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Mental preparation: The secret to excellence during universe point

September 15, 2020

Mental preparation: The secret to excellence during universe point

The secret to excellence during universe point

Why is a universe point different from other points?
Because the stakes are higher.

A universe point offers us immediate feedback on the quality of our performance. Time slows down or accelerates, you become much more aware of your thoughts, emotions and what is happening in your environment. A mistake is multiplied by ten, and every moment, every action, every decision counts.

The factor that causes 90% of mistakes at critical moments

Most of the time, mistakes are caused by a lack of concentration.

Your brain has the extraordinary ability to travel back through time. It can direct its attention to the past, present, or future.

Travelling back to the past is useful to learn lessons that are relevant to our progress and evolution.

Travelling into the future is useful in creating our vision, setting our goals and intentions, and developing strategies to achieve them.

In an ideal world, these trips take place during times specifically dedicated to reflection and analysis. When it's time to perform on the field, it's much more effective to stay in the present moment, since all the information we need to act and make appropriate decisions is there: our feelings and emotions, and as the visual, auditory and sensory information provided by our environment. The present moment is also the “time zone” over which we have control. We cannot change the past, and the only way to act on our future is to be fully involved, to act and to make decisions in the present moment.

However, in sport, we have become so skilled at time travel that we do it at any time, sometimes unconsciously and very often in an uncontrolled way..

Some athletes travel more naturally to the past and others to the future. What about you? Do you tend to mentally review your mistakes over and over again without being able to let go? Do you tend to imagine the catastrophic consequences of a defeat or to dream of a medal during your performance?

3 attitudes to adopt to reduce your stress in competition

In important moments, such as a universe point, your stress is caused by doubt and fear of not being able to meet expectations, whether yours or those of others.

"I must not be the one who will drop the disc."
"I cannot let my teammates down!"
"I have to get the D, that's why I was called on the field."
"I am a captain; I have to lead my team to victory."

What do you think is causing this pressure on your shoulders?

The judgments you make about your actions and their results.

When you become frustrated because of a mistake, it is because you think that making a mistake is a negative thing. You stated an expectation, that of not making mistakes. Then, following your mistake, you made a judgment: it's bad. (click here to read my article about judgment)

But if you never made a mistake, you could not witness your progress. It would be impossible for you to set goals and objectives and, above all, to savor the pleasure of achieving them. You could not feel the sense of accomplishment associated with your success.

Sport is a continuous journey towards discovery and surpassing oneself.

Competition is a means, not an end.

It helps us evolve in sport and in life.
It makes us look ourselves in the face and become aware of who we really are.
It helps us discovering and breaking down the barriers we are building around us.
It pushes us beyond our comfort zone so we can transcend our limits.

As an athlete, we often perceive the match, the tournament, the championship final as an end in itself. As if it was our one and only chance to prove to the world and / or prove to ourselves that we could do it. A match is an opportunity to take a step in the chosen direction. Every defeat, every mistake gives us an indication on the direction to take for the next step.

When you see each game as part of a long journey called life, then you stop making judgments about each of your actions, your decisions. You observe every obstacle, every mistake to understand what it wants to teach you. You determine what you want to accomplish, you cultivate patience, and you stop having short-term expectations, or imposing immediate success on yourself, such as winning or being perfect.

Here are 3 attitudes to adopt to free yourself from stress, doubt and fear at critical moments:

  1. Develop a practice based on patience and non-judgment;
  2. Be aware of the importance of making mistakes to progress;
  3. Think of the result as an indication of the direction to take, not an indication of your value.

The secret to excellence during universe point

Some time ago, I heard this expression, which opened up new horizons for me:

Be a Dot.

What does that mean?

Imagine that you draw a hundred dots next to each other, what do you get?

A line :

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

On this line, each dot is independent of the previous and the next. If I draw a dot larger than the others, higher or lower, the next dot will not be affected.

Now, imagine that you draw a timeline using dots, and that you include the past, present, and future:

The dot in the center of the magnifying glass is your present moment. This is where you are now, at the universe point. This dot is completely independent of the past and the future.

When you start your universe point, everything is fine. You are in full command of your abilities. But when you connect to a dot in the past (the player I was covering scored the point, that player is really too fast for me) or to a dot in the future (what will others think if I make another mistake), you open the door to doubt and you reduce your chances of performing to your full potential.

When you judge your past performances (I missed my throw on the last point, I'm really bad under pressure), your expectations, and the result you think you absolutely must get in the future (I have to win this game, we cannot lose against this team), you create thoughts and emotions that could distract you during your universe point.

Be a dot.

The present moment is a simple dot. It does not need either the preceding dots nor the following dots to exist. Doubts, negative thoughts, and emotions arise when you connect the dots and form a judgment about that connection. When you live every moment without fear of the future, without judgment about the past, it is then that you give the best of yourself in critical moments.

Why is a universe point different from other points?

At the beginning of this article, I said that it was because the stakes were high. That is not quite true. Rather, I believe it's because we choose to perceive a high stake in this situation.

Become a dot. Live your game one dot at a time, one moment at a time. Remember that each dot in the past has allowed you to reach the present dot, and that each moment is a new beginning, a new opportunity to grow and advance towards your goals.

For more tips, visit my blog and download my free ebook for coaches!

Bio: My name is Guylaine Girard and as a coach and mental trainer, I believe that sport is an extraordinary tool to inspire greatness, not only in athletes but also in human beings. In my work, I always want to empower people, because I know that once you have taken control of your life, your performance can skyrocket. I have been involved in the sport of ultimate for 12 years. Head Coach of the Royal (AUDL) in 2016, I also coached many teams in the junior, open and women streams. For 25 years, I have been helping passionate and dedicated athletes and coaches develop their mental tenacity and leadership so that they can achieve their dreams. My real passion is to make people aware of what is blocking them in achieving their goals and then give them practical and effective tools to move forward.