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   Let’s face it: Your performance is 90 percent mental. Assuming you have the ability to do what you are trying to do, your...

   Let’s face it: Your performance is 90 percent mental. Assuming you have the ability to do what you are trying to do, your success is 90 percent dependent on your mindset.

   “Everyone is a genius,” Albert Einstein once said. “But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

   You are not a fish trying to climb a tree. You are an athlete, competing in your sport. You know what to do, and are totally capable of doing it. But something keeps you from performing at your full potential. That thing — is your brain.

   Don’t worry. It’s normal. Everyone has negative, performance-limiting thoughts. Even the pros. Winners and champions learn to recognize them, and turn them into fuel that empowers great performances. Just as you train your body for competition, you MUST train your brain to win it! The Winning State of mind is the missing link when it comes time to perform your best, especially when it really counts.

   Here’s the problem: We average 70,000 thoughts per day. And 80 percent of those (56,000) are negative thoughts. Futhermore, 95 percent of those 56,000 negative thoughts (53,200) recur on a daily basis. We put much more focus on negative things. The silly thing is, our brain does this to protect us from embarrassment, failure, potentially dangerous situations, etc. These thoughts can be so powerful, they can stop us from even trying to succeed in the first place. You’re beat, before you even compete.

   Now, factor in the MIT study that shows that it takes 17 positive thoughts to counteract just 1 negative thought, and you can see where the problem lies. How can we perform at our peak potential, when we have negative thoughts pulsing through our mind and body? Luckily, I have many techniques and solutions.

   One technique is deep breathing. Some clients have told me this has made the biggest difference in their performance. But, like anything else you do, it has to be done right in order to work. When you get nervous, your breathing shortens. That reduces oxygen to your brain, and muscles. Your muscles tighten, and alter your range of motion, your grip, swing, stroke, stride, throw, etc. You may not notice it. But you see it in the results, over and over again. Then you think, “I need more practice!” Perhaps you do; perhaps you don’t. But you definitely need to practice mental toughness techniques.

   Deep abdominal breathing increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and muscles. More importantly, it slows negative thought production, allows you to relax, reframe your thoughts, and empower new peak performances.

   Jeff MacMillan is the founder and peak performance coach of The Winning State, (510) 566-3263.  

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