THE MENTAL GAME: EXPERT TIPS ON BREAKING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE –Part 3

TO OUR READERS AND VIEWERS: POLO CHANNEL WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU! OUR GOAL IS TO HELP YOU IMPROVE YOUR GAME. WHAT MENTAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL CHALLENGES WOULD YOU LIKE ADVICE ON FROM OUR MENTAL PERFORMANCE EXPERTS? SEND AN EMAIL TO: darlene@polochannel.com 

THE MENTAL GAME: EXPERT TIPS ON BREAKING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE –Part 3

JOHN HAIME

In this final installment of our series on the “comfort zone,” world renowned mental performance coach John Haime suggests steps you can take to expand your comfort zone and stretch as a player.

The most important factor for you to break out of your comfort zone is asking yourself why you are staying in it! You must be genuinely interested in improvement and know what benefits you want to get out of it. 

Then commit to the reality that you have to build it up step by step. Expanding the perimeter of your comfort zone by slowly and intelligently pushing your barriers will build confidence. The process should be methodical and progressive. Don’t run out and try to change your entire game overnight. Evaluate what needs to be done—physically, mentally and emotionally—to move up a level, and create the steps to get there. It will be a gradual process and almost guaranteed won’t be a straight line.

Here are some methods that have worked well for professional polo players and other athletes I have worked with as a mental/emotional performance coach:

FACE YOUR FEARS – Stepping out of your comfortable area will probably cause some fear—the dreaded “what ifs” are the downfall of many players. “What if I fail?”, “What if I really can’t do this?”, “What if I’m not good enough?” Stay in the moment and do things slowly. A committed plan with reasonable milestones will give you the confidence to get to a new place. 

CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE – You can begin growing your comfort zone through small changes in your approach to the game – adding 30 minutes/ week working on a weakness, get feedback from teammates and coaches on what needs improvement and how to do it and understand your own emotional make-up so you know what causes ups and downs in your game. What are the triggers that cause emotional shifts?

GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY – See yourself in a new light. You likely put self-induced limits on yourself. The truth is, sometimes you’ve just got to get out of your own way. If you begin seeing yourself as a better player, chances are you will be. Raise your opinion of your game and yourself and you will set the table for better performance. 

PUSH YOUR LIMITSComfort feels all cozy and warm when you’re in it, but as this series has explained, it’s also a double-edged sword. If you stay comfortable for too long, you begin to get bored, lazy and too satisfied with average results. Once you begin expanding the comfort zone, it will become easier over time. Remember the idea of “Optimal Anxiety” from Part 1 in this series. A small level of discomfort becomes more normal to you, and you can push farther before performance falls off. Remember that as continue to challenge yourself, your comfort zone will expand – so what was difficult and anxiety-inducing will become easier as you repeat it. So, if you want to improve your game, challenge the status quo: push your limits, and you’ll see the game in a new light.

It won’t be easy and will take some time, but I think you’ll like the results.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Haime is President of New Edge Performance. A world-class Human Performance Coach for athletes, executives and artists, former professional athlete and current bestselling Author of You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscles to Perform Better and Achieve More, John understands how athletes think and feel. He’s been there—under the most intense pressures of amateur and professional sports. He is trusted by a wide range of clients including some of world’s leading professional and amateur athletes. John coaches professional equestrians and up-and-comers with a proven system generating measurable results for clients. He has certifications in psychology, neuroscience, emotional intelligence and coaching. www.johnhaime.com 

Photography: Olivia Juaretche

Join the Polo Channel community

Stay up to date with the latest releases, cool videos and amazing content. With your name and email, you'll be all set. Join the fastest growing community in polo.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------