We all know the fear and dread that many riders have about making a mistake in the ring.
(Wait, you mean not all riders share those feelings? Why is that?)
There are many reasons why we repeat patterns in the show ring that are sabotaging us, but today, I wanted to share with you my husband's technique dealing with mistakes when he was competing in gymnastics.
This technique worked for him to become an Olympian and also, to be inducted into 4 athletic Hall of Fames.
Think Easter eggs!
Even if you aren't a Christian or even remotely religious, most people are aware of the Easter day egg hunt.
Think children dressed up in pastels hunting all over the yard for hidden chocolate eggs and bunnies!
Now, if you are Christian and participated in this event, you will remember the total excitement you felt as a child when you went running around looking for more eggs to fill up your basket.
What could this possibly have to do with winning at sports?
My husband, Jack, was that child running around with excitement every single time he finished his routine on the rings or the parallel bars.
Yup, he would finish his routine and then run around the gym asking everyone and anyone, "How did I do?"
Of course, everyone assumes the person asking that doesn't actually want the REAL truth; they just want you to give them praise.
So most people would say, "Oh, Jack, you looked great up there. Good job!"
Which would immediately disappoint him.
Because he already knew what he did right! He didn't need or want to know about that.
He got that part!
What he REALLY wanted was to be better the next time!
What he REALLY wanted was to ultimately win!
(You know how people are always trying to help athletes from not being disappointed or feeling too much pressure by saying, "Oh, just go have fun."
Well Jack had this bizarre and totally off the wall crazy saying ... "Winning is fun!")
LOL! He trained tens of thousands of gymnasts, so trust me, there is a difference IF you want to win!
I digress ... anyway ... let's refocus ...
What Jack really valued was GROWTH because the meaning that he gave to word was that it was the ONLY path to winning!
So obviously, if we value growth, and the meaning we give to winning is the emotion of FUN, we will want to know what we can do differently next time to make us better.
And guess what that is?
Yup! Tweaking and changing what we may have done "not as well as we could have."
Mistake? Who calls them mistakes?
He saw all the tips and suggestions that he got from everyone in the gym as GEMS!
(Not as good as chocolate Easter eggs, but pretty darn close!)
And he was literally like a little kid running around that gym collecting as many gems for his "basket" as he could possibly find!
He would even stop and ask the janitor that worked at the gym, "What did you see? Anything I can change?"
(Not making this up. He got one of his best tips, or VALUABLE FEEDBACK, from a janitor who had worked his whole like in that gym! No, the janitor didn't know anything about gymnastics, BUT he had been watching the gymnasts for decades! So, he did recognize when something wasn't like what he was used to seeing!)
I tell his story in my book and also to all my clients!
The answer to hating and dreading making mistakes, which makes us focus on the mistake (and therefore to make it a reality), is to EMBRACE them instead.
To reframe them and relabel them as VALUABLE FEEDBACK that you can use to "polish up your next round" as Jack would say.
If we don't take this step, then we are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes in our riding over and over.
Because as we block out or run away from hearing the truth, we are also avoiding the KEY that we can use to tweak what we do the next time we are in the ring.
We don't get better if we avoid learning how to stop repeating the same old mistakes.
Get EXCITED about collecting all the gems and use them to polish up your next round!
All the way up to becoming the winner!
You are either leveraging the fear of making a mistake (by embracing it) or the fear is leveraging you!
Make it a great week!
Breakthrough, Equestrian Mental Skills Coach
Emotional Strength & Resilience Trainer