A call with one of my skaters recently got me thinking about the unrealistic expectation we put on ourselves to be positive all the time. As soon as I arrived on the call with her I could sense her energy was low. She has been training for her biggest competition of the season and had just completed a not so great week. She was down and I could tell that if I came at her with, “tell me all the good things about your skating” or “remind me of your skating superpower” or “just tell yourself you can do it” …. she wasn’t having it! This is a time when facts trump positivity.
Using a Number Line
Instead, I encouraged her to consider her negative thoughts as a number on a number line, -5 for example. Then to imagine a +5 or +10 representing a positive reframe. We discussed how big of a jump it would require to go from a negative to a positive and how this might not always be doable.
The Neutral Reframe
Together we came up with a list of facts about her skating. Facts are the truth so they are believable and I knew would be more easily digestible considering her current state. She came up with 4 or 5 facts, things she would consider to be true of her jumps, how she has performed in competition up until now and in her day to day training. These statements could be given 0 on the number line and I call them neutral reframes. It is much easier to go from -5 to 0, and seemed more doable right now.
Being positive, happy and overly optimistic all the time is an unrealistic expectation. When we expect this of our athletes it puts more pressure on them, especially if they are already struggling with perfectionism. Instead, teach them to be ok with just being ok. Functioning at the neutral (0) level can be a very productive and satisfying mindset to be in.
As for my skater, she used her neutral reframes all last week and her practice made a positive turn around. She is feeling better about her upcoming competition and ready to perform the way she knows she can.
Until next time,
Keep your Brain in the Game
Skaters, learn to LET GO OF MISTAKES and perform IN THE ZONE. Get my FREE Performance Mindset Worksheet