Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Emotions when racing

Tim kindly allowed me to contribute to his blog... a different perspective... Thanks Tim, hopefully you won't regret it!! I felt compelled to write today because I was recently asked for some advice on how to handle intense emotional reactions on the golf course. If you've ever played golf, I am sure you are familiar with the roller-coaster of experiences that sometimes come from this frustrating, yet addictive game. I thought about the uniqueness of golf and how important it is to keep your anxiety in check when playing: anger, frustration, even over-confidence can wreak havoc on your attentional focus. Endurance athletes don't require the same level of precise skill in order to execute their "game plan" however, the emotions that you experience out on the race course have similar impact in terms of derailing your focus. I advised my friend to choose his emotional state PRIOR to stepping onto the golf course. In other words, he should decide exactly how much anxiety he would allow himself to feel and give himself a narrow window. Confidence comes from being calm and quietly attentive (that is borrowed from Mark Allen) not from being ego-driven. If you watch the best of the best athletes, you will often see that their emotional profile is very narrow. They do not stray far from their optimal level of arousal. The amount of anxiety that you are able to handle is totally unique to you. Performing well is a matter of actively choosing the level of emotion (which goes hand in hand with anxiety) that you will maintain. If this means writing notes on the back of your hand to remind yourself of how you WANT to feel, do it! I have often considered some type of tattoo on my wrist as a reminder but that might be going a bit far.