The Mental Game

The Mental Game Blog

Today I will approach the topic of motivation.   This can come in many formats.  I will only touch on a few.  Each individual has to find what works for them.  Here are some examples of things that can be used as motivation; words, proverbs and, phrases, music, stories, people and results.

When you use music it is important to note what kind of music you need.  I would create a playlist that would have good tempo, that I would use to help pump me up.  But I would also have a playlist that was made up of calming influences.  If I felt anxious for some reason or if I was just listening to music between runs I would choose calm music.  Music that would keep me relaxed.  If I needed to pump up the energy levels I would choose music with a quick tempo.  Some people like to get lost in lyrics and maybe sing to the songs and would choose something a little more old school with popular lyrics.  Some like to use music to keep their focus and energy during walk throughs.  I tend not to do this for reasons I have stated in earlier posts.  Any of these would be good choices for creating a playlist.  Make something that works for you.  I have had at times used music to pump me up in the afternoon when I feel tired.  Something with a quick tempo with popular lyrics are something I tend to go for in this situation.

Motivational words, phrases and proverbs are very personal.  So personal in fact that some choose to put them on their bodies in the form of tattoos!   Tattoos are good because it means that you have instant access.  If you don’t want to tattoo your body then you can always keep a list of sayings on your phone, tablet or even written down.  You can even have  a bracelet made that will be there to remind you.  These days there are lots of sayings to choose from.  People are always posting them on Facebook.  Pick something that strikes a chord with you.  At the Nationals this year and also at past Regionals, organizers have posted sayings around the venue.  If you like something you see then take a picture of it with your phone so that you have it with you.  There are websites with motivational sayings as well… just use Google or Siri!

Another form of motivation can be people.  This can come in the form of a special person in your life.  Someone you feel you want to perform well for because they have done something special for you.  Sports figures often refer to their moms.  This can also be someone who you know needs motivation in their life and your performing well will help them.

Looking at results can also be a motivating factor.  Before I go to this subject I will say that there are some that just don’t do well when they look at results.  For some this adds additional pressure and they may already be struggling with anxieties.  So I caution you that looking at results can be detrimental to some.  However, for others it can be a real confidence boost.  Knowing you are in “the mix” can be helpful to create a drive to do well in future agility runs.  At an event like the AAC Nationals, knowing you are in it can be very motivating.  Especially if you thought you were out of it.  Never count yourself out!  Anything can happen!  Especially in dog sports!  One year at the Nationals I was having what I thought was a difficult day on the Saturday.  After 3 events I was disappointed in how I was doing.  I was quite depressed because Echo and I had won Regionals and I expected to do well.  This was an Olympic year and something happened that help me turn my attitude but more on that later.  The thing is that I came prepared to give it my best.  Now, up to this point I was not one to look at results.  Kind of got superstitious about it.   Someone asked me if I had seen the results.  I went to look and it turned out that I was sitting third and was within striking distance of the 2 dogs in front of me!    Now I felt even better!  As a result we went on to have a terrific Sunday and we ended up winning!

I mentioned that you should not count yourself out.  I have had some disaster runs occasionally at these events.  Yet invariably I tend to still place.  Keep your chin up and your head in the game!  I know someone who had 1 disaster run and immediately counted themselves out.  They were quite vocal about it.  This particular handler and dog team were quite talented.  Turned out they had placed first!  There were other circumstances that year but the bottom line was they did finish first.

Stories also can be used for motivation.  They can be borrowed from someone else or they can be personal.  If it is something you can draw positive energy from then by all means use it to your advantage!  I mentioned that the year of Olympics I had a change of heart over night.  Here is that story…

As I already said my Saturday was what I thought was awful.  I am obsessed with the Olympics.  For that reason it was on the tv in the morning as I was getting ready for the competition.   The event that I was watching was men’s gymnastics.  The announcers were going on and on about a Japanese athlete who was considered a superstar in the sport.  He was expected to win gold.  They basically talked about it as though all he had to do was show up and it was his!  Except his routine was a disaster and that opened the door for everyone else.    A Japanese teammate went out and laid down a personal best routine!  He ended up winning the gold!  It was a reminder to me that anything can happen.  Go out and do your best and give yourself a chance to be in it!  That is what I did.  Watching that event gave me a whole new outlook.  I often remind myself of that story when I am competing.  That is how you can use a story for motivation.

Each person is different.  Motivation can come in many forms.  Choose what is best for you and it can help you gain an advantage.  It can help you stay focused and up your drive level as well!