Your Mental Game and The Work Around Mechanism
A Letter from Coach Holly…
I am not a procrastinator.
But I was this week. Usually I can extract myself out of the natural paralysis that we all fall into when we feel fear. It's a skill that I have cultivated and pride myself on. But in the last two weeks, that skill was much harder to deploy.
I was scared that I wouldn't say the right thing to you. I know that many athletes look to me. And I know that you will listen if I talk to you. And I was scared that I wouldn't bring you enough comfort, connection or solace. I am still scared that I can't "make it all better for you" and yet I want to. And that is hard.
I mourn with you for the spring season that must seem as if it has been wrenched from your hands. You are likely still processing this and will for some time. It is gutting to have something you worked so hard for, vanish. It makes you question why? But it also makes you ask harder questions like, why did I do all that work?
I can't imagine what Liz O'Leary, a former coach of mine and a great mentor to me, must have felt in 1980 when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Olympics and everything she had worked and trained for was gone.
I cannot bring your season or this time back. But I can tell you that one of the most important things I have learned over the years and it helped me for the years that I struggled and shamed myself for what I thought was my own underperformance, YOU are not your sport. And, you can do hard things.
You don't do this sport because you want to move a boat from point A to point B.
You do this sport because it is the medium by which you find your true self. Your true inner capacity and character. It allows you to test yourself, to put yourself in the fire (hence the RSR fire unis by the way) and demonstrate to your own mind that you can survive and thrive. This is the true value of our sport.
And so I ask you to take some time to mourn the loss of your spring - but also realize that fitness (physical, mental and spiritual) is for life - it is not NCAA time-bound. And so when you are ready - refocus yourself on that which you can control.
Your mental game. Your character strengths. Your time. Your intentions with that time.
What are you going to do with this time? Are you able to allow yourself to process the hard emotions that come with the loss and still take the time to refocus yourself on the opportunity to invest in yourself? Can you dig deep in your character strength of curiosity to keep up your physical fitness - even if it's in your house? The performance experts know that there is a coping technique that has resulted in increased performance when athletes experience set backs like injuries: the Work Around Effect.
The Work Around Effect is when you gain mental fitness because you have lost physical fitness or you’re managing an injury. You literally "find a way" to get faster since the old methods aren't an option any longer.
So I challenge you to deploy the Work Around Effect. And I am going to help you.
I know you can get faster by training your mental game. You don't need rowing to do it- it's just one medium of many.
Remember, YOU are not your sport. So use this time to grow, fortify, build YOU and your mental game so that when you return to school, the boathouse, the gym - your mind is primed and ready to rip.
I am committing myself to doing what I can to support you in this. I can only do my part physically in managing COVID-19 by keeping my family isolated. But stay tuned, there are several virtual programs on the way.
The first- is my challenge to all RSR Athletes and their Moms to join me and Crista Samaras in The Chase - an 8-week transformational bravery course (all online) to help you build your mental game, identify and circumvent internal barriers and design a plan for action. The Course starts March 26th with the first LIVE session at 1pm EST and I will be holding RSR Office Hours/ RSR Team Meet-ups each week on Monday nights at 8pm EST via ZOOM to answer any questions and to connect with you all.
RSR women and their Moms are getting a vip offer at a Buy One Get One Free code: LOVETHEFIGHT - this will allow you both to join at 50% off. You can sign up HERE.
This is your time for bravery and mental skills.
Join me - we can do this together.
Love the Fight,