I could fill volumes on this very topic. In this case I’ll be brief, so forgive me (or thank me). A combination between an interest in the subject and experience with some of the best in mental skills coaches and training during my baseball days has made this my “jam,” if you will.
I’ll get straight to it. Performance is black and white. Human beings are not. This basic observation makes for a hell of a relationship, and if you ask me it’s ripe for underachievement if not addressed.
Today you’ll have a chance to test your strength. Some of you will underperform simply because of things completely within your control, which is the tragedy we’re talking about today. Monday at the gym is best executed if you can get out of your own way enough to perform to your potential. Here are some tips:
1. Routine. When you make a PR attempt you’re most literally stepping into the unknown. You haven’t been there before (or it wouldn’t be a PR). Routines bring familiarity to the unknown. Maybe you haven’t deadlifted 250 pounds before, but if you approach that lift the same way you’ve approached a million deadlifts at lighter loads, you’re beginning to maximize your chances of success by controlling variables of the unknown. How do you think free throws get made?
2. Your Feelings Don’t Matter. This one is tough because if you’re reading this you’re a human being full of emotion. What I always say to athletes (most notably in baseball), is that you can have your emotions if you’d like, but you better get clear as to whether they are helping you or not. Chances are they aren’t.
Image you’ve just given your best effort on a back squat PR attempt and you fail. Now pouting, you change the weights out to begin looking for your press one rep max. Guess who isn’t going to show as well as they could in the press, too? You guess it: Emotional Guy!
As harsh as it sounds, you’ve got to be selfish. If emotion isn’t helping, get rid of it.
3. Don’t think. “It only hurts the ball club.” Today is test day. It’s time to perform and in the same way that no musician does sound check in front of a packed house at Madison Square Garden, this is not the time to get creative.
“What if I put my feet like this?”
Don’t even start. Don’t think. Work the plan.
4. Own the moment. Nothing, literally nothing, happens outside of the moment. Think about that for second.
Thinking about the future and/or analyzing the past only distracts from this moment. When it comes to peak performance, we’re trying really to find the intersection of ultimate preparation with ultimate challenge. It’s in this space that time slows down and the magical moments of sport made famous on ESPN happen.
You won’t do anything great with the past on your mind. The same is true for thinking about what you want to deadlift while you’re working up to your one rep max press.
This stuff is hard. Furthermore, I doubt anyone got good at just reading it on a blog, but, if you have the headspace for it, dig into these concepts. They take practice, so get to work.
1 RM Back Squat
1 RM Press
1 RM Deadlift