Overcoming Mindset Challenges

We all have those days, we drop our heads and get down on ourselves; you might even let out a few expletive words for good measure. Our pickleball play is just not up to our, or the USAPA player rating standard. It’s frustrating. I’ll let you in on a secret I learned long ago from […]



We all have those days, we drop our heads and get down on ourselves; you might even let out a few expletive words for good measure. Our pickleball play is just not up to our, or the USAPA player rating standard. It’s frustrating. I’ll let you in on a secret I learned long ago from a coach who pushed us to achieve; your state of mind or your mindset, plays an enormous role in your successes and failure.

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, identifies 2 types of mind-sets; fixed and growth. The fixed mindset has shaped you from birth, it is what you are and has defined your belief in your potential. An innate conviction fashioned from external influences and internally interpreted. A fixed mindset, sees obstacles when faced with change and challenges and therefore will interpret failure as self-defeating in the lack of abilities. It’s like looking on the other side of the court and thinking that the grass is greener – your opponents seem to have all the right moves and it’s your lack of something that is keeping you from winning.

On the other hand, the growth mindset is one that is embryonic. Here is where belief in ourselves can help us adapt and grow in the ways we want by developing our talents through hard-work and dedication. Learning to love our development playing pickleball and also developing a resilience to loss is the key.

Hear Those “Voices”

Learning to overcome a fixed mindset challenge begins with learning to control your emotions and then you can achieve optimal performance during competition. First, you need to pay attention to those negative voices; you know the one’s – from family members that expressed failure or the one’s from coaches that uttered a lack of talent. There may have even been laughter from classmates or club memberships. A mentor who would snap when you hit a setback. You may have developed a reactive “habit” – automatic response to an emotional stimuli. Pushing those old suppressed buttons will give you a release and an understanding but despite their best intentions, this can also trigger an emotional upheaval, easily sweeping you away. Fortunately there is one way to stop the spiral of uncontrollable emotional reactions – refocusing. Consciously stepping back to draw your focus into your senses and the physical effects they may manifest; elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, nausea, tight or tense muscles, anxiety, and shallow breathing.

Acknowledge and Accept

Staying in the present moment, acknowledging that these physical effects are poignant, so you can process the information as if you are a doctor observing a patient. Comprehend your emotional arousal as an imaginary threat, and your intensified state of mental stress or physical excitement is a normal response that can be reduced by controlling your emotions. Slow down. Accept that you can help your brain learn to process new “habits” to effectively stay grounded; stretch and breathe, visualize or focus on energizing cues that epitomize how you want to perform or transfer negative energy to positive energy.

Choice

You have a choice; interpret negative challenges or setbacks from a lack of talent fixed mindset or from a positive aptitude growth mindset. When you doubt your talent, change your focus – with time and effort, believe you can learn a particular skill or achieve a goal. If you hit a setback or face criticism, keep learning and persevere.

When the grass on the “other side” draws my attention, I stop and reframe – finding the courage in myself to think of the “water”, or successes that keeps my grass green. I still find myself under stress, and I still hear the “voice” of my fixed mindset. I have learned to face the criticism; sometimes old responses rear their ugly head and I get angry – hitting the ball without thinking and making unforced errors. Other times I am able to put those voices in their place. I interpret my challenges, and setbacks then regain my emotional control. It’s all very personal.

Over time, learning to take on the pickleball challenge wholeheartedly, gaining wisdom from setbacks, and acting on the criticisms you face by embracing the growth mindset can make it work for you.

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