Performance Coaching Tips
Charlotte DuJardin on the morning of her gold medal winning performance
Preparation and Management
4- after the event
Reacting to your performance on the day is rarely the best option, emotions, mental and physical tiredness and the adrenaline that is created in a competition environment can all lead to poor decision making and a lack of objectivity to review your performance and make decisions about the next stage. So, the minimum possible amount of review on the day and a good night’s sleep are the best preparation for a good review of your performance.
Preferably you will have a video of the performance that you can look at in a measured way but before you do that then look at the comments on the sheet- where were the marks gained and lost, what was the message that the judge was giving you- what were the main areas for development and what was the best area for you to improve on your stronger areas? Once you have made those assessments then review the test with that in mind, taking into account the main elements of development, write them down. Then consider where you can see other opportunities for improvement – can you improve your accuracy or preparation for transitions? Write these down as well.
The next time you see your trainer take your test sheet, your video if possible and your notes and then you can both agree the best areas of work to target either generally or perhaps just in your competition warm up. The trainer may have other areas that they feel you can develop than the ones the judge saw as they will know where you are in your training. If it is going to be some time before you see your trainer then you may have a good enough relationship with them to be able to send them the video & perhaps scan in your sheet so that they can give you some ideas and homework. If you don’t have a lesson arranged and don’t have this relationship with your trainer then you will need to make the plans for yourself.
Whatever happens, avoid judge bashing- if you (and indeed if your trainer) does not agree with the judges comments/marks then still see what you can take out of the comments to assist you and then move on. If you feel particularly strongly about the way you have been judged then you do have the option to make a formal complaint to British Dressage but before doing that you should decide what you want to achieve from such a complaint- the results are not going to be changed, and the emotions expended on such an action can be very negative.
Claire Knowles on Independance of Pendragon
Know yourself and know your dreams
Previous articles have focused on the limitationss of comfort zones and how to push your boundaries further. However, there is little benefit in pushing yourself in the wrong direction and trying to push your square peg into a round hole. There are many tests available to assess your personality type and these can be a help and we will explore one of these in a future goal. However another way to explore your personality for yourself is to look at it through your dreams.
We will call this this Memo board system. Imagine yourself aged around 80 talking to some young people about the life you have lived. Use your imagination to build the life you dream of. What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you meet? What did it all mean to you? Write down your imaginings and dreams. For each of these elements now note down how you got there, why the places and people were important and what were your attributes and strengths that helped you get to those dreams.
Next assess each of the elements that helped you to achieve these memories- what is different about the you that achieved all of those things compared to the you that is sitting here now? Knowing where you want your dreams to take you can help you to make the changes in your life today. It is unlikely you will dream of attributes that would make you uncomfortable so you will not be looking to move the boundaries in the wrong direction. For example a person who wants their dreams to be of being the head of their school will be someone who wants challenge and advancement but not someone who wants the uncertainty of a self-employed lifestyle. Many people find themselves encouraged by others to take the path they (the friend) have taken as they have found satisfaction in that path but you may be very different and should take your path because it is the right one for you. Dream, plan push the boundaries but in a way that is right for you
RoR winner Cheryl Jackson
From the archive -Anchoring (2)
Once you understand Anchors, the next stage is to start to identify what yours are and to create new positive ones for situations where you want to perform at your best. Perhaps there was a moment where a parent or teacher said to you “you can do this” which made you feel 10 feet tall or there was that moment where your horse responded to your aids almost before you asked when you felt as one with him. Those are the feelings you want to anchor and reproduce.
Decide on a trigger that you can use at anytime- a slow eye blink, pressing the thumb and first finger together, the first few bars of a tune you could imagine or even hum, saying words like “I can do it” - something that doesn’t interfere with what else you are doing. Now practice associating the trigger with the positive feeling that you had in your earlier experience, focus on the detail of the experience and make your movement/hum your tune or say those words that are going to be your trigger. Repeat it several times until you can make the association easily. Then try using the anchor when you are doing something ordinary- perhaps when you are making your bed or grooming your horse, does this trigger bring back those positive feelings? Once you have practised it enough and it always gives you the desired positive feeling then you are ready to use it in competitions or those times when negative feelings usually creep into your mind.
Christine Kershaw with Uri
Goal of the Month May 13 Affirmation
When you encounter an attitude which is difficult to change or a self doubt that crops up regularly, stop and take a moment to verbalise what it is that you are actually thinking. Express it in as simple a sentence as possible. Then work out the opposite of that sentence and that will produce a personal positive valid affirmation. In effect you are changing a negative statement for one that affirms that an opposite quality is already beginning to emerge. Let us look at an example, the self doubt could be “when I am at a competition I worry that everyone is better than me”- replace this with “ When I am at a competition I am not interested in the other competitors and only concentrate on what I need to do” or “When my horse begins to misbehave I become tense and find it difficult to ride” can be replaced by “ When my horse starts to misbehave, I take the rein low by my knee to bend him to the inside and ride him strongly with my inside leg to regain his attention ” Work out what are the self doubts that you experience most and practise replacing them with new affirmations. As you practise them you will find that you begin to drive a wedge between your old negative self-image and the new one you are cultivating. They work even better when reinforced by aright brain technique such as mental rehearsal. Think of an image that is the visual equivalent of your new affirmation and practise the visualisation and affirmation alternately. Verbalising the affirmation out loud is even better(but probably not on the train!) - saying it aloud to your image in the mirror is a strong confirmation as is saying it under your breath as you are riding especially when the problem or area of self doubt occurs. One of the most famous people to develop a strong self affirmation was Muhammad Ali and his “I am the Greatest” but you may want to start with something a little less ambitious!