Unfortunately, we don’t always wake up or get to a show feeling ready, excited, and unbeatable. In other words, we are not constantly in the right mindset for competition—ready to rock and roll. Instead of depending on circumstances, however, make sure you prepare your mind before every class with a routine that works well for you.
Here are five options I recommend you use:
1. Peak State
The first step is to ask yourself how you are feeling right now and check where you are on the U-curve. Feeling slightly tense, or missing the necessary focus? It’s important to know what you need to get into ‘peak state’.
2. Slow Down or Speed Up
Depending on your answer—whether are are either too nervous, feeling great, or too relaxed—you’ll want to get yourself into your peak state. When you are feeling too nervous, bring your physical state down by breathing deep and slow towards your lower abdomen. Or find another way to really relax your muscles. When too relaxed, do the opposite and wake up your body. There are many ways to do this, but a few options are: do 20 jumping jacks on the spot, tap into your big muscles around your body for two minutes, or go for a quick a sprint.
3. Prepare Your Mind
Now that your body is in the right state, get your mind ready by visualizing exactly how you want to ride. The more detailed your image, and the more senses you use, the more likely it is that you are connecting the right neurons in your brain. Through detailed visualization, you prepare your mind and body and get focused on exactly what you want to achieve (and therefore, become less worried about what might go wrong).
4. Boost Your Confidence
A great way to boost your confidence is to remind your brain of all the times you rode so well in the show arena. Especially when you are often focused on what didn’t go well, or your mistakes, it becomes easy to forget about the improvements made. A great way to do this is to visualize or go back in your mind to your “Best Round Ever”. That wonderful round you rode when everything just fell into place and seemed to come naturally and effortlessly. Make sure you can feel those positive emotions in your body again. Alternatively, you can watch a video of good rounds with specific horses or at specific shows that you want to prepare for.
5. Ready for Takeoff
Lastly, get excited about your class by using your favorite music with a beat or, if still a little nervous, some relaxing lounge tunes that get you focused and in your zone. Whilst listening to your music, you can use your body posture to create an extra ‘oomph’ of self-confidence. So open up your chest and throw your arms in the air as if you have already won the class and remind yourself of your goal or favorite quote to get you ready for takeoff.
Written by Annette Paterakis
Annette Paterakis - The Equestrian Mental Coach - specializes in mental coaching for riders of all levels. She is passionate about working with riders and trainers to help them better understand the mind and reach peak performance. Annette is the author of the book "Keep Calm and Enjoy The Ride", available through Amazon.com. For more information give her website a gander: annettepaterakis.com