Strategies to help you turn your game around
— By Kia Schollar
Have you been here?
You’re sitting in the crowd at a local venue, watching your hometown team. No matter what play they call, no matter how hard they seem to work, the other team wins the battle.
Play after play after play.
You wonder when the team you came to watch is going to show up! Finally the clock ticks down, you sigh because it’s the end of the period or halftime. You hope the wise coaches can implement adjustments and turn the game around.
This practice of making adjustments is not unique to sports and teams. This happens in training, at work and with larger individual goals.
We wanted to know more about evaluating after setbacks and resetting to move forward so we caught up with Trista Friedrich, a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Saskatchewan.
Friedrich, a former competitive high performance athlete in canoe-kayak, noted that one of the key skills she developed as an athlete — that she uses routinely — is the systematic monitoring of each session she conducts. This is used to help her, and her clients, remain “proactive and change before a failure occurs” as well as helping to “better their skills.”
The age old saying practice makes perfect seems exceptionally appropriate.
But it’s not enough to simply say practise this proactive approach.
Friedrich highlights two main strategies that can help clients deal with setbacks and situations as they arise.
1. Solution-Focused Approach
This method “focuses on solutions” rather than “focusing on the problem,” Friedrich explains. The solution-focused approach “helps break a problem down into small goals.”
The bonus to creating small goals is that with each accomplishment comes positive reinforcement, and “motivations to solve the problem.”
Friedrich says sport really does help people learn this skill.
2. Motivational Interviewing
With this technique, individuals look to “find arguments for why you want to change.”
As an argument for why change should occur develops, it decreases the self-talk that “sustains problems and minimizes change.”
This method is ideal for helping humans change their perspective on problems and “motivates change.”
Friedrich says the “language (we) use plays a big part (in how) we perceive things.”
Why are these strategies important?
Why not just trudge forward? Press the reset button and start again?
Friedrich says systematic evaluation and setting goals help to reduce insecurities and anxieties.
Who doesn’t want that?
Engaging and learning these strategies also helps people avoid experiential avoidance, Friedrich explains. Instead, clients are able to have faith in the plan, a very “positive impact on your mental state.”
Learning to overcome challenges
Here’s a scenario: You have spent months training, hours upon hours preparing and today is the day that you are set to accomplish your goal. In your eyes, everything is on the line. But with the snap of a finger you have lost the race or the event did not go as planned, you feel like your training and preparation was for not. Giving up, possibly quitting, is where you’re heading.
“The ability to evaluate and drive to overcome challenges is something that seems to be learned and not innate” Friedrich notes. So, how, if this is not a person’s natural reaction, does she help them learn to encounter and move past their setbacks?
Friedrich suggests No. 2 — motivational interviewing. She notes that it helps to create an “argument for coming up with a plan, changing language and perspective,” which is what’s necessary for a commitment to change.
All in all, setbacks can be a good thing — if we recognize the opportunity for growth and learning.
Lean in, ask the tough questions and recognize when change might be what you need to meet or exceed your goals.