Behind The Best Podcast

Hosted ByDr. Jay Cavanaugh

The Behind The Best Podcast is a behind-the-scenes look at the people, mindset, and secrets behind the best athletes in the world.

Pro Athletes Use This Powerful Practice Technique To Play In The Moment

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We’ve all heard the phrase that you need to practice as you play, practice like you compete. But I’ll tell you this, not enough. Pro athletes, student athletes, parents and coaches guide their athletes or take the actions in practice that they should in order to compete at their best. Now, what we’re specifically going to focus on today, Quieting the thinking mind, , everyone’s mind loves to race the narratives and thoughts that come into an athlete’s mind.

I can tell you when I’m working with one-on-one Pro athletes, I work with quieting, that overthinking is one of the. Most popular topics, one of the biggest challenges, but also is something that is rarely focused on or rarely taking action on. So that’s what I’m gonna guide you on today, is how you can actually start practicing to quiet your mind during practice.

So when you compete, you have a much higher likelihood of your mind being quiet and instead of thinking, you just do. And I’m also gonna tell you why that’s important. So let’s start with that now. The reason why it’s important to do as opposed to think comes down to a very specific reason. When you think, you think, you think fast, you don’t, thinking is a extremely slow process when it is compared to doing.


I mean, think about it. All of a sudden something comes outta the side of the corner of your vision, what happens? Do you think, Ooh, I should jump to the left. No, you just boom, you react, boom, you react, you respond. So, uh, our ability to just do is extremely quick for that reason, for safety, to keep us safe, to avoid danger, uh, to react to things in our environment, uh, as quickly as possible.

And this is what we call our subconscious mind. So our subconscious mind is the habitual mind. And here’s the thing. It handles and controls 95% of what. That’s why a lot of times you can get in your car and you can drive, and then have you ever had this happen like 20 minutes later you’re like, oh, I’m pulling in.

what just happened? . I just remember getting in the car and all of a sudden I’m here. And the habit mind takes care of it. It just does. Now, this is actually where you want to compete. You want your subconscious mind, your habit, mind, your body to be doing all the work, not your mind. And so it’s a really tricky concept until you get clear on some things that you can practice and train during your practice sessions, that can actually increase the likelihood of getting these reps in to increase the likelihood.

Quieting your monkey mind, quieting that, overthinking mind, quieting those narratives, those thoughts. And geez, I’ll tell you some of the pro athletes I’ve worked with, some of the thoughts they have during competition because they feel comfortable sharing them with me, cuz that’s what I do. I’m a mental performance coach.

You’d be surprised at some of the thoughts that creep into people’s minds. And so it’s really important for us to practice how we can quiet our minds. And so let’s talk about that. . Let’s say for example, you are a practicing a hitting drill, baseball hitting drill, right? So, , you wanna ahead of time, obviously think about the drill.

You wanna have a target. You want to have maybe some hypotheses as to what you’d like to explore, where there’s some curiosity. You know, should you be gripping the bat a little less? Are you gonna make a different adjustment with your feet, with your hips, um, with your body position, whatever it is, you wanna have all that thinking done before you step in, before you know you’re ready to go.

And, Take action on this practice and start your session. All the analytics and all the thoughts, ideas, hypotheses, targets and potential results that you want, might wanna expect or experience all need to be predetermined. And then when you walk in, you wanna have a time where, like in with golfers, you know, I try to urge them, especially if you’re putting, like, let’s say you’re, we will bring it one moment to putting, cause it’s an easy example if you’re, uh, going to go put a 10.

You wanna know that once you step on that green, the thinking is done. So I, my athletes, my pro golfer, he does not, he gets his thinking done, and you’ll even see it if you’re watching him. He might stop before he gets on the green because he’s thinking about something. And then once he’s done with that thought, makes his decision commits to the shot, commits to the, to what he’s gonna do, or at least commits to the idea of what he’s about to do.

Then he walks forward and he just executes, gets into his pre-shot routine. Executes. So you wanna have some sort of, what we call a trigger or a, uh, whether it’s putting your hat on or whether it’s gripping the bat with one hand, or if it’s taking a step in a certain way with your left foot or your right foot, or some sort of movement with your hips.

Whatever it is you want, some sort of trigger or reminder. That is your boundary that says there is no thinking at this point. We are done with the thinking. Now we are in the doing phase. So there needs to be, first of all, number one, a clear delineation and boundary between thinking the, the thinking mind and the doing.

So don’t forget the thinking is 5% of, of, of your, uh, mind’s ability to, to comprehend work. Do what it. 95% is the habit mine. So we want to give that freedom for that bigger portion of what serves us, that habit mind that doing, you know, that’s where the zone is. You know, once people get in a flow state in a zone it’s doing, and it’s because it’s so much faster.

You know, we, you hear, uh, stories. I, I read an article recently of, uh, pro surfer and he is like the wave when I, when he did something that was extremely, like, it was extremely dangerous, but also, He crushed it and he was the first time he felt completely connected with the wave. He actually was in the wave and he’s like, everything slowed down so much.

I felt like I could see seaweed in the wave. At one point, he could actually see things in his peripheral vision that you would think, well, how could he do that? You. Here he is. He’s doing 50 miles an hour. Okay. But everything’s slowed down and it’s because his processing speed was so fast, he was able to just recognize his environment a little better.

And so that’s what flow state is. But anyways, back to the drill. So, Let’s say you’re a pitcher or a hitter, you’re going into the box, you’re gonna practice your hitting drills. You want to really get into the, the idea of like a one word command. So let me explain the difference here. So let’s say for example, I swing a couple shots, I swing a couple hits, and I just not connecting with the ball.

Let’s say I’m swinging a bit. Instead of your thinking mind coming in and being like, well, why are you swinging high? Or, geez, you know, should he grab a different bat or should he be changing your body position? You wanna have it set up so that when you make your adjustment instead of thinking, which by the way, a lot of those questions are gonna bring in doubt, you might start to grab the bat with a little bit more force.

And, and don’t forget, you might be, More of a stressful time and, and having these thoughts come, right? So you might enter more of a threatening vibe or a threatening feel and then grip, you know, because you’re a little bit stressed, grip the bat too much. So what you want to do, instead of thinking, trying to rationalize and come up with concepts and ideas, these are all things that should have been, uh, determined ahead of time.

You wanna make a command type adjustment and those oftentimes are single word, and I’ll explain why in a moment. So lemme give you an example. It’s lower, you know, it’s just one word. It’s lower. It’s loosen. , it’s ne forward. It’s not a discussion, it’s not a thought. It’s more so a command than it is a question, because don’t forget when you ask yourself a question in your mind, your mind races for the answer.

When you make a command, your brain is telling your body what to do. You know, loosen, you know, and then you could even just say, loosen or loosen the. . All right. Focus forward, lean in. These are commands. There’s no doubt, right? If I say, Grab the butter. There’s no wondering like, should I grab the butter?

Which butter do you want me to grab? It’s like, grab the butter. It’s right there. Pass the salt. Pass the salt. When someone says pass the salt, you don’t say, well, you know, should I give this person the salt? You know, what are they gonna do with the salt? You know, how much salt are they gonna use? You go down that route.

You can’t, as an athlete, adapt and, and compete when your mind is doing these things. It has to be past the salt, loosen the grip focus. Head down, chin up, lean in, back up, foot out. Foot forward, these commands start to quiet that they don’t actually, it’s not even quieting. They don’t even allow that thinking mind the opportunity to come in and have a discussion, which can oftentimes snowball into you just overthinking your practice session.

And before you know it, things can get outta control quite quick. So use. To have better practice sessions and increase the likelihood of you entering into flow state, quieting that monkey mind, quieting that thinking, mind commands over questions. Great opportunity for you to improve your practice sessions.

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