De­velop a Pre-Com­pe­ti­tion Rit­ual

Dressage Today - - Arena News -

Q

I’ve heard that pre-com­pe­ti­tion rit­u­als in any sport of­ten help peo­ple find their fo­cus and get in the zone. I’m up for any­thing that can im­prove my per­for­mance so do you have any ideas for help­ful pre-com­pe­ti­tion rit­u­als? What tends to be most help­ful for ath­letes?

A

Cre­at­ing a rou­tine takes some thought, some prepa­ra­tion and then some prac­tice. Like any other habit, mak­ing your rou­tine au­to­matic will only hap­pen over time and with rep­e­ti­tion. Hav­ing a sim­i­lar rou­tine for your train­ing rides will help cre­ate this habit. First, start with the thought part by sit­ting down with pa­per and pen or pen­cil and writ­ing out what you cur­rently do to get ready to ride at home and at a show. You have to do this work and tough it out be­cause most peo­ple don’t like this part. Try not to judge it. Just try to get a clear pic­ture of your cur­rent set of habits. Get all the way through it be­fore look­ing back to as­sess it. Once you have a good idea of what you al­ready do, then think about what is work­ing and what isn’t. To de­fine “work­ing” and “not work­ing,” think about three things: thoughts, feel­ings and en­ergy. Does ev­ery ac­tion you take help sup­port your thoughts, which lead to pow­er­ful feel­ings, and does it con­serve en­ergy? Be like a teacher and take a red marker to any­thing you do or think that is not sup­port­ive.

Read more from sport psy­chol­o­gist Jenny Susser, PhD, at dres­sage­to­day.com.

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