This blog is dedicated to all the 1/2 Ironman Busso competitors on 11th May 2013
The starter’s gun is about to go off, and before you know it you’ll be taking off in pursuit of a personal record. It’s only natural to be nervous, but if you’re a nervous wreck at the starting line you’re hardly in a position to compete at your best.
What goes on beneath those swim caps is crucial to perceived success and enjoyment of your next competition. The motto, “if you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re probably right,” speaks of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Unfortunately, negative thinking often drowns minds and dreams before the athlete even takes the first stroke. Beginners think that they’re the only ones who are afraid. However, the truth is that even the pros experience pre-competitive anxiety, fear and self-doubt.
If I could share just one word of advice it would be this: Don’t allow your concern with race results and rankings to rob you of the joy of swimming, biking and running. Hang on to the initial reasons you were drawn to triathlon. Fear destroys fun. And, after all, isn’t triathlon really an adult form of child play? Continue to “play with purpose.”
If you’re one of those athletes that seem to lose a gear, it may be that you tend to focus more on what you don’t have or didn’t get done leading up to the competition!
Focusing on self doubts and your ability to perform will channel feelings of pressure, stress and nerves in a negative direction once the gun goes off. It’s impossible to eliminate all of the pressure, stress and nerves, however, nor would you not want to do so.
Many believe nerves are ‘bad’ to have. Instead, they are necessary. How you channel that energy into a productive performance or let that energy freeze you up is something you can change. This energy IS the drug of sport.
Those minutes and moments before a competition are difficult to replicate in other life events…so working with an athlete to reframe that experience is my job to help them with…once they get it, watch out, you will see some amazing performances!… and something that we have worked diligently at Open Water Tuesday!!!
Tips For Using Stress And Nerves To Your Advantage
Shift Perspective. Push from your mind the things you should, could, or would have done and instead replay moments of strength. Certainly, there are always more things an athlete can do to prepare for a competition…but, when you run out of time, you are out of time and it is now time to focus on what you bring to the competition. Focus on all the positives reasons of why you belong on the starting line in the first place and the benefits of your triathlon goal!
Build Confidence. You need to have confidence. So if you’re one of the ones who under-perform, typically you’re lacking in this area. Building confidence takes time and is something to work on leading up to the race. Recognising your strengths is part of that process to building your confidence rather than focusing on your weaknesses.
When I work with athletes I help them develop an inventory of what they have in the technique called “My Gold Medal Moments” …specific strengths and skills they do bring to the competition. Written on a 3×5 card with one side being their game plan for the competition and an inventory of what they bring to the competition; the athlete keeps it with them always even taking it to practice and competition. The objective behind the card is positive reinforcement; such is the reasoning behind incorporating it on a consistent basis, bringing it to practice.
Harness the Energy (Nerves). The buzz of a race, the adrenaline and excitement of the environment, causes the body to go into fight or flight mode, causing panic mode. A characteristic of panic is ‘freezing’… and not able to do things normally.
Remind yourself of YOUR REASON WHY you are competing and why you WANT to be on the starting line. It’s the only place where you can begin the pursuit of achieving your personal goals. Nerves are that special fuel to fire the engines for greater performances.
Final Word from Head Coach Shelley:
If negative thoughts or self-doubt begin to creep in during the event, here’s a suggestion: look closely into the faces of the spectators along the course. No matter how far back in the pack you are, you will see awe and admiration written in their eyes as you pass. Would you rather stand amongst them, in the safety of the sidelines?
It takes courage just to toe the starting line, to test what you once thought was impossible, to risk failure in pursuit of being fully alive.
Part II coming shortly… stay tuned with exercises, techniques and strategies I used in every one of my marathon swims and you too can easily integrate in your next open water swim or triathlon!
Cheers Head Coach Shelley
PS: IS YOUR MINDSET STILL NOT SORTED FOR THE ½ IRONMAN BUSSO??? There is still time… but only just… to work on your mental game before 11th May. Just remember, the biggest barrier is between your ears. So, if you want to increase your confidence, and have a smoother open water experience (and who wouldn’t right?), then this is for you…. A 1on1 mindset coaching call with Head Coach Shelley Taylor-Smith. Personally 1on1 on the telephone!
Get yours now… as only
12 5 available! Pick Shelley’s Brain 1on1 40min Mindset Coaching session @ $75 (RRP $150)
PPS: Yes you have my permission to forward onto a friend. But first secure your own 1-on-1 phone mindset coaching session with Shelley. Would not like to see you miss out!