Facu Pieres, Polito Pieres and Nico Pieres celebrating a win for Ellerstina - Gratitude

THE MENTAL GAME: Tips on How to Improve Your Polo Game with Gratitude – Part 3

By John Haime [3 minute read] (In case you missed Part 1 and Part 2

In the final segment of our series for developing players on how having an “attitude of gratitude” can improve your game, international mental performance coach John Haime offers practical tips.

Here are a few suggestions on how to become more grateful in your polo life:

  • Never forget how lucky you are to be able to play polo with fabulous horses and inspiring teammates. They give you an outlet to express yourself and bring meaning to your life. Be aware of all the gifts around you that very few others in the world have. (If you have difficulty grasping that, turn on the TV news and take a look at the conditions under which the less fortunate live.)
  • Remember that you can only feel one emotion at the same time. If you’re grateful, you can’t be negative. If you’re negative, you can’t be grateful. Replace negative feelings that limit performance with feelings of gratefulness. You can make the decision to change your state of mind with a shift to being grateful for the opportunity to participate in the game.
  • Think about two things you are grateful for at the end of each day. Get in the habit of being grateful for things on and off the polo field.
  • Express yourself. Don’t keep your gratitude to yourself. Sharing it will give both the recipient and yourself a lift. Studies have shown that feelings of gratitude increase when they are communicated. Think about the people around you. Who has helped you develop your game? Who have you learned from the most? Who makes an extra effort to do things that boost the image of the sport, such as organizing charity matches or visiting hospitalized children? Express your gratitude to your coach, your team manager, your teammates, your groom—and don’t forget the umpires, who work diligently, despite being the never-ending target of complaints. 
  • Reflect on the tough times. You didn’t always have the advantages that you currently do in the sport. Remembering how difficult it was to learn polo well enough to compete and realizing how far you’ve come sends a powerful split-image to your brain. The marked contrast between the “before” and “now” images will trigger feelings of gratitude.
  • Appreciate everything, regardless of its magnitude. Gratitude shouldn’t be reserved for only the “big” things in life. Developing an attitude of gratitude begins with appreciating everything that brings benefit to your life and recognizing that nothing is too small to deserve appreciation. It might be as simple as having nice weather during a final when rain was forecast.

The take-home message: Being grateful can bring a new outlook to your game. Not only will you appreciate and enjoy the sport that much more, but a healthier mindset will help you achieve more and enhance your performance. As Jim Rohn, a personal achievement advisor, said, “Learn to be thankful for what you already have while you pursue all that you want.”

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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 

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