Countless acronyms have been cleverly created from the word ‘fear’. For this discussion, F.E.A.R. stands for: Fateful Emotions Achieve Regret.
- Fateful: The dominant fear, for which others fall under; fear conditioned by the unknown.
- Emotions: Fear conditioned by perceptions of what others think.
- Achieve: Fear conditioned by thoughts of success.
- Regret: Fear conditioned by thoughts of failure.
Purpose indicates conscious intention through a committed self. Clear, rational thinking underscores deliberate behaviors and actions, and affirms commitment toward a plan for the now. Those who lack purpose can lack genuine self-awareness, and suffer from irrational thinking.
With time expired in the 2005 Conference USA basketball tournament finals, Darius Washington of Memphis stepped to the free throw line trailing Louisville by two points. He had three free throw opportunities to win the game.
With great focus and confidence, Washington sank his first attempt, after which he made a throat-slashing gesture toward his bench to signify he would finish the next two, as well. Washington proceeded to miss both free throws, and Louisville won the game by one point.
Competition can be a great teacher of humility: when athletes affix their eyes on the finish line they can lose sight of what’s right in front of them.
It appears that Washington’s presumptuousness blurred his focus in the N.O.W., because there’s No Other Way (N.O.W.) to achieve. Performers of every discipline must be eternally focused on the task at hand. When centered in the moment, mind-body memory can perform free from conscious distractions. Tap into your unconscious self and allow it to execute rehearsed movement patterns. For, the best performers master the ability to get out of their own way.
In 1978, at age 73, accomplished tightrope performer Karl Wallenda attempted a 121 foot high walk between two towers of a hotel in Puerto Rico. Wallenda had a lifetime of successful tightrope experiences, each achievement further immortalizing him as the greatest of his generation.
Tragically, Wallenda lost his balance, and fell to his death. In an interview following the tragedy, his wife was quoted as saying, “All Karl thought about for four months prior to the walk was not falling. It was the only time he’s ever thought that way. He normally concentrates on walking the rope, not falling.”
Your thoughts dictate your emotions and actions. Attune your inner eye to the achievable, task-specific areas within your control, and never what you don’t want to do.
Keep this in mind – what you see will be. When left unchecked, thoughts of failure can manipulate coordination, and affect emotional control. Be task (not outcome) oriented, and you’ll strengthen focus, confidence, and emotional control. Task-orientation involves focusing on executing the tasks needed to achieve. Whereas outcome-orientation centers on performance results, and are conditioned by thoughts of success or failure.
To help drive forward task-oriented thoughts, attune your mind to the fundamentals. Become your best self coach, who provides clear instruction involving technique execution. Task-orientation is critical. It narrows focus on what’s needed to achieve, and allows you to disengage from the lure of outcome-oriented areas. Make your tasks primary and you’ll be immersed in the moments.
Also, when emotional arousal becomes unstable, center yourself using a rehearsed breathing and relaxation technique.You can practice this using simulated training exercises. Create situations where thoughts of failure have affected performance in the past. Rather than shy away from negative thoughts, confront and embrace them so you’re better able to control them. Center yourself by rehearsing a breathing and relaxation technique, then re-direct your thoughts to the simple, manageable tasks you master in this performance scenario. Narrow your focus on these tasks, instructing your body to perform the vision your mind sees. See it precisely how you will execute it. What you see will be.
5 Finger Command
- Purposeful process: Each shot is critical. Therefore, absolute purpose must drive your thoughts and behaviors in planning your next shot. Be thorough and precise in your plan, and adhere to your pre-shot routine independent of shot significance and variables.
- Control the controllables: In performance, only a small percentage is within your control. As soon as the ball takes flight you are relieved of your duties for that shot. You may consider the many factors influencing your approach and how you adjust to them, but you may not manipulate them.
- Focus on task: When standing over the ball your single most important job is to effectively allow yourself to perform with confident and fluid mind-muscle memory. This involves releasing all thoughts not pertaining to the tasks required to connect with the ball the way you want to.
- Confidence in flow: You are performing with full confidence at the start of your backswing. Allow yourself to flow effortlessly through this optimal confidence.
- Accept reality: Whatever happens, happens. Accept the conditions of the ball’s lie, and prepare yourself to begin the process all over again.
1. Release: Give yourself permission to let go of what’s occurred in the past. Unless you have a time machine there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Let it go!
- It’s advisable that you utilize breathing and relaxation techniques. They can aid your ability to let go of past moments and enter a relaxed and focused mind-body state, so you’re best prepared for the now and moments ahead.
2. Plan: You’re preparing for your next shot and your focus must be clear on what needs to happen now. In addition to supporting technique execution, this involves initiating your optimal performance state so you’re ready at the start of your pre-shot routine.
- Remain focused on your plan, but immerse yourself in your breathing. How you breathe can indicate and/or influence your thinking and behaviors. Focusing on your breathing also enhances self-awareness, allowing for more coordinated movements. Additionally, it helps unlock the unconscious mind-muscle memory supporting ideal performance execution.
3. Trigger: With a task-oriented focus, your trigger initiates your commitment to the shot.
- Develop the use of a visual, verbal, or action-oriented trigger. This serves as an ignition switch to narrow your focus and maximize your confidence. There’s a good chance you already do something out of habit that works well for you. If so, examine its purpose and effectiveness, and either strengthen it through purposeful practice, or change it up for something more effective. The objective is to use something which locks you in to the tasks needed for successful performance execution.
If you truly want to achieve on a consistent basis, do yourself a tremendous favor: perform with a purpose that enhances the controllables, keeps you in the N.O.W., and is rooted in task-orientation. Between every shot apply your 5-finger command and your R.P.T. routine cycle. And bottom line, thoroughly embrace and enjoy each and every moment!