Welcome to part two of a short series about mental preparation for competition.
Can I suggest that you have a quick check back to my September blog post (which looked at what to do in the weeks leading up to this stage) before you start reading this.
So you have done all your training and it’s now a couple of days before your big day and this is often when the nerves kick in big time and panic can arise, seemingly from nowhere. Have you done enough? Are you good enough? What if……..?
This is when it’s time to dig deep and really believe in yourself. It’s also a time to do the final practical preparations so that you, your horse and all your gear really are ready for the day of competition.
I’m a great believer in being prepared so do make some lists of everything that you will need. Three lists are useful, one each for you, your horse and your equipment/tack/transport etc. This will mean that you minimise the risk of having to run around crazily searching for things at the last minute and will mean that you have more time to compose yourself when you need to. It’s all about controlling what you CAN control and accepting that there will always be things outwith your control, such as the weather and ground conditions.
You will know your horse well and will know whether or not it is a good idea to have a final schooling or coaching session. Some horses will benefit from this and others won’t. If in doubt then consult your trainer or a more experienced friend who’s opinion you value.
In the last blog we talked about developing a mantra and using visualisation and these will both be very useful to you in the final couple of days before your competition. Hopefully, by this stage you will have become comfortable using visualisation in your mental preparation so make sure that you save some time to sit down quietly and mentally rehearse your day. Some of you may find unhelpful and intrusive thoughts and images interfering with this and if that is the case a useful technique is to simply say ‘STOP’ to break that thought or if it is an image to blank it out with an imaginary strong white light. Then replace what you don’t want with what you DO want. Practice this technique as often as you can until it becomes second nature.
This is also the time to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. If you have practiced and learned what you need to do then there truly is no reason whatsoever that you won’t be able to do it on the day. So remind yourself as often as you need to that you CAN do it and that you have the experience you need to be able to perform.
Make sure that you listen to your body. Eat, drink and rest well the day before and you really are setting yourself up to do the best that you can on the day.
Lastly, remember that it is absolutely normal to have butterflies and to feel a bit uptight before competition. If you label these physical sensations as excitement or as being ready then you can embrace them and allow them to help you to do your best.
So, the preparation is complete and we can look forward to the big day which we will look at next month. We will also include doing some post competition analysis which is always useful.