What is winning?
For me to win or succeed in an activity is to carry it out in a fully conscious way and deploying all my potential, besides enjoying what I am doing regardless of the observable result.
Under normal circumstances it seems that winning by this definition can be easy, but what happens when I want to win when there is greater pressure, either external or internal?
We have all surely lived through one of these situations: The final interview for my dream job, the opposition test I have prepared with so much effort, or a presentation in front of an audience that imposes a lot of respect for me.
To a greater or lesser extent we have felt fear, nerves or as we want to describe that feeling of concern before the situation we are going to face.
It may be more or less unpleasant, but what is not the slightest doubt, is that if not “I own” the situation my ability to think and act will be negatively affected can occur that not “win” and much less reach a good result observable.
In the World of sport and specifically in tennis, players continually face situations like those described above, for example in the moments before playing a game in which something important for the tennis player is at stake.
Brad Gilbert, former tennis player and coach who was number one in the ATP Ranking, Andre Agassi, among many others, gives us his recipe to “become owner” of himself in the moments before a match in his book “Winning Ugly.”
Applied to our life, this same recipe could help us get out of many “nerves” situations.
Brad tells us about a 4-step routine:
- Breathe deeply
- “Move your feet (Happy Feet)”
- Look at the mark of the ball
When we are nervous or afraid, our breathing is altered accelerate. Physiologically, our body is preparing for a situation of danger. By breathing deep and paused, we are transmitting to our body a message of tranquility that will help calm our mind. It is No wonder that this resource is the basis of a large number of relaxation techniques.
“Move Your Feet”:
One of our body’s responses to fear is to stay paralyzed. In tennis the fear of failure makes “the arm shrink”, ie, no longer move with the same agility and strength that when we are calm. If we activate our body forcing to move the feet agilely, we will emerge from that “paralysis” and reinforce the message that everything is in order.
It speaks to us then to move our body, it can be to walk, to raise the head, to adopt a posture in which we “feel more able” to undertake the action that we set ourselves to carry out.
In an interview I can pay attention to my posture when I sit down, in a presentation I can move slowly from side to side in the room, to cite some example.
Your body can lead you to a different emotional state, as there is a connection between body, mind and emotion.
Look at the ball mark:
Despite all that we have done so far, it is possible that our mind will continue to play tricks on us, making incursions into the future and imagining everything that could happen, good or bad. The fact is that it will remove me from the present moment preventing my total concentration in the game.
Therefore I will look for a while on the mark of the ball as it comes flying towards me. This requires a great concentration, because the ball is usually spinning in the air and it is not easy to see the mark engraved on it. The advantage is that while I think about seeing the brand I don’t think about what might happen in the future and I focus on the game.
Listen to what you are asking the interview and try to perceive how it feels, look at the audience during a presentation instead of trying to imagine what they will be thinking of you and go to them with curiosity, put the focus on some external aspect You can watch. The key is that your mind can’t put the focus on two things at once.
Although it may sound strange, singing can also be a resource to calm nerves, because it produces an emotional state that can favor us. Obviously it depends on what we are doing, it will not always be possible and in any case, it will be a song for ourselves, internal. Again the body, in this case the voice, can lead us to a more appropriate emotional state to play (go from fear to joy, for example).
So far the “tricks” that have worked for Brad Gilbert.
One or some may work for you or you can look for others that work for you, but the key is that you can do something to reduce the level of nerves and therefore boost your performance and “win.”
The players have good and bad days, but they can get to “win” although the observable result (2-6, 3-6 in the scoreboard) does not speak of victory.
Having deployed their best game, if the challenger wins the victory he can continue to talk about “he has won” in the face of himself.
I encourage you to try and find your own recipe for “winning”.