Wednesday 150729

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
5 Muscle ups
50 Double unders
10 Handstand push ups
100 Meter run

Post rounds and reps to comments and BTWB

Maddie doing what Maddie does best. . . taking class through a nice little rowing warm-up.

Maddie doing what Maddie does best. . . taking class through a nice little rowing warm-up.


Whatever you do, don’t freak out. . . or do, whatevs. By Courtney Shepherd and Noa Kageyama, Ph.D. of The Bulletproof Musician

When you click on the WOD blog in the morning and see the workout of the day is “Fran”, do you do what we all think you’re going to do, which is just FRAK OUT? Or does it really have to be “Fran”? Pretty much every day you walk into Verve and see anything written on the whiteboard that involves doing hard work for time, does your anxiety level instantly pique? Whether it’s getting ready to start a hard workout, take a test, or go in for a job interview, most of us find ourselves experiencing nerves or the feeling of being nervous. Following that feeling is generally either someone else or possibly ourselves, telling us to calm down, maybe even take a deep breath. Well according to Dr. Kageyama, in his article “How to Make Performance Anxiety an Asset Instead of  a Liability”, telling ourselves or someone else to relax, is actually doing a disservice by implicitly confirming that the anxiety we feel is bad and to be feared. 

“. . . I’ve come to understand that anxiety itself is not the problem. The problem is that most of us have never learned how to use adrenaline to our advantage. . . I soon learned to welcome the rush of adrenaline and to use that energy to power my performances, and to perform with more freedom, conviction, and confidence. . .”

Before answering the question of how do we transform anxiety from a liability to an advantage, the good doctor wants us first to understand a little bit about how the brain works. He is using music and musicians as his examples, however, I think it’s easy to see how we could simply swap out the idea of practicing music and performing in from of an audience, to practicing the snatch and doing it in a competition. 

Left Brain vs. Right Brain

Our brains can be thought of as being comprised of two basic regions, the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. Admittedly, it is an oversimplification of the immense complexity of our brain to imply that the left and right hemispheres are completely independent of one another, but this is a very helpful model when it comes to understanding optimal mental states for performance.

Left brain thinking is associated with words, numbers, logic, analysis, criticism, rules, details, planning, and judgment. Conversely, right brain thinking is associated with sounds, images, patterns, kinesthetic or sensory input, emotions, the “big picture,” free association, and creativity.

Based on this information, which mode of thinking seems most conducive to effective practicing? Yep, left brain! Now, which seems most conducive to dynamic, inspired, and artistic performances? Right brain, exactly! Unfortunately, we often do the opposite. In the practice room, we have a tendency to practice somewhat mindlessly, merely repeating passages over and over until they sound better, making corrections, but doing so almost unconsciously. However, as soon as we walk on stage, we tend to get flooded by left brain over-analytical thinking, criticism, excessive planning, and so on, which only serves to lead to a pre-occupation with technical details and an inability to play as freely and automatically as we are capable. Are you familiar with the phrase “paralysis by analysis?” This is exactly what happens when we know that our every move and sound is under close scrutiny by others. The opposite of this paralyzed state is often referred to as “flow” or “the zone,” where everything just seems to “click” into place and our playing is easy, free, and effortless.

How do we make the shift from left brain thinking to right brain thinking and get into “the zone?” One very effective tool is called Centering.

Centering is what sport psychologists call a pre-performance routine. There are seven steps, each specifically designed to move us progressively closer to right brain quiet, focus, and poise, and take us further away from left brain fears, doubts, and self-criticism. All of which you can learn about in detail in tomorrow’s post. . . so I guess you better stay tuned. 


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