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Located in Albuquerque, NM, U.S.A. (MOVEMENT THERAPY)
When Athletes are competing, and the competitor that has been winning is now losing, why is it he or she collapses in on his or herself emotionally? You can actually see a physicalized depression in many cases, where the athlete is trying to will their body around the court or the green.
I’m going to answer it very simply. They attack themselves in their thoughts. I believe many athletes in the middle of a competition, when the momentum turns against them, get very down on themselves in their thoughts. Do they know that is what they’re doing?
I’m not sure. What can at times be obvious to everyone watching a competition, may not be conscious to the one competing. Let me say this a different way. It seems to be the norm that an athlete who has been winning suddenly, and finds the momentum has shifted against them, collapses emotionally and/or athletically, then that must be perfectly normal.
It is what a whole lot of athletic competitors do. It does not have to happen. I believe it is accepted as a good thing in a psychological way, because it is the competitor telegraphing to the fans that he or she knows he or she is screwing up. In other words, the competitor beats him or herself up in public, hoping it will magically change the momentum.
Who doesn’t admire the athlete that fights his or her back into the game?
In the music world there is an equivalent thing that happens. When the performer messes up a note or a passage, he or she may make a disapproving face. This tells the audience they know they messed up, so why wait until later to punish yourself for making a mistake.
The basis for punishing yourself for making a mistake or beginning to lose a competition is that punishment works, and it seems to me a whole lot of people believe this, if not most.
So, what if an athlete in the middle of a competition did not lose faith in him or herself when they started to lose? This would mean they would play as if they were still winning. I’ll tell you one thing, I bet it would freak out the other player or players. Because who plays as inspired losing, as they do when they’re winning?
There is another thing that an athlete in the middle of a competition can do, that can prevent collapse when he or she starts to lose. He or she focuses on returning to using a playing technique based on good posture and good use. This is how the Alexander Technique would describe focusing on how you’re playing, not only on trying to win.
So, as you begin to lose in a tennis or golf match, you release your neck as you hit the ball. You notice if you are holding your breath and you breathe. You notice if you are trying to hold your game together with excessive tension throughout your whole body, and you stop using physical tension to get back in the game.
What I just described is how you can get back in the zone by choice, rather than hunkering down and waiting out your attack on yourself for beginning to lose.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GET DOWN ON YOURSELF TO REVERSE MOMENTUM. It is not a loving thing to do. It may be the norm, but the norm that is not loving is not right or irresistible.