club. Jack would tell us to practice at every opportunity. He even told that we could practice while sitting on the toilet by simply visualising ourselves going through the techniques. So with this in mind it helps an athlete to see themselves going through the event, close your eyes and really see it, feel it, experience it. In your minds eye, see it going right, see the tactics and feel the adrenalin. Do this enough and by the time you are actually performing, it’ll be like you’ve already done it a dozen times before.
Preparation I’m of the “Always Ready” school of thought. This is because, as already mentioned, I grew in martial arts where there is no season. You may have competitions, gradings and other events happening at the drop of a hat and if you weren’t ready, you got hurt. To me a high level of GPP (general physical preparedness) is of vital importance. Can you perform on any given day? The answer should be yes. That way all you need for a big event is fine tuning. I believe that any athlete should be able to get out of bed on any day of the week and put in a good performance right there and then. If you can’t why not? Maintaining this level of GPP takes hard work and discipline on a near daily basis, but it also develops the kind of grit, determination and confidence to step up anytime, anywhere. It also means that when you enter into a pre competition training phase, it;s an easy transition and all the training really does is sharpen your skillset and raise the confidence even further.
There’s a lot more to success than just these three points, but these are things I’ve seen time and time again with myself, my peers and training partners as I grew up and now my clients/students as a coach.
We all have doubts, we all have demons clawing at our self belief and confidence. But we must refuse to feed them. We have to accept that they’re there, but that’s all. Give them more than this and they grow in power. If we give our demons power we may let them take over, and that is bad.
As I said earlier, the Mile walk is on this weekend. Our online fundraising page is in operation and will remain so for a month after the event, please click on the image below to be taken to the page and join the list of supporters who have already donated to our cause. Each time I see a new entry on the page I get a little more excited about the event, this leads to point number four.
4. Motivation – Why are doing what you are doing. I always say that if you understand the Why, then the How becomes obvious. In this case the Why is a group of people that need funds to help their recovery from Mental illness. The How then is to do a madcap fundraiser and have you lot sponsor me. Click this image to do so:
CLICK HERE TO ADD MOTIVATION