Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - Mental Toughness

     Tom says, "If my feet are ever go over my head, something has gone terribly wrong."  That would be true for my 6' 2" husband but feet flying over head is typical for gymnasts.  However, the ascent of sports psychology as a profession proves all tricks and skills in the gym don't necessarily come easily to anyone.  The following excerpts are taken from an article by Dr. Alan Goldberg from the the website at the bottom of the page. (All bold print is mine.)  There was no way to read the article without thinking of "blocked believers" who could use some mental toughness to break through to higher ground.  

. .keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Source and Perfecter of our faith, 
Who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross 
and despised the shame
and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne."
Hebrews 12:2
"Welcome to the mental side of gymnastics!…to that mysterious and oftentimes unexplainable nether world between body and skill execution. Oh, how easy it would be if gymnasts could just do what coaches told them to whenever their bodies were ready. No such luck! That's not gymnastics! Training your body is only one part of what's necessary to learn and consistently execute a trick in the gym or at a meet. You also have to learn to contend with, and train your mind. Gymnastics success can only be achieved when you begin to work on this mental side of your performance. To reach your goals you must learn to use the principles in sports psychology to help you develop mental toughness.  
*God didn't design us to be robots either, but calls us to fix our eyes on Him and to stay our minds on Him.

"But You remain the same, 
   and Your years will never end."
Psalm 102:27

     "Fear is not always as bad as everyone makes it out to be. First of all a gymnast with absolutely no fear is an accident waiting to happen. .  .Believe it or not, fear is also a positive indication that you're moving up to the next level in this sport. Every time you attempt a new skill or otherwise step outside of your comfort zone, fear will be there to greet you."  
      *Each new "height" in our spiritual life brings with it new doubts and fears. 
 "Show me a blocked gymnast and I'll show you an athlete who is focusing on the wrong things before and/or during the skill attempt. In many cases your fears are fed by a faulty focus of concentration. (Think about it! How well will you do if your concentration is on the "what if's" or what you're afraid will happen?)"
Peak performance in gymnastics demands that your focus be on the skill that you're doing and the apparatus. When you perform your best this is exactly what's happening. You're not thinking. You're just paying attention to all the right things. What are the "right things" to focus on? Usually effortless skill execution is a product of concentrating on the proper feel of the skill. (Focusing on one specific kinesthetic or feeling cue). The stuck gymnast is instead focusing on his/her thoughts of what could go wrong. Getting unstuck means that you must learn to refocus on what your doing and feeling.

Father, help us learn mental toughness in serving You.  

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