Peak Performance Blog

The Performance Scale


When asked to evaluate our ability to perform a specific task, most of us can easily rate ourselves. We either think of a scale (1 to 10) or compare ourselves with other individuals (better than Tom, not as good as Bill). The interesting part of our self-rating mechanism is that we usually think of our performance level as being at a fixed point.

Looking a little closer and evaluating several of your performances together, you begin to realize that your ability and capacity to execute actually move up and down a scale. The range on this scale varies based on a many factors. When everything is aligned correctly you may be able to perform at the upper level of your ability. On the other hand, if you suffer a setback during competition or personal issues are distracting you, you most likely will perform at the lower end of that scale.

The reason why physical training and skill practice are not enough to make you a successful performer is that they are only concern, with raising the upper limit of your performance scale. They only create the potential to perform at a higher level. This part of your training needs to be complemented with the learning and mastering of the mental skills required to keep you in that upper limit on a consistent basis.

Most of the time we think of a performance or mental coach as somebody who can help resolve major issues that are stopping an individual for realizing his potential. This perception misses the mark, because in reality we all have circumstances, personal characteristics or issues that impact our ability to focus during practice and to do our best during competition. It is here where the help of a coach is valuable. A coach can partner with you to identify and handle the list of smaller things that rob you of the opportunity to leverage the results of your practice and skill development.

There is a reason why highly successful individuals continue to work with performance coaches. They know that learning how to make the most of every practice and being capable of handling different circumstances during competition will be the difference between winning or losing on the field.

Most importantly many of those individuals have become successful by working throughout their careers with their performance coaches. They have made sure that they were able to leverage as much as possible the skills and physical abilities that they were developing.

How about you? Do you feel that you are getting the most of your current practice? Do you know that you are not leaving anything on the table when it comes to performing at your highest possible level day, in and day out?

If you have any questions on this or any other mental performance topics, hit me in the comments or email me at peakperformance@eastgatecrossfit.com.

Ramon Davila
Your Peak Performance Coach

Points of Reference. A tool to create memories


One of the biggest contributors to your level of confidence in a specific situation is having previous positive experiences on similar circumstances. The fact that you have been there and done that, allows you to stop worrying about whether or not you can handle the situation and to focus on dealing with it. Sometimes if the experience is intense or important enough, our body-mind can create links between the memories from that experience and a mental and emotional state. We call this links Points of Reference.
We all experience these points of reference in our lives, for some of you it could be the aroma of your grandmother’s favorite dish, or that place at the neighborhood where you grew up. Other times can be a song or a photograph. Whatever it is, we all have created these anchors that can quickly change the way we feel and interact with our external world.

The good news is that we can consciously create points of reference in our lives. As an athlete you can recreate potentially challenging situations in practice and associate empowering thoughts and feelings to them. For example, as a field athlete, you could practice on bad weather or at a numerical disadvantage. Individual athletes may practice on potentially distracting situations, like a noisy environment, or with less or more downtime that usual. The goal is to use this practices to go beyond physical training and work on developing an inner-dialog and emotional state that let you to perceive those situations on a positive way.

However there are situations that are very difficult if not impossible to replicate on the real world. We cannot always gather a large crowd to help us get the feeling of performing in front of an audience, or completely replicate the conditions of the actual competition day (judges, lights, opposing athletes, etc.). Even on those situations we can still create reference points via visualization.

Because of the way we perceive the world, our body-mind reacts similarly to images created from external stimuli (memories) and images created internally (visualization). With enough practice you can develop the ability to create full and vibrant mental images rich with sensory detail. Once you can create these types of images, you can associate mental states and specific feelings to them in the same way that you do to an actual memory. This allows you to create powerful points of reference.

Points of reference are one of the best techniques to make sure that just as your body; your mind is ready to meet whatever challenge you face in competition. Incorporating the creation of points of reference in your practice will help you adjust to difficult situations during competition and better yet use them to your advantage.

If you have any questions on this or any other mental performance topics, hit me in the comments or email me at peakperformance@eastgatecrossfit.com.

Ramon Davila
Your Peak Performance Coach

Practice with Intention


We have all read and heard the quotes about how important showing up is. It is true that consistent practice and a relentless desire to get better are key to improving in any endeavor. What we all seem to forget is that showing up goes beyond our physical presence in the practice. In order to truly create change and improvement, our mind has to be present and fully engaged on the effort.

Regardless of what happen before your practice, or what is waiting for you after it, you must find a way to honor your practice time and get the most out of it. A great tool for focusing your mind on the here and now so that you can have a successful practice is the idea of setting an intention.

Setting an intention let you consciously choose an specific short term goal to work on during the current practice. Weather it is a technical, mental or physical skill, an intention provides you with a clear focus and gives your practice an aim. Once you have committed to an intention, you have moved from just showing up, to getting something done.

Our practice time is always limited by many factors. It is important that we make the best of every opportunity. Before every practice, take a minute to get center in the here and now, choose an specific area to focus on and go to work on it. Focus your mind and make every practice count.

If you have any questions on this or any other mental performance topics, hit me in the comments or email me at peakperformance@eastgatecrossfit.com.

Ramon Davila
Your Peak Performance Coach

Hope and Mental Toughness


We all admire the stories of teams or individuals that manage to overcome what sometimes seem like impossible circumstances to come out on top. It is a thrilling experience to witness an athlete’s refusal to give up and the open challenge to the idea that all is lost, even when everything indicates that fact.

One of my favorite stories of comeback happened during the first game of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals between the New York Nicks and the Indiana Pacers. The Nicks led the game by six points with 18.7 seconds to go. The game, for all intents and purposes’, was over. You could tell that everybody in the building had move on to game two- everybody but Reggie Miller. In what many consider one of the most spectacular ending game scoring runs of all times, Miller manage to score 8 points in 9 seconds of regulation time to put the Pacers up by two and win the game. During those 18 seconds Reggie Miller was a great example of mental toughness and grit by maintaining an unwavering belief that they could still win, and a relentless focus on finding a way to achieve that victory.

What truly compels the effort, commitment, and drive to stay in the game when circumstances are stacked against an individual is the belief that victory is still possible, and the confidence that he can do what it takes to achieve it. I called that Hope.

I do not believe you can manufacture hope. As performers we need to step into whatever our field of competition is, believing that we can achieve what we set out to do. If you can’t start there you may as well go home. However there are factors that can help improve the odds of maintaining that hope when the tide turns against you.

Healthy Expectations:

It is very important for a competitor to develop a crisp definition of what is the ideal outcome for every event. While we need challenging goals, we also have to be able to believe that they are reachable. Make sure that you have a clear idea of what you are trying to get out of every performance and make that your focus regardless of the external environment.

Confidence:

While confidence starts with healthy expectations, it needs to be supported by the belief that we can weather the current circumstances. This in many cases comes from solid preparation. By recreating and performing under most of the adverse circumstances that we will face in competition, we create anchors that will help us eliminate doubt and hesitation at competition time. This can be complemented by using visualization to mentally recreate circumstances that may be hard to create in real life.

Focus:

We human beings have a natural tendency to focus on problems rather than solutions. When faced with a difficult situation during a performance we spend time trying to understand why is happening or regretting the mistakes that contributed to the situation. The best way to counter that natural tendency is to train ourselves to use a “Solution Focused” mindset. A “Solution Focused” mindset allows you to stop dwelling on the current problem, and instead try to identify an step or action that will generate immediate improvement on your circumstances. The simple question “What is one thing I can do right now to make this better?” creates a powerful shift in your mental state. By focusing on that question you will generate a positive feedback loop that will help you stay focused on taking action, and support the belief that you still have options for success.