Unwanted Performance Commentary

Basketball skills training

Rushing blue waters, hard ancient mountain side, deep gorges and waterfalls plunging into endless green pools all wrapped in the natural static noise of a glacial river cutting its path eternal.

The soaring scenery of the Italian Alps is simply torture to me……… if I have to stand and just watch it.

So on this occasion, like many others i decided to dive in, literally, by going on a Canyoning trip. For those without the knowledge, Cayoning basically involves getting into a wetsuit and following a raging river as it thunders through a gorge or canyon by jumping, diving, climbing and swimming depending on what preserving your life calls for. Its one of those sports that really gets you close to the scenery (!) and this time was my first in Italy. My guides were Italian speaking with the most basic of English capabilities. In these situations one comes to really appreciate how a miniscule amount of our communication is down to words and the really important stuff comes from body language and tone of voice (non-verbals). I watched with amusement as my highly competent guide dramatically expressed the necessary prep material for each jump down the valley. This particular jump entailed entering and jumping off a waterfall, then swimming out of the pool in a certain way. It was fantastic! I entered the move cleanly and found myself watching my feet glide out along with the falling water, then Bang!, into the icy green pool, up and swim out to the left. Myself and a couple of guys had over-shot our holding spot on the left rock face and found ourselves in a smaller pool at the bottom of a side waterfall. Down I went, sucked by the plunging waters and as i came up i watched my hand scramble for a grip on the rock. A voice in my head said ‘oh look youve still got your wedding ring on, should’ve taken it off because you might lose it’. Then whoosh!, pulled under again, hand scrambles for rock, voice in head says ‘ oh look, now your wedding ring has been plucked from your hand by a furious waterfall!’. Images of my wife murdering me crossed with a strange creature standing downstream five hundred years from now holding a shiny platinum ring, whispering ‘my preciousssss’.

There was no choice but to move on. Those voices started to really shout in my head over the din of hundreds of crossing water torrents. The explanations I was running over, the promises I would make and counter-arguments to what my wife would say. I talked it over with myself and tried really hard not to feel down.

The next jump came up, 15 meters down through a fairly narrow space swimming out to the right, then climb up the rock to a ledge. Im sure i really paid attention to the instructions and although I know the guide said ‘take three clear steps out before you jump to clear the overhang, i took five, or maybe eight steps and leaned forward into the jump. Have ever heard someone belly flop from fifteen metres? When I slapped into the water the sound bounced so hard around the canyon that it turned a whole herd of alpine goats’ milk sour.

That voice inside your head has probably become such an everyday unconscious experience that you haven’t thought of what its purpose is and how very easy it is to control it.

‘Internal Dialogue’ is what you are using to read this article right now. Thats right, that voice. Just pay attention to the way you are reading the words.

Is the voice your own or someone elses?

Is it loud or soft?

What speed is it going at?

What pitch is it, low or high?

Is it more on your left ear or your right ear, all around or coming from a single spot?

Does it have a particular tone?

Think how useful your internal dialogue is. Do you get vital messages by ‘saying’ things to yourself?  Do you use it to describe what people are doing, even think through what you are going to say before you say it?

There are many different uses for your internal dialogue and it is a common experience that sometimes we have too much of it and cannot control it. Maybe you can recall one time when you were feeling  quite un-resourceful and pay attention to the internal dialogue as you remember this. Now think deeply of one of the most resourceful times in your life, one that you would have back right now and pay attention to the quality of your internal dialogue. When you are experiencing two such different states you will notice a difference in the internal dialogue. What is true for humans is that the qualities of our internal dialogue (e.g. volume, pitch, speed etc) directly correlate with our internal kinaesthetic arousal (i.e. how we feel and the exact location of those feelings in our body). Additionally, it also stands to reason that whilst you are talking to yourself you are doing so at cost.

It will cost you processing space for information coming through your senses about the environment. It can cost you information and consequent performance of actions being generated by your nervous system. If the qualities of the internal dialogue are inappropriate, it can cost you in terms of feelings that reduce your experience (reduced self-esteem, motivation, depression etc).

It will cost you when you are being coached or receiving instructions by taxing your processing capabilities more than you need to (commonly call NOT paying attentio

If, for example, you are a sprinter and you have furious internal dialogue activity before and during you race, you will be pulled down by it and as running in wellington boots would be easier. You wouldn’t disadvantage yourself so obviously would you? Its amazing how many of us actually d

It is highly possible to suspend the internal dialogue at will thus allowing a deeply rich intake of the environment and incredibly fast responses – a perfect high performance state for top athletic performance amongst other things. I create a pedestal, high up on a podium and put my mentor Dr John Grinder on it when it comes to talking about such states. Dr John has created and shared with the author cutting edge techniques for achieving high performance states consistently, the application of which makes the difference between average performers and top level achievers. We use these techniques at the core of our psychological coaching and they are so powerful that frankly im not going to give them away here. Please feel welcome to attend a private session to train this ability and in the meantime enjoy the following technique. It comes from earlier work by Dr Grinder and is perfectly effective in reducing the internal dialogue that can so often effect a performance (even cause you to belly-flop off a waterfall)

Use this checklist and change your internal voice qualities to the opposite of your answers, or whatever has the most effect.

REMEMBER: The WORDS being spoken by your internal dialogue ARE INSIGNIFICANT compared to the following structural qualities:

How FAST is it going? (Speed it up or slow it down, notice the effect)

How LOUD is it? (reduce or amplify it, notice the effect

What PITCH is it? ( make it higher or lower, chipmunks or barry white pitch, notice the effect)

Whose voice is it?  E.g. Mine, my uncles, my coach (change it to different people, notice the effect)

What LOCATION is it coming from? (Move it around, notice the effect)

What TONE/TIMBRE is it? (Play with the sound quality, is muffled, distorted, clear, phased etc)

Play with all of these qualities and notice what has the greatest effect on the way you feel and perform. Sometimes you may go away from the voice and when you come back its still in its old quality. I guarantee that if you just change it back to the new qualities a few times then it will stick

Playing with these qualities is your training. The message that it reinforces is that YOU ARE ABLE TO CONTROL YOUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE.

Have fun as always………………