Posted in Recreation and Sports

Overcoming Mindset Challenges

We all have those days, we drop our heads and get down on ourselves; you might even let out a few expletive words for good measure. Our pickleball play is just not up to our, or the USAPA player rating standard. It’s frustrating. I’ll let you in on a secret I learned long ago from a coach who pushed us to achieve; your state of mind or your mindset, plays an enormous role in your successes and failure.

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, identifies 2 types of mind-sets; fixed and growth. The fixed mindset has shaped you from birth, it is what you are and has defined your belief in your potential. An innate conviction fashioned from external influences and internally interpreted. A fixed mindset, sees obstacles when faced with change and challenges and therefore will interpret failure as self-defeating in the lack of abilities. It’s like looking on the other side of the court and thinking that the grass is greener – your opponents seem to have all the right moves and it’s your lack of something that is keeping you from winning.

On the other hand, the growth mindset is one that is embryonic. Here is where belief in ourselves can help us adapt and grow in the ways we want by developing our talents through hard-work and dedication. Learning to love our development playing pickleball and also developing a resilience to loss is the key.

Hear Those “Voices”

Learning to overcome a fixed mindset challenge begins with learning to control your emotions and then you can achieve optimal performance during competition. First, you need to pay attention to those negative voices; you know the one’s – from family members that expressed failure or the one’s from coaches that uttered a lack of talent. There may have even been laughter from classmates or club memberships. A mentor who would snap when you hit a setback. You may have developed a reactive “habit” – automatic response to an emotional stimuli. Pushing those old suppressed buttons will give you a release and an understanding but despite their best intentions, this can also trigger an emotional upheaval, easily sweeping you away. Fortunately there is one way to stop the spiral of uncontrollable emotional reactions – refocusing. Consciously stepping back to draw your focus into your senses and the physical effects they may manifest; elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, nausea, tight or tense muscles, anxiety, and shallow breathing.

Acknowledge and Accept

Staying in the present moment, acknowledging that these physical effects are poignant, so you can process the information as if you are a doctor observing a patient. Comprehend your emotional arousal as an imaginary threat, and your intensified state of mental stress or physical excitement is a normal response that can be reduced by controlling your emotions. Slow down. Accept that you can help your brain learn to process new “habits” to effectively stay grounded; stretch and breathe, visualize or focus on energizing cues that epitomize how you want to perform or transfer negative energy to positive energy.

Choice

You have a choice; interpret negative challenges or setbacks from a lack of talent fixed mindset or from a positive aptitude growth mindset. When you doubt your talent, change your focus – with time and effort, believe you can learn a particular skill or achieve a goal. If you hit a setback or face criticism, keep learning and persevere.

When the grass on the “other side” draws my attention, I stop and reframe – finding the courage in myself to think of the “water”, or successes that keeps my grass green. I still find myself under stress, and I still hear the “voice” of my fixed mindset. I have learned to face the criticism; sometimes old responses rear their ugly head and I get angry – hitting the ball without thinking and making unforced errors. Other times I am able to put those voices in their place. I interpret my challenges, and setbacks then regain my emotional control. It’s all very personal.

Over time, learning to take on the pickleball challenge wholeheartedly, gaining wisdom from setbacks, and acting on the criticisms you face by embracing the growth mindset can make it work for you.

Posted in Recreation and Sports

Time Management Tips and Strategies

Being a student athlete is a strenuous endeavor which requires allocating your time perfectly. As a former Division 1 student athlete this article is written from firsthand experience and what I personally found that made my life easier. After your athletic and academic obligations are met you are left with a very small amount of free time which must be utilized as effectively as possible to maintain your sanity and health.

Twenty to forty hours of your time every week is dedicated to athletic responsibilities. Regardless of what the NCAA mandates as an acceptable hours quota for athletic activities, coaches generally do not respect this rule often finagling and meandering their way around it. You must maintain a full load of classes (12 credit hours) to stay academically eligible but it is encouraged that you take 15 credit hours so you will graduate on time. Most sources recommend studying 2 hours per week, per credit hour which would equate to 24 hours of studying per week. To maintain a healthy lifestyle 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended every night.

A weekly breakdown looks like this:

24 hours/day x 7 days = 168 hours/week

Athletic activities 20 – 40 hours/week

Recommended sleep (8 hours) x 7 nights = 56 hours/week

Class (15 hours) + study time (30 hours) = 45 hours/week

168 hours in one week – Sleep (56 hours) – Athletic obligations (40 hours) – Class & Study time (45 hours) = 27 Hours of free time. Now that we have established the amount of free time a typical student athlete has per week we can use this number to create a strategy to effectively use this allotted time.

If you have a meal plan and eat on campus every meal, this section will not be applicable to you. If you are lucky enough to have an awesome meal plan, enjoy the extra free time and SLEEP. One of the biggest time savers in my experience as a student athlete was setting aside predetermined amount of time 1-2 days a week to cook meals for the next 3-4 days. By setting aside time on a slower day to grocery shop and prepare meals for the next few days you free up time in the upcoming days that would have otherwise been spent cooking/seeking out food. By preparing meals in mass quantity you also cut down the amount of money you spend per meal which is an added bonus. Setting aside 8-8.5 hours/week to grocery shop, cook, and actually eat was the sweet spot for me. 27 free hours – 8.5 of cooking/eating/grocery shopping = 18.5 hours left.

Cleaning your living space as well as doing laundry are imperative to maintaining your sanity. By setting aside 3.5 hours a week to cleaning and 3.5 hours a week to laundry you give yourself enough time to take care of one of your basic needs. One technique I liked to use was to take care of laundry while my meals were cooking so that my time was utilized to the maximum. 18.5 free hours -7 hours = 11.5 hours left.

With your remaining free time use it to maintain your sanity. The stress of college athletics while trying to keep your grades up and appease the people in power will take its toll on you. Meditate, read, take a walk and maybe call your family! Use this remaining free time to take a moment for yourself and maintain your peace of mind so that you can successfully navigate and endure your day to day responsibilities and commitments.