Did you see Game 4 of the 2020 World Series and those blunders?! High-pressure situations require high-performance, but no one is perfect! Neutral thinking for athletes is a mental tool that helps boost athletic performance and recovery for the high-pressure mental moments that can make or break a game or match.
How do you mentally recover from difficult situations? We know it can be hard to get back in the game after something challenging.
You may have been told to think positive after a moment of defeat or a mistake, but we all know that’s not as easy as it sounds. And actually, too much positivity can keep you from actually improving for next time!
This is where neutral thinking comes into play. Neutral thinking – a mental performance tool for athletes – helps you acknowledge what has happened – “It is what it is…” – but still understand that you can make choices to make change in the future – “and I can do better next time”.
In high pressure performance situations, negative and positive thinking both can be toxic! Unproductive thinking prevents you from accepting the truth of a situation and learning from it.
How To Do It
In the moment
If you make a mistake in a game that puts the Win in jeopardy, or are just having an off day at practice, you need to recover mentally as quickly as possible.
To do this, stay present in the moment. Accept what happened. Stay neutral with your thoughts, which may mean shutting your inner brain off and just focusing on what you’ve trained for – use your cues! A baseball player might say: “It is what it is…right now just drive through the ground.”
After the event
Afterward, reflect on what happened and how you can be better prepared next time.
Maybe you weren’t able to get a play right. Could you take the advice your coach was giving?
Maybe you felt like you had no energy. Were you fueling your body properly before practice?
Maybe your body was sore and hurting. Did you take the time to have an efficient warm-up?
Set yourself up for success and get back in the game by looking at each situation as an opportunity for learning and growth through neutral thinking.
Why it Works
This type of thinking moves you away from negative and positive thoughts that can be toxic because they prevent you from accepting the truth of a situation and learning from it.
With neutral thinking, nothing has to be a loss.
You learn to process the information differently to focus on what the end goal is and what needs to be changed if that opportunity comes up again.
Learn more about how we help your mental athletic performance as much as your physical performance here!