I have a love/hate relationship with Sports Psych.
So does Chael Sonnon.
Chael is infamous for losing fights he shouldn’t have
(including his last one).
Chael was so concerned with this
he hired a sports psychologist.
As a coach on TUF,
Chael relays a similar story as this:
(which I’d bet he heard from his Sports Psychologist)
A Coach comes in with a 2×4 and sets it on the ground.
He gives all of his athletes a very simple instruction:
Walk across the 2×4 without falling off.
Each athlete does so. Easily.
The Coach then leaves the room and comes back in with
two, twenty-foot step ladders
and suspends the 2×4 between them.
The athletes protest and the Coach asks them,
what’s the difference?
Ignoring the flex on the 2×4,
the actions required to traverse the makeshift plank
are no different, but as Chael mentions,
the environment is completely different.
He goes on to describe how in training there are no lights, no referee, no “Uncle Dana” watching. So what makes training and fighting so different?
One of the pillars of Sports Psychology is simulation training.
The idea is to simulate as much of the competition in training as is possible. The one thing that is hardest to simulate is the environment.
And so, what can one do about that?
When we become too focused on the environment
We could direct our attention to our actions…
the things that are most like our training.
Act so much, train so much, so that no matter how you feel
when it is time to compete,
you have no choice but to act
and act as you have trained.
As Chael says,
Fear, Anger, Sadness, Love…
won’t win you a fight.
(Holding up his hands)
But these will.
Your actions will.
(I think Chael lost his last fight based on strategy, the training of the spinning elbow, not on a mental weakness. I really hope he gets a world title someday.)