Flip The Switch
“Mistakes must become part of the learning process. When you consider the mistakes you have made in your life, there is always a potential for learning. Bad performances can lead to good performances, or they can lead to other bad performances if learning is not part of the experience.” –Robert Fritz – Creating
Playing sports, and in the process of becoming an athlete, you will make mistakes. Making mistakes is just a natural part of learning and developing your athletic skills. Every exceptional athlete, including NBA star Michael Jordan or legendary NFL quarterback Joe Montana, has made thousands of mistakes in learning their craft and elevating their game. However, the one thing ‘all of the greats’ have in common is their ability to ‘flip the switch’.
There are many athletes who simply think that they can’t make any mistakes in practice or a game. When they make a mistake, they tell themselves that they failed or screwed up. This negative self-talk then creates some negative feelings, like frustration, doubt or anxiety, and possibly some kind of negative behavior.
Yet, the problem with this kind of response is that athletes are keeping themselves in the dark. By choosing to negatively judge themselves, they have lost an opportunity to think and clearly see what just happened. And if the athletes can’t do that, then they have not learned anything from that experience that could help them to make the necessary adjustments to improve their game.
The next time you make a mistake at a practice or game, immediately visualize yourself flipping a light switch on the wall. Then take a deep breath. As you inhale, ask yourself – “what did you see?” And as you exhale, ask yourself – “what did I learn?”
The message from doing this simple and quick exercise is that if you can see clearly, you can learn. And if you can learn, you will become a smarter and better athlete.
Mental Skills Coach