Monday, January 7, 2013


For Christmas presents, I bought 3 books on Mental Management: Freedom Flight, With Winning In Mind, and Finding Your Zone. My son who is crazy about golf, my grandson who loves cross country, and I who finally can say I "have a sport" after 60 years without one, will circulate these books among ourselves as a joint present, hopefully finding common ground and helping us all improve our games.

To help me remember the content of each book as I read it, I am blogging my notes, this time on:

With Winning In Mind - The Mental Management System, by Lanny Bassham

Interviewing hundreds of Olympic Gold medalists and World Champion Atheletes, and being one himself, Lanny found commonalities among these elites that led to their successes, primarily that 90% of their game is mental. Lanny used their imput as the basis of his Mental Management System Seminars and coaching techniques. This book is so full of wisdom and tips, one needs a highlighter for sure to catch them all. Phrases such as "we win whenever we advance down the road to achievement". "Winning and being a winner are two different things." "Who you become is equally important to where you finish". "Best to focus on a winning performance, not finishing on top." "Focus on the next step, not on your final score." And all this on one random page!

Most winners don't even know they have won, only that they did each step in sequence to the top level of their capability. Other factors besides your performance can come into play-- weather, sun, course conditions, luck of the draw, placement.

Your self-image as a winner isn't tarnished if you know you did your best, and will grow despite not winning top placement, unless you focus only on a winning score.

Thinking "It is like me to win" while training, adds to the likelihood that winning will fall into your comfort zone.

"Great performances require less effort than poor ones!"
Balance Of Power:
Maintaining a balance between Conscious Mind, Subconscious Mind, and Self-Image is the goal of Mental Management. When the Conscious, Subconscious and Self-Image are working together, good performance is easy.The goal is to experience this state on demand, under pressure.

  • Conscious Mind - we become what we picture. The conscious mind can only picture one thing at a time. If you are picturing a negative, there is no room for a positive. You must train yourself to let go of negative thoughts, and concentrate on positive thoughts only. This requires will power and can only be done for short periods of time - in sports, think only of the next obstacle, the next shot, never about the final score.
  • Subconscious Mind - routines practiced so often they are done by rote, without thinking. The subconscious mind can do many things at once. Skills that become subconsious free us to train our conscious minds on more and more advanced skills. This is how excellence is achieved.
  • Self Image - Performance and Self-image are always equal. To change your performance, change your self-image.
The Triad State:
When your 3 sources of input are balanced. The trick is to grow all 3 while keeping them in balance. If your self-image exceeds your skills, for example, or your self-image is lower than your skills, you can't win.

  • "I take control of what I picture, choosing to think about what I want to create in my life."
  • "What I say is not important. What I cause myself and others to picture is crucial. I am a positive communicator."
  • "Let it flow." You perform best when you allow your well-trained Subconscious to do the work. When Conscious Mind overrides the Subconscious in crucial situations, performance deteriorates.
  • "I trust my Subconscious to guide my performance in competition."
  • "Picture only what you want to see happen. Your Subconscious will obey."
  • "I allow my self-image to expect more."
  • Be careful who you listen to. When you listen to the problems of others, they will become your problems.
  • Be careful not to complain. Do not reinforce errors in performance, or bad days at the office, by discussing them. Discuss what went right, and more things will tend to go right. What you think about, talk about, write about, manifests in your life.
"I choose to think about, talk about, write about
that which I wish to have happen in my life."  
When you vividly rehearse an action in your mind often enough, neural pathways are created in the Subconscious that allow for more fluid performances. Also called visualization, mental imagery, positive imagery. Very cool, you can do this any time, anywhere, it doesn't cost a thing and while it doesn't replace physical practice, is a great supplement with similar mental benefits! There is no negative reinforcement. Done correctly it is powerfully effective. You can rehearse beyond your current skill level to what you want to achieve, saying, "I do this all the time. It's easy for me."
The self-image cannot tell the difference between what actually happens and what is vividly imagined.  
Mental Attitude Rehearsal:
Learn to control how you feel. How confident or nervous you feel can affect your performance regardless of your skill level. Practice “settling down” in a competitive environment or in situations that make you nervous.  Identify what calmness feels like to you, learn to summon that feeling at will.  You can even make yourself have a good night’s sleep by rehearsing things that calm you down.
3 Phases to Mental Management:
  1. Anticipation Phase – preparation.  Do you have all the equipment you need? Is it in good shape? Is your pre-competition routine set and effective.  Are you ready for all contingencies?
  2. Action Phase – the time you are actually performing, varies with every sport (golf as long as it takes to swing a club, agility about 1 minute, running can be several minutes or hours)
  3. Reinforcement Phase – praise what you did right, and recognize others for what they did right.  Stay away from negatives. Getting angry at yourself is totally unproductive.

Running A Mental Program:
a simple series of thoughts that, whenever pictured, will trigger the subconscious to perform the appropriate action.  The Conscious Mind, thus busy, cannot think of anything else.  For consistent effect, the series should not vary.

Most mental inconsistency occurs when thinking about what the environment is giving rather than running your pre-programmed mental program.
Criteria for a Mental Program: to act like a switch
  1. must start out occupying the Conscious Mind, but in a simple way.
  2. must transfer power to the Subconscious Mind as the activity begins and last thru to the end
  3. must be duplicable, no variations, to ensure mental consistency

Steps of a Mental Program:

  1. Point of Initiation – a physical cue that starts the program (enter the ring, take a deep breath, stomp or step forward with your left foot, clap your hands, etc.)
  2. Point of Alignment – in agility, could be positioning your dog, or taking a lead out
  3. Point of Direction -  knowing what you want to have happen first.
  4. Point of Focus – in golf, maybe a phrase such as “See the line, feel the stroke”, in agility, maybe your release word or “I’m one with my dog”, but some last thought before you take action. Could be a song lyric or tempo, this will be different for everybody, but some one thing, always the same, that triggers the subconscious to begin its routine.
Handling Pressure:
  • Pressure is your friend. Don’t avoid it.  Use it. Anxiety/fear is overcome with experience. Tension is required for good performance.  It is normal to feel pressure in competition. Focus on what you want to see happen, not on what is stressing you.
  • Have a planned, practiced recovery strategy for whenever you suffer a disappointment, missed weave, poor shot, etc, Something you can control, like taking a deep breath, relaxing a muscle group, visualize something.
  • YAWNING, even a fake yawn, dissipates tension. Many athletes use this technique.
#1 Mental Problem – Over-trying

Train well, then trust in your subconscious to do the work.  Champions work hard in training and work easy in competition, focusing on process, not outcome, and having fun.

Guidelines to Building Subconscious Skills -
  1. Focus on what you are doing right.
  2. Train 4 or 5 days a week while developing a skill, less thereafter.
  3. *Wherever you are, be all there.
  4. While training, imagine you are competing. Before competing, mentally rehearse a successful performance.
  5. If you are having a particularly good training session, keep it going.  If you are having a bad day, stop training.  Rehearse the good feeling times. Don’t practice losing!
  6. Train with people who are better than you.
  7. Plan your year.  How much training time between each competition?  What will your training schedule be? Training objectives. Make changes in your training techniques long before a competition and practice them frequently until they become sub-conscious routines. How much money will you need for the year?  New equipment, supplies, etc. Get all that organized. Plan some down time after each competition, very important.
“Winning is not an accident. 
You must plan your work, and work your plan.”

Performance Journal:

Keeping a daily Performance Journal is a must or you won’t actually know if you are progressing. Journal records when you practice, for how long, field conditions, what you practiced, what worked. Goals should be written down and worked towards.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
“Writing has a greater impact on the self-image
than talking.”

Never record your mistakes, only what went right.  Self image is created by the record you keep of progress.


Self image is changed by “imprinting”. Visualization is “seeing”, but imprinting is “feeling”.  How does a successful performance “feel”.  An imagined clean run can feel about as good as a real run, and can be repeated over and over from just about anywhere.  Rehearse the feeling of success, especially just before and just after the real event.  Even if the event was not a success, you will have 2 successful imprints to override it. The subconscious can’t tell the difference between real and imagined events, nor can it tell time.  Each time you recall an experience the subconscious experiences it as a new event.  You are in control of the imprinting process.

If you catch yourself worrying, just rehearse performing well.
Steps to changing the Self Image:
  1. Be willing to change
  2. Identify a habit or attitude you need to change
  3. Identify a new self image to replace it
  4. Exchange them.  Whenever the old thought pops up, notice it and run the new sequence.
Directive Affirmations:
  1. Write a goal
  2. Set a time limit
  3. What’s the pay-off?
  4. Outline a plan to achieve the goal (what you will do)
  5. Restate the goal
Write 5 copies of a Directive Affirmation, on 3x5 cards, and tuck them in key places.  Read them every time to see them.  In 21 days, either your self-image will change, or you will have quit reading them. Once achieved, tweek the DA, or run a new one.

a very powerful asset and self image maker.  To avoid indecisiveness, here are some tips.
  1. Novice competitors should treat early competitions ONLY as practice, learning experiences.
  2. Discipline yourself to only think about what you need to do, not what you already did. Don’t dwell on errors.
  3. Don’t expect perfection, only improvement.
“Perfection is the purest form of procrastination.”


Promote yourself with “I’m getting better at this”, rather than “I’m doing poorly.” Be a promoter of yourself, your organization, your coaches, and others. Be grateful for all the help you are given. No champion does it alone.

Promote others as follows:

  1. Make eye contact when you speak to people
  2. Remember their name
  3. Praise in public, correct in private.
  4. Praise twice as much as you correct
  5. Never steal a dream or limit a goal
  6. Never give up on anyone. People choose their own times to become champions.
Remember, if every attempt was successful and nothing ever went wrong, you would soon be become bored.  Winning is special because it is so difficult to do. We appreciate things in proportion to the price we pay for them.
These notes just scratch the surface of what's in the book.  It's a wonderful read, full of hope, examples and wisdom.

Upwards and onward!

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