Rock in the Pocket on the way to Double Gold
Updated: Jun 12, 2021
I've told this story previously and am still amazed at the way it unfolded. This is a story about learning about how to refocus the mind in competition that has a pretty amazing stat at the end.
Leading into the busy summer of 2015 with Team Canada Fastpitch I was working with a sport psychologist by the name of Shaunna Taylor. She has long been a leader in this field in BC and Canada and I was grateful for the support leading into the World Championships in Saskatoon and Pan Am Games in Toronto.
One thing we were working on was finding an anchor to focus my attention on when my mind wanted to overanalyze, replay past mistakes, jump ahead with nervous anticipation, anything other than be in the here and now where we need to be to perform our best. Her suggestion was to put something in my back pocket that I could repeatedly go to when my mind wandered off to these unhelpful patterns.
Before the World Championships started we played some exhibition games in Prince Albert, SK. It was there where I picked up a rock and put it in my back right pocket. There was nothing overly special about it - I made sure it wasn't sharp or pointed so I wouldn't have to deal with that over and over.
From there, for the rest of that summer, that rock was with me in my back pocket. When my mind wandered off, I'd reach back with my right hand to feel its hardness or shape (this must have looked like I had a constantly itchy butt...), allowing me to let go of any troubling thoughts and get in touch with the sense of touch in the present. I did this over an over throughout our 2 major tournaments.
At the end of the summer we had compiled a record of 23-1 and gold medals at both the World Championships and Pan Am Games.
That 1 loss, guess where my rock was...sitting on my hotel bedside table! I'm not very superstitious but you can be sure I had it back with me the very next game and for the rest of the summer.
Try anchoring out and let me know how it goes. You can use a rock, a piece of equipment, the sounds around you, the breath - anything that can tie you to the present moment.
Good luck and train that mind!