Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Locking Doors

Many say that you should unlock every door that you possibly can in order to achieve success. I heard something different the other day and it has changed my whole way of thinking.

I was visiting my sport psychologist, Dr.Hap Davis, and we were talking about how things are going with 3 weeks left until Worlds. I told him that I am feeling good, training has been going pretty well...but there is one thing that I feel is missing. I have been having a lot of random thoughts lately. Before I go up to the highbar (I almost put bar here, but then I read it back and it seemed like I'm a booze hound!) or step onto the floor, I have been thinking about a lot of random things rather than my actual performance. I don't know why I do this and I don't even really know what the thoughts are...all I know is that they have nothing to do with what I am about to do and it freaks me out a little bit!

It might be because I am ready and I am trying to distract myself from the routine so that I can just let it happen in a 'zoned' state, but I don't think that's it. It might be because I am so afraid sometimes of making a mistake that I just want to think of everything and anything possible that will distract me from this negative self talk. It could be because I have been doing gymnastics for 19 years of my life and sometimes it is just impossible to get into an adrenaline rushed and painfully focused state...who knows. I could go analyze it at so many levels and I probably wouldn't figure it out completely. I don't really want to either...I just want to be able to concentrate on my performance and feel present and confident while doing so.

Here was Hap's theory:

He asked me if I ever drive away from my house, but turn around a couple of blocks away to make sure I put the garage door down...I hate to admit it, but I do this at least once a week (If not embarrassingly more!). He asked me if I ever drive to the gym, start walking away from my car, but then stop and turn around and walk back to my car to make sure I locked the door. I do that! I really really do...I think I might have a bit of OCD, maybe more than a little! I always have that little voice in the back of my head saying, "did you do this?". That voice is so annoying and I think I would call it "Self Doubt".

Hap said that I am probably doing the same thing with my gymnastics. Doubting myself and my ability to do something when I want to. He actually said that after 19 years as an athlete, one has to start being really creative in their ways of self-doubt because everyone has it and many have already exhausted most "normal" forms. My creative way is to completely stop trusting myself, think totally random thoughts and to start questioning things that I have been doing fine for the past 10 years. Not cool.

So here is the challenge:

I have to make a conscious effort everyday to get out of my car, shut my door, point my keys at the door, say to myself, "I am locking the door", push the button, and walk away knowing and trusting that my door is indeed locked. How do I know it is locked? Because I consciously locked it. Sounds easy enough.

Here is the comparison:

I have to treat my performances or turns in the gym like my car door. Before I go I have to make a conscious effort to be focused. No random thoughts. I have to say something positive to myself like, "I am going to do a great routine". This will make me present and give me some clarity right before I go. I have to trust myself and my declaration. I have to know that when I say I am going to do something good then I am going to put forth a great effort to do it good.

I applied this theory today at the gym. Before each turn I thought to myself, "Lock the door". I pictured the feeling I have when I have consciously locked the door and the trust I get from doing it and knowing that I have done it.

I had an amazing training and I haven't felt so present and strong in a long time. I have to be honest though...I still need a little bit of work on the whole locking my real car door thing. It has become such a horrible habit for me to be thinking about a thousand different things at once and forgetting to focus on the task at hand. I promise I am working on it and one of these days soon I am going to get through an entire day knowing that my crap won't get stolen from my car!

No more opening doors...it's all about truly knowing they are shut and LOCKED!


Rick said...

Great post Kyle.

I will subscribe to your blog by RSS (real simple syndication) so I can be notified anytime you put up something new.

Sara said...

Hi Shewfelt! What happens to you is quite normal... when you're under pressure. I don't do gymnastics, but it sometimes happens to me too at work in the office. I suppose it's self-criticism or self-judging as a result of having elite responsibilities. But remember nobody around you thinks wrong of what you're doing because everyone has the same sensation anytime, so just freeze the moment and HAVE FUN EACH SECOND of the routine. If you fall 7 times, get up 8. Always smile and live. Otherwise it would be a waste of time. Greetings from sunny Spain! Here the beach and a big applause are waiting for you.

Anonymous said...

You may have heard of Dan Millman. He was an Olympic hopeful gymnast and had a bad accident - for real. His book - The Peaceful Warrior - may be something you would like to read. As an National Team member myself (Rowing, Triathlon) one comes a point where competition is as much spiritual as it is physical and emotional- its all the same. I had a back injury a few years ago that sidelined me - its a hard battle back...worth every drop of sweat.

Good luck to you! Dr. Connie Delisle ps. I went to U of C - I really liked Calgary!