Mental focus on competition day is paramount. Your actions reflect your thoughts; negative thoughts can leave you nervous and feeling unprepared while positive thoughts instill energy, excitement, and confidence. Let’s talk about how you can set your mind on a positive path before you step on stage.
But first, think about a dog. Now think about a big dog. Now think about a big, hairy, drooling black dog. While you read that, were you thinking about an elephant? No, you weren’t. Because the mind can only process one thought at a time. This is an incredible tool to utilize not just on competition day, but also during practice and every day! If you are thinking a positive thought, your mind has no room to doubt or be negative. Michael Jordan said, “I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot… when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.”
So while you’re taping your shoes, running through your treble jig, or fixing your fake eyelashes (I’m talking to the ladies on that one), there are two things to consistently be thinking about in order to put mental “blinders” on and own your dances.
Think about all the hard work and preparation you have put in to get you to that very time and place. I’m talking about all the way back to your first struggle and victory as an Irish dancer. The obstacles that you have overcome have made you the dancer you are. Be proud of that!
Think about why you are dancing. Why do you love it and continue to pour blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention blisters) into this art form? It could be for the pure passion of dance, for God, to represent your heritage and your family, or any number of other reasons! The more reasons the better because each cause gives you more confidence that you are doing something you love.
This mental practice can be challenging at first. Your brain, just like any other muscle in your body, it takes time and patience to gain strength in certain activities. However, as with anything you have to practice, it gets easier and more habitual the more you do it. And remember, this habit is good to practice at practice, not just the day you compete. As Ariel Bennett stated in her post on building confidence, “When your mind and body work together in a positive way, success comes more easily.” (Read it here: Building Confidence #1—The Way You Think Matters.)
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