Imagine the scene. You run out onto the field to play in your latest all-important rugby fixture. Standing in front of you is the opposing team.
You look up and see 15 pairs of eyes watching you. You notice how they are standing and it dawns on you.
It’s the All Blacks, ready to perform their Haka.
What thoughts are going through your head now?
Are you thinking “So what? They’re just a team like any other.”
Or are you thinking along the lines of: “We’ll never beat them, they’re too good” “Look at the size of that guy – he’s built like the proverbial brick outhouse!” “How are we supposed to take on a side like that?” Or possibly even “I might die in this game.”
Most people would probably feel like that, pitted against such formidable opponents.
But consider that sometimes that’s how people think when their next game is against a good, but, ultimately, beatable side, even if they’re not consciously aware of it. And it only takes two or three people in a team of 15 to feel that way, and it can be enough to make the difference between winning and losing.
What sets the top players and teams aside from the rest is that they don’t think that way.
So how can you get to the point where everyone in the team believes they can win any game?
If you want to play well, then you should already know about preparing yourself as well as you can physically, by eating the right foods to give you the best nutritional intake and increase your stamina, and by working out to ensure you are in peak condition.
But how do you prepare yourself mentally for each game? Is it something you don’t give much thought to, if you’ll pardon the pun?
Or is it something you work just as hard on as you do on your physical preparation?
Every time you let a doubt or negative thought creep into your mind, you are starting to create beliefs that you won’t win, the other side are too good, too fast, too strong. These are what’s called limiting beliefs, because by holding them, you prevent yourself from achieving your full potential.
In other words, you talk yourself into failing.
And limiting beliefs are contagious. One person voices their doubts and before you know it, the whole team is on edge and starting to question their chances.
There are a couple of ways in which you can stop limiting beliefs in their tracks. These can be done on an individual basis, but are really effective done together as a team
The first is to reframe those beliefs. This means taking each belief one by one, examining the evidence for it and then turning it into a more positive statement. So, for example, if you believe that you won’t beat the side in question, think back to all the teams that you’ve beaten recently, how fit your team is, how well people are playing, and so on. An alternative belief could be: they are a strong side, but we have a good record of wins in the past few months, we’ve worked on our xxx and we’ve trained well so we can win this.
Breaking down each limiting belief and changing it to a more positive thought is a powerful way of building team confidence. Think about the language you use to reframe each statement to build motivation and positive belief.
The other powerful tool is visualisation. Don’t just think your success, see it too. It’s a case of closing your eyes and picturing yourself strong, fit, healthy, able to take on anything, and, ultimately, winning. You can build visualisations around seeing your own team as stronger and bigger than the opposing side or seeing yourself as having an extra burst of speed exactly when you need it. Maybe you want to picture yourself lifting a trophy or scoring try after try. You can picture anything you want to maximise your chances of success. A mindset coach can help with this.
For any stubborn limiting beliefs, there is always hypnotherapy which will banish them for good.
So, for your next game, prepare yourself mentally as much as you do physically and see what the result is.
Gillian Haston runs White Sapphire Wellbeing and is a mindset coach, hypnotherapist and diet and nutrition advisor. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/GillianHastonLeanonMe/