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  • Writer's pictureKarl Avdek



It is maddening. You perform well. Sometimes you perform BRILLIANTLY. But NOT on a consistent basis. You become distracted. Your emotions rise and fall. You make a single mistake; you feel like a failure and now you’re really distracted. Now you are thinking about all the negatives. Your mind whispers, “don’t screw up” when what you want it to say is, “relax and ride well.”

Most disturbing of all is the fact that you are consistent in practice but not at the show. You can’t seem to bring your “A” game to the horse show. You play like a world beater in practice but not in the show arena.

In baseball, they are called “batting practice” hitters. They are monsters until the game begins and then they fall apart.

So how do we get into that mythical “zone” feeling; that athletic Nirvana where our skills are executed effortlessly at a top level?

Athletes often refer to it as “flow”; effortless and consistent top performance.

There are several ways to fix this issue and they all derive from being able to execute your mental game. Start with the proper execution of the mechanics of your physical game. Be prepared. Even proper execution of physical skills begins with mental skills; with information.

I have worked as a horse trainer and riding instructor for many many years; decades. I actually grew up in the business. Teaching horseback riding is very interesting. Before the rider even gets on the horse’s back he must deal with fear. The rider is getting off the ground, up in the air and then onto the back of an 800 pound animal capable of running 50 – 55 miles an hour; an animal by the way who reacts to virtually every stimulus with … flight; i.e. he RUNS.

Scarey right off the bat.

Secondarily literally every rider I taught had a bodily reaction to lean forward, bury his/her head in the horse’s neck and grab his neck with his/her hands.

Another fear reaction but completely wrong and unsuited for balance.

I assured the rider that they needed to go through a process which would place their riding abilities and they minds in a “reactionary” mode. Here’s how it went: (1 – learn the right thing (2 – repeat the right thing in your mind (3 – execute the skill properly (4 – repeat the proper execution of the skill until you repeat it automatically.

There is a saying in athletic training, “The amateur does it until he does it right. The professional does it until he can’t do it wrong.”

Interesting that you begin with your mind and actually end up in a position where you almost DON’T use your mind. You react correctly … automatically.

It is the same with any sport and the use of your mind. It is a matter of correct repetition; learning the skill; physically AND mentally and then repeating the process of both.

Much of our performance issues and lack of consistency; particularly relative to the issue of bringing our best game to competition rather than leaving in at practice is the fear of CONSEQUENCES; the perception that we are winners or losers in the game but not in practice.

Tired and frustrated with not seeing the best results from all your hard work? Would you like to learn more and get on top of your “A” game?

I can help. Call or email me and let’s get to work.

(203) 252-0395

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