“The expert in anything was once a beginner”
Use the following free tools to work on a more relaxed state using the breathing exercises. Increase your focus with a morning routine, creating habits to stay more in charge of your thoughts and mindset. And check the recommended reading list to further deepen your knowledge into peak performance.
Use these breathing exercises daily at home and at a show to help your body relax and build more resilience as well as creating a more focused mind. Start with the 5 minute breathing exercise. After two weeks or whenever you feel ready, you can use step 2, the 10 minute exercise.
My personal morning routine
You can use this morning routine for more focus and confidence.
Much of our behaviour, actions, decisions and even thoughts, are influenced by our habits. Therefore, start your day with the mood, mindset and motivation you WANT to be in all day instead of waiting for circumstances to maybe get you there.
1. 10 minute breathing exercise
4. Focus on 3 main aims for the day
Start your day with a breathing exercise or meditation (for guided breathing exercises, check the audio tools above) to train your focus and become more at peace.
For the next 5 minutes or so, you want to focus on 3 things you feel grateful for. Instead of just summing 3 items, really let them sink in and feel those positive emotions in your body.
After that, go through your affirmations 3 times. Affirmations are sentences that represent your mission statement or most important values. Going through these first thing in the morning will have an incredible impact on your confidence and mindset.
Lastly, instead of waiting for the right circumstances, you want to remind yourself of your top 3 things to get done or focus on today. This will help you be more productive and more deliberate with your actions.
Check list, where am I on U-curve?
For those who have already worked with me or read my book, you know about the inverted u-curve. For those of you who don’t know yet, here is a brief explanation.
Two psychologists called Yerkes and Dodson have studied being in flow, or the relationship between pressure and performance. They believe that performance increases with mental arousal (pressure), but only up to a certain point. When the pressure becomes too high, performance decreases. In other words, everybody needs pressure in order to perform well, but the amount of pressure depends on the task and is very personal. This process is best illustrated with the inverted U-curve.
Use these questions to help determine where you are (right now) on the inverted u-curve.
1. How am I feeling right now? Relaxed/ focused/ anxious
2. What do I need to get into my zone or flow? Adrenaline/ keep doing what I’m doing/ relax my body and mind
Recommended reading list
Here are books that I have really enjoyed reading and highly recommend you read as well. They all contribute to a better understanding of our minds, behavior and performance under pressure.
- Mindset – By Carol D. Dweck
In Mindset, you will learn how two very different mindsets can have a huge impact on whether you will learn and succeed or feel frustrated and – possibly – stop riding all together. This intriguing read is very recognizable and helpful in order to adopt a different attitude towards success, making mistakes, learning and improving your skills.
- Black box thinking – By Matthew Syed
This book will change your perception of failure and success. The author of Bounce reveals how failure is perceived very differently within different industries and clearly portrays the consequences of those attitudes towards failure. Reading this book will help you adopt a more helpful view of “making mistakes” in order to learn, grow and improve more quickly on the horse.
- Talent is overrated – By Geoff Colvin
As the tittle suggests, this book explains how talent is hugely overrated. Colvin reveals how different studies provide significant proof that having talent is no indication for how successful you will become. Perseverance and deliberate practice on the other hand, definitely are.
- Grit – By Angela Duckworth
In her bestseller, Psychologist Angela Duckworth digs deeper into the work of Anders Ericsson and adds her own research studies to answer the question, “what is the secret to outstanding achievement?” Her conclusion in a nutshell, it’s a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance which she calls “Grit”.
- The power of habit – By Charles Duhigg
If you want to know how to change your bad habits into good ones, you definitely want to read this book. It explains clearly how our behavior, actions, decisions and even our thoughts are all influenced by our habits, and how we can change them.
- Keep calm & Enjoy the Ride – By Annette Paterakis
This is my own first book and is a summery of my work so far. I aimed to write an easy to read and accessible book on mental toughness for equestrians of all ages and from all different backgrounds. You will learn more about the psychology behind the sport and get tips and exercises to help implement the theory into your daily riding routines.
- The golfers mind – By Dr. Bob Rotella
Golf and Show jumping are two mentally challenging sports. Dr. Rotella provides very clear tools on how to play your best possible mental game on the green. With a little imagination, you can translate these valuable lessons into riding and competing in the showjumping arena.
- Burn your goals – By Joshua Medcalf & Jamie Gilbert
A lot has been said about setting goals, though “Burn your goals” is definitely not your average goal setting, self help book. It holds a very different approach when it comes to goals. One that encourages to focus on the process and what you have control over, instead of the end results.
- 7 habits of highly effective people – By Stephen R. Covey
A classic in personal change and leadership, this book is a number 1 best seller. Stephen Covey reveals the most important habits for personal growth and mental resilience. These habits are not only helpful in the saddle but also in communicating with owners, sponsors and trainers.
- The power of now – By Eckhart Tolle
This book is a must read for those who find themselves over-thinking, worrying or being in the past or future often. “The power of now” teaches us how to be more in the present moment and how to stay more connected to yourself and your horses. In my belief, being able to stay present and focused, is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to competing in the show jumping arena.