Interview – Michael Darbyshire – Mind over matter
Did you know that the CIA have been known to use mind focus tactics for their training schemes. An example you ask? Well, next time your lying in bed about to go to sleep, look around the room or try to focus on the light (now turned off), look at your light bulb for 5 seconds, really focus on it, think nothing but the bulb.. now close your eyes for 30 seconds or so and try to focus on that bulb and that image in your head – nothing else but that image. You will slowly see it disappear within the blackness of your inner eye – bring it back and try focusing in whilst still having your eyes closed. Keep doing this by opening for 5 seconds and continue to close and focus. Within a few weeks you will have some real raw focus skills and your mind will be stronger. Anyway.. to the interview..
We got to interview Michael Darbyshire – a fitness mind coach. Take a quick read and learn how you can change your perception of training through mind training. If you can conquer your mind whilst training you can switch off – training more than ever and without feeling or thinking tired. It’s like a legal and non-intoxicating stimulative.
Mind Over Matter
Sports Mind Coach Michael Darbyshire explains how Boxers and Martial Artists can put their grey matter to good use.
Can working on the mental side really make someone a better fighter?
Sure. If you feel weak, tired or negative in a fight, you won’t feel as good as if your confident and focused. To give you an example I recently worked with a boxer and chatting to him he said “This fight is going to kill me, I’m not looking forward to it, I’m going to get beat up.” His language was very negative.
I set about changing it by getting him to visualize that the fight would be easy and seeing himself out-boxing his opponent. I also worked on making him feel powerful and focused.
The next day he fought his best fight ever, and stopped his toughest opponent ever in two rounds.
Peak performance is about three things, physical excellence, technical ability and mental focus – many athletes spend money on equipment or a coach to get an extra edge and think nothing of it. But they often omit the mental side. That’s a big mistake.
But there’s a perception that anyone seeing a mind coach must be mentally weak themselves?
There is but its changing. It takes a very strong person to say, actually, I want to develop my mental toughness. I’m good but I want to get even better. I want to see if there are more techniques that I can tap into.
OK, so what sort of problems can a mind coach help with?
Three things. First it can help with setting goals. Second, it can help build up confidence levels: it might be someone’s first bout and they may be nervous. So power states, breathing techniques etc will all improve performance. And finally, it can help calm the internal dialogue we all get both before and during a bout or competition – the dialogue that says “I’m going to lose” and help turn it around.
Let’s deal with each of those in turn. How can people improve their goal setting?
Lot’s of people have unclear goals. They say, right, I’m going to be a Champion and they see it in there head and that’s it. They have one chance to achieve their goals. I encourage them to set many goals. Flesh out their ambitions. What other goals do you have? Can you improve your preparation? Your mental approach? Give yourself lots of small goals, not just one major one.
What about improving confidence? Say a person wants to win a championship, but doesn’t believe they can do it?
There were lots of things I can do using relaxation, visualization and various nlp techniques. Another thing you can do before a competition is to think of all the negative things that may happen. Analyse them and ask yourself, is there any validity in your fears? If there is, work on them in training, if there isn’t concentrate on the things you are good at. Often I get them to make notes about the things they are good at to say it to themselves over and over to reinforce self-belief.
Does that sort of thing work?
Yes it does. Its very powerful because it brings to the conscious level the things you like about yourself. So when your going down a negative path you can stop it in its tracks. With repeated practice your unconscious mind stops thinking negatively.
What about internal dialogue you get during a bout or competition? How can they turn it around?
Focus on being in the present. Forget about what happened 30 seconds ago. Perform each technique at a time. So if you didn’t get a good start to a fight, get over it. You still have to think strategically. Relax don’t tie yourself in knots. There is still a long way to go.
And if you have a loss?
Put it in context. There are many reasons we may have off days, it could be family or relationship problems or something else. Work on your mental toughness and preparation during your off-season. And remember, there’s always another competition.
Sports Mind Coach Michael Darbyshire can be contacted on mail(at)michaeldarbyshire.com or by phone on +44 (0)7955 995 202 for more details on my work visit www.michaeldarbyshire.com