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Mon, 2012-05-07 10:47
Authored By: Daniel Stewart

Daniel Stewart Question & Tip of the Month

Question of the Month

Sydney asks "I get nervous when I show and want to get better but my schedule is so full I cannot seem to find the time to work on mental training.  Is there anything I can do? 

Finding the time to ride (in addition to work, school and family commitments) often leaves us with little time for anything else.  Since mental training makes our riding more successful and enjoyable, it's definitely worth the effort.  Ideally we would spend as much time working on our brains as we do our bodies, but when it is not possible even 5 or 10 minutes a day can prove beneficial.  Luckily there are several ways for us to find this time:

  • Multi Tasking- We can work on our mental preparation while riding (i.e. think of a motivating motto while going for a hack).  We can also use the time driving to shows, grooming, working on the ground, exercising, warming-up, cooling-down or stretching as mental training sessions.  
  • Time for 10- Ask yourself "What would I do if I had an extra 10-minutes a day"?  If your answer is to visualize your dressage test then wake up 10-minutes early to do it or do it while grooming your horse.  If you look for these 10-minutes a day (about 5 hours a month) you will find them.
  • Batch List- Batch your daily chores together so you will have more productive hours in your day (i.e. do your homework while riding to the barn with your parents so you'll have time to work on your mental exercises after dinner).
  • Honey Do and Honey Don't Lists- Schedule a few minutes each day to work on your mental exercises and treat them like any other important appointment in your calendar.  Write it in your day-planner for the same time every day and then write a list of things to avoid that waste your time (i.e. time spent watching too much TV could be better spent on things like setting goals).

Believe it or not we actually do have the time to work on mental preparation, we just need to be creative with the time we have so that we can use it to its fullest. It's been said that the four words that limit us the most are "I don't have the time" so in the future always remember to:

Take the time to make the time.

Thanks for the great question Sydney!  

 

Tip of the Month

What Drives You?

Like fingerprints, we are all unique. We have strengths and weaknesses that make us special and define who we are.  Often times the greatest difference between riders is what drives us.  Fear driven riders want very badly to succeed but lack the confidence to believe they can, instead of focusing on what they believe can happen they focus on what they're afraid might happen.  Likewise outcome driven riders base their self-worth on the outcome of their rides, instead of feeling good about their performance they focus on standings (who they beat and who beat them) and as a result worry about losing, embarrassing themselves, or not living up to the expectations of others.

A third kind of rider is the one who is success driven, unlike the other two these riders focus on what they must do in order to ride well.  They do not focus on the boulders blocking their paths but instead figure out how to climb on top of them so they can have a better view.  They are able to maintain a positive outlook because they embrace challenges as much as successes and battles as much as victories.  Like a toddler who treats everything as an opportunity to learn and who constantly falls and knocks things over, these riders have learned the same thing, falling and knocking things over are just opportunities to learn.

Riders can be classified in two other ways, feelers are those who make an effort only when they feel like it (when it is convenient and easy) or do not do things when they do not feel like it (like when it is hard).  The opposite of feelers are doers, riders who embrace challenges and refuse to let short-term discomfort or disappointment derail their efforts to achieve long-term success.  They believe in themselves and take responsibility for mistakes and missed opportunities and are therefore able to learn from them.  

One of the surest ways to improve as a rider is to identify any fear or outcome driven tendencies and then change them into a drive for success. Instead of waiting until we feel it might be easy we do it now even if though it might be hard.

When it comes to our riding we should always remember:

To get whatever we want we should do whatever it takes.

To submit a question or sign up for equestrian sports psychologist Daniel Stewart's newsletter, visit www.stewartclinics.com

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