Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Everyday

I recently signed up for a run every day in December challenge, you don’t have to do big distances – a minimum of 3 miles or 25 minutes whichever comes first.

There are 3 main things I have re-learnt from this experience…

1 – Team - Logging in everyday to share my run and share in others has a great sense of achievement to it, people from around the world, some I know, most I don’t, all encouraging, congratulating and occasionally giving a kick up the bum, helps us be in this together even though many of us do most of our runs on our own.

2 – Time - My ability to find 25 minutes every day to run has surprised me and helped me realise that there is always time for the things you ‘want’ to do. (Running round a coach park at a services on the M4 was something I’d never thought I’d ‘want’ to do!)

3 – Action - it’s the small, quiet, repeatable actions that make the difference, not the large on-offs

When you are training and competing it’s about the small changes and choices you make, to your diet, to your plan, to your attitude that makes the difference and its repeating those actions that gives you the EDGE.  They say practice makes perfect, but actually practice makes permanent so if you are constantly looking for the small changes to give you quality repeatable actions then you are going to do better than the person sticking rigidly to their plan.

So think about what’s your TTA

Team – whoever makes up your team, make sure they know your goal

Time – it’s always there you just need to find it

Action – Practice every day your mental strategies and mind-set development – make sure they are the right ones for you – reading a book about what works for someone else might give you a starting place but it’s not your answer, you have to adapt it to who you are.

So here is to just over half way of running every day in December, only another 15 days to go!

If you want to know more about how to adapt and action your mental strategies then contact me at

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Get in the Wheelbarrow

Whatever your sporting aims you need to make sure you’re getting the right support.  From your coach, an individualised training plan, knowing what nutrition works for you, to team mates, friends and family.

Making sure you have everything in place to allow you be your best.  Having good supports also means you will have people who support you not just by saying what you want to hear but also by challenging you when needed.

The biggest supporter you need to have is you.  If you don’t give yourself the right team talk at the right time or challenge what you are doing when needed then you are going to fall short, maybe just a little but enough to know you could have done more.

Talking of supporters I do love the following story…

The story goes: upon completing a highly dangerous tightrope walk over Niagrara Falls in appalling wind and rain.  'The Great Zumbrati' was met by an enthusiastic support who urged him to make a return trip, this time pushing a wheelbarrow, which the supporter had thoughtfully brought along.
The Great Zumbrati was reluctant, given the terrible conditions, but the support pressed him, "You can do it - I know you can" he urged
"You really believe I can do it?" asked Zumbrati
"Yes, definitely - you can do it" the supporter gushed.
"Okay," said Zumbrati, "Get in the wheelbarrow..."

So are you ready to get into your wheelbarrow?  

If you want to know how to give yourself the right support contact me about how sports coaching for mental strategies can help you achieve your goals.

‘Get the EDGE’ weekend training workshops are now also available – details below…

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mental Strategies in Sport - training weekend

You can now book your 'Get the EDGE' mental strategies in sport weekend.  Choose from 3 weekends - suitable for all sports and all levels!

Friday, 20 November 2015

New book out today!!

Very pleased to announce the publication of my new book!

'How to Thrive through Transisiton - A step by step guide to successfully navigate change in your business and personal life.'

Up until the end of December you can get 50% off when ordering through The Endless Bookcase using promo code MEHTTAPKP1 at the checkout.

It will also be available on Amazon, Kobo and Nook from 21st November.

Order yours now at How to Thrive through Transition


Friday, 6 November 2015

Biscuits (and assumptions...)

I love the following story as a reminder that we all have different ambitions and motivations.

This is a true story.  Some years ago the following exchange was broadcast on an Open University sociology TV programme.

An interviewer was talking to a female production-line worker in a biscuit factory.  The dialogue went like this:

Interviewer:  How long have you worked here?
Production Lady:  Since I left school (probably about 15 years)
Interviewer:  What do you do?
Production Lady:  I take packets of biscuits off the conveyor belt and put them into cardboard boxes.
Interviewer:  Have you always done the same job?
Production Lady:  Yes.
Interviewer:  Do you enjoy it?
Production Lady:  Oooh yes, it's great, everyone is so nice and friendly, we have a good laugh.
Interviewer (with a hint of disbelief):  Really?  Don't you find it a bit boring?
Production Lady:  Oh no, sometimes they change the biscuits...

Do not impose your own needs and ambitions on to other people who may not share them.
Do not assume that things that motivate you will motivate someone else.
Recognise that sources of happiness may vary widely between people.

I'm lucky in the training I have undertaken over the years gives me the scope to be able to use many different techniques and adapt them as needed for the individual I am working with.  This story reminds us not to make assumptions based on our own thinking....

Whilst writing this I also came across this experiment by Canon about the power of perspective in portrait photography and how it says more about the person behind the camera than the one in front Petapixal - Canon portrait experiment

If you want to know more about how you as a sports coach can understand your coachees motivations and how you can help with their individual thinking then contact me.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Practice with tweaks

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results".

There is some debate over whether this was Einstein, Franklin or someone else completely who said it, but whoever did, it is a great quote.

Now you may be wondering why this is important to you in your sport, surely I'm always telling my clients that they need to practise over and over their visualisations, mantra's and the many other wonderful things I use in my coaching, so they get the same results physically that they do mentally, the problem lies in when we don't get them quite right, but still keep practising them, then the results are just a little outside of what we wanted, but we keep practising and practising which brings me to another quote,

Practice makes perfect... well no.... Practice makes Permanent!

So if your practices are just a little out, if that voice in your head that's not sure you can do it is still whispering or if the colour you have linked to your positive success is not quite the right shade (this is a small part of sub modalities technique for those that I've not used it with) then you're not getting the full effect and therefore not getting the result you wanted.

This is when you need to make changes and they don't have to be big ones - in fact it is often just the smallest of tweaks that's needed, you just need to know which bit to tweak and when.

If you're not sure or you want to know more about how you can get the most out of yourself then get in touch -



Friday, 16 October 2015

3 days on the South West Coastal path

I have had a fab 3 days at the beginning of the week exploring parts of the coastal path between St Ives and Penzance.  I was crew support for a group of walkers doing this route over 3 days for charity and took the opportunity to get some running, walking and cycling done along this beautiful path.

Path in places might be a slightly kind term for some of the terrain as you had to clamber over boulders, up and down cliffs and even pushing the bike up a hill that would be proud to be part of the Tour de France (that might be a slight exaggeration but it was steep!)

All in all great training for the Grizzly in March – my favourite race on the south coast of Devon and great to recce some routes not just for myself but also for those that want guided runs / walks in the future to test themselves on some tough but beautiful terrain.

Enjoy whatever you are doing this weekend and enjoy the pictures below that I took while out and about - stunning scenery and I might have found a few places where the Piskies live!

Friday, 14 August 2015


I can across this quote recently and loved it.

'It's alright having butterflies in your stomach, just get them to fly in formation.' Dr Rob Gilbert

Some of the work I do with people is around how they are subconsciously holding previous experiences and future ones!

We all know our senses - sight, sound, feel, taste and smell we use these to consciously make sense of the world and below this conscious surface structure are the finer details that make up how we code our memory of our experiences and our future expectations.  This is how our brain tells us if something is important or not or somewhere in between.  We do this at a subconscious level.

By understanding the finer details we can begin to understand our experiences.  We can change the focus of a memory or expectation, make it brighter, duller, louder, softer, make it feel hot or cold, even get the butterflies to fly in formation!  By understanding our own experiences we have choice about how we hold them.  We can think of it as having a remote control for our memories and feelings, we can change the volume, the channel or turn it off.  Once an event has occurred we cannot change the actual event – we can change how we think about it.

So to come back to the quote – when you next have butterflies see what you can do with them, one of many things you can try as a quick exploration is to speed them up and slow them down and see what differences it makes to how you feel (you can always put them back to how they were originally!)

Find out more about taking control and making choices with me The ULTRA Coach – giving you the EDGE –

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The WHAT and HOW of talking to yourself

Working with people across various sports means I get to have some great insights into some of the common problems that stop people in their tracks.

Some of the work I do with people is around how they use language to get themselves motivated, give themselves excuses (a lot of the time without realising) and the fact that what they say to themselves in training, in competition and in down time is really important.  Words are very context specific for instance many of my clients will know that saying something along the lines of 'I'll try to do my practice tonight' is going to get picked up very quickly by me and more than likely end up with me quoting Yoda 'Do or do not, there is no try'.  As in this context the word ‘try’ is giving them a get out clause.  However if we have come up with a new strategy that we want to test it out then saying 'I'll try that over this week and make a note of what happens' is great.  So context is all important.

So using language well can be really useful, and now comes the next part, how are you saying it?  Take for instance the line 'I'll try that over this week and make a note of what happens' - say it yourself in a really bored voice - do you think you'd do it..? Now say it to yourself in your most motivated voice - how do you feel about it now?  Which tone motivates you and which tone means you've forgotten about it already?

Here in lies the crux of the matter - what is the relationship we have with ourselves?   As I’ve said on many occasions we all have different parts within us and they all have a different voice.  What we are looking for is to have what we are saying and how we are saying it to have congruence and therefore we can believe in it and deliver the results we want.  To do this you need to make sure you can really hear what and how you are talking to yourself so you can then ask the question, ‘Do I really believe in this, am I going to take the action’.  If not then you can find out what needs changing and do something about it.  

A great question to ask when you’re listening to yourself is ‘How does this make me feel?’  Are you motivating yourself or beating yourself up?  Again you can hear the difference for yourself by exploring different ways of saying the same thing.  Be determined and say ‘I am going to nail this next training session’ and then perhaps say it in a flippant tone, as before what is the difference you notice.  As always this is about exploring what works for you and gaining understanding so in any given moment you can make the choice of what and how you talk to yourself to deliver results. 

So make friends with the voices in your head and understand WHAT you say and HOW you say it are both important and can make the difference between you and the competition – giving you the EDGE

"You don't win tournaments by playing well and thinking poorly.“
Lee Westwood, Golfer

Some may align this blog post with the often quoted Mehrabian stats from his 1968 study and before you do remember that it is all about context and those figures have been grossly misused by people in the communications business, as Albert Mehrabian said in a Radio 4 interview in 2009 in answer to the statement ‘93% of communication is non-verbal’.

‘Whenever I hear that misquote or misrepresentation of my findings I cringe, because it should be so obvious to anybody who would use any amount of common sense that that’s not a correct statement.’

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Speed Vs. Accuracy

While taking part in my favourite activity at the weekend, a self navigating run (for those that are wondering this is a run where you are given the route instructions or a map at the start of a race and have to follow them, there are no marshals or arrows to follow - although there are checkpoints along the way to make sure you're on track) there were a couple of different instances got me thinking about speed vs. accuracy.

The reason for this was because if the run I was doing had finished at 3.5 miles I would have been on the podium despite the fact that there were quite a few faster runners taking part.  The reason - they were so focused on going fast, they didn't read the route instructions clearly enough and therefore went down a few wrong paths before getting back on track.  Being that we do these things for fun we did have a good laugh about it as they came past and for some when they came past for the 2nd or 3rd time... (By the way fun doesn't mean we're not also a competitive bunch!)

The same thing had happened the day before on another route and in the lull between instructions I started to wonder how this is the same as our thinking works - our brain works at such a speed we can be down the wrong path before we've even had a chance to realise there was more than one way to go!  Or perhaps we are following the crowd, not wanting to be the one to say 'I think it's this way'

So we can back track the way we came until we find the point we last knew where we were, we can forge forward and hope to come to somewhere we recognise or we can find a short cut to get back on track.  Depending on what we are doing all these options are perfectly valid.  But what if we hadn't gone speeding past the turn in the first place, what if we had slowed down just a little to read the instructions and understand what was needed of us so that we could take the right path first time... Well in the long run it could save you time and energy.  And just like on these runs - if you think it's a different way, stop and check, it could be that others are having the same doubts and together you can make sure you are all on the right path.

So the magic key in this instance is to have the right speed and accuracy rather than one or the other, they should be complimenting each other.  Which means having the right strategy mentally

1. be sure of your own abilities
2. be strong - if you think others are following the wrong path, take the one that you think is right.
3. be ready to admit your mistakes and rectify them quickly

And above all have fun!

Working with a mental strategies and mindset development coach means you can make sure your brain is taking the right path at the right time with speed and accuracy.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Often when we are training or taking part in competitive sport we push ourselves to limits both mentally and physically and sometimes this means we can forget that we are meant to be enjoying that pushing of our boundaries as well.

So remember to smile!  

Darwin, way back when, was not only interested in the biological sciences but also in psychology and published a paper called 'The expressions of emotions in man and animals'.  Part of his thinking was that our facial expressions didn't only reflect our emotions but could also cause them!

So what is the science behind a smile...?

When we smile it sets off a whole set of messages to our brain that benefits our health and happiness.  Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides which helps us fight stress.  The neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit signals across neurons) of dopamine, endorphin and serotonin are all released in the right balance to help us feel good, relax and can lower our heart rate and blood pressure (now that sounds good for a sports person!)

And there's more...

Endorphins are a natural pain reliever and serotonin acts as an anti depressant - always useful when you're going through a tough part of training or competing.

So going back to Darwin's theory - we feel good and it makes us smile or we can smile and it helps us feel good - what a great short cut to give us a boost.

Smiling is contagious - you can make your day and someone else's just by smiling at them.  Whether you choose to do this with your competitors is up to you!

So, when the going gets tough, the tough get smiling!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Strengths vs Weaknesses

It is often thought in sport, business and life that we always have to work on our weaknesses... But is this the best way?  By working on our strengths we can automatically bring along those areas where we are not so strong.  Worrying always about our perceived weaknesses can take a lot of time, energy and emotion which could be better spent on building confidence by feeling good about what we do well.  In order to be successful it is important to focus on our strengths not try to eliminate our weaknesses.

We all have people around us who have an opinion on what's best for us and we need to remember we are the only ones being us and all that means for our life, training and sport.  In order to achieve we need to be feeling confident and strong in what we are doing, which isn't going to happen if we only focus on weaknesses!  We also need to remember that it's easy to get quick improvements when you start off and are going from OK to good, but what makes the difference is being able to sustain or improve when you're at the top - that's where the thinking, planning and work comes into it.  That's where we have the EDGE.

So what are you good at and how can you keep or improve on it, that's where our energy should be!

It bought to mind this quote...

"I also focus on my strengths.  I don't devote any more than 10% of my energy to working on my weaknesses.  I'll never be perfect, and I don't have to be.  My strengths are my strengths for a reason and focusing on them allows me to work on weaknesses from a place of confidence rather than need.  Confidence is worth more than anything else."

Lauren Fleshman, American track and field athlete

Thursday, 25 June 2015

When not listening is the right thing to do...

Listening is a good thing, I've even run courses to help people understand how to really listen to themselves and others, not just to words, but to tone, to meaning, to what the body is telling us, in order to ensure full understanding of what someone is saying, or not saying.

In sport we need to listen to our body and the voices in our head, those parts of us that help us train, harder, faster, smarter in order to deliver on the pitch, in a race, on the field, wherever we are competing.  Every voice we have in our head (you can admit to having a few and believe me there's more than you think...) is a part of us that has its own understanding of how the world works and their part in it.  We've all had those moments when part of us wants to do one thing and another part wants to do something else and we have to put up with the ensuing argument going on in our head...

However as with everything there are times when not listening is really useful.  Those times when a part of us says, 'we can't', 'this might hurt', 'are you sure you really want this enough', I'm sure you have your own examples.  What we need to do is understand what this particular voice / part of us is trying to achieve.  For although the way it gets us to behave may seem to be against want we want, it has a purpose that is positive for us - just doesn't understand how to deliver it.  By understanding what it believes to be true we can then get it to work with us and not feel as though part of us is working against what we want to achieve.  This means we can then call on that part when we need it, rather than it appearing at an inopportune moment, we are then in control and make choices quickly and easily to do what we need to do in the moment.

This is what mental strategies and mindset development is all about - understanding when we get in our own way, why it's happening and what we can do about it, before it interferes with our performance.

And sometimes we will just stick our fingers in our ears and sing la, la, la until we've proved that particular doubting voice wrong!

The frogs and the tower

There once was a bunch of tiny frogs...
... who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants...
The race began...
Honestly, no-one in crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as:
"Oh, WAY too difficult!!"
"They will NEVER make it to the top".
"Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!"
The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one...
... Except for those who in a fresh tempo were climbing higher and higher...
The crowd continued to yell
"It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!"
More tiny frogs got tired and gave up...
...But ONE continued higher and higher and higher...
This one wouldn't give up!
At the end, everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!
THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?
A contestant asked the tiny frog how the one who succeeded had found the strength to reach the goal?
It turned out...

That the winner was deaf.

What are you concentrating on listening to and is it helping you or hindering you?

Thursday, 4 June 2015

What am I actually afraid of...?

What am I actually afraid of...?

This week will see my first foray into Open Water swim racing as part of a team at the Jubilee Swim - although the team I'm in are mainly first timers we all want to do well.  But what does that actually mean and what am I afraid of!

Well I'm not afraid of swimming my 1.9K route and I'm not that worried about the fact it will be my first mass start and all the elbows and kicks that can bring.  I know that I do not panic in water and that if I do get my goggles knocked off or hit on the head I will give myself the time to deal with it - this has made it sound all a bit dangerous at the start and I am actually expecting it to go smoothly!

So what am I afraid of..?

Not swimming quickly enough... enough for what... this spiral of thinking has no real answer because at the moment I have no true benchmark for what I'm about to do - it's my first time so surely whatever time I get just is the time I get!  What I need to do is change how I think about it and what would be more useful to think is...

How do I give my best?

To give my best in that moment on my swim and to give the best I can in preparing for that swim.  This is now something I can control, because it doesn't rely on anyone or anything outside of my control, it relies on me.

This isn't about trying my best and leaving room for 'could have done more, should have done this' but actually giving it my all and coming out at the end thoroughly tired and happy (and then realise I need to get some running gear on to jog the rest of the 8K down the river to cheer on my team mates!)

What I will keep in mind is this quote

Always do your best.  Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance simply do your best and you will avoid self judgement, self abuse and regret.
Miguel Angel Ruiz, Author

Very often we need to go past what we think we are afraid of to face what's actually holding us back, in my case the feeling of letting the team down and embarrassment of a swim time that's 'not as good' as others - the problem being those I'm comparing myself to have been training harder, for longer and more specifically than me and so the comparison just isn't equal - and anyhoo I'm an Ultra Runner, not a swimmer!

So what are you going to give your best to this weekend?

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Achieving in sport with Mental Strategies

Whatever level of sport you compete at you always want to give your best and the margins for gain when you get up to the top level can be small. 

This is why you need to have your own mental strategies and give your mind training sessions, which will give you the mental edge over your competitors.  Using coaching and training techniques helps you to find out what works for you and what doesn’t and how you can make decisions in the moment that will enhance your performance.  You will learn more about yourself as a person and the skills and techniques you learn in your sport can be adapted and used across other areas of your life and work.  This is about utilising your skills and helping you develop and fine tune your own techniques and resources to support you to achieve your goals.

Both teams and individuals can benefit by being able to get into the performance zone quickly and easily and handle the mind games of others.  Teams come together and take collective responsibility for what is working and change what’s not working and everyone can work on having the focus that is needed in that moment.

What you can achieve

Using defined mental strategies can help you achieve higher performance levels in your sport and are for competitors, coaches and clubs. 

  • help develop resilience,
  • more energy,
  • drive
  • focus. 
  • More understanding of how you and others think which gives you the ability to communicate effectively to those around you. 
  • Develop your own self-belief and can intervene when someone (or you!) finds themselves in a negative cycle of belief and performance.

9 areas you can make a difference in

We spend time thinking about how we are physically as athletes and put time, effort and energy into training, looking after our nutrition, keeping injury free in order to be ready to perform at our best.  This is why you should also train your brain.  We all need to have mind and body working together and mental coaching techniques will help achieve:-

7 ways you can achieve

There are 7 key strategies that you can use for your Minds Training Session.  Behind these 7 main strategies are layers of specific techniques that you can use and adapt.

Because you have practiced and trained you mind as well as your body you will have/know

  • Mental edge over your business and sports competitors
  • What works for you/what doesn't
  • Make decisions in the moment
  • Develop and fine tune the techniques to make them personal to you
  • Handle other peoples mind games

Expected Achievements

After putting into practice the techniques that I use with clients I expect them to have more confidence to achieve at the best of their ability on a regular basis and to have a more positive outlook on their training and competing.  Clients are able to learn quickly from mistakes and not dwell on them, but understand their thinking in that moment and what they will do differently next time.  They will also learn how to repeat great performances by understanding all their strategies for high level performance.  There would be higher levels of motivation and determination.

Practicing your mental strategies means that on the day they are a habit and require no extra energy.  Having the mental edge is not about having a mind that is full - it is about being mindful of what you need in the moment.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Preparing for success in sport

If you want to have success then you need to know what success means to you - how can you succeed at something if you don't actually know what it is!

So that's my first question - what is success to you?

Have  a think about this quote...

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet - Bobby Usher

What do you do to prepare - how much time each week do you give to your physical training, now think about how much time you actively give to your mental strategies...? I'm going to suggest it's no-where near as much...

... and then opportunities...

How do you recognise opportunities..?  By being really clear about your outcome

Think about what you want to achieve.  You might find yourself actually thinking about all the things you 'don't' want to happen and that's fine, write them down and get them out of your system.  You can then write down what it is you 'do' want.  This outcome must be a positive one and one that only you can deliver - in other words completely in your control.

At this point we are not looking at how we are going to achieve this but what

Once you've defined what you want to achieve, take a moment, think about what it will be like when you have achieved it, what can you see that you are doing and what is happening around you, what can you hear yourself saying (out loud or in your head) and what are others saying, and how do you feel.  Write or draw these thoughts down as well

This is making our outcome sensory specific.  When we do that we are helping our brain understand what it is we want to achieve and it will then start to work towards that.

Once you have all this written down, recheck it, is there anything missing that you want to add in, is this still the outcome you want?  You'd be surprised how many times we think we 'should' have a specific outcome, only when we look at it in detail we realise it isn't what we actually 'want'.  The outcome needs to be one we desire!

Once our brain knows what it is we want, it will look for the opportunities to deliver it and if we are preparing well then success will follow.

One important key to success is self-confidence.  An important key to self-confidence is preparation - Arthur Ashe

and remember...

Over the coming weeks I'm going to writing about different areas of mental strategies and give you some specific ways of training your brain.  

Thursday, 14 May 2015

An Introduction to your mind...

I thought it would be useful to give you some insight into how our brains take in information and how it learns so that you can start to understand why you see the world differently to someone else and be able to develop your own strategies in your sport

Over the coming weeks I'm going to be writing various articles to help you build your understanding of how you work and what you need to do in order to be able to achieve your goals.

But first what is actually going on in our heads...

It is estimated that our brain receives more than 2 million bits of information through our senses every second.  If we were to take in all this information consciously it would drive us absolutely crazy.  So what happens to all this information?  Well, according to memory theorist George Miller, we can only consciously process 7 +/- 2 bits of information at any given moment.  So in the speed of a second, the mind has to compress about 2 million bits of information down to 7 +/- bits of information.

In order to make sense of this vast difference (two million down to seven) the mind filters the events our senses take in by deleting, distorting and generalising the information through our language, memories, attitudes, values, beliefs, decisions, etc. We then make an internal representation of the world we are taking in, with pictures, sounds and feeling.  That puts us in a state of mind, which can change our physiology that affects our behaviour.  All this happens in a fraction of a second and none of it has to happen in any particular order.  We are in a constant state of flux, where our physiology can affect our attitudes just as easily as our behaviour can affect our language.

What this tells us is that the world that we experience is not the world that is outside of us, it is a world that we are creating inside.  We do not experience reality as it is, we only experience our own perception of reality.  As we all have different sets of filters (that being different sets of values, beliefs, memories etc.), we will all have our own unique perception of the world.  This explains how one person can perceive an event completely differently to another person who has experienced the same event.

If we did not delete, distort and generalize the events we take in, consciously we would be in sensory overload. It's the sensation of more things happening than you can handle, which can be quite overwhelming!

Delete This is when we omit data or selectively pay attention to certain parts of our experience and not others.  Think of a time when you were so engage in a conversion with someone that you were unaware of other events going on around you.

Distort – This is when we can change the information around us to fit what we expect or believe.  Do you remember a time when you where looking for your keys and not seen them because they weren’t where we expected them to be.  Someone else helps you look for them and finds them instantly, ‘but I looked there’ we say, not realising that we have experienced a distortion in our sensory information!

Generalise – This is when we put ideas, people or things into a convenient group or category.  We may generalise that all swans are white, until we come across Australian swans – which are black.

By making small changes to our thoughts (internal representation), our emotions (our state) and/or our body (physiology), we can make a big difference in our behaviour and therefore our outcome. 

You can change one or all three and start in any order.  They are all linked neurologically together in templates.

What are Templates?

Whenever we have a memory, be it a smell, a happy memory, painful memory, a movement, it is there because our brain has fired off a template.

Templates are created when we learn (which we are constantly doing!) and are nerve cells that have wired together in a way to hold the different parts of that memory as one and the wiring together of nerve cells is mainly under the control of our emotional system.  Everything we remember is stored in a template (or a number of templates) and the nerve cells look to make connections with each other when they are firing at the same time and then the chemicals in the brain start to get involved to help those connections build!

What this means for us is that our brains are always learning and we can also unlearn and learn again, if we've taken in information and created an internal representation that is not useful to us we can change it by understanding the science of the brain as well as the thinking of the mind.  It also means we can create very strong templates of strategies that will take us forward in our sport.

'The Little Book of Big Stuff About the Brain' by Dr Andrew Curran is an excellent read that goes into the details of how our brain works in a really accessible way

Next time we will be looking at Preparing to Succeed...