New Learning, New Ideas

Tag: Rider confidence

Last week I went on a little adventure, heading all the way to Bath for a three day course to begin six months of training with Centre 10 doing their Advanced Performance Psychology course for equestrian coaches.

As you know, all my work is done “off horse” and I don’t teach riding skills as such, but focus on the mindset and rider psychology aspects of the sport, so this course is right up my street. I was delighted to be accepted onto it based on my experience working with riders at all levels.

As you probably also know I am a believer in lifelong learning and am always open to new ideas and new ways of looking at old ideas.

So the week was a real treat as well as an adventure. It felt like an adventure because in this year dominated by Covid-19 just simply having a few days away from home is a novelty and the treat was staying in a beautiful country house hotel on the edge of the City of Bath.

There were lots of highlights including meeting the other coaches on the course plus meeting Charlie, Sarah and Steffi from Centre 10 who are all inspirational people, athletes and coaches.

Today I would like to talk about two of the exercises we did last week which were great fun but both brought home important messages and helped me to look at things I already knew from a different and useful point of view.

The first exercise was that we were give a block of wood with a nail hammered into it plus 10 other identical nails. The task was to balance to 10 nails on the one in the block!! We were in a team of three….

It was fascinating to see the approaches of my team mates as well as my own. One person decided that this wasn’t for them and encouraged the remaining team mates from the sidelines. I had been allocated the job of handling the nails (Covid meant that only one person was to do this) and my other team mate was coming up with ideas.

Initially we didn’t actually know whether this was possible of not but after a short while we were told that it WAS possible so were trying with renewed vigour. Then we were given a simple clue to help us understand HOW it was actually possible.

Interestingly my team mate who has a biomechanics background found the next stage of the exercise easier than I did and under her guidance we managed to complete the task!

When you BELIEVE something is possible it BECOMES possible.

There were several learnings from this exercise including:

  • Once you believe that something is possible then it becomes possible.
  • Rather than being given a list of instructions we were given a clue which then allowed us to work out the answer for ourselves, a far more sustainable approach.
  • These seemingly simple ideas can be applied to any life area including helping people to find answers to their own challenges.

The second exercise, which was also hugely entertaining but also a great opportunity to learn, was target shooting!

This is something which I had never tried before so was keen to have a go at. Again we were in teams and we were delighted to be coached by the UK No. 1 modern pentathlete Kate French who trains at the amazing sports facilities at Bath University.

This exercise was all about looking at the process rather than the outcome. We were encouraged to break things down into a process such as our body angle, our breathing, lining up the sights and squeezing the trigger rather than focussing entirely on trying to hit the target.

I soon found that if I DID focus on my process then I COULD hit the target!

Then the exercise got more fun as we had a competition again in our teams so as well as demonstrating our new found skills we were adding the element of competition pressure.

We had a round of what we thought was the competition only to be told that it was a trial run and the teams were then handicapped according to their places in the trial run. This gave our team a 30 second advantage over the next team. We had a team talk, worked out a time saving hand over process and then were ready for competition.

I was the last to go and the next team was catching us up…….!

I had spent some time while the others were having their go breathing, visualising and focussing on my process so felt kind of “In the zone”.

My turn came and YES! I shot five out of five on target giving our team the WIN!! Great fun, not at all serious but again loads to learn and apply for other life areas including riding of course:

  • Focus on the process and the desired outcome will happen.
  • Find a method to focus which works for YOU.
  • In competition stick to your plan.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to other competitors.
  • Control what you CAN control.
  • Learn from mistakes.
  • HAVE FUN
Focus on the PROCESS and you will hit the TARGET.

I’m home again now and have enjoyed digesting all of my experiences from last week. These three days are just the beginning of six months of more learning online.

I’ll be posting regularly throughout the six months to share what I am leaning and I can’t wait for my clients to benefit from new ways of looking at things so that together we can work to help them to achieve their goals.


Tag: Rider confidence

Do you ever find yourself getting pretty nervous about trying new things?

Does your mind take you to some scary and uninviting places when you’re anticipating this new event?

Try these before, during and after mindset hacks and they really will make a difference to how you feel about the up and coming event and how much you enjoy yourself.

These ideas can be applied to horse riding, other sports, work or any other area of life.

So, last weekend, a couple of my oldest pals and I went on a two day kayaking course up on the west coast of Scotland. It was a beginner’s introduction course and there were going to be six in the group, the three of us and three others who we didn’t know.

Practicing in shallow water

I was certainly looking forward to the weekend but I must admit I was feeling a little bit nervous too. Those old familiar thoughts were creeping into my mind such as “Will they all be better at it than me?” ,”Will I fall in”, “Will I look stupid” etc etc. I’m sure many of you reading this will have experienced similar thoughts. It was these thoughts which were causing that sense of nervous anticipation!

SO! I quickly reminded myself to practice what I preach and to apply all the things I talk about with my clients and that’s just what I did and the result was that I had an amazing weekend!

BEFORE:

  • As soon as you recognise those unhelpful thoughts creeping into your mind you can say “STOP” to yourself to break that chain of thought and then challenge those unhelpful thoughts and replace them with something more encouraging and supportive.
  • Remind yourself that any feelings of nerves are simply feelings and NOT a predictor of something bad happening.
  • Practice visualising what you DO want to happen. So for my kayak course I visualised myself gliding through the water with a big smile on my face and enjoying the company of my friends and the amazing environment I was in.

DURING

  • Remind yourself that you are there to learn. Ask questions and enjoy trying out new skills. Have a laugh when you make a silly rookie error, we’ve all done it and it’s part of being a beginner in any new activity.
  • If you feel any physical tension use your breathing to help you to let go of that tension. So you can breathe in comfort and breathe out tension. Remembering to breathe helps to keep your stress hormones within their normal range and therefore lessens any feelings of nervousness. It can help to anchor feelings of comfort to a word. I like to use the word “drift”.
  • Focus on what’s going on “in the moment”. If at any moment in time your kayak (Or your horse!) is doing what you’ve asked it to do then all is OK. This is a useful way to avoid trying to predict what could happen in the future.
  • If you’re in a learning situation make sure to be honest with the instructor about your previous experience or lack of experience. Their job is to be supportive and to teach you new skills so allow them to do their job.
  • Make sure that you’re not comparing yourself unfavourably to those around you. Some people will find some things easier than you but they’ll also find other things more challenging. Everyone is different and there to learn as well.

AFTER

  • Be proud of yourself for what you have achieved and make sure to focus on all the good things which happened rather than being tempted to magnify any errors.
  • Think about what you have learned so that next time you do this activity you will be ready to take the next steps in the process of learning.
  • Enjoy the sense of achievement, the physical tiredness after working hard and look forward to an evening reminiscing about your day and feeling excited about doing it again.

My kayaking weekend was great fun. I didn’t fall in, kept up with the group, learned about a few different paddle strokes, when and how to use them. I saw some wonderful wildlife and views which will stay with me forever. I was really proud of myself when we had to work pretty hard into a strong headwind to reach the beach where we were planning our lunch stop, I was slow and it was hard work but I did it! It was definitely a weekend to remember.

The sun setting after a wonderful weekend.


Tag: Rider confidence

A recent FaceBook post seemed to strike a chord with a few people, and It’s something I need to be aware of personally, so I thought I would expand on it a little.

Be proud of your achievements.

When a new client comes to see me for their initial consultation session, or when I meet riders at talks and clinics, I ask them what they do, or wish to do, with their horses. I have lost count of the number of times riders have replied “Oh, I am JUST a happy hacker” or “I ONLY ride at home” or “I ONLY jump little fences”.

So my mission is to get people to drop the “I JUST….” and “I ONLY…..” When you qualify your achievements and the activities you enjoy doing, in this way, then you are telling yourself that what you choose to do is unworthy of celebrating and therefore you will come to believe that, as a rider, you don’t deserve praise or that you are “less” than other riders. This is simply not true.

Each of us makes choices about what we do with our horses depending on our lifestyles, other commitments, experience, the horse we ride, confidence levels and a host of other variables and we don’t need to justify that to anyone. The only thing which we must do is to look after the welfare of our horses, everything else is a choice.

Now, if you describe yourself as ‘Just a happy hacker” but actually you’re an “unhappy hacker” or you’re saying that you do one thing but actually wish you were doing something else, then that is another matter completely. It is part of my job to work out, or to help you to work out for yourself, how you can learn to expand your comfort zone, be happy and content with what you choose to do or to push yourself to compete at a more advanced level and I certainly enjoy the challenge of helping a rider to fulfil their goals.

You can apply this to all sorts of areas of life as well as riding. So no more “I ONLY have a small business” or “I JUST run a couple of kilometres” etc etc.

Let’s all agree to DROP THE “I JUST….” AND “I ONLY…..”!!

Whatever you choose to do, do it with a smile.