Common expectations for performance coaching: you win when you get the medal
I recently had that moment that a lot of athletes can relate to and what performance coaching is trying to train an athlete,a business CEO or artist. You prepare for a competition. Hard. You get yourself mentally and physically as ready as you can, you do your own “performance coaching“. You set your goals, pump up the confidence. When you win, it is all good (unstoppable athletes though are never satisfied). Yes, you know others do the same. When you lose the competition, you are a loser? Right? It definitely can feel so and seem so to the outside world, but for a true competitor this way of thinking would not support thriving. So performance coaching, while meant to raise performance is not actually so much about winning others but winning yourself.
In my case, I know that my level is far from the other kayakers (my sport) level. I knew I most likely gonna be the final person to cross the finish line. Knowing that has allowed me to focus on me and my training. I have lost for three years now and if I’d take that losing as losing, I would not be competing anymore. Instead, I have found my challenge in there.
Winning yourself and you win the competition
So the competition starts. It was second distance (first was 1000m kayaking, second 500m). I had lost the first, as expected. Then the 500m started, I pushed real hard to get a quick start, I noticed I can keep tale of the girl next to me, so I did. I know I have strength, just my technique and ability to cope with waves is bad. I was really holding my speed, I felt my balance was there and it was there for longer than usual. So hope came up. I heard the people supporting her on the shore yelling, her name, pushing her – I imagined it was for me :). Then I heard how all the other girls one by one, finished the sprint and I felt the small waves come, I also realized I am too close to the other contestant and caught her wave and I was frozen. It took me 40 seconds to recover and put full power again and by that time, she had got some huge lead. But, I pushed forward and I kept saying: it is not over til its over (not in those words) and I pushed few meters over the finish line to be sure.
It was the first time in my kayaking life to feel that kind of an effort for most of the sprint for short distance (long distances are easier for me). I broke down in tears still in kayak. I literally had given my 100% (actually 97% as my Polar watch told me). I don’t think I have ever reached that effort. I felt like I had won the whole d*** thing. Why?
What to do to perform your best?
I think the next points show how the mentality of a performer should be to win.
a) I was competing with myself. And I won some of my fears, my effort and my speed. The result was one of the best I have had in competitions for 500m.
b) I know somebody now knows I actually can win them. So I am sort of a small threat :). It feels so good to know you have the strength and others know it.
c) I was fully concentrating on my skill, my ability and enduring the whole competition as best as I can and to learn something new.
d) Mostly, I overcome my own fears. First, the site the competition was held was a place I had feared (I was blessed with good weather), I felt ease going on the start line, I managed to not fall in, and I actually felt no fear on the water at all. If you have followed my journey in kayaking you know that I have a fear of water while on a kayak that I am struggling with. This was the first competition that yes, I was not 100% balanced but I did not feel the frustration of fear, more like frustration of inability.
How you know you have won
1) The emotion don’t lie. You feel proud of yourself and for your effort.
2) You feel motivated to get better. I already knew 3 things I needed to practice to get better.
3) You do not use excuses and blame others. Look, there was plenty I could blame the organizers with. But the only thing I keep in my head is that: Win no matter the odds – that’s how you know you are unstoppable and in it for the skill and excitement of getting better. Kayaking is a fun spot because on a competition so many things can influence your result: wind, waves, the lane you get.
That’s where performance coaching comes handy: I learn and train to focus on things you can control. – Liisi Toom, performance coach
Performance coaching for winning yourself
I have been in the performance training or psychological skills training or mental skills training – how ever you call it, for about 1-2 years now. I wanted to use it on myself first and seeing the results, I started coaching it to athletes and also business people who need the support and structure to keep them in check and focused on their own performance development while keeping the mind sane and relaxed. I trust the process. The process can be different in content or results for different people, but it truly helps us to work better, be more satisfied and through that build more results that are important to us. Sports, creative and business world is so full of expectations from others, high hopes and that can be a huge barrier to actually working with your skill and give your best performance. So, if you feel like you are stopping yourself or you don’t understand why the results (be it athletic performance, business achievement or free flow of creativity) doesn’t come, lets see if we can open up your inner motivation and get clarity on why you are actually doing what you do. Then you can start making plans and dare to dream bigger. If that’s what you want.
Contact me today to start your clear path to enjoying the rush of winning no matter what!
Off to training now!
PS: Do share this post to anyone who is struggling, who feels like they are always last and are not getting ahead (of themselves and others). I hope this supports you to change your viewpoint. Do send me comments of what you think of my story! Any support to my kayaking journey is also highly welcomed :), I can do my own performance coaching, but I love to get some fandom as well!