Welcome To So Cal Pumas Website
"Wisdom is knowing what to do next,
skill is knowing how to do it,
and virtue is doing it."
-David Starr Jordan
Getting Quickly from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Training mental skills must begin with a distinct understanding of how to have mature approaches and responses to your sport, both in practice and in performance. Consciously creating an ideal performance state takes it to the next level. Elite athletes build up their confidence on purpose, they manage their stress and adrenaline, and they focus superbly on the task-at-hand. Knowing where you are and where you want to be are two challenging awareness skills, but knowing is not enough. To give your best effort, you must also have an effective strategy to get from here to there.
A cue is anything that represents something specific; it stimulates action. It's a hint, a suggestion. It's something said, something done, or a symbol that leads to a specific line of action. It guides your mind and body towards a specific target. It can lead you astray, too, but used wisely, cues can be quick and powerful reminders of what you need to do to get to where you want to be. After they remind, they can also help take you there.
Let us review the steps of a best effort performance, given that motivation is sufficient. You must have an ideal performance state, meaning that your mind and body are ready to perform up to your potential. You must know your job in specific, controllable terms. And you must do your job without thinking too much (focus). Occasionally the environment will lead to these things happening naturally. In such cases, no adjustment is needed to give a best effort performance. The rest of the time, however, athletes will either find a way to get themselves where they need to be or they will perform below their potential.
For a cue to have a significant positive impact, it must lead you in the right direction at the right time. To take you to an ideal performance state, you must know what you are like in your ideal state. (I call these your green light indicators.) For example, you might perform best in a particular situation when you're confident, intense, aggressive under control, grateful, relaxed, focused, having fun, and feeling like you have something to prove. Once defined, you can pick a cue to lead towards any or all of these attitudes and physiologics. If it does so naturally, great. If it has to be built to cue the right things, that can be done, too. Examples: the American flag could be used to remind you to be grateful for this opportunity and to have fun. A sign with team colors may remind you of your team's mission, what you have to prove, and to be aggressive. A wristband that says, "Best effort one play at a time" may remind you to be focused and intense. A little foam stress toilet may help you to focus and stay confident by "flushing it" when something bad happens. The self-talk "just do what I always do" may remind you to be confident in his preparation and to relax. An image of your mother and the sacrifices she's made for you may promote relaxation and self-control while reminding you that you have a lot to prove because your mother taught you that your best effort is always good enough.
All these cues sound great, but they won't do any good if you don't remember to use them when you need them. You can use them as part of a routine, therefore making sure that you don't forget something important to your mental preparation. Or, you can remember to check your "traffic light" indicators at certain pre-planned points during a contest to see if you are off track. Or, you can depend on your instincts to tell you that you're off track. Once you recognize the indicators of a "red" or "yellow light," actively gather yourself back to green by employing a cue that you've already planned for this challenging situation. These awareness and gathering strategies are sophisticated skills, but giving a best effort performance is a sophisticated goal. If you're ready to take luck out of the equation as much as possible, it's time to use cues to help you create an ideal performance state!