The real mental challenge comes in the competative arena. It is here, where the athlete is attempting to perform at a top level, that the role of the mind can help or hinder your outcomes. As Timothy Gallewey writes in his book The Inner Game of Tennis, the real key to peak performance is the elimination of Self 1 (the ego) thereby allowing Self 2 (the physical body, including the brain, memory bank - conscious and unconscious, and the nervous system) to reach its full potential. This essentially equates to allowing yourself to play in the "zone". We have all been in the "zone" sometime during our athletic careers, but the elite athlete is able to get into the "zone" with each performance and can STAY there throughout the entire event. Tim Gallewey states,
"...even though you don't know much about what is happening in the "zone", you can know a lot about what is not happening. You can remember that you weren't criticizing yourself; you weren't congratulating yourself either. You weren't thinking about how to do the (snatch) correctly or how not to do the (snatch). You were not thinking about past (reps) or the (time remaining in the set), about what people would think or even about the results to be obtained. In other words what was missing was Self 1 (the ego). What was left was Self 2. Interestingly, this state of being (the zone), when Self 1 is absent and Self 2 is present, always feels good, and allows a more vivid consciousness and usually great excellence in performance."
So, what does this have to do with me? Well, for the past several weeks, as I continue to work towards those last 10 reps per arm in the snatch to make Candidate for Master of Sport I have become aware of the role of the ego in my training sessions. Today for example, I was in the "zone" on both my left and right hands for the first 3 minutes. I was not thinking about technique, the reps were consistent, efficient, and they were adding up. My nervous system (Self 2) was running the show. However, as I entered the 4th minute on both hands my ego (Self 1) entered the picture. I started telling myself how good I felt, that I was going to make the numbers, that I only had 1 more minute to go, and that I needed to focus on catching the bell early on the descent, not shorting my backswing, and using my legs on the ascent. Next thing I know, I am no longer in the "zone". I start to struggle, my technique falls apart, my grip begins to fail, I begin to doubt my ability to finish the 4th minute, I begin to question if I will ever reach CMS. MY EGO HAS WON.
Jerk(2x28kg) 7 minutes @ 6 rpm
10 minutes rest
Snatch(28kg) 8 minutes @ L15/16/15/13 ---> R15/16/15/15
OAJ(40kg) 10/10 x 1
Swing(40kg) 35/35 x 1
CC Full Squat 30/30 x 2