When, Why & How to Reflect
By Kathryn Mellon – iNSPIRE Psychologist
Sometimes no matter how hard you train and prepare for competition; it just doesn’t come together on the day. You fall off the beam, miss more tackles than you made, or you just couldn’t make your mark on the game. It feels like the whole world has come crashing down around you and you’re probably thinking to yourself, what’s even the point of going to training if I’m just going to play or compete like that.
STOP RIGHT THERE
At this point you have two options.
1: You can feel sad and angry at how you performed, lay blame on your coach for not preparing you enough, your mum about what she packed for you to eat and the random spectator who distracted you as you were competing. You can hold onto these feelings for the next week and become unmotivated to train, hard to talk to and not accept help from anyone who offers it.
2: You can feel sad and upset at how you performed, and then you can reflect. Was there anything you changed in the lead up to competition that may have affected how you competed? Were you in a good mental headspace before “GO” time and completely focused on what you needed to do? If it’s still a yes, keep reflecting. What can you take away from your performance?
Which one are you going to choose?
Of course, option 2 is easier said than done. So, my number one piece of advice is to REFLECT after every competition or game, good or bad. The way I like to have people do this is to have a competition journal and at the end of the day write down three things that went well and one area you would like to improve on. This can be big or small and as simple as – I made sure to shake the other team’s hand at the end of the game or I warmed up really well before I competed. Every competition or game may not be good but you should be able to reflect and find something good in every competition. Attitude is everything here.
Imagine if we decided to give up every-time something didn’t go well in life, even if it was just for a day or two. No one would ever achieve anything! What I’m saying is – it’s ok to get upset about having a bad competition. That’s human nature when we have worked hard for something. However, the way you respond after this initial disappointment is crucial. If you want to be the best or even if you are just working towards steadily improving, you need to be able to accept that there will be bad days. From there it’s about turning that disappointment around and focusing on what you can do.
Speak to your support systems – parents, teammates and coach about what happened. Did they see something that you may have missed? Plot your plan of attack for the next week of training around things you would like to focus on, be it mindset, skill training or overall performance. Continue your journal and make it a part of your every-day routine after training; three things you did well, one area you could improve. You may begin to see patterns, things you hadn’t taken notice of before that you can improve to give yourself that extra edge. Primarily though, use this as a tool to celebrate all your wins and finish each day on a positive note.