Present Moment Focus – Part 2

Continuing on the topic of Present Moment Focus I’ve had the opportunity to put this concept into practice with my local baseball and softball hitting clients and it’s been fun to see the results. Here’s one example:

Last week while working with a softball player ‘getting back in the swing of things’ I was surprised at how quickly her negative self talk came out and body language fell apart while hitting off the tee.

I saw this as an opportunity to teach a present moment focus technique called NO JUDGEMENT from Shawn Green’s The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95MPH.

In the book, Green shares about his relationship with the tee and how hitting in silence (mentally and physically) allowed him to break away from the shackles of judging every aspect of his swing which freed him up to fully immerse himself in the act of hitting.

When an athlete stops judging every little thing… they are finally able to just swing.

It’s funny to consider but a batter’s job is to swing the bat…not think the bat.

No judgement allows the mental clutter to clear. That’s when the ball gets big and hitting becomes much easier. See ball hit ball. I think that’s the goal of hitting:)

Back to the story… during this no judgement period – I remained silent and allowed this softball player to push past frustration and arrive at fascination as she slipped into total immersion in the activity of hitting.

Sometimes silence is the greatest teacher and the exact thing that enables an athlete to perform with a clear mind. (Coaches and parents – take note).

Once in awhile I heard her express her disgust with a swing and I’d yell out “No Judgement!” to which she typically laughed (or rolled her eyes) but it reinforced the main point of the exercise.

As her mind was allowed to quiet down, the art and love of hitting had a chance to take center stage. The result? She began spraying line drives everywhere and learning the benefits of getting out of her own way. There was a confident hitter buried in there!

When I asked her what she was thinking about during her hitting barrage, she replied with a smile and a look of shock as if surprised at her output, “Nothing.”

That is the greatest compliment a Sport Psych consultant can receive as that’s all we’re ever trying to do – get an athlete to stop thinking and start trusting (more on this concept to come).

Immersion in an activity implies fascination and curiosity like a kid discovering Lego’s for the first time. This resembles playing in “the zone” in sport.

The zone is not something you try to get into… it’s something you’re pulled into!

PMF Lesson #2: No judgement leads to total immersion in the present moment activity

Some characteristics of entering “the zone” which comes when pulled into an activity and totally immersed:

  • Loss of fear – no fear of failure
  • Feeling in complete control
  • Highly Energizing
  • Effortless and automatic performance
  • Lost track of time/space

This should be the goal of each athlete every time they perform. It starts with a love and fascination for what is going on now and giving permission to remain judgement free.

Enemies of total immersion:

Distractions:
Life: cell phones (social media, selfies, immediate internet access), finances, relationships, living in the past/future,
Sport: Internal negative dialogue, expectations (self and others), external (fans, score, scouts…)

Remedies –
Digital Detox by turning off your cell phone even if for only a few hours when you know you don’t need it (even if you think you do). Become aware of the difference in your levels of anxiety and stress while also noticing your increased ability to concentrate on what your doing in the now.
Solitude time by yourself is a lost art. Take some time to be with you whether it’s taking yourself to a movie, on a hike, or to coffee with a good book. Quiet time is good time. Make time for it. It won’t show up on it’s own.
Challenge yourself with a card game or tough workout that demands your full focus and effort. You’ll notice afterwards that time flew by and for perhaps an hour you weren’t thinking about anything except what you were doing.

Dedicated to your thought life,

Ray III

PS: If you remember in my last email I gave you homework to consider the times you’re immersed in an activity and the times you’re completely distracted. Try the above remedies out this week and see if you can allow yourself to be in the moment. ​​​​​​​The present moment is wonderful – be here for it.