6-Steps to Break Through Your Mental Block
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Hi, I am Mandy Patterson, mental performance coach, owner of Mandy Patterson Coaching, and founder of the Mind Over Mental block program(s), where we teach athletes how to push past mental blocks and fears so they can rediscover their passion, pursue their goals with confidence, and ultimately experience authentic joy in their sport and life.
Have you or an athlete you love ever struggled with a mental block, anxiety, or fears in your sport and wished you knew how to overcome them? You see teammates progressing in their skills effortlessly while you are stuck working on skills you have had for months and years, but your body just won’t let you perform anymore? You know that you can do it because you have done it before, and all you need is a little more confidence to get past this hurdle so that you can get back to having fun and enjoying the sport you love, but you feel like you have no control.
No matter how badly you want to overcome this, how talented you are, or how beautiful & technically correct your skills are when you do them, you have yet to learn what works. How do you overcome this mental block? How do you build the confidence and trust you need to perform your skills on demand? You need a plan that allows you to walk in knowing exactly what to do to improve your skills.
You don’t understand what is happening. You have thrown the skill at tryouts or when a coach threatens to take you out of an event or routine, but the next day, you are back where you started feeling totally defeated. You have tried absolutely everything you can think of to overcome this, but nothing has stuck… private lessons, countless drills and progressions, switching coaches and gyms, buying equipment to work at home, taking time off, researching endlessly on the internet for a solution… all of which has led you to believe that you will never overcome this for good.
If this is you, I know exactly how you feel because that is my story. As a young athlete, I experienced mental blocks on multiple occasions throughout my competitive cheerleading career, which caused me to doubt myself and struggle with confidence. Like you, I tried everything and found success here and there, primarily through watching tumbling videos before practice and progressions during daily private lessons, but I knew I could have done more to reach my full potential.
So over the past four years, I combined my experience as an athlete, an in-the-gym skills coach, and a certified Mental Game Coaching Professional, along with extensive research in sports psychology, personal development, and anything I could get my hands on to understand how to overcome fears and achieve success in sports and life, I now have a proven framework to help athletes trade mental blocks and fears for confidence and joy!
Today, I am teaching this framework to you. This is the exact process I take athletes through in my 1:1 coaching programs. I will walk you through my 6-step Mind Over Mental Block Method so that you can have a plan for overcoming this challenge.
As I go through these steps, I want you to ask yourself, how does this apply to me? The content is great, but the magic happens in the application, so be sure to personalize each of these and consider what these steps would look like for you at practice and during performances.
Here we go.
The 6-Step Mind Over Mental Block Method
1. Release The Pressure
As successful athletes and high performers, we tend to put SO much pressure on ourselves to be the absolute best. We want our skills to look and feel a certain way. We avoid mistakes and consider all the possible negative outcomes that can happen to ensure that we are successful. It can almost feel like a badge of honor and proof that we care about doing an exceptional job, but here is the thing… How is this way of thinking ACTUALLY working for you?
Think about how you experience this. You head to practice to work on a blocked skill and think, ‘I have to do it today.’ You walk onto the mat reminding yourself to ‘do it’ and ‘just go for it.’ It’s likely that you feel pressure from others and think, ‘Your team is counting on you,’ ‘Your coach expects you to have this,’ ‘Your parents will be disappointed if you don’t do it. You get ready to go, and the more you try to force yourself to do it, the more you overthink and become frozen in place.
The truth is that expecting your skills to happen fuels your fears and causes you to stay stuck. Before you try anything else, you MUST give yourself grace and release the pressure to HAVE to do the skill. This is the most important thing you can do to regain control of your skills.
Step 2: Focus on What Matters
We tend to focus on unhelpful things. “What if I fall?” “What if someone runs in front of me?” “Will the coach really spot me?” “Maybe I should do it on another mat.” “Tryouts are coming up, and I have to get this.” And on and on our thoughts spiral.
Our brain is designed to keep us safe, and one of the ways to do that is to focus on things that could go wrong or things we want to avoid. This is good in life-or-death situations where a bear is chasing us, but it is unnecessary while performing skills our body knows how to do safely. When working on challenging skills, you want to pay attention to your thoughts and replace negative or unhelpful thoughts with positive ones. You want to think about something that gives you helpful instruction on how to do the skill, keeps you focused in the moment (not the past or future), and does not make you nervous to think about it.
For example, instead of thinking, “Just do it” or “Don’t baulk” think about pushing hard off of your legs and breathing. This way, you are being intentional with your thoughts in a way that does not lead you to overthink. Simple right? YES, and that is okay!
Step 3: Believe In Yourself
Let’s talk about confidence. More specifically, let’s talk about the kind of confidence that is ESSENTIAL for moving past block-fueling fears. Confidence is like a superpower that helps you overcome mental blocks in sports. Most athletes tend to rely on reactive confidence, which means we only feel confident after doing well in our practices or competitions. But as we discussed in step 1, we tend to set the bar so high that to have a good day means we need to be perfect. We need to do all of our skills, and they need to look and feel a certain way. This strict expectation causes us to lose control of our confidence.
True confidence comes from appreciating and celebrating every win and our progress, no matter how small. It’s like collecting tokens of success that add up to something amazing. Were you more powerful today on your tumbling? Celebrate it! Did you try a new skill? Great! Did you get to practice early so you could stretch? Way to go!
We build proactive confidence by focusing on our growth and being proud of ourselves for trying our best. This kind of confidence makes us stronger, helps us believe in ourselves, and gives us the courage to face challenges head-on. So, remember to celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and always believe in your abilities. You’ve got this!
Step 4: Perform for Yourself
Have you ever been working up the courage to throw a challenging skill, and the moment you thought, “Ok, I am ready. Let’s do this!” You hear your coach say, “Just go for it!” and instantly, the panic sets back in? Or maybe after a tough practice, you are heading to the car, dreading the ride home because you know how the conversation will go, and you just don’t want to disappoint your parents again?
One of the biggest sources of pressure for athletes comes from our need for social. This is especially true when it comes to mental blocks. The pressure to meet others’ expectations can fuel these blocks and keep us stuck in our skills. We often find ourselves mindreading, assuming what coaches, teammates, and parents think and feel about our performance, even though it’s not necessarily true. We worry so much about their opinions that we become distracted while working on our skills, unable to give our best.
But here’s the thing: the key is to shift our focus. Instead of constantly seeking approval, we can concentrate on the things that help us perform at our best, which we discussed in step 2. When we focus on things that help us do our best, that is what is best for our coaches, teams, and everyone else.
Remember, the opinions of others may vary, but focusing on our own growth and giving our all is what truly matters. By letting go of the need for constant approval from others, we can break free from mental blocks and unleash our full potential. So, AMAZING ATHLETES, trust in your abilities and embrace the journey of self-improvement. Your best performance comes from within!
Step 5: Stay Positive
Letting go of mistakes and staying positive when things aren’t going our way is essential for athletes dealing with mental blocks. It’s common to get caught up in the idea that the first few reps define our entire practice. But here’s the truth: our thoughts affect our beliefs, influencing our behavior and ultimately impacting our performance outcome. It becomes a negative cycle that keeps us stuck. To achieve longterm success, you must accept that mistakes are part of the learning process.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes and understand that it’s okay not to be perfect. If this makes you cringe a little because you truly feel that striving for perfection means you care about doing a great job, then remember how many Olympians and professional athletes fall and make mistakes. It is part of the process of being human and not a sign of weakness or failure.
When frustration or upset creeps in, take a moment to release those negative emotions. Remember that mistakes are normal, and you don’t have to be flawless. Instead, focus on appreciating your effort and redirect your attention to a helpful part of the skill that doesn’t feel overwhelming.
By embracing this mindset, you can let go of the weight of mistakes and maintain a positive outlook, allowing yourself to grow and excel in your performance. Progress is a journey, and each rep is an opportunity to learn and improve. Keep going and believe in your ability to overcome this challenge.
Step 6: Prepare for Success
Preparing for success is vital to overcoming mental blocks. Visualization is a powerful tool that allows us to see, hear, and feel a successful skill in our minds. Mental blocks can make it difficult to see ourselves progressing beyond the current challenge, causing us to doubt our ability to achieve higher-level skills. But you are here, which means you are ready; it’s time to imagine breaking through that barrier and performing exceptionally well because you are strong and amazing.
Mentally preparing for success is just as important as physical practice. Dedicate time in your daily routine to visualize the skill in as much detail as possible. See yourself executing the skill successfully from an external view (as if watching a video of yourself) and internal (in your body). See your hands moving past your head, feeling the ground beneath you as you land. Hear the satisfying bounce of the floor under your hands and feet. Feel your leg muscles tighten as you bend and jump to your hands. Allow yourself to feel joy, pride, and satisfaction as you land the skill, knowing you can do it.
By mentally rehearsing the skill, you build confidence, stay motivated, and create excitement. So, embrace the power of visualization and prepare to conquer your mental blocks. Your path to success begins in your mind, and with every visualization, you’re one step closer to achieving your goals.
There you have it!
You may question whether this will work because you have tried everything and nothing has worked. This framework works because it tackles your blocks and fears at the source, the mental game, whereas most other approaches address fears from a physical perspective.
It is easy to default to the thinking that you don’t know what to do to overcome this, but guess what? Now you do! Go now and click here to grab your free download of the 6 steps and post it somewhere as a reminder that you know what to do. You have a plan and tools to help you overcome this in a new way. Trust that all you need to do is put it into action, and new and amazing things will happen.
Lastly, maybe you are thinking, how is this going to help me? It seems too simple or passive of an approach to do any good… Here’s the thing. There are athletes who will watch this training, say they understand, and go right back into the gym doing the same things they have been doing for the last month, 6- months, year or more. Sometimes our desire to avoid failure causes us to believe that we have all of the answers and don’t need help; we need to grind harder, but the truth is that way of thinking will keep you stuck in this negative cycle of defeat, judgment, feeling alone and confused as to why you just can’t move forward.
Just because you have tried to be more positive or tell yourself, “I can do this,” in the past, does not mean you are doing it every time. These are skills; the more you practice them, the stronger they become. You must become passionate and intentional with this process, and sometimes, to do that, it starts with admitting that what you have been doing is not working and it is time to try something new. So, let’s start right now with this challenge.
A Challenge For you
Decide right now one way that you will use what you learned in this training to try something new this week at practice. What did you learn in this training that stood out to you? What will you do differently at practice this week to apply what you learned? I would love to support you and offer you a little accountability, so share that with us in the comments below.
If you liked this training and found it helpful, would you do me a favor? Please share it with a friend or two who could benefit from this message. Also, please comment below with your thoughts on this video. What did you like most? I will be personally engaging in the comments, so drop your biggest questions so I can get those answered for you. I would love the opportunity to hear from you and am so excited to connect.
Thanks again for being here. I look forward to seeing you in the next video, where I will walk you through my “Block Breaking Practice Plan,” which shows you exactly how to apply the 6 steps at practice so you walk in excited and leave your confidence intact. So, be sure to keep an eye on your inbox for that.
Until next time, remember that a mental block is simply a challenge you are working through. You are strong, can do hard things, and have totally got this!
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