When to Turn Your Brain Off

Most sports require a seemingly immense amount of focus and thinking. This type of focus can range from the technique of swinging a golf club to knowing who to block on a specific football play. For each of these, though, you should really only be thinking during practice and before the swing or play begins. In the heat of the moment it is time to turn your brain off.

When coaching novice olympic lifters this was always one of the issues I corrected right from the start. Too many athletes would step up and grab the bar in a way that showed they were actively thinking through every little detail about what they were going to do. My advice was to step out of the lifting area and think as much as they wanted to about the lift. BUT, once they were done they let all of those thoughts go, cleared their mind, and stepped onto the platform. At that time they simply walk up to the bar and lift.

Sports like Jiu Jitsu have this mindset baked it. Before stepping onto the mat you bow slightly and let go of the day entering a new clear and focused state of being. For many sports, a ritual helps the athlete get into this blank mindset dependent solely on pre-trained instincts. Basketball is a great example of this. At the free throw line players each run through their our own unique routine of dribbles and spins before making the shot.

Any of these strategies are great tools for getting yourself out of your own way. Many times we sabot our own success by thinking too much. Practice stopping the flood of thoughts today and let your instincts take over.

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