The Mental Skills Report Card

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The mental skills report card is a self assessment of mental skills that individuals complete at the end of a game, match or important situation where they “should” have used one or more mental skills to help them perform to their potential.

Mental coaches and cognitive behavioral therapists use self monitoring tools to help individuals stay focused on training and evaluating new mental skills that are taught and then incorporated into the individual’s life.

Typical mental skills to enhance performance of all kinds include: confidence, concentration, calmness, communication, managing mistakes, performing well in pressure situations, recovering from adversity, etc.

Depending on the needs and goals of the individual, the psychologist teaches strategies to develop each of the mental skills. Once learned, the individual starts to incorporate them into their personal circumstances, then self rates their implementation of the mental skills and how effective they felt they were in using them.

Self recording of mental skills helps the individual and the mental coach evaluate the effectiveness of the mental skills training program and fine tune things as needed.

Regularly recording one’s mental skills reinforces the important of using mental skills and provides a more accurate evaluation as to their usefulness.

A mental skills report card can be a simple index card with the skills written on them and a checklist or rating scale that looks at frequency of use and effectiveness of use or it can have individual questions such as:

  • I remembered to breathe slowly and deeply for up to 5 minutes before giving my presentation (or at the beginning of my game).
  • When I missed a shot I immediately forgot about it and pictured hitting it successfully the next time.

By regularly reviewing and recording your mental skills progress, the skills eventually become a habit and you find yourself using them without even thinking about it.

How to Become Resilient

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

When you are resilient, you can handle adversity, come back when you are behind and channel pressure into helping you perform at your best. Resilient people use an ABCD or 4 step approach.

First of all, when they make a mistake, resilient people quickly(A) analyze it without judgment or emotion. They know they can’t do anything about what has just happened but seek to prevent future mistakes.

Secondly, they (B) breathe- slowly and deeply. This relaxes the body and calms the mind. It helps to forget the mistake, keep it in realistic perspective and move on.

The third step resilient people use is (C), they correct the mistake by focusing on what they might do differently the next time to insure a different result.

The fourth step is they (D) decide on a plan or course of action that they will immediately implement in order to move forward with greater confidence and effectiveness.

Resilient people have learned these skills either through trial and error or by being taught by someone who is resilient themselves.

If we use the sport of tennis as an example, consider a resilient player. He or she double faults. Instead of becoming self critical or overly negative, he mentally reviews the source of the error and decides the ball was tossed too low. He takes a calming breath to help let go and forget the last shot and pictures himself tossing the ball higher at the next opportunity. As he prepares to serve he thinks to himself “Higher toss” and pictures his arm releasing the ball as his arm raises past his eyes. All of this is accomplished in a matter of seconds.

Resilient people practice this 4 part process in most things they do. Try it yourself for three weeks in a particularly area of your life and notice what results you get.


Positive Thinking Against All Odds

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Positive thinking is a mind set that helps you perform to your best even in the most challenging situations. At the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Rafael Nadal the number two player in the world and two time winner of the tournament, was facing an unknown player ranked 100 in the world, Lukas Rosol, from theCzech Republic. In each of his previous 5 appearances atWimbledon, he had lost in the qualifying rounds never even reaching the main draw.  The odds of Rosol beating Nadal were extremely, extremely low. However, someone apparently forgot to tell Sokol about it.

Rather than appearing anxious or intimidated, Rosol, was hitting with authority and maintained a cool, composed, business like attitude. Nadal was playing pretty well and wasn’t having an off day. Yet Rosol kept the pressure on. Even when Rosol missed a number of shots (unforced errors) he continued to go for his shots and hit a surprising number of amazing winners.

People who use positive thinking stay focused in the present moment and don’t over analyze a situation. When this optimistic attitude lines up with their natural talent, it allows them to perform at their best.

Positive thinking helps individuals get and stay in the “zone”, a reference to performing a task at an extremely high level in an apparent automatic and effortless way.

Often times, it is actually easier to compete in a situation where you are the clear underdog and not expected to win. There is no pressure on you to achieve or succeed. You don’t have to worry about disappointing others. You are therefore free to try new things or a different game plan. The worst that happens is you lose, which is what was “supposed” to happen anyway.

The idea that you have “nothing to lose” frees you to perform with a greater sense of freedom and ease which can propel your usual performance to an unusually higher level of functioning.

So, next time you face a tough opponent or a challenging situation, let you positive thinking kick in and believe in yourself and abilities and let whatever happens happen. Good things may happen!

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