Mindset Made Simple Tip #99 – The Power of Routines!
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Routines…they sound so, well, routine!
I think some of the athletes I do work with tune out when I mention the word because ROUTINE sounds boring…it sounds confining…it sounds like something you HAVE TO DO…yuck.
But as I told the teams I coach, the teams that do the mundane, the routine drills, those teams are championship teams.
Why? Because they are doing the little things that matter. They are repeating the behavior they want. They are training to ensure that they know exactly what to do when they need to do it.
If this is the case for physical training, why would it differ in mental training?
Here’s a bulletin I am sure you saw coming! It shouldn’t change. It may be more important to have mental routines that lead accompany our physical routines to reach our peak performance!
If you had a chance to watch the WCWS final game last week, you saw a great display of routines from both starting pitchers.
The routines looked very different. Oklahoma’s Jordy Bahl struts around the circle like a lion hunting prey. HERE is a great video of her pre-pitch routine. She looks almost identical in timing and routine in every video you will find.
Estelle Czech from Texas takes a very different approach. She walks less, but talks more…to herself! If you watched the game, you could see her lips moving on EVERY SINGLE PITCH.
Neither seems to be an introvert if we were to look at their MBTI scores. They both show great emotion and positive energy. But their specific routines serve each of them where they need it.
Czech pumps herself up with her self-talk…not only in her head but with her lips. Bahl pumps herself up with physical movement (and probably is talking a big game in her head as well, we just can’t read her lips!).
Both are very consistent in their approach no matter what the call or outcome. And both have found great success on the mound.
Both have developed a routine that prepares them to face the next pitch in an optimal state.
Routines are so much more than routine. Routines reduce anxiety, increase focus/reduce distractions, create comfort, increase consistency, reduce tension, enhance confidence and increase awareness.
I remember the routine of one of my college professors who also happened to be the #1 radio sales guy in Cleveland. Before every sales pitch he “performed” he did the same thing.
He made sure he was on an elevator or in a room by himself and he went through a set routine…sort of like a power pose with a loud “YES” roaring from his chest and he went through a short mental checklist on what he was about to encounter with the full expectation that we would follow his process that would then lead to his best chance of success.
As he was explaining his pre-pitch routine, I immediately thought “this is what athletes do, too,”…and musicians and so many others!
Kirk knew what he needed to do to get ready to work. Our athletes need to know the same thing!
Where do they need to be, both mentally and physically, to perform at the highest level?
All athletes say they have routines.
So do you. You have the routine of brushing your teeth before you go to be (or at least I hope you do😊).
But the question is, where is your mind while you perform your routine? When you do something over and over like brushing your teeth, are you present? Are you focused on the task at hand? Are you blocking out thoughts that are not helpful to you in performing that task?
If you are like me, the answer to all these questions is NO!
And that, I contend, is where our athletes are in their “routines.” They do things…dribble the ball three times before a free throw, take a practice swing and touch the outside corner with their bat, swing their arms to loosen their shoulders on the pool deck or bounce the tennis ball the same number of times pre-serve.
But where is their focus? Are they present? What are they saying to themselves?
Some athletes can’t perform until they do a specified number of (fill in the blank). Here is where we need to be sure we are separating superstition from routines. A pre-performance routine is there to serve the athlete. He or she should not serve it. It does not determine our success. It allows us to get into the right physical and mental state to perform our best!
Routines add structure to the time before (and between) performances, whether this means between games or between pitches or plays.
Think about that for a minute. Think about how much more productive you are when you have structure. Do your athletes get even better GPAs during the season because they have so much more structure in their schedules? Do you get more done when you have your calendar structured than on those days you don’t have a set plan ahead of time?
It makes sense. When we have structure, we are better. When we have a plan, we know where were are going, what is expected and what we are doing.
We cannot leave this to chance.
We aren’t going to walk into a competitive situation and say “I think I’ll think productively today no matter what happens” if we haven’t practiced or planned to do so!
What do routines need? (Do your athletes need someone like me to help them build their routines so you can go on about your job of doing EVERYTHING ELSE?)
Whoever helps them develop them, their routines need to be POSITIVE. They need to be RELEVANT. And they need to be SHORT (and repeatable, obviously)!
They also need to be reliant on very little except what you ALWAYS have with you, no matter where you play, no matter what the situation. This means, your routine must be able to be completed without the help of others or implements that may not be available at all times.
You can ALWAYS have a “go-to” mantra or power statement. You can always have a physical movement that you control in your own space. You can always watch yourself in your mind’s eye and see exactly what you want to happen. You can always talk to yourself (instead of listening to the “what ifs” or “I wonder what she is thinking” B.S. in your brain).
Routines can be so helpful to the consistency of play that it is important to encourage our athletes to start their routine again should they get distracted.
This “restart” is so important since we work in this continuous circle of APPROACH -->ACTION
--> RESULTS -->RESPONSE, then back around, the APPROACH is vital in setting up the action…and it helps dictate our response since we know we can regain control again, no matter what the result!
Building a routine seems so simple. But as you know, simple isn’t always easy. Simple still needs to be practiced.
For most of the athletes I work with, I give them a lot of leeway on how they will build their routines. However, with some, I give them specific things to try to get them moving forward in understanding how a routine will work for them. Some need that direction to get them going. Then they have something to compare their thoughts to as they create their routines.
Just like you and me, sometimes we need to be forced into things that will make us better…then we realize their value and build from there!
What routines would make you better? Whatever you decide, I think you’ll find the structure freeing. It seems counterintuitive, but it is true! Try it!
Manage the moments and have a great week!
P.S. Please remember to share the links below with your colleagues.
June 15 @ 11:00 am EST - Focus and Peak Performance FREE workshop for coaches/leaders – Click HERE
July 12 @ 12:00 pm EST – It Starts with You, Coach! FREE workshop for coaches and leaders – Click HERE
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