In one of the last sessions of the day I had over the weekend, I was asked a question about dealing with pressure at competition.
The problem, they told me, was that I go in with a plan for how I’m going to jump the course, and I know that’s the best one for me and my horse. Then I watch some of the riders before me and I see them making a sharper turn or taking a shorter route and I think, maybe I should do that? Maybe they are doing it better than me and I should change things up?
So I change my plans and more often than not it lets me down and I’m left thinking that I should have stuck with my original plan all along.
I get it, I said. Competition is essentially a seduction. It seduces you into thinking that someone else has better ideas than you, more skills that you, a better understanding of how to approach things. The real test of competition has nothing to do with winning. The real test is seeing how much you trust yourself in the midst of the many calls to distraction. If you can stay with yourself, you are already ahead.
The answer, I went on, lies in your body, not in your mind. You need to ask your body for consent. We can learn a lot from watching other people and maybe on some occasions, they will do something that’s a good idea for you to learn from and even adopt. And then there are those times when you just need to stick to your plan and not let yourself get thrown off course.
It’s easy for the mind to doubt itself. But the body will tell you straight. Don’t ask your mind, ask your body. When I think about changing the plan now, does that feel like a good idea? Or does that trigger a warning bell in your gut?
Get out of your head and into your body. Ask your body for consent.