Finding Your Rhythm Early in Competition
Have you ever had a game or competition where you felt off sorts? You know, that feeling like you cannot find your rhythm or get into the flow of the game?
Getting into the rhythm of a game is such an important aspect of performance.
That is why shooters want to make their first few shots…
Or a golfer wants to shoot par or better on the first hole…
Or a tennis player wants their serve to be on in their first service game…
Or a pitcher wants to locate the strike zone in the first inning…
But what if you miss your first few shots? What if you double bogey the first hole? What if you double fault and lose the first set? What if you walk the first two batters to open the game?
What does a bad start mean to you personally?
What does being off early in a competition mean to you mentally?
And do you lose confidence quickly?
Not finding your rhythm early in a game is not an indication that you cannot play for the rest of the game or that you have lost your physical ability to perform…
It doesn’t mean that your skills have somehow vanished overnight.
No matter the reason, you have a decision to make…
Do you stay confident and try to work through it? Do you focus on another aspect of your game such as defense? Do you rely on the talents of your teammates? Do you mentally give up?
Houston Rockets MVP candidate James Harden had one of those games and it happened at the most critical part of the season… an elimination game in the playoffs!
The Rockets were facing the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference quarterfinals and were down 3-2 in the series. Harden had his worst performance of the season shooting well below his season average and making several errant passes.
Harden did not attempt a field goal in the first 12 minutes of the game and finished with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, six turnovers and fouled out in 37 minutes of the game. The Rockets lost the game by 39 points and were eliminated from the playoffs.
After the game, Harden said the problem was he couldn’t get into the flow of the game early.
HARDEN: “I really just didn’t have any rhythm at the beginning of the game.”
The big issue is not rhythm… It’s confidence after a poor start and the faulty conclusion that you will not finish strong if you started poorly.
After all, not having rhythm should not affect your whole game, your effort or how aggressively you play.
You will have those days where you will start slow or not have any momentum.
Even though there is a part of your game that is off, you can always stay focused on what’s front of you instead of the first few minutes or mistakes in the game.
Tips For Staying Confident When Your Rhythm is Off:
Take a long-term approach to confidence. Is it fair to yourself to lose 2, 5, or 10 years of confidence building in one quarter of the game?
Remind yourself that your skills have not changed, your work ethic is the game, even though you don’t have any momentum.
Engage yourself in a conversation where you tell yourself to be calm. Look for ways to spark your performance.
Look for good breaks or positive changes in momentum.
Take control of your confidence level by not letting it evaporate with a slow start to the game!
Start taking control of your confidence level with proactive confidence:
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