Tag: Sports

Enjoy the activity, have fun, perform better.

messi-argentina-

In life, we hear people often, say- I don’t enjoy the work I am doing; it gives me a lot of stress. I am looking for a change. When you don’t like the work you are doing it becomes monotonous, boring and stressful. That is why it is said, in order to be satisfied with what you are doing- you need to enjoy the work and be passionate about it.

In sports, as in life, we hear that many athletes burn out due to monotony, competitive stress, high level of intensity, less social life and above all lack of fun & enjoyment. You can compare fun & enjoyment to the wick and oil in the lamp. As long as they exist the light doesn’t flicker out. The moment an athlete at the elite level feels burdened and stops enjoying the game staleness and burnout results and there is a tendency to quit. So, most of the elite athletes who have gone through the grind would advise the younger lot to enjoy the activity despite all the upheavals. I have heard or read about elite athletes talking about the importance of fun & enjoyment. Speaking to the TIMES Magazine this is what Lionel Messi, the wizard of football, had to say- Football is a game. I am trying to have fun on the pitch, always, just to play. That’s why I do it. The day I stop having fun is the day I retire.”

Whenever people spoke about- having fun and enjoyment– I wondered whether it was only a figure of speech and whether it was possible in this intense and serious world of competition. And, when I looked in to the meaning of Enjoyment I was led to believe it was possible. Enjoyment is a feeling of pleasure caused by doing or experiencing something you like or simply getting satisfaction out of something. To say the least, Fun & enjoyment are used interchangeably. And, it is possible for the coaches and parents to make the activity fun for the kids- such, they enjoy every moment of it.

You can enjoy the activity by making the right choice of what you do, according to your natural intelligence you possess- which is generally called- Talent. Going forward, people must be passionate for the activity that seems to flow from their inner crevices without any external prompt. That is, when you wake up every day you look forward to the activity. And, the rest is all work, work & more work.

In order to attain Excellency in a chosen profession it entails one to put in dedicated, countless hours of effort and if one doesn’t enjoy the work then it will go futile. Said Karrie Webb, the golfer- If you don’t enjoy it- then putting in long hours take their toll.

Said Dale Carnegie, the author of- `How to win friends and influence people- People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing. 

Feelings of Fun & enjoyment are a positive emotion and- sports are meant to be fun. The following sequence talks of the benefits of Enjoyment- Enjoyment> positive emotion> motivation> Desire for participation> persistence> exertion of effort>learning >commitment to sports> happiness > success> longevity in the activity. 

To remind ourselves it was for fun & enjoyment that we encourage children in to some form of physical activity- for its various benefits. Group activity and socialising through sports definitely promotes fun and satisfaction in children. Parents are to be reminded that in order to keep the incense burning children need to enjoy the activity and them, in turn must have fun watching their children play.

Harsha Bhogle tweeted [15/7/17] – When I saw Federer up against a rampaging Djokovic couple of years ago, couldn’t have imagined his best tennis was ahead of him.  Roger Federer has won his eighth Wimbledon title at 35 years of age and is playing the best tennis of his life, Experts say the Reason why he is so good these days is that he is playing with lot more freedom and is cherishing and enjoying his game like he had never done before. This is what enjoying your game is- all about.

Being fearless is the X-Factor in sports

22kvitova-web-master768Petra Kvitova the Czech tennis star was robbed in her home shortly after Christmas and the attacker stabbed her playing hand- leaving her to nurse the injuries. Speaking about the incident in a recent interview to the press [TOI-Reuters 2JULY] she said-` Before I was very nervous before every match, now I see I shouldn’t be. Sometimes I am thinking on the court that I already won the biggest fight and if I fight in the match, it doesn’t matter if I win or lose I will still be happy to play. I see tennis and life from a different angle than before. I am not sure if it is the result of what happened but maybe I feel fearless now of what happened.’

Ramkumar Ramanathan world no 222, from India, recently stunned the whole world by defeating the world no8 Dominic Thiem in the Antalya open-in straight sets. He told TOI shortly after the match-` Beating a Top 10 player makes me fearless now. I am definitely not scared of my next opponent now.’ After reading these responses I asked myself – what were they fearing in the first place: to feel fearless now? My mind said-` hey, it is the same predicament that plagues the entire human race: Fear of failure– fear of defeat or simply- fear of loss.

Fear is one of the four primary emotions- the other three are anger, sadness and joy. Anxiety represented by worry, nervousness and panic is experienced by most performers in general and athletes in particular- before a competition or during it and all of these feelings fall under-FEAR. Pressure and choking are also as a result of –FEAR: the fear of defeat or fear of failing.

Why are the performers terrified of failure?

In this evaluative environment everything is judged on the basis of results: making it a result oriented competitive world. Success [string of victories] will give you pride, name, fame and monetary benefits, scholarships, sponsorships etc. On the contrary – string of losses [wrongly termed as failures] will give you shame, see you slipping in your grades, seeding’s and risk losing your scholarships or sponsorships. So, athletes want to avoid this precarious situation and would like to keep succeeding. In this competitive world children begin to understand from an early age that you have to keep winning and it is a crime to lose. So, defeat/ loss become a dirty word. If losing is attributed to failure: then the seeds of failure are sown and Fear of failure sets in.

Even the elite athletes are exposed to these feelings of stress [anxiety, self-doubt, nervousness & pressure] before or during a competition. They have been in these situation umpteen times and know how to handle them. The ability to handle Fear and the associated feelings like pressure is what sets apart an elite athlete from the ordinary. Elite athletes want to win and hate losing but they are not afraid of losing.

Fear of failure in sports is not the same as facing life threatening situations [ex: Petra Kvitova, Monica Seles], plane crashes, motor accidents, facing a carnivorous animal in the forest. And to top it all: winning is not for ever and setback is just the bend not the end. The athlete will know at some point of time their chosen career is not forever and there is life beyond it. This mind-set will encourage the athletes in to accepting both success and setbacks [so called failures] in the same breath.

It is true Victory gives pride and achievement motivation. But desperate thoughts like- ‘I must win or I shouldn’t lose or what if I lose, will distress you and you end with the result you never aspired for in the first place. Instead ask yourself- ‘what is the worst thing that can happen if I lose the match. Keep telling yourself before an important event – `this is just like any other game: it is just a ……… match, it is not the end of the world if I lose it.’

If you think losing a match is failure then what would you say of Thomas Alva Edison who said-  ‘I am not a failure I have only discovered 999 ways of how not to make a bulb.’  

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at viswanath.author@gmail.com.

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

You can also follow at

facebook

linkedin

Momentum is crucial for peak performance

Srikanth KidambiKidambi Srikanth’s superb run continued as the in-form Indian sailed in to the finals of the Australian Open Series Badminton tournament 2017’– this is how the media described *Srikanth’s performance on 25/06/17. This mysterious thing called, Form, which is controllable- is like the higher grace and you don’t know when it strikes you or leaves you. But, you are happy you are in form and would like to use the opportunity when the sun is shining. Rohit Sharma, Indian cricketer, tweeted yesterday- `Opportunities are like sunrise- if you wait too long you will miss them.’ Un Quote. To remind you K.Srikanth recently won the *Indonesian Super Series Open.

But, one thing I can vouch for you is that when in-form you have the momentum going in your favour. or: Is the vice versa true? What is this thing called momentum that you often hear about. The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science describes Momentum as- ` the positive or negative changes in cognition, physiology and behaviour caused by an event or series of events that affects either the perception of the competitors or quality of performance and the outcome of the competition.

Positive momentum is associated with experiences such as- winning streak-, in which everything goes right for the competitor/s. In contrast Negative Momentum is associated with periods of losing streak – when everything goes awry. It is simply the strength or force gained by motion or series of events [Merriam Webster dictionary]. In psychological terms we call it- Psychological momentum.

You normally hear people say– I found it difficult in the beginning but once I made the start I found the Momentum and everything started flowing.’ Or: `Somehow, I didn’t find the momentum today. Today was one of my OFF days.’ It is often described as gaining/ losing momentum during the course of a match or an on-going season.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore, a team that takes part in the IPL T-20 cricket format every year somehow never gained momentum this 2017 season and slumped to the bottom of the table. Momentum can always be revived: like the Pakistan cricket team did to reverse its fortunes to win the ICC Champions trophy 2017. The Pak side lost miserably to India in the first match but later found the self-efficacy [A belief in the ability to perform the task successfully] and the momentum going in their favour. This is what happens to sides when they find their bearings right and are playing as a unit and are executing their plans well – they find this mysterious [momentum] force gaining from strength to strength and they are unstoppable. But, the opposite is also true- like what happened to the RCB.  When you are at the best of your momentum it is a state akin to the Flow or the Zone- when everything seems to be happening for you. The associated feelings are – sense of control, confidence, optimism, motivation, focus& energy.

It has happened in the past that in the course of a match-for some reason you start making errors lose points and games. Then you over analyse to rectify these mistakes and end up making more- you are at a loss for confidence, focus, optimism and hope. The result- You lose momentum and finally- you lose.

How to get your rhythm and momentum back during the course of a match?

Using the following techniques can help you bounce back to your momentum:                                       

  • Positive attitude and positive body language.
  • Relaxation techniques like slow and deep breathing
  • Present moment awareness 
  • Reduce outcome thinking
  • Break the rhythm of the opponent
  • Slow down your game
  • Believe in your strength
  • Change tactics
  • Keep hope& optimism alive
  • Hang on.

References:

  1. Live science- The reality of momentum in sports- Dan Peterson 6-10-08
  2. Flow- Czsikszentmihalyi.M [1990].
  3. Jeff Greenwald article- ` Riding the wave of momentum.

 

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at viswanath.author@gmail.com.

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

You can also follow at

facebook

linkedin

 

 

 

Self- talk improves sports performance

Serena Williams

When I finished reading the article ` Talking to yourself isn’t weird, it helps you to perform better, that appeared in Times trends [TOI] by Rhian Lubin on 06/05/17 – my thoughts went back to my own playing days: As a batsman I had this tendency of misjudging the ball and got out playing wrong shots. To correct this, I used to tell myself before every ball- ` watch the ball – play to the merit of the ball. When this became a habit, I became more judicious and thereafter- more successful.

Human beings, with very little exception, have this habit of talking to themselves. Earlier, when we noticed a person on the street speaking to the self: we used to call him `insane. Within sanity: talking to oneself now, is regarded by science as smart’ and even beneficial. Psychologists have come out saying that talking to oneself is a form of intelligence. Smart people are known to do a lot of self-talking: it is reported even Albert Einstein did it.

There is a two way communications happening all the time inside: between our good self and that little fella inside our head. It can happen in two ways: talking to that voice silently or talking out loud. And this inner dialog is called- SELF TALK. You may have noticed when a Tennis match is in progress the player indulges in a lot of self-talk: if it is a singles match the player is not allowed to talk to anyone, even his coach [except himself- hee, hee]. Players abuse themselves loudly – `you fool how could you miss such an easy forehand, you are a loser, you stink, you are a choker, you are useless, I am no good etc or the players can swear under the breath silently. When a player gets angry, anxious, nervous and afraid, the negative thoughts that follows leads to physiological changes in the body-that can be detrimental to performance. When thoughts are positive they enhance performance but when they are contrary they cause negative emotions to debilitate performance.

 What we say constantly to our inner voice, whether it is complimentary or contradictory – it is accepted sincerely by our sub-conscious mind and that is what we become over longer periods of time. So, we have to be very careful with our self-talk.

Shad Helmstetter, PHD writes in his book what to say when you talk to yourself– ` You will become what you think about most, your success or failure in anything large or small will depend on your programming, that is – what you say to yourself and what you hear from others.’

When faced by pressure of competition self- statements made out of desperation like- `I must win this match, I mustn’t lose to this player, I have to win otherwise what will people say- adds more pressure and anxiety to the situation that sends the performance in to a down spiral. Negative self-talk, like- ` I don’t want to choke or `I am not mentally weak or `I am not a loser or `I don’t want to lose to that player- will be accepted literally by the sub-conscious and the results will be in accordance with it. Instead these statements should be converted in to positive statements like- I want to be relaxed and confident or I am mentally strong or I am a winner or I can win against this player.

Self – talk can also be in the form of Cue words like- strong, easy, focus, calm, relax, fight, I can etc- urging the mind-body to follow a certain pattern in that instant.

Positive Self- talk can also be used in the form of affirmations like- ‘I am a winner’ or ‘I am proud of myself and my abilities’ or ‘I play well under pressure’, ‘I love myself’ or ‘I am always confident’.

The everyday motivational self-talk must be. – EVERYDAY IN EVERYWAY,  I AM GETTING BETTER AND BETTER.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at viswanath.author@gmail.com

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

You can also follow at

facebook

linkedin