Meet Psychology

Posted In: What Would You Do?

      • Nick Newman
        Nick Newman on #18125


        After years of competing and many ups and downs along the way something which I never thought would be an issue just may be one. I wanted all of your advice and thoughts on this issue.

        Basically, I am beginning to think that my arousal levels in competitions are far too low the majority of the time. I am easily able to get myself “up” and “pumped” and just ready to go during max sessions in the weight room and sprint sessions on the track. I get psyched for these much easier than I do for competitions. I used to shout and talk to myself during meets with no problem but as I’ve got older and had more “negative” experiences under my belt I am finding this harder and harder to do…

        In other areas of my life I generally couldn’t care less what other people think of me but maybe subconsiously on the track I do? From the latter part of last season and my warm up and emotion from yesterday and don’t seem to be able to “leg go” in competitions like I used to…

        Does anyone else have these problems or can someone give advice on the matter?

        Thanks a lot…I think this thread could potentially help many.

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        Eric Broadbent on #114066

        Nick, funny you should mention this because I’ve had similar thoughts and issues with it. When I was in college, I was able to get very hyped for meets and I think it really helped having a team there watching you and cheering and different rivalries and things like that. Things are a lot different now and I am not sure if that is part of it. Now it sort of is all on me and not for team points or anything like that. When I have tried to get amped up like I use to, it just hasn’t worked. I would listen to some Linkin Park and get ready to go. Now most meets you can’t listen to music which kind of sucks. I’ve noticed before that I could get really hyped and jump well but if I try and really get after something, my performance goes down for the most part and technique suffers. On the other side of things, now when I just think about staying very relaxed but still aggressive, I end up having some of my best performances. Maybe it is that I am more of a veteran athlete but that is what I have noticed. Also before I use to get angry about something someone had said to me or something and I would let that drive my performance, but now I am not angry about anything and can’t use that, kind of funny.

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        Matt Norquist on #114071

        Interesting… For me, I always felt like the only time I could really get “up” for meets – was in do or die situations – IE – last jump to make the finals. Last jump to qualify for regionals, come from behind in Intermediate Hurdles etc. And so small meets I could never gear up for – and big meets, I always put myself in disadvantageous positions.

        I think the key is not about hitting high arousal levels as much as it about knowing what mental conditions work. There might be something to fact that you/we are getting older and Test levels are lower, so getting “pumped” and aggressive is not as easy.

      • Nick Newman
        Nick Newman on #114072

        Haha yeah sounds just like me dude…Thanks for the info though.

        Example, this morning during the weights session I was crazy hyped trying to hit 220 snatch. Difference though, I had an NFL prospect and an Olympic Weight lifter training with me who were screaming at me to hit it. So if I had a team on the track i’m sure it would help.

        I have tried the Saladino style of being very relaxed etc and I don’t think it’s for me. The Andrew Howe method of craziness seems to work for me but i’m not able at the moment to get there on the track. Weight room is easy…

        I am going to try to figure out some new routines that help but i’d love to hear other peoples routines….

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        Matt Morsia on #114079

        I’ve always performed best when i’m massively psyched up, whether it’s lifting weights, on the track or jumping. I had a really shitty season last year and found that I wasn’t getting excited for comps as much as I had in the past… so this winter I decided to trial staying relaxed, as I figured that I shouldn’t have to rely on being psyched up to perform well. however this approach didn’t sit well with me and for the last couple of months i’ve gone back to getting psyched during sessions and I’m beating everything I did previously by miles. basically the reason for me not getting as psyched during comps last year was because I was performing badly, so as much as I knew I was capable of jumping better, negative thoughts started to creep in and resulted in a loss of adrenaline. This year I plan to get massively psyched during comps (obviously whilst still being conscious of technique as I am a triple jumper after all) and hopefully I’ll jump big. I believe you have two types of athletes, one type who need to get psyched to perform well and the other type who can perform well regardless of adrenaline

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        comando-joe on #114082

        I think i am like you, i can easily go crazy in the gym and the track, but only well away from comps. Yday i did another clean pb and i was shaking with adrenaline but it seems to take me very long to recover mentally for another 100%+ effort in anything. Here’s my tactic –

        It’s hard to get pumped up all the time and it takes it out of you, so if i was competing i would just lift/ jump with no feelings at all, just completely de-tach myself mentally. Any comp feels like it has importance when you have no state of mind in training and it makes you feel very refreshed.

        Many people read your blog, does that make you feel under any pressure to do better in training? I mean your test most of your sessions, record everything. Might be better to keep your head down, not think about any numbers for a while. Just run without timing, jump without the tape ect.

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        Irish100m on #114084

        i find it hard to get pumped at little meets and dont perform as well as i hope to, at big comps with music in my ear i get pysched up so much i want to punch every guy i see and fuck every girl i see

        i think the best example of this was my first (and only due ot injury) english schools comp, which is a big deal over here, as craig pickering and cov-god can testify. live on sky sports (our version of espn) and i was pumped up to fuck. went from a 10.99 (2.0) guy to a 10.88(1.7 with awful start) and 10.96 with a 0 and some kid false starting and it not getting called back

        when officials dont allow ipods though, that shit is seriously gay

      • Nick Newman
        Nick Newman on #114091

        Haha Irish you have me laughing! Thanks for all the answers. I had a feeling that i’d be similar to many…

        Joe, I don’t feel pressure from this blog. I enjoy it really and find almost eveyone on here is positive towards me. I do feel pressure from training numbers that I have though. I mean damn, jumping 7.70m in practice during max strength block should equal so much further. Jumping 7.40m from 13 should mean 7.80m is an easy competition jump etc etc etc…

        I believe though when I’m in the right mind set I can do these things. But I struggle and lose focus when i’m not.

        One of my issues is other people on competitions. I watch others and look around way too much. I want to warm up on the other side of the track from now on and get in my “training” zone on my own like i’m used to. Also I think the pre-jump psyching needs to be done right at the back of the runway. It’s also a huge comfort and confidence thing. Yesteday I failed 220 snatch twice before I hit it. But I didn’t change my crazy psyching up routine once before any of the lifts. This is so huge becuase it’s easy to be loud and aggressive when you jump far but not so easy after some bad jumps. You really do have to forget about previous jumps completely. Not easy.

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        Anthony Wallace on #114092

        I am probably the oldest of the group (32) and I have found a way to me not to feel this way. I still remember the days of college when my coach’s method of getting me ready for a meet was to tell me to take a deep breath and calm down. I have had more of the injury bug then anything, but I always was able to compete with my energy pumping. Keys for me have been remember if you are not having fun at the meets themselves then why are you doing it. I love going to the meets seeing friends and talking with kids in college that I have helped and mentored, but I also love to put on a show. Nick, remember you are going to be the last jumper more than often so you have to tell yourself this lie i tell myself every meet “you are all here to see me perform”. I am 32 and I have the energy of a 21 year old but I know now how to use it. I told myself that same thing when Pate jumped 8.34m and Davis jumped 8.15m at Nationals in 02 at indoors in Arkansas. It sounds cocky but you know the hardwork you put in, hell we all do bc we all follow. Only person that you are competing against is you, so when you are at the meet have fun like all of those people came to watch you and only you. Then watch what happens. Dont let your brain change no matter the level of competion, you may take less jumps but you want to keep that level up as you are in your videos at practice. Good Luck

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        richard-703 on #114093

        My experience is with powerlifting where the optimal arousal level is slightly higher.
        Of course the danger of too much is that technical aspects will suffer.

        I went with the theory that you can “drain the adrenals” and would limit psyching in training. The best psyching is not to “get mad” or waste energy stomping and kicking, but using cues like “focus-tension-precision-power”. I could turn it on slowly and to different degrees. I would imagine that I had an adrenaline tap in the back of my head that I can open like a throttle. Without outward energy expenditure, I would pace a little, stare into the distance and get tingling rushes of energy. The final seconds before a deadlift I would only be aware of an 18″ section of the bar. It is pure focus, not anger.

        Usually the risk in a competition atmosphere is getting too excited and fouling etc.
        If you are at a smaller meet and need to turn it up I suggest the following (I admit it sounds pretty silly).
        Having others yell at you or slap you rarely helps. It has to be a slow burn of intensity. Go by yourself to a restroom and look into your eyes in the mirror. Ask yourself who you are. Tell yourself what you are going to do etc. Whatever works (I won’t list the crazy shit I would tell myself).

      • Nick Newman
        Nick Newman on #114094

        Anthony I think you are right. I was just talking to a close friend about this today. When I was younger I had no problem being very cocky and mostly without reason. However, I always Pr’d and progressed nicely with this mindset. As i’m older now i find it harder to be cocky when someone out there is jumping 8.30m. However, I have to realize that only 1 athlete per year has the luxury of knowing that no one is better than him. The rest of us still have to have that self belief though no matter if your goal is 7.80m or 8.80m. I def have to get back that “f the world” mindset in competition and not let down for anyone.

        Society trys to supress peoples ideas and emotions. It doesn’t want anyone to stand out or be different. Absolute performance in competition has no place for this mentality though.

        Here’s to craziness and a lot of strange looks!

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        coachformerlyknownas on #114100

        Thoughts on this topic:

        Google Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi for info on “Flow State”
        The best performances result from this more so than attention solely on traditional psych-up.

        Creating and managing an opportunity to be “in flow” is more involved than simply cranking up an ipod. Also it isnt dependent on one’s ipod running out of charge or one forgetting their headset.

        As far as psyching up (it does have its value) I have found it to be dependent on progression of arousal.

        2 thoughts on that, 1 being that arousal progression starts well before the night before or day of meet. Using cues, mental visuo audio is good. Years ago, I worked with a college swim team and talked about assigning positive affirmations to the unique smells in a natatorium. In field events its also important to remember that jumps and or fouls are not who you are but are what you do and so remain under your control. Assumptions like “I am not a good 3rd jump jumper or I always open poorly” need to be banished from the mind. With throwers I work to stay away from “favorite implements”

        Perhaps more important, most people skip arousal control once the competition starts. In the 5, 10, 15 minutes between attempts there needs to be similar attention to arousal control of both timing (between jumps) and environment (dealing with fouls, interaction with officials, coach, competitors)

        The most successful often are confused with being cocky when they are actually purposefully detached from what is going on around them. They also are least impressed with success as they (rightly) expect it. Levels of confidence usually match well with level of performance, excepting the athletically insane.

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        Anthony Wallace on #114128

        Good Luck Nick on your opener

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        Eric Broadbent on #114132

        Lots of really good comments here. Richard…love your talk about looking yourself in the mirror etc. I have done similar things and I believe it helps. I agree that you have to get the flow going days in advance also and it is way more than turning up the Ipod even though that did work to some extent for me years ago. Also what Anthony said is great about reminding yourself why you do it and have fun with it. Lately I have been trying to do that more and I get this big smile on my face before hand and I just know something big is going to happen.

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        Danny Tutskey on #118720

        This is a great thread. Being 33 my memory is going bad so I have to think back to my prime years 🙂 When I was a freshman and sophomore in college I used to think I had to be so amped up to run fast that it almost became fake. As a young college sprinter I felt like I had to prove something to everyone else; that I was the most intimidating, etc. In some cases it may have been out of fear of the losing or low self confidence.

        One I got to my Jr. and Sr. years I began to gain a lot of confidence in myself and performed well. I also would pack my bag a week in advance of every meet, set my music to random so I didn’t know what song was coming next, and every night I would stretch before bed with head phones on a lights off and just think about the race. That was only time I really got myself amped up during those two years. I also had names of guys I wanted to beat and after I did I would check them off. My own personal hit list. I began to think there was no way I’d lose at our conference meet and at our national meet I thought there was no way there were 8 guys faster than I, nor was there any way I wouldn’t finish in the top 3. It proved to be true.

        I ran some of my best races in a more subdued manner. I was very focused, but not just out of my skin. A few tell tale signs to me and maybe it’s just coincidence, but when I ran I had a couple of things happen.

        1. I would get chills and goosebumps warming up. After I was really warm.
        2. I would yawn multiple times throughout the warm up and leading up to getting in the blocks.

        These things all happened until this past summer. I’m not running anymore, period. An injury forced me to hang them up for good.

        I also think that our team goals became much more important that my individual goals. Our team won 4 national titles and I look back at those more often than I do my individual accomplishments.

        I guess for me I ran my best in relaxed state. A middle ground between amped and relaxed. I like reading about what makes everyone tick.

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