Getting to BLUE, and staying BLUE is the objective of our mental resilience program in the Warriors; only by remaining in the moment and focused on the task at hand will we be able to meet the challenges of high performance games, and succeed…. it is therefore important to know how to return yourself to the BLUE state as quickly as possible.
KNOWING ITS GOING WRONG
What are your INFLUENCES and TRIGGERS? Can you describe those things which cause you to lose your focus and become distracted or disconnected from the game? Can you identify when this is occurring and address it… a few questions you need to ask yourself are how do you respond when the following happens, do you have a response?
- ERRORS & MISTAKES
- Dropped balls
- Missed kicks
- Missed tackles
- Bad passes
- WEATHER CONDITIONS
- ANNOYING COACHES/PLAYERS/PARENTS/SPECTATORS
- REFEREE DECISIONS
GET AHEAD OF IT & ENJOY IT. Many young players begin to feel stress and discomfort prior to the game as a combination of nerves and uncertainty begin to build up ahead of game day; it is totally within the power of the player to begin to address these issues early, and to turn what looks like a disadvantage into a powerful motivator. The big day, the big game, the big event… begin to think of these as huge “OPPORTUNITIES” for you to succeed, not something to fear but rather a chance to express yourself and ENJOY it. That feeling of nerves before the big game is no different to the positive excitement you get prior to doing something you really enjoy and look forward to…. the mental and physical (bio-chemical) responses are very similar and you can condition your mind to respond positively to the approach of the big game. Focus on how you will ENJOY this opportunity, and develop a positive game preparation approach that allows you to keep it suitably relaxed but focused.
OHHH…. S**T SYNDROME. We all know the feeling, something just went wrong; a dropped pass, a missed tackle or any of a thousand possible mistakes, errors or events in a game that cause you to pause and usually think (or say) something similar to OHHH S**T!! Immediately recognize you do it, and follow the statement with another positive one… you could Laugh, call out a number or recite a small statement in your head which allows you to quickly identify that one of your TRIGGERS was just flipped and that having happened, you cannot control it any more. This action serves as a switch to shift you from focusing on the event and its long term implications, to moving on and staying in the moment by doing what you need to do next to be successful… focusing on what you can control. You cannot control your thoughts (its hard to do) so use this trick to switch your mind and body onto controlling your next immediate actions (the response to the thoughts).
CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN. The diagram below shows the normal RED HEAD response to an uncontrollable event (Weather, Ball, Referee etc.), where you see it as a major issue, rather than the small issue lodged within the wider situation… this mental approach is one of a VICTIM (why did this happen to me, why cant I change what just happened, why is this happening)… when you blame the uncontrollable element of the game, and ignore the larger controllable elements that will deal with the issue.
The BLUE HEAD player recognizes that the items they cannot control are only a small part of the much wider situation, and they manage the uncontrollable, but focusing on the immediate controllable elements of the game (Executing the plan, good communications, good body language); this quickly becomes a Control Model which the player can use to focus their thoughts, energy and effort upon, giving them a feeling of control in the situation
BE PRESENT IN THE MOMENT
There is a great temptation to worrying how an event will affect the final outcome of the game, with players beginning to worry about the scoreboard or the game result and forgetting what they need to do immediately to resolve an issue. We see it a lot in games, one missed catch, and the whole team structure collapses for a period of time as they worry about the impact of the catch; while forgetting that the true objective should be to recover the ball and launch another attack.
You must disrupt this process of self doubt that creeps into your thinking; one method is to standardize your “OHHH S**T” response and turn it into a quick, immediate tool to re-center the mind and refocus you on the task at hand. A process used by the Canterbury Crusaders is for players who identify their INFLUENCE is emerging and they are becoming TRIGGERED to:
- Place their tongue firmly on the roof of the mouth
- Take 3 long breaths (5 seconds in & 7 seconds out)
- Stamp their feet
- Observe something solid and physical (an object or person)
- Identify something physical that you can do immediately/right now and do it
- Proceed with the original plan