Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sports psych and Food addiction

Before starting this post take into account that this information is coming from studies of credible science based information and been reviewed w/ a renowned sports psychologist and behavioral therapist. 

It's widely agreed upon that 90% of any game is mental, which means 10% is technical. 

So why then do we spend more than 90% of our time on technique and less than 10% on the mental side? 

This is the newest video I did w/ the news and goes through some of what I notice in the relationship between mental health and progress in sports and workouts. 

Much like suns damage to skin, it's already done. We learned as children and have a lot of reps over the years. Reacting (small/large) to our experiences w/ anger, anxiety, shutting down, running away, giving up, etc. These reactions are based on fear, and it's not about getting rid of the fear. We ALL have to have it, fight or flight is built on fear and w/o this portion of our reptilian brain we wouldn't survive. 

Extreme example, but we're all reacting in much more mild ways (could be a small habit we don't know about) throughout our day, the idea is to recognize when and then refocus.

We need fear, it's presence is NOT the issue. The issue is how we manage it. Acknowledging it, learning about ourselves, recognizing it, and refocusing for continual improvement. We all have and need this, no one is exempt, and the best are the people that acknowledge and learn to manage it.

It's also very real. Most of the time this stuff sounds like hocus pocus bullshit, but it's deeply rooted in our psychology and our biology. There is a mind body connection that we CAN MEASURE. This is the science behind Omegawave. Cortisol and adrenaline in blood, heart rate variability, grip strength, vertical jump, are all measurable and directly related to the biology - psychology connection. The body doesn't differentiate between stress: a fight w/ a friend, hard day at work, football game or a broken bone, stress is stress. 

It's hard work that takes time, as well as a coach (we're too good at tricking ourselves or suppressing it to figure it out on our own). Much like a baseball pitcher changing throwing mechanics. It takes 1,000 good reps before a change in technique is made permanent w/o thinking about it, and that's w/ a coach there delivering feedback. The pitcher can't watch his arm action and throw the ball at the same time, his mechanics would never change, and he probably wouldn't know there's anything to improve. 

It's recognizing when we feel these reactions, then accumulating good reps. No one is perfect, we all stumble, but we have to learn from each time. 

So when you subconsciously grab that handful of candy/comfort food, and eat it only to realize what you've done 5min after or don't know why you want it so badly, don't label it failure, learn from it and move fwd. Talk about it w/ your coach. Get deep w/ a behavioral therapist about what's really going on up stairs. S/he is the coach giving feedback on the arm action during the pitches. Your behaviors are the pitches and your mind is the arm action, and it could be clear down to foot placement. But you can't see it, and you never will on your own. 

A few sports psych things to think about: 

Anger is an aggressive display to push others away from seeing our fear. As kids we're taught that being afraid is weak and shameful. From the logic side of the bystander, we show anger to create distance so others wont see that we're afraid. Afraid to be afraid b/c fear is weak. This is unreasonable. 

Could be fear of failure, who knows, but that athlete has no idea why they're mad let alone that they're scared. Think of that the next time you see a football player throw his helmet (he didn't perform good enough, fear of failure). We'll never play up to our best potential when we're angry. Too much internal focus, can't think. We can feel or we can think, not at the same time. It's about management and learning through repetitions, the sooner we can start recognizing this and performing GOOD reps the better. 

Anxiety can be seen two ways. It's a call to action, to make a decision, to be courageous (do the right thing even if it's not the feel good thing). Or a fear that we wont be good enough. Wont perform well enough, aren't big enough, strong enough, smart enough, fast enough, successful enough, etc. This is where perfectionists, workaholics, and cortisol addicts live. 

Why get nervous before a wrestling match? It's an opportunity to showcase all the hard work. It should be exciting, amped up, ready to go. Instead we get nervous and scared of not being good enough to win so athletes compensate that w/ anger to hype up that way. Now there's some fake courage to take into the match, not enough external focus, and too much internal focus, so can't think. Athlete's should be excited, not scared. Excited is when they'll perform their best and that's when they'll have the best experience. 

The passive athlete is so scared to do their best that they wont even take the bat off their shoulder. It's a depressive's attitude. Hoping for the world/others to satisfy them. In this case that'd be a walk from the pitcher and/or umpire. Trouble is the only other outcome is to strike out. Home run, hit, walk, or an out. 3/4 is a lot better than 1/2. Especially when the 1 (a walk) isn't all that great. No risk, no investment, no reward. 

The outcome of a competition is dependent on if the best an athlete can do that day is better than their opponents best that day. It's not a cop out. Any day this can go both ways. The whole "control" thing is an illusion, the more fear we have, the more we attempt to control. It's not about controlling anything, it's about performing up to a personal best that day. Could have the flu, could have something happen in your family, could've failed a test, official could make a bad call, doesn't matter. We want the best possible performance in that competition that day, and that's enough, and that's where we get to enjoy our experience. It's not a cop out, it's the best you can possibly do. 

It's all about managing these fears, and through that we can start learning from our repetitions. 

Then we're enjoying playing and working out more, doing so for the right reasons, and making more progress than we thought we could all b/c we can be aware and recognize our fears and then better learn to manage them for not only progress in sports, but also in life. There's a lot of carry over that we learn from sports. 

We'd be better athletes that have a better experience. We'd be better coaches and better parents. Stand up w/ better posture, more progress from workouts, live more fulfilling lives, we'd be enough for ourselves. Not content, but our best would be enough.  

If we started this well before 12yrs old, we'd change the world. 

-This blog is written w/ the help of Morrie Adams a renowned sports psych and behavioral therapist.