Driving with the Emergency Break
Imagine driving a high performance car, say a Lamborghini, on a race track. You start the car and you begin to drive. You give it more gas, you shift the gears, and your speed climbs. You feel your car moving faster and faster until all of a sudden…you hit a plateau. Your speed remains constant well below the cars known potential. You become frustrated, you get angry, and you search for the problem. Your pedal is to the floor. Check. You are in the highest gear. Check. You seem to be doing everything within your power to push the car to its top speed. You look down, and you finally notice…You are driving with the Emergency Brake!
Many, if not most athletes have at least another 2 or 3 unused gears inside them. Gears that are very available, but they are not using them. As an athlete, I always hated it when coaches would tell me that I was just about ready to, “turn that corner.” This is frustrating to an athlete who is trying to do everything within his or her power to properly prepare for their sport.
The good news is: Most athletes are not lacking any ability, they are just blocking it. If you are putting in hours and hours of time into preparation and you know deep down that you are better than your performance shows, you too are blocking it. There is no corner to turn. You are already there. You just need to learn how to release the emergency brake.
Most tennis players can relate with hitting “their shots” in practice. They can swing out on their groundstrokes and hit with a good deal of pace. Then match day comes. Everything tightens up, you start hitting with less pace, higher over the net. You were just hitting laser forehands in warm-ups and now you are moonballing! How can this be? It feels like you have the breaks on! You know you have several more gears to your game that you can’t access in the moment.
Performing better in practice than in matches is one of the top “mindset red flags” we discuss and conquer.
There are 4 main jobs of all sport psychologists, life coaches, personal trainers etc. (1) Help the person decide what they want (2) Map out a plan to get there (3) Get the person to take action and (4) help the person step out of their own way. In essence, unblock themselves.
If you are already doing steps 1-3 on your own and are not getting the results you deserve, you only need to learn how to unblock yourself. It is simple IF, repeat IF, you take proper action and train your mind.
Release the emergency brake and take your performance to your potential.