Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Relaxed but Alert in Competition: An Oxymoron?

What tips do you have for staying relaxed but alert in an equestrian competition*?

CM SEAL Team blogger: Tom Rancich

It takes some practice to find the right combo of whiskey and coffee, but that is what I do. Seriously, the biggest thing is: do not be afraid to relax—you don’t need to be keyed up for two days to make a successful first or second jump.

My son, the starting defensive end for his high school team, asked once why right before he makes a tackle it almost seems like he has already done it. Well think about it—when the play starts, he doesn’t know what is going to happen—is it a pass or a run toward him or away---but as the play progresses variables start to drop away. It is a pass (bunch of running variables drop away) so he can rush the quarterback. Quarterback is in the pocket (more variables gone). He is past the blocker (more variables gone). Quarterback doesn’t see him coming (only two variables left, either he beats the pass or not) and then the split second before he hits the quarterback there are no more variables and he can totally focus on one event—hitting the quarterback. So it would be pretty silly for him to have been all worried about that before the play started.

So, what I am trying to get across in this long winded way is, break your event down into bits that you can handle and don’t artificially amp yourself up before it makes sense. Nervousness costs energy—so at the point that you are in competition, is it logical to worry about what is going to happen? You are either prepared or not---in either case worrying won’t help. The horse is going to respond well or not---if he responds well it wasn’t because you were worried. The horse wouldn’t know that. If the horse doesn’t respond well then worrying didn’t help and won’t help: you have to act.

That is part of what visualization is about---working through the actions you will take when things vary from plan.

* Carole, a CHARLIE MIKE Teammate who’s an expert equestrienne, asked Tom Rancich how would a Navy SEAL stay relaxed but alert when competing. Her field of battle: the dressage arena.
Lt. Commander Thomas Rancich, US Navy SEAL (Ret.) is the co-founder of VRHabilis, a disabled veteran-owned small business that seeks to employ the highly trained and motivated veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for work in construction and related fields. Rancich and co-founder Elliott Adler are pioneering the concept of using adaptive technology to bridge the gap between industrial and medical technology. Their company contributes proceeds to two worthy causes: a fund for the development of adaptive technology that will allow disabled veterans to pursue their desired career path and the EOD Wounded Warrior Fund.

Through his consulting firm, Off-Shore Consulting, Tom provides professional advice on leadership and team building, often as a motivational speaker, in addition to being an expert consultant to the entertainment industry.

Alden Mills and Charlie Mike blogger Tom Rancich served together in the Teams.

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