Overthinking. Problem solved.
Have you ever felt crunched with too much information to the point of completely forgetting how to execute your task? It’s common - not only in sport - but in school and social situations too. Unfortunately, the “modern” brains (i.e. wearable computers, robots, and cell phones) have been found to cause our natural brains to suffer from information overload in-turn making simple tasks seem overwhelming. The big question becomes how to manage the amount of information we receive — whether it is from coaching criticism, corrections, or otherwise — and turn it into an amount we can handle.
You can start by honing your self-talk and perception skills. Aim to be a minimalist thinker and a maximum executer. This is doable by taking a bit of time each training session to train your brain to be able to separate/sift information and then prioritize your attention accordingly. You can then use this extra energy physically, and not drain your energy on overthinking or worrying. Less is truly more when it comes to internal dialogue. By thinking clearly about your task, and knowing the right things to tell your body to do, you will avoid many unnecessary, taxing emotions and distractions. This will also make it easier to execute tasks more consistently.
Next, try the following 5 step process, used by Aspire’s top level athletes to strengthen focusing skills, and lower distracting thoughts. It has been proven to help them reach their goals through the use of very concise thinking. Overall, they have found this process to increase productivity and in-turn save their energy. With practice, it will work for you.
1. Upon a challenge, instead of reacting to your racing thoughts: PAUSE.
2. Take a deep (down to your gut) breath.
3. Stand taller, elongate your spine, or release compacted thoughts.
4. Put physical words to the next best step that will help you accomplish your task (in other words, focus on form, speed, aggressiveness – i.e., square my hips & shoulders, lean forward, use my legs for power).
5. Finally, execute your task.
Read these steps several times. Recite them to clarify, memorize, and make the process natural. Next, (mentally) place yourself in a common challenge -- one you have faced in the past, and then envision going through these steps finishing with Step 5 and conquering the course, nailing the landing, or making the shot. Review this several times mentally, but away from your practice site (at home in a relaxing place and so forth). When it becomes natural to mentally see, hear, and/or feel it, then you are ready to mentally review it onsite, and finally execute it in real time. Eventually, less energy will be needed to focus on the steps, and your brain will relax. Your current challenge will then become easy, and you will feel ready for a greater challenge.