Is Your Performance Problem a Physical or Mental Issue?

In one of my coaching calls, a competitor raised his concern and said,

“When I play in competition, sometimes, not all the time, but a good majority of the time, it’s like I’m in an anticipatory state. I want to peek around the corner to see if I make the ball. I also lose my feel. It’s like I am in a confused state at the table and can’t direct my attention and make my body do what I want. I miss shots that I should never miss for a player of my caliber and talent. The thought don’t choke aren’t the problem for me. It’s more of a physiological physical issue. I feel disoriented and my legs stiffen up. I’m playing a lot right now and I’m doing a lot of tournaments and gambling right now and my thinking is I’m just going to have the quantum leap moment. I’ll eventually adjust to the pressure. I did win a tournament with some quality amateur players to put me into another tournament, in which the nerves really hit me and I didn’t play as well as I did on the qualifier. I would be interested in your feedback on the physical physiological stuff. Like I said, the thoughts choking aren’t the issue.”

The biggest myth in sports

The biggest myth out there that stops athletes, competitors, and performers from getting to the core of the issue and clearing it is this idea of having a physical issue and not a mental issue. This issue falls under the A for Awareness in my race formula when I help people understand.

Now lots of competitors, performers, athletes, this doesn’t affect them so much, but we all have a certain amount of this, what I’m going to explain to you in a bit, and that is you have to understand.

Understanding the conscious and the unconscious mind

We’ve got a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. When I say mental emotional, which is what I’m here for, which is what I do, which is what mental toughness is all about, we have those two functions of the mind. Mind is a general term that is why some people refer to it as just the thinking brain. To me, and you’ll get all kinds of different definitions, but the mind is the collective intelligence of all the cells in your body including your brain. That means we have some of those cells in our body that are allocated to conscious thinking, mostly here in the prefrontal cortex and allocated to unconscious intelligence.

You might have heard the term unconscious being referred to as subconscious. So when we understand this, that the unconscious mind controls the body, then literally almost everything is a mental emotional issue, if we’re talking about something that’s holding us back, except for things like you just don’t have the skill, you’ve never practiced it, you’ve never learned it, right?

PERFORMANCE = POTENTIAL – INTERFERENCE

Remember, performance equals potential minus interference. That’s the bottom line to everything. That’s the foundation. You get rid of your interference, you will perform to your potential. We all have different interference, it’s a lifelong practice to get rid of it to perform more consistently to our best. Our potential is ever increasing based on gaining skills and knowledge and practicing, becoming more consistent, but clearing the interference is the bulk of it all. So your unconscious mind controls your body.

So Shawn thinks that,

“The thoughts don’t choke aren’t the problem for me.”

That’s correct. He’s not going up there thinking consciously, “Don’t choke!” and then making himself nervous with those thoughts up there. That’s not what he’s doing, but the error is, he says, “It’s more of a physiological physical issue.”

Those physiological issues like

  • feeling of disoriented
  • legs stiffen up
  • nerves hitting

All these things are interference. It manifests itself in physical bodily expression, but it is controlled by the unconscious part of our mind. So that’s where we have to go to solve the problem. That is the bottom line.

I’m Craig Sigl,
Your Mental Toughness Trainer

4 thoughts on “Is Your Performance Problem a Physical or Mental Issue?

  1. Mark Breen

    Craig-
    Just wanted to share and commiserate about the Viking’s heart-breaking loss. I’ve been a huge fan since the days of the Purple People Eaters!

    I like your comments about wanting to feel – that we want to feel something, even if they are disappointment. Can this be turned into a positive thing when I hit a disappointing golf shot?

    Go Vikings – next year!

    Best,
    Mark

    Reply
    1. Craig Sigl Post author

      Hi Mark, sorry I missed your comment until now. Yep, me too with the Vikings. I was wearing my Fran Tarkenton jersey during the loss. In answer to your question…ABSOLUTELY YES!!! That’s the point. It’s not that we should try to avoid the difficult emotions, that never works…instead, when they show up, give them better meanings and you’ll feel better…even about such emotions as disappointment….bring it all on!

      Reply
  2. Christopher Williams

    This stuff is really powerful and useful. I feel with my skateboarding I understand and implement this concept, but with my music performance I’m still adapting it. Last night I was working on my soloing and it hit me towards the end of the session that I was having mental interference. I started using a technique I use for skateboarding and I started getting better results. It was like a light bulb went off. I’m very excited! Thanks Craig!

    Reply
    1. Craig Sigl Post author

      Awesome, thanks for commenting Chris. The more you stop and check in, as you have done here, the easier it will be to discern where the problem is and be able to apply the right solution. Great job, keep it up!
      Craig

      Reply

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