What you think will happen…will. I love to call this my Chocolate Brownie Theory. If you weren’t thinking about chocolate brownies…well, now you are. You may even be thinking about how they smell and taste. Warm and gooey deliciousness. Now I want you to stop thinking about them.
You can’t, can you?
Now I want you to think about vanilla ice cream. How it is cold and creamy on your tongue. Think about how the little speaks of black smack your taste buds with a smooth essence of vanilla bean. Think about if it is in a bowl or better yet a fresh made waffle cone. When you bite into that cone the mix of warm cone and cold ice cream dance together and put a smile on your face.
So while you were thinking about the vanilla ice cream chances are you weren’t thinking about the chocolate brownie.
In order to stop thinking about one thing, it has to be replaced with a different thought. In order to stop thinking about chocolate brownies, our brain can’t just turn a switch and stop the thought forever. But the brain can flip a switch to think of something else. As long as the brain is thinking of something else, it is focused on the new thought. One thought at a time.
This is important to know because many times when an athlete is learning a new skill or trying to run a new play, if the athlete thinks to them self “I am going to get hurt.” or “I can’t outrun that kid, he’s so much faster than me.” they are thinking about the wrong thing. If an athlete is learning a new dive, they must only think about the mechanics of that dive; How they should jump, the position their head and chest should be in when they take off the board and the timing of the entry, and if they are thinking about getting hurt and not the mechanics…chances are they might get hurt.
When doing skills or practicing a new play for the first time, think about what you are supposed to do. Go over the plan in your head, see yourself successfully completing the skill, then say the plan as you are doing the skill. You will have a better chance of success if you think about the HOW-TO.