Get It Together, Upstairs!

3 Tips To Improving Your Mental Game

Get It Together, Upstairs!

Get It Together, Upstairs!

3  Tips To Improve Your Mental Game


Outdoor Show Season 2018 is right around the corner for us arctic dwellers, and you know what that means…it’s time to get your game on in the ring; your mental game.  I don’t know about you guys, but its not exactly an easy task for me, personally, to get my head in the game (how much laundry you have to do is not an important thought riding into your first 1.20m!)  Having a stellar competitive edge and mental game is not easy for most people, no matter what your sport of choice, as a matter of fact your mental toughness is probably the toughest skill to master, even for the elite.  Because I have needed all the tips and help I could get including skills, techniques and advice on how to up my mental edge as a competitor I figured since we’re literally dawning on Show Season 2018, I wanted to share with you some of my most valued learned knowledge that has helped me conquer my ring side nerves.  After all, if you can “get it together upstairs” you’re going to be an unstoppable force. 


1.     Self Talk.  This is numero-uno for me.  What I mean is, it’s the number one thing I need to personally focus on all the time, just as much as my riding.  How you talk to yourself plays a large portion in your performance.  If you’re ring side thinking, “I’m not sure I can do this” you’re doubting your homework and you’re launching your mind into survival mode instead of game mode and as a result, your homework is going to fly out the window when you need it the most.  So, its imperitive to learn how to initiate new thoughts and self talk.  Be constantly reminding yourself of the things you are good at and confident doing and mentally practice your homework before you enter the ring.  Tip: Visualizing the execution of your ride to the difficult tasks ahead is a powerful tool to use/learn.  (if you’re a really good visualizer, visualize that ride so vividly it almost feels like you’ve already done it before.  Seriously, this really does work! Your mind is an incredible tool that you’re definitely not using to its full potential.)  Make great self talk a new habit, you’ll be surprised how quickly your attitude and execution blossom when the pressure is on. 


2.     Don’t Obsess.  There is nothing wrong with a mental replay, as a matter of fact this is very important to do because it shows you have a capability to be present under pressure.  But like too much of anything, too much replay typically over evaluates the negative and not the positive.  If you find yourself in an obsessive state, about taking that eager flyer distance to the last fence costing you a rail, it’s ok, mistakes happen.   Obsessing over that replay isn’t conducive to later improvement.  Refocus on the excellent parts, walk away with a positive feeling about fences one through ten.  Tip: Make a new habit to replay the good parts that you rode away feeling incredible about and get comfortable putting the mistake(s) to rest. 


3.     Be Present.  Although this seems like such a simple tip, because we’re all literally “present” so to speak, being truly present however is a very valued and complex skill.  Being present means not allowing distractions, stresses and other external fears distract our ability to acutely focus on the task at hand all while under pressure / being judged.  The ability to be present in the warm up, just you and your horse, before entering the ring is absolutely challenging; you’ve got crowd and announcer noise, a constant count down, fresh horses and then you add a little wind and rain and poof, it’s like the first time you’ve ridden a horse.  We’ve all been there.  Tip: Take a moment to shut the world off, take a deep breath, force a ‘fake’ smile (this actually works) and give your horse a warm rub before you carry on.  This will change your universe under pressure.  Be present.  Make a point to remember and believe that you’ve worked hard for this and you are capable. 


May all of you have the most personally successful year!  Team Blue is rooting for you!


Natasha G


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