066 - working around "unexpected" instances

I recently had an incredibly talented young high-jumper reach out to me for some advice on performance anxiety when the pressure is on. He's always very cool, calm, and collected, so his reaching out to me took me by a little bit of a surprise...

He'd just had a tournament where he didn't go as well as he would have liked. And upon getting more context from it, it turned out that he wasn't quite 100% going into it - he was carrying a bit of a tweak

Then the more we talked, the more I discovered about the other small things that happened... like the starting height was higher than everyone expected and he didn't make his first jump, which rarely ever happens for him. And how the tweak was gradually getting worse...

And at the end of the comp, he walked away dejected, wondering what had gone wrong, and had reached out for some help in understanding. Looking at this, it's not about performance anxiety, it's about understanding and attacking the reality we have in front of us and coping with it the best way that we can

In this instance, it's about setting and managing expectations. Injuries and tweaks are always going to be in the back of your mind going into a game, and we've got to take that into consideration. There are going to be times when your mind will wander, or you'll go to put the hammer down and the mind and body won't quite align - it's only natural

And there will be times in life where you enter the arena and what you see is not what you expected - which ties into our concept of control. You cannot control the starting height, the opposition, or the referee's, but what you can control is how you deal and respond to them. It's always going to throw us a little off when something unexpected occurs, but we can bring our focus and attention back to controlling ourselves and working out how to deal with the reality in front of us

In this young man's case with the starting height, it's simply a reframe of "okay, that's higher than I expected and I don't think it's fair, but it is what it is. I'll change my gameplan and expectations up based on this and give it my best shot moving forward". As truthfully, that's all we can do, nothing more 

We always demand more from ourselves, which is an incredible trait to have - but oftentimes there is immense power in knowing it's okay if you don't always have it - especially when you're thrown curveballs and unexpected things

Actionable Tips + Questions:

  • Don't try to deal with the world the way you wish it was, deal with it the way that it is, whatever the reality that's in front of you is
  • Are there times in your life you've tried to deal with life or sport the way you wish it were? How did this leave you feeling, frustrated and angry? It's never a winning combination
  • What are some things that might catch me off guard with my sport? Can I see and define them now so that if I ever come across them, I'll have a plan in place to know what to do?
Nick Maier