I’m taking an on-line mental prep course for big events.  It’s actually for agility, but I can see the exercises seeping over to help me in other parts of my life – IF I apply them.

That is one of my problems.  I get new tools and then don’t use them.  I have so many books on so many mental fix-its, but don’t use them after I’m done with the book.  I love NLP (NeuroLingusitic Programming).  Richard Bandler is a genius as far as I’m concerned.  I have read many of his books, and Tony Robbins, who took NLP and made it into a tool for the masses.  Yet here I sit, using the programming I was raised with mostly.  Ugh!  Perhaps I am uncomfortable enough now that I will use something from my new class.  I feel like my daily routine is in such a funk that I really NEED a change to rev myself up.  I need to step out of my comfort zone in a bigger way than I did this year, post my goals, and go for them.

Away from that, I was reading about a few things along the way of the course, and one question was do you freeze up when you are running your agility dog because another handler from the agility class you’ve been taken is also running?  Oh, and by the way, that handler has a sibling to your dog and is running right before you.  Yikes!

When I first started running my dog, another handler from the location I had practiced in was in a trial with me.  I thought we would encourage each other at the trial as we did in group practices, but a funny thing happened.  When I got my first Q, the response was more of disappointment than congratulatory.  What was asked after I left the ring was, “Do you think you Q’d?”  I said, “Yes!” then tried to suck in some of the air I’d lost during the run.  “Really?” was the response and as I interpreted the incredulous look on that face all sorts of feelings twisted inside me.  While I explained through short breaths why I thought I Q’d, I felt a sudden shift in our relationship to that of opponents rather than friends.   From then on, it was more and more competitive, and so it got harder for me to say anything either way, when my “opponent” ran well or not and I didn’t look forward to comments from that side when I ran, either.   I started to get into this competitive mind game, and didn’t like it.  I was out to run my dog, not to compete against someone else mentally or physically.  I was just starting out!  I had hardly any handling skills, but the mind games were out there and coming on strong even at that level.

Now that I’ve been in agility a little longer, I have a few more handling skills, and have become a little more guarded.  I definitely see the need to enhance the mental part of my game, inasmuch as it will keep me focused on the task at hand and help me cope with ill intentions.  I think starting out with a healthy mental game is a good thing.  Why not develop healthy mental habits and practice them along the way with healthy handling skills?  After all, practice makes perfect.

One Response to “Novice Mental Games”

  1. Kristine says:

    This is interesting. Since I’ve yet to compete in a trial, only watch from the sidelines, I wasn’t sure how much this type of thing I would encounter. I’m not a very competitive person, except within myself. Agility is perfect, I had thought, because you’re not in direct competition with anyone else. It’s just about having fun with your dog and improving along the way.

    For me it’s really important to keep that in my head, no matter what anybody else says or does. It’s not about beating Irene with the perfect Sheltie, it’s about doing my very best, hopefully better than my last best. If others want to play those games that’s fine, but I’d like to stay out of it. If I don’t agility will quickly stop being a good time.

    But I digress. I appreciate your insider point of view. Hopefully the more I learn from people like you the more mentally prepared I will be come spring.