The Magazine March 2018

Reaching your performance potential

Posted 30th December 2019

Camilla Henderson explains the importance of effective goal setting and focusing on your beliefs to send you on your way towards competition success

Horse and rider at a competition

Your mind is one of the most powerful assets you can use to improve your performance. In fact, it’s one of the most talked about topics in sport. Sports psychology isn’t just for professional athletes – everyone can benefit from its techniques.

Getting started

It’s common to be lured into a downward spiral of negative reflection that inevitably leads to us blaming external factors for the way we feel. The role of a sports psychologist is to help prevent this decline by asking questions based around what you want to achieve, what that looks like and how you might go about it. This type of focus is productive and helps you achieve your goals – unlike the negative thoughts you might be plagued with.

No matter what level you ride at, the approach to problem-solving remains the same. Initially, it’s best to discuss the challenge, pick it apart and try to understand it, before putting an intervention plan in place, based around an end goal.

Understanding beliefs

Before you start on the journey towards your goals, you must first consider your core values and belief system, as well as the effect they have on your everyday life.

Your beliefs are the lens through which you see the world, and are based on your experiences and what you know about yourself. Sometimes, beliefs become unhealthy, and can distract you from your goals. Therefore, it’s important that before you start trying to change behaviours, you address any negative beliefs and restructure them to become more positive.

A few of these phrases might sound familiar…

  • I can’t do it
  • there’s no way I’ll get to…
  • I feel like giving up
  • but my horse is….
  • I’ve tried everything

Instead, consider the characteristics and attributes that are important to you, and how you want to be defined. Try to answer these “if someone was going to describe me, what would I want them to say?” – “my friends tell me I’m a brave rider, so I can be brave for this round of jumps”.

Don’t let negative thinking affect your potential, find out what changes you can make in March Horse&Rider, on sale 9 January.

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