Breathe in... 1, 2, 3... Breathe out... 3, 2, 1... I begin tune out all the background noise of the rowdy team cheers. Breathe in... 1, 2, 3... Breathe out... 3, 2, 1... Finally, after a moment of peace and mental relaxation, I stretch every fibre of my body. Each joint and muscle of my body is engulfed with burning flames. Breathe in... 1, 2, 3... Breathe out... 3, 2, 1... As I walk up to the blocks with my trembling hands and feet, looking far out to the end of the pool which seems so far away, I again tune out the background noise only to hear to my own heartbeat. Breathe in... 1, 2, 3... Breathe out... 3, 2, 1... I'm on the blocks now.  It all boils down to this moment. I know that as soon as I hear the whistle, I will have to jump off my feet and dive into the cold, cold water. This make-or-break moment will determine whether I take a lead on my opponents in this race. Breathe in... 1, 2, 3... Breathe out... 3, 2……… and suddenly, I'm the only one to have somehow messed up, anticipated the start blast too early, and fell to my failure. What I have described is a false start in swimming - something I have personally struggled with, and has led me to a mental block with starts in swimming in the past. At the next meet, I just could not get my feet off the blocks and dove in late, hindering my whole race.  Thankfully, I have an AMAZING coach who once again trained me to the level I was at after my mental block. Mental blocks can occur in any sport. A gymnast may not be able to get their feet off of the ground for a back handspring, and a volleyball player may freeze when they really should have dove for the ball. Mental blocks take a toll on an athlete's mental toughness in game mode, as it can completely overtake one's mind. It acts as a barrier between one's self-confidence and success. The causes? Stress, pressure, and fear. All these negative emotions take a toll on an athlete’s mental health. To overcome this, taking baby steps are essential. Practice until your body learns how to perform that skill once again.  Take charge of your emotions. Remember to never let your body to succumb to the mindset of winning over losing and always focus on your strengths, and envision your next steps of your journey to improvement.


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Making others more physically active, one step at a time

© 2018 by The Active Mental Health Initiative Team

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