I love learning from the best, and it’s safe to say that Swedish show jumper, Peder Fredricson, is definitely one of the best equestrians active today. So, eager to talk to the well-rounded, ever-charming, eventer turned showjumper, I asked Peder about his journey in the sport and, of course, his mental skills. Not surprisingly, he has impressive insight on how to achieve mental strength from his years of experience at the height of the sport. Read on for Peder's top five tips and how you can apply them to your riding.
I asked Peder if he ever worked on his mental skills, to which he replied, “All the time! When you are faced with pressure or difficulties, you have two options: you either give in or you fight to find a new way to learn new skills and to create a solution to your problem.”
Peder does just that. By constantly learning and improving himself, he turns his weaknesses into strengths. By acknowledging what you still need to improve and finding ways to do that, you can too! Reading books is perhaps the easiest and sometimes the most effective way to improve.
2. Work Hard, But Work Smart
Peder is working very hard, and even enjoys doing chores around the barn. However, when he signed a big sponsorship deal, he felt pressure to produce even better and more consistent results in the show ring. He realized he had to make more time for the sport and become more focused on how he was going to improve to get those desired results. So, he hired a trusted team to help him with day-to-day barn duties and free up his time to focus on stepping up his game.
Though we might not always have the money to hire help, where there is a will, there is a way. Prioritize working on the things that will really make the difference. Create a plan of action on how to improve further, find out what your biggest margin of improvement is, and start there.
Photo by Thomas Reiner.
3. Create Consistent Routines
When you’re at a show and have to make a thousand decisions from when to get on your horse to how to structure your warm-up, a lot of valuable mental energy is wasted. Decision-making is a mental process that requires a lot of our metabolic resources. In other words, your brain starts the day fresh and restored, but as we go through our day, and with every decision we need to make, the brain tires. By the time you need to go into the ring, you have already decreased your ability to focus deeply.
To prevent your brain from getting foggy when it needs to be at its sharpest, make sure to create routines for every time you are at a show. By creating these habits, you save energy by having less to think about. Then you can focus more on what really matters. Peder for example, always jumps the same amount of jumps in the warm-up and always prepares the same way for each course walk. Consistency is key.
Photo by Sportfot.
4. Focus on the Course Walk
One important routine for Peder is his course walk. He makes sure to have the course plan studied before even setting foot in the arena. He takes notes, and with these notes he walks the course with great focus – and alone. When he is unsure of something, he will first try to make up his own mind before asking someone else. He then prepares mentally by visualizing the course in great detail, using his body posture as if he is already riding the course exactly like he wants. Peder repeats this sequence three times.
The more detailed you can visualize your course, the more it comes to life, and the more it will feel like you have already ridden the course before, making it easier for you to stay in the moment while riding the track.5. Own Up to Your Emotions
When I asked Peder how he deals with failure and mistakes, his answer was simple and to the point. “I always remember Winston Churchill’s saying, ‘Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.’”
Find your quote, picture, or song that helps you acknowledge your emotions, let go of the past, and then refocus on the present and future.
Read this next: 5 Ways To Become a Better Rider From Your Couch
Feature photo by Sportfot.