Coach yells out ‘focus’ or ‘get your mind right’ or even ‘you gotta be mentally tough,’ but all you hear is some other voice saying, “this sucks, quit” or “I’ll try harder next practice.” What you’re hearing in that moment is your Inner Voice expressing itself to you, reaching out for help as it takes on obstacles. This voice can be trained to be helpful to your progress, and I’m gonna show you how to do it.
Here is a great clip explaining how our Inner Voice or private voice works:
Dr. Jim Loehr states:
How does your private or inner voice speak to you? Is it really a coach that is giving you strong, positive messages that help you? Or is it actually working to break you down, to actually cause you more grief and stress?
Once you recognize that voice and its power & control within you, it is time to get that voice to help you rather than hinder you.
Imagine a scenario:
You’re at practice, coach is making your team work on consistency, doing rep after rep after rep of the same skill, a skill you know the whole team has. But people are dropping so the consistency count isn’t rising. Teammates are audibly frustrated. Negative body language all over the gym.
What is your Inner Voice saying to you in that moment? Probably mostly negative statements being made. So how do we flip those statements to become motivating and positive without being cliche? Think back to the basics all your coaches taught you. Combine the wisdom of your coaches to make a powerful Inner Coach within you.
Some things to focus on to bring out your inner coach:
- Technique Basics
- Where do my feet go? Where do my hands go?
- Remind yourself exactly what you were instructed to do for that skills
- Staying Calm & Positive
- Being unsuccessful even once can set our emotions off and running.
- When something goes wrong, don’t lament on the terribleness of the moment, instead think of just ONE thing you did wrong that you think you can fix. Example: “Last time I was too slow standing up in the stunt, this time I am going to pay attention to the timing and go early to help my teammates.”
- Do It For Someone Else
- Some days we just don’t care. That is okay, as long as not caring doesn’t let down someone else, like your coach or teammates, or parents!
- When you get in that impossible moment, don’t slump through it, make it great! Your parents put up their time and money so you can enjoy cheer. Your coach gives their time and efforts for you and the team. Your teammates are working just as hard (or if they aren’t some of the best on the team, they’re wishing they could be working just as hard as you) in the same room. Don’t you owe it to them to give it your all, no excuses, and make the skill successful?
Find where it clicks. One of my mentors always spoke about that moment when something just clicks. It could be something on a granular level, like that moment when your back handspring just makes sense and you finally can do them easily and well and often. Or it could be a click that happens on a broader level, where you mentally understand how to not be nervous about performances any longer. Find where your Inner Coach clicks with you. It won’t be found after searching during a practice, it will be found after trying different ways to motivate and focus yourself on the task at hand.
If you can do this for cheerleading, think of the possibilities for everything else you do with your life! Endless potential!