You may not need me. You can make me redundant. You can put me on the dole if you improve a simple skill. This simple skill needs to be worked on everyday though. Master it and you’ll become a student of your mindset. You’ll become a student of your game. You’ll become a student of you. What is it? Let me tell you.
I’m perhaps going to disappoint you here. You’re gonna be like “Oh, but Dan that’s soooo boring!” Yeah, but you know sometimes development and performance in sport is boring (no matter how much Sir Ken Robinson you watch – life can’t be subject to imagination and creativity all the time – sometimes hard work and repetition count – sorry Sir Ken!)
So here goes. You can improve your ability, you can speed your development, you can high perform more consistently….(drum roll please)….if you work on your self-awareness. You see, I told you you’d yawn. Boring right?
Boring maybe…but imperative. I don’t care what sport you play – golf, soccer, rugby, basketball, baseball – whatever – self-awareness is a crucial determinant of your trajectory as a competitor. Growth is reliant on it. Performance is influenced by it. Developing your self-awareness must become an integral part of your tool-kit if you want to explore being the best you can be.
Self-awareness is your ability to step outside of yourself and observe yourself from the outside in – essentially a third person perspective of you. It’s also your ability to think about your thinking (psychologists call this meta-cognition – but don’t let that put you off!)
How can you improve your technique if you don’t know what you technique is like now? How can you improve your reactions and responses if you are blissfully unaware of them? How can you improve your practice if you don’t know your behaviours on the training or practice ground? How can you improve your thinking if you don’t know how you think right now?
Self-awareness is little talked about, but it’s right up there with focus, confidence and emotional management in terms of psychological skills. Great sport psychology (and great football psychology and great golf psychology in particular) includes great self-awareness.
So how can you improve this skill?
The answer falls under the ‘simple but not easy’ category. The simple answer is that the way your brain works, you are able to ‘step outside’ of yourself and ‘observe’ your actions. But this isn’t that easy to do. It takes practice – lots of it.
Scientists don’t fully know how you can do this – but we know that it’s a uniquely human skill that is highly useful in your everyday functioning – including helping you play sport better.
Here are 2 simple things you can do to improve your self-awareness:
Like all mental skills, self-awareness is a habit. It requires practice.
Reflect back to your last performance. Take a third person viewpoint. What did you look like? How were you holding yourself? How did you walk or run? How did you react and respond to different situations as you performed? Were they great reactions? World class reactions? What would others have seen as they watched you play?
What was your technique like? Try to be specific. Break down each component of your swing or stroke or kick or throw. Were you executing your technique fluidly? Confidently?
What were you thinking? Feeling? Was your internal chatter helpful? Did it help you execute the skills you wanted to?
Post Game Questions
3 simple post game questions:
– What went well today?
– What needs to go better next time?
– What do I need to start doing?
Great questions about yourself and your game help you improve your self-awareness. This process is a post game must! It’s great sport psychology.