Developing a Gritty Mind-set in Motocross
If you ride MX you already know that it’s 90% a mental sport, you can have all the technical ability in the world and whilst that is important it’s not going to be any benefit to you if your mind is not getting the same level of attention and training.
The gremlins will find a space to breed on your brain, usually at the worst possible moment and cause all sorts of havoc in there!
So, rather that talking about that this blog (because as a rider I have no doubt that you have already met your Gremlins!) I wanted to share with you some strategies to play around with to help you develop a gritty mind, having a gritty mind set is like poison to a gremlin, they can’t get in and if they do find a way, a gritty mind-set will ‘nuke’ that nuisance to smithereens before it begins to breed!
Play around with these strategies, get curious and explore what works for you.
What’s you MXY? – when you’re setting off from that start line, you have to know ‘why’ you are doing it. A strong purpose and sense of meaning is exactly what will get you out of bed for an early morning training sessions on the run up to race day, not to mention through those later laps when your body is tired, your ‘Y’ will keep you going when your arms are starting to feel heavy all the way to the end.
Racing your best race is about facing into challenging situations that come with being an MX rider and meeting them head on, when you feel defeated your ‘Y’ will help you bounce back even stronger than you were before, the habit of purpose is a great one to have in every part of your life, so start with your MXY!
Try this: Draw your goal at the centre of a piece of paper in just one sentence, it could be ‘to win my next race’ or ‘to come 8th in my next race’ and then think of a minimum of 4 reasons ‘why’ that’s important to you, e.g I want to feel amazing, or ‘to prove to myself that I can do it’, ‘To beat my PB’ all of these things will not allow help achieve your goal but also build your confidence. I promise you if you take time to do this properly, at the very moment you need to remember your why – you’ll remember!
Think like a champion – Our minds respond to what we tell it like a dutiful puppy dog, if you think like a failure your mind will look for as many things as possible to prove you right, however, if you think like a champion it will do exactly the same thing. The more you tell yourself you are a champ your behaviour and actions will follow, but how do you get into that mind-set when you haven’t won a race yet?
Adopting a ‘power pose’ changes our physical state, this is directly linked to our thoughts and feelings which basically means the way you stand will change the way you feel and perform
Try this: Create a positive ritual – Stand tall, shoulder back, head held high, chest out and take deep breathes in and out. Hold this pose for 2 minutes, you could do this daily for maximum impact but most certainly before you go out to practice and race! You may feel a bit strange doing it at first so it might be worth finding a quiet place, on second thoughts you could be a trail blazer and have every-one on the track power posing!
Visualisation – As crazy as it may sound, what I am about to say is true, your mind can’t tell the difference between something that it has or hasn’t experience before! I know crazy right? The great thing about this for you is that you can trick it into thinking it has already achieved the goal you want to achieve. Many athletes use this technique to visualise all the potential scenarios they may face in the pursuit of their goals, and then visualise how they respond in every situation (and I’m talking Gold Medal Olympians, if can work for them it can work for the rest of us!)
Try this: Create a few minutes every day to see, hear and feel yourself achieving your goal, this could be whilst your brushing your teeth, in the shower, walking to school or work. Really allow yourself to positively experience it. Notice the obstacles that you may face and notice all the options you have to respond to those different scenarios – and leave that visualisation in the knowledge that you have options and choices.
You are capable of more than you realise – Remember, when you couldn’t ride at all? Remember that track you said was too hard? Remember the first time you fell off? Remember thinking you’ll never do it? But you did! It’s far too easy to forget how far you have come and to only focus on how far you have to go. Well I’m just here to remind you of all those moments, remember all of those moments every time you are sitting at the starting gate, every-one of those moments have opened up an opportunity to bust so many beliefs you may have once held to be true about yourself.
What you are capable of got you to this point, and everything you have learn’t no matter how hard the lesson will serve you well in the future. Even when you think the tank is empty there’s always a bit left in the reserve. Racing is about continuous progression, pushing to go a little further and/or a little fast each time you go out there.
Try This: Every time you go to the track weather it’s to practice or race, note down 3 things you learn that day, and how you will use that learning next time you get on your bike, the next you go to the track have a read of those notes as a reminder of how far you have come and how much you have learn’t
Make friends with the Bully (in your head)– Use practice days to make friends with your inner critic, the bully voice in your head that tells you ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘who do you think you are’ …it’s okay to admit to yourself that it’s there, we all have one. Professor Steven Peters would call this ‘The Chimp’.
I am a long distance runner, and every time I run I get to practice making the positive voice louder, and more dominate, that practice is and continues to strengthen the habit of positive self-talk and therefore drowning out the bully voice that wants me to believe I’m not good enough to run Marathons (which I am because I’ve run quite a few – take that Mr Chimp !!). Turn your unhelpful beliefs about your ability to perform well into helpful beliefs.
Remember to talk to yourself like you are your biggest fan, thoughts plus action really do become things, and you can create the outcome you want by practicing positive self-talk.
Try this: Next time your bully voice makes an appearance in your mind during practice, tell it you hear it, and your choosing not to listen right now, silencing this bully voice will make space for the positive one to be heard. Create your own mantra (since I’m sharing I’ll tell you mine! ‘GRIT, DETERMINATION, STENGTH & STAMINA’ over and over again, I can tell you from personal experience it works!! I’ve made the impossible possible with this technique alone, it’s got me over many a marathon finish line! – Tell yourself you can, and you will! – give it a go!
Look after your body like you look after your bike – We only get one body, and if I want that one body to help you achieve your goals you have to help it by fuelling it properly with healthy nutritious food, drinking plenty of water and taking time to allow it to rest and repair itself properly.
Take time out for yourself before and after the race, to look after you brain & body health, remember to put yourself first if you want to be the best version of yourself on race day, it might be worth considering this… if you only had 1 bike to last you a lifetime, would you treat it differently?
Try this: Aside of the obvious like going to the gym, eating healthy food etc… take time to rest your mind after each practice session/race. I don’t mean think about the race or chat to friends about what went wrong or well. I mean find a quite space to be alone and rest your mind completely, lay down and stare at the sky, sit up and stare at the trees. Relax your entire body from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, like a body scanner, scanning your body, as it moves across your body allow yourself to let every bit of tension and stress leave your body – tension is not good for a rider so let it go, there’s great (and free) app called Headspace that could be really help to guide you through this whilst you’re getting used to making it a habit
Stop comparing yourself to others –You don’t need this kind of stress in your life! comparing yourself to others will not help you achieve your goal in any way. You are not them, and they are not you. Race your own race, set your own goals and focus on them, if you do this, you will be setting yourself up for a great performance, we always give our best performance when you are ‘in flow’ you can only be ‘in flow’ if your mind is clear and relaxed’ if you’re ‘thinking’ about the rider next to you and how they are better than you, faster than you, more experienced than you, then you simply can’t be in flow.
You cannot compare yourself to others, there is no comparison. You are perfectly unique, go make the impossible possible!
Try this: Eyes forward, focus, breathe, it’s just you, your bike and the finish line