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Strategies for Start Line Confidence 2 DVD Set
All too often we can leave an agility show feeling disappointed and despondent that we have not produced the run that we know we are capable of when training. More often than not this comes down to mindset, when we listen to those voices in our heads that tell us we are aren’t capable of getting it right!
In this DVD, Katherine McAleese, a qualified systemic psychotherapist, shows us how to rid ourselves of the negatives thoughts and feelings which have a detrimental effect on our competition performance, instead replacing them with a new mindset that will help us to feel energised, focused and more connected with our dog, ready to deliver a winning performance.
McAleese provides us with scientifically proven tactics to banish mindset grelims, teaching us techniques such as acknowledging your strengths, using visualisation, identifying distractions and focus, developing a mantra, creating a playlist and making a plan, all of which empower us to run the course at our absolute best.
This DVD will ensure that you no longer let your dog down and deliver the performance that you always knew you were capable of giving.
McAleese begins with explaining a little about her background and consequently how she developed her programme, one of the key reasons being that she observed people could not compete like they train at home. She then provides us with some tips for being a good observer, explaining how our judgements of others can impact on our own performance. We continue by examining cognitive fidelity and the fact that we are the ones responsible for training our own mindsets, and that it is distinctly possibly to rewire our brains. McAleese then comments on the influence of words, warning us to be cautious of the words we use, as they can have great power.
She then introduces us to the concept of mindset grelims and how to deal with them. The important thing to remember is that you are not the problem, it is your relationship with the grelim that is. McAleese discusses a strategy for overcoming these grelims, which include; learning your grelims tactics, don’t just listen to your grelim but fight back, and noting behavioural changes in your dog at a trial in order to determine if you are inadvertently communicating your nerves to them. She then gives us the first exercise to try which involves walking a course and then writing down everything that comes to mind, including grelims. In the second exercise, she asks the participants to run the course as if it were a competition, and then write down all details of the run, comparing this with their previous observations. In part three of the exercise, she gets them to circle all the positive phrases and strike through all negative phrases, asking them to examine the balance between positive and negative, explaining how this exercise can help in building a competitive mindset.
McAleese then moves on to acknowledging your strengths. She explains that recognising strengths builds your partnership, allows you to appreciate your dog more, and gives you a foundation for proper visualisation. It also helps you to discover which areas you need to work on, but in a way far less crushing way, as they are balanced against the things you can already do. She continues, that we have a choice in what we focus on, and it is important that this focus is on the good things we want to repeat. McAleese also reminds us that the people we spend time with will affect our mindset, summarising that behaviours are, ’caught not taught’, and that agility is just something we do, and does not determine our whole identity. She then takes us through some exercises for helping us acknowledge strengths, asking us to write down a list of them all before walking the course with these strengths in mind.
The next section concentrates on using visualisation, which is an extremely important skill, and one widely used by many top athletes. McAleese explains that most people already visualise but generally on what they don’t want to happen. She gives us some tips for visualisation, adding that we must do so in as much multi -sensory detail as possible, and in the first person rather than watching yourself. The brain does not always distinguish between vivid imagery and actual events, so it is important to create as visual a mental pictures as possible. Visualisation also gets easier and stronger as you get better at recognising your strengths. McAleese gives us some visualisation exercises, involving looking back on a particular agility run that has gone particularly well, and walking the course with these visualisations in mind.
McAleese continues with identifying distractions and focusing. She comments that a distraction only becomes a distraction if we accept its invitation and give it our attention. Although we cannot control everything at a show, we are the ones that decide where our focus goes, and therefore we need to be aware and take control of it. She then gives us a plan for dealing with distractions, along with an exercises that includes noting down a list of distractions and brainstorming ways in which to overcome every single one.
We then move on to using mantras. McAleese describes a mantra as a phrase that resonates with you and helps you to focus, getting you into the ‘zone’. It is an act of focus that brings you the right energy at the right time. McAleese explains that we can have different mantras for the start line, finish line and training. She then sets an exercise to help us choose an appropriate mantra and apply it when walking the course.
Next, McAleese shows us how to put together a playlist, explaining that music is a power tool for helping us get psyched up or calmed down. She helps us to determine a variety of songs that we can experiment with, asking the participants to walk the course with different styles of music playing in the background to see what works.
Finally, McAleese emphasizes the importance of making a plan. She explains that this plan is scientifically proven to work, but will only do so if you practice each skill consistently. She advises to keep re-watching the DVD in order to gather more details of each skill, and if you keep coming back, it will pay off hugely.
A DVD that finally pays attention to mindset training for the handler, something commonly ignored in favour of focusing on the dog.
What is it about? Technical training and physical conditioning for both dog and human are pretty much ubiquitous these days at most, if not all, levels of agility. Working on the dog's focus and partnership with us is also fairly standard in agility training. However, mindset training for the human member of the team is not as well explored or understood by many, and it can have a very big impact on our agility performance since our mindset often affects our teammate on the other end of the leash.
Do any of these sound familiar?
"What's wrong with you? You'll never get this right."
"You can't handle this course. You're too slow / broken / old / fat / short-legged / inexperienced / [insert insult here]."
"You're just going to let your dog down again."
Those voices that whisper doubts, tell you how stupid you'll look when things go wrong, say you can't be successful, and remind you of past failures, are "mindset gremlins." They are unhelpful, negative, doubt- and fear-inflicting thoughts.
Mindset gremlins disrupt your focus, encourage you to play it safe (and then berate you if you do), distract you, and invite you to focus on everything that could go wrong. They make you feel powerless, but that's another gremlin lie. Research shows you can retrain your mind at any age. By identifying your thoughts as living, breathing entities that you are in a relationship with, you are not only empowered to decide the terms of that relationship, you can decide to end it.
Strategies for Start-Line Confidence includes practical exercises that will help you learn how to get the gremlins out of your way. It's only fair that if you're going to train your dog's mind to focus and work optimally, you should do the same for yourself. Because there is no better feeling than stepping up to the start line feeling energized and connected with your dog, and knowing you're ready to give your best—ready to run the course like you own it!
This DVD is an edited version of a 2-day seminar that was filmed at Clean Run.
More about Katherine- Dr. Kathrine McAleese is a qualified systemic psychotherapist and is trained in using multiple theories of therapy (Narrative, Solution-Focused, TF-CBT, etc.). She works with clients from all over the world, from beginner competitors to world class, in multiple sports. You can learn more about her online classes through her website: www.mindtowin.co.uk.
Who Produced it- Clean Run
When was it released- 2015
Running Time- 4 hours, 25 minutes
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