Did you know that we all are constantly training our brain? That’s right. Each thought you have, each conversation you engage in and each behavior your perform changes your brain. This is what we now know from the exciting research from the field of behavior neurology. These scientists refer to our brain’s “plasticity” meaning that your brain is, like plastic in that it can be molded or changed.
When you have a mental block you have programmed your brain in a particular way which is why it can take a bit of time and a lot of patience and effort to re-program your brain.
One way to help you retrain your brain is to use a trigger word or phrase or, what I like to call a “power word” to direct your brain to respond in a particular way.
Let’s look at Debbie Love’s 9th step from her Breaking Free system:
The coach, parent and athlete need to agree on a focus word like “stop” so that when the athlete hears the word he/she knows to bring his/her mind back into focus. This can be used at school, home, practice, or competition. You can also have some focal thoughts to pull your mind back into focus like “Relax,” “I am able to do this,” “No big deal, let’s go.” When you are able to control your emotions, your mind is able to direct.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the ability to focus is essential to any performance success. In this day of cell phones, smart phones, ipads, and so forth, your brain has a harder time getting focused. (Unfortunately, extensive use of these devices actually trains the brain to be highly distractible – not good for anyone especially athletes!)
Too many cheerleaders can’t even tell when they are distracted because this feels normal to them. That’s why I am a big fan of focusing exercises. Once you learn how to distinguish between a focused and a distracted state, devise a power word to attach to the focused state. It can be simply “focus.”
Similarly, come up with a word that helps you get re-focused if you are distracted. Debbie wisely recommends that the coach or parent get attuned to the cheerleader in noticing when the athlete is not focused. At this point, having the parent or coach say, “stop” (being distracted) or “re-focus” can help the athlete learn when and how to get focused.
Each time a power word is used to redirect the focus, you are training the brain to respond to that power word. You will also be training your brain to be focused which is, of course, a good thing!
This ends the series on Debbie Love’s 9-step system called Breaking Free. Again, I encourage you to go to her website for extensive information and tips about tumbling. Also, join our Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/unlockcheerleadingmentalblocks .