brain safeWhen I ask athletes what memory is, they almost always say “it’s when I recall events from my past.” Is that how you see it too?

I believe that’s only partially accurate. Allow me to question this understanding a little.

Isn’t it true that memory is both a storage place and the process of accessing information from it? (nod your head)

So memory isn’t an event, it’s a place and the events are what you put into your memory…right?

Why am I playing around with semantics? Because of what I’m about to say right now!

Your memory isn’t just a place where you put past events only, but a place that accepts future events also! You just need to encode it.

The brain doesn’t send messages to our memory in words like we do with each other, but the brain’s language is in electrochemical signals. Electrochemical signals, put crudely, is simply information & emotions. Why am I telling you this? Because of the tips I will now share about how to use memory for getting to your PEAK.

I will speak of both Past and Future “Events.”

TIPS FOR REACHING PEAK

1) Desire
If you want to be able to use what is in your memory to your benefit, it’s best if you want to know the thing that you are learning. When your coach is teaching you about the game, do you really want to know it? Having the emotion of desire when learning makes the recalling of that knowledge much easier, especially in tough situations. You hear elite athletes calling this muscle memory. You can certainly remember without having an emotion tied to the knowledge but recalling is easier if emotion was attached.

2) Control Your Feedback
Your brain is set up for survival, so it will always remember the things that went wrong so that you don’t do it again. (Just think about touching a hot stove). It’s easier to remember the bad than the good. But for you as an athlete, it doesn’t always work for your benefit the way the brain hopes. A great tip to defend against this default action is to  get feedback from your coaches or teammates about how you are doing in practice and games. I usually tell athletes that after every practice, they should take their smart phone and do a vlog for themselves about what they did well in practice and what they should improve on for the next practice. Before the next practice begins they should WATCH THAT VLOG. This action will begin to build confidence for you. Why? Because it is constantly bringing up in your memory what you did well and strengthening the ease in which those memories are recalled.

3) Use your imagination
Neurobiologists have found that when athletes are doing an action, there is an electrochemical pattern in the brain that represents that motion. And they’ve also discovered that watching someone do that action or just imagining doing that action fires the same electrochemical pattern in the brain. What does this mean? It means that by imagining doing an action correctly, you can increase the chance of doing that action well in the future. Simply, imagining doing an action increases muscle memory for that action. So before games and before practices, take the time to visualize what you will be doing; the effort, the reads, the focus, the teamwork. You get the drift.

What else are you learning to get yourself to your PEAK?

 

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