Check out the video below on the topic of neuroplasticity, the ability of your brain change in response to changes in behavior, emotion, thinking, neural processes and environment.
Performers strive to make their behaviors automatic, so that they are free to adapt and respond to the changing environment. This trusting mindset is developed in response to purposeful practice, All the times the man trained to ride his bicycle as a child and fell or his progression from tricycle to training wheels strengthen not only his confidence but the neural pathways that led to synchronization of multiple areas of the brain and body. By simple changing one element of the bike the neural circuitry was useless and a detriment. A detriment because the more you practice something and the older you get certain default patterns takeover and it becomes harder but not impossible to adapt, One reason the young boy was able to learn so quickly.
From an athletes perspective the video gives credence to brain's ability to change, while also providing insight into the challenge of making changes whether they be physical, cognitive, or emotional. The brain is designed to be efficient and it likes routine and consistency any foreign task needs to be met with practice and effort. The pitcher who is changing his delivery or the basketball player who is changing his shot will have the same challenge.
Special thanks to Rob Buonfiglio O.D. from Eye on Performance for sending this my way.
In advance of his highly anticipated bout with Floyd Mayweather tonight I wanted to share an interesting insight into the mindset of Manny Pacquiao as described in Sam Sheridan's The Fighter's Mind.
According to his trainer Freddie Roach, "Manny, he's been KO'd and he just says, 'There's always a winner and a loser, tonight just wasn't my night'. ..It didn't hurt Manny. It made him better. He learned from it, he knows it could happen, and most guys don't think it could ever happen.
This brings to mind of instructor Ricardo Liborio thoughts on accepting that loss can happen. When one can accept the possibility of loss Liborio believes they release unneeded pressure. Sheridan noted something durable about having a fatalistic understanding, which Roach attributed to his upbringing in the Philipines.
Prior to this year's NBA Draft a few beat writers reported on a conditioning drill the Boston Celtics incorporate into there pre-draft workouts. The drill nicknamed the "Boston Marathon" requires players to sprint the length of the 94ft court as any times as possible in three minutes. For those tracking at home the record is 29 times. A successful performance clearly demands peak physical conditioning, but the Celtics are very much interested in the view it offers of the player's mental makeup.
Celtics director of player personel Austin Ainge, quoted from the ESPN.com story linked above, said, "First of all, it shows conditioning level, obviously,but also your heart, your grit, your toughness. At the end of a workout, how hard are you going to push yourself?”
Both portions of this test are controllable. Each player can condition both his body and mind to withstand the intensity. There are conditioning strategies one could employ to enhance the physical side and there are certain thought patterns one could subscribe to that if used properly could increase focus and motivation to "push yourself" further. We will focus on those thought patterns, which should be productive in nature.
A productive thought is one that drives a player towards a performance gain. It is important to note that what is deemed productive is dependent on the athlete and task. As the assessment progresses more and more distracting thoughts could potentially enter each player's mind. For example, one's chest may begin to burn, pain may develop in the legs, or the athlete may simply lose interest because others are outpacing him. These stimuli all have the capability of high jacking their thoughts, which has a direct line to ones performance. To counter this an athlete could establish a clear goal and deploy practiced offensive and defensive self talk to remain on target. The clear goal could be a total number of lengths completed or segmented further to 1 length intervals.
The terms heart, grit, and toughness Ainge mentioned are not exclusive to a select few. To initiate the usage of mental skills open a dialogue with your athletes about their thoughts. There feedback will be an eye opener and begin the process of utilizing self talk strategies to enhance performance. A player will default to the level of his/her training. So utilize conditioning runs as a tool to not only promote physical conditioning but also mental skills.