Some of you have asked similar questions along the lines of: What can you do if things don’t go our way, eg an outcome of a game at a tournament, or a bad day of training . How to shake it off when the referee seems unfair, negative thoughts come up etc.
Some of this we touched on during our first session. Next session we will discuss the ‘mind’ aspect in more detail. However practising something like the ‘floating leaf exercise’ is a great way to build the muscle that helps letting things go.
Another aspect though is to know what to let go and what to contemplate. There is a lot our mind concerns itself with, and when we last met this question came up too: What if there is something to it, shall i just ignore it what my mind is saying?
Let’s assume that you are having a game against a far superior team.
Let’s start with what not to do. What not to do is focus on things that you can not control. Or at least not control alone. The stuff in your ‘circle of concern’ (or ‘anxiety/ worry’).
Let’s say you play against Team Incredible. Everytime you play against them you might or might not win the game. If you win the game in the end depends on a number of factors. To name a few only:
- Has the other team had enough sleep
- Have you had enough sleep
- Have you looked after your health and prepared well in training
- Did you analyse their game and the mistakes you made last time
- Have you learned from your mistakes?
- Did Team Incredible follow their training schedule and improve even more?
- Are some of their team members distracted by an unhappy love story or internal conflict?
- Is the water too cold today?
- Does the referee secretly like you guys better?
- Etc etc.
You can easily see that some factors are very much in your control, while others are not at all in your control. And who wins the game is a combination of all of these factors. So yeah, if Team Incredible has never lost a game, your team might quite likely lose. But so what?
What would be the best thing to do if it looked like this early on? Give up? Well it depends what you are aiming at. You could just use that game to learn from your mistakes, which would show up much more clearly than when playing someone much worse than you. You could develop your mental stance, – you could focus on enjoying the game and not to care too much about the end result. To be present in the moment. A bit like Boris here:
Talking about which: the present moment is of course the only one you have any control over, right? We already established you can’t control the future, you certainly can’t do much about the mistake you just made one minute ago, even the mistake 5 seconds ago is already out of your control, – but you can do your best right now.
So in a way, the best attitude is to think that you play against yourself: Who will win, the part of you that wants to give up or the part who wants to persist? The part of you that wants to learn from your mistakes at least as much as Michael Jordan, – and become much better every year, or the one that gets hung up about mistakes made in the past and loses confidence? The one that thinks ahead about ‘what if I don’t win the game’ or the one that can focus on what s/he needs to do right now in this moment?
Each time you play, no matter against who, you are playing against yourself, and if you do it well you become a better player. No matter if you lose or win this very game. Winning a game is only partially in your control: There is the ref, there are your team mates, your coach, and of course the other team. There is only one person and one moment that you can do something about, and that’s what you should come back to each time your mind wonders about the ref, the water or the result at the end.