5 mental skills you can work on right now

By Annette Paterakis

As an athlete we’d like to always be in control and have everything work out exactly as we planned. However, the reality is that there are many things that can go wrong, throw us off guard or at least, turn out differently. Often – even when we know better – we spend a lot of energy trying to change the things we can not change and neglect the things we actually do have power over. Here are 5 skills you can always work on, no matter the circumstances.

1. Believe in yourself

When do you allow yourself to wholeheartedly believe in yourself and your ability to succeed? Is that once you have won a class, or once you have managed to proof yourself worthy in some special way? The truth is, we need to turn it around and realize we wont get consistent results until we start believing in ourselves. The best riders also had to start as an amateur one day. When going up a level or riding your first Grand Prix, you might feel like you don’t belong there. My advice would be to fake it until you do belong there and believe in yourself regardless of your track record.

2. Show up like a professional

Another skill you have full influence over, is how you show up every day. Do you stop training when you get tired? Do you slack when nobody is watching? Do you get angry when things don’t go your way? You don’t need to be at the top of the ranking list to have a work ethic like a professional. But if you work and act like a professional it’s much more likely you will climb your way up the ranking list.

3. Learn to let go

Have you ever noticed that when we feel like we deserve to get better horses, results or sponsors because we work so hard or because we are such great riders, it often doesn’t happen? Things don’t fall into place because we deserve them to be. If we can’t be happy without the ribbon or certain result, it means we put too much pressure on ourselves, and perhaps also our horses. Instead, stay grateful, give it your all, work really, really hard and then LET GO!

4. Prepare like a professional

Imagine there are five riders, and only four can make it on the team. All five riders have been performing consistently over the past few shows. Who do you think the Chef d’equipe will choose on the team? Is it the one who is always late? The one who forgets her boots for the course walk? Probably not. So remember, if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Therefore, make sure you have a clear plan, and to always have enough time to prepare yourself, your team, your gear and your mindset exactly the way you want.

5. Change your habits (read more in previous blog)

If you’re still not happy with certain results or aspects in your riding, it’s time to change your habits. If we keep doing the same things but expect a different result, we are fooling ourselves. The only thing that sets the best apart from the rest, is that they have different habits. They don’t settle for mediocre. They take full responsibility and completely control their controllables. So instead of waiting for the right circumstances, they start each day with habits that get them in the right mindset. For more inspiration on healthy habits, check my previous blog “10 habits of mentally tough riders”.