Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Remembering Why You Do this.... the mental game

    The agility blog'o'sphere is talking all about the mental game today.  This is one of my favorite topics as it is an area I struggle ... not just in agility of course.  Make sure you follow the link and read about the mental game from other agility bloggers
  • Was in a new agility class with a ton of talented students and super amazing dogs and couldn't execute a thing!  When I walk to the line, I think about who is watching and what they are thinking. 
  • First time at USDAA Nationals, cried in my trailer because I screwed up Snooker.  I got ZERO points.
  • Felt like a failure when Fin and I went off course in a team relay.  Got all sad and mopey (we had been in first place).  Ended up in third and felt like an idiot for being such a baby.
During my life, I frequently forget why I do this silly sport.  Simple.  I get caught up in my own head, putting pressure on myself about my performance instead of enjoying every moment with my dog. Giving myself negative talk (not good enough, have no business being here, haven't done my homework, don't deserve this dog...etc, etc, etc.) instead of living in the moment.
I am not alone.  We all do it.

For the most part I have learned to get out of that negative space. But old habits die hard.  I spent the year of 2013 to work on this mental attitude problem and really have accomplished a ton.  Yet still, just last night found myself talking negative - comparing my progress with my young dog to that of my friend.

The pitfalls of wanting to be amazing.  
So, what do we do?  How do we "reset" our attitude so that we are free to truly live in the moment?  How do we stand with confidence?  How can we be satisfied with enjoying ourselves and not just be satisfied when we qualify.

My new thing is to walk to the line, be happy, breath, and know that nothing is more important than this very moment with my dog.  Whether she responds to me with the partnership I know we can have or she chases a dragonfly.  I need to take joy in the moment.  Laugh at mistakes and learn from them, and revel when that moment of brilliance happens.

Simple as that.  When I'm not feeling good.  Not able to focus.  Thinking of other things.  Being hard on myself.  I am not able to live in the moment.  Disappointed because my dog didn't live up to my expectations.  I need to put those other things aside, smile, and do what I practice everyday and simply have fun.

Simple isn't it.  But for some (including me) this is the hardest thing in the world to do.  Here are the three things I do before stepping to the line...try it to see if it works for you.
  1. Visualize my run.
  2. Take a breath.
  3. Smile
Best of luck to you with your mental game.  Tons of books, workshops, and videos out there.  But my advice.  Have fun with your dog and don't let the pressures of trying to achieve greatness get in the way of actually enjoying yourself.


Elayne said...

Great post, sounds like you've worked out a lot of good strategies for yourself and it's great you were able to make that shift in attitude.

Kelly Ely said...

Hey Vici! sorry so late in getting around to reading but I loved what you wrote! We are mental management twins I think on opposite coasts :-) Exact same struggles here that I thought I had under control until I qualified for AKC Nationals and got within 5 dbl Q's of our MAch! In an effort to get my self back under control and remember the whole point of this time with my dog I am taking 2 months off from showing. When we practice crosses and contacts I am practicing smiling and playing just for fun. After all it is supposed to be just a game....Hard to remember sometimes though

Kathy said...

Oh man, it is hard to keep it all straight, it seems it should be so easy. there are times when I just don't care and then don't even trial because I am so at ease with it all and times when I forget am all stressed like it means everything.....sigh......really great post!!!!!!! Hope you had a great Christmas and are heading into a really great new year.