You and every other athlete - even those who play a different sport - will share some difficult experiences. Everyone will lose, make mistakes, transition to new teams, miss social or familial engagements, face an injury (minor or major), and retire. Some difficulties you will create for yourself. You might worry about things that haven’t happened yet or beat yourself up for game situations that weren’t preventable. Working mindfulness into your mental game makes difficult experiences more manageable, but it doesn’t happen in the way most people think.
Mindfulness and all the mental skills training in the world won’t keep you from having hard days. What it will do is help you handle hard times and teach you not to make them harder for yourself. A mindful perspective encourages you to view events objectively and with some self-compassion. For example:
You miss a shot with 36 seconds left in regulation. That point could have tied things up in time for a push to win. Naturally, you’re going to face some difficult emotions and a whole train of negative thoughts.
Is it ‘so like me to miss a shot’ or is it a missed shot? Did you ‘just lose us the game’ or did you miss a shot with little time left? Do the feelings you’re having need to go away ‘before they ruin my game’ or are they ‘just what i’m feeling right now?’ If you dwell on difficult feelings and thoughts, it will be harder to play than it needs to be. It’s easier to focus on what you need to do and manage yourself in difficult situations when you let some things ‘just be as they are right now,’ be okay with having a tough time, and attend to what needs your moment-to-moment focus. Mental skills training programs, like Win Your Warm Up, teach you mindfulness and how to manage yourself and your perspective so a rough day doesn’t derail your game play. Check out more articles in the blog or grab a free week of Win Your Warm Up.