Cognitive training as well as cognitive therapy play a very big part of many successful athletes' training all over the world. Not only is it a very interesting topic but also an essential when being involved in any sport either as a coach or athlete.
It’s all about replacing negative thinking patterns and replacing them with more positive ones, which will not only help the riders to stay focused but they will also be less exhausted after a session.
A negative mind is unable to concentrate 100%
The way we begin in our training, when working on turning a negative mind into a positive one is by replacing negative words and expressions like e.g. resistance, going against, fighting, evading, behind the leg, heavy in the hands, refusing… etc. The list of negative words and expressions, which pop up inside the riders’ heads, are endless.
The word resistance is probably the word we hear riders (and judges) use the most. If we really do use this word every single time the horses are loosing their balance, without thinking why they loose their balance, then riding becomes a very depressing sport. This word, as well as the others on the list, activates the negative thought pattern and instinctively the riders will blame their horses for everything. Bad trainers who have been helping those riders in the past may also have contributed to this!
We make it clear to the riders that it is never the horse’s fault, when things don’t feel right or don’t work out, and we make a great deal of effort of doing so. A good start is therefore to replace the words and expressions on the negative list with more positive terms and words e.g.
-resistance= loosing balance because of the riders lack of balance
- going against and fighting= misunderstanding the riders aid
-evading= the horse can’t understand the rider's aid because of an unclear or wrong aid giving
-behind the leg= the rider is driving on incorrectly or at the wrong time
-heavy in the hands= ineffective seat of the rider or rider is heavy handed.
A rider’s physical suppleness is very much governed by how relaxed his or hers mental state is!
The cognitive training we use also gives our riders a better awareness of what they tend to do when the feeling they experience isn’t the best, so that they learn to change their actions and thoughts for the better.
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