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SELF-REFLECTION JOURNAL 1

Self-Reflection Journal

Sairah Mohammad

Sport Science 2231

Douglas College

Fall 2017

As an athlete, I have experienced various ideal performances but also many not so great

performances. It is illustrated that in an ideal performance state, there is a detachment from the
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outside world and there is complete focus on the game at hand. No fear is involved and ones

physical and mental state is at ease (Garfield & Bennett, 1984, pg. 160). During my ideal

performance, my mind was completely at ease. I felt confident in what I was doing and my focus

was completely on the task in front of me. My thoughts were positive and I felt happy to be

playing. I felt a sense of peace and muscles were loose. When I play well, I am usually happy

and cheerful. I reflect energy to those around me before a game. I am also fully engaged and

ready to play. My confidence always has a huge impact on my performance. If I dont believe in

myself and am not confident, I have a hard time focusing. I second guess my ability and start

using phrases such as I cant do this or there is no way I can do that. When I start thinking

negatively, I usually end up playing really bad. My head isnt in it and I feel like I shouldnt be

there or just simply dont want to be there. I am either anxious or downright frustrated with

myself. This also plays into being too aroused or under aroused.

Based on the inverted-U, these factors lead to poor performance (Yerkes and Dodson,

1908, pg. 212). When I am having a bad game, its usually because I am under aroused and

highly stressed. My mind is usually focusing on many other things and I become anxious which

causes more stress. At the same time, I usually feel sluggish and not interested in playing at all.

A few sources of those stress factors are certain teammates, my emotions at the time, my

environment before I leave for the game, certain events, and my anxiety. However, if I am a bit

nervous before a game, it helps my arousal levels which then aids in getting into my zone of

optimal performance. If I am anxious before a game, it does have a negative impact which is also

suggested in the attentional control theory (ACT, Eysenck, Derakshan, Santos, & Calvos, 2007,

pg. 218). Anxiety impairs the effectiveness when performing a task which plays a role in my

worst performances.
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Although sometimes I can be a pessimist, I tend to view my explanatory style as a

positive experience. Usually when I have a bad game or bad experience, I reflect on it post-game

and list a few things that I did great and a few things I didnt do well. I then use that list and try

to figure out how I could fix that so it wont happen again in the future. I believe in making

mistakes in order to learn from them. Especially if I have a bad game because it is a perfect

opportunity to grow from it and see what you can do differently in future to prevent that. It is

almost like solving a problem but you wont see the outcome right away.

Self-talk plays a huge role in my ideal performances. When I use self-talk as a way to

get my head in the game, I tend to play a lot better and feel for more confident. Whenever I

feel happy or energized on the way to my game, I usually give myself a pep talk during the drive.

I talk positively to myself and build up my confidence. I talk through certain plays and how I am

going to execute them. I also include possible mistakes and how I can bounce back from them

during the game. I talk calmly to myself in almost a forgiving way. I pre-forgive myself for

certain mistakes I might make. This tends to work well with me during days I play great.

However, its the complete opposite when I have bad game days. I tend to talk negatively to

myself and am unforgiving. I blame myself for a lot of things, even if it wasnt my fault.

Self-talk can be destructive if you use it in that negative sense. It can also be quite constructive if

you practice it properly. It can also be a way to reinforce self-worth during a performance and

generate confidence (Hackfort & Schwenkmezger, 1993, pg. 280). For myself, when I am being

positive and forgiving, it has a great impact on the way I play. I feel a lot better after using that

technique too.

A distorted thought that I sometimes catch myself thinking is perfection is essential,

which is based on Albert Elliss theory (1982, pg. 292). Whenever I am not able to execute a
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certain play or task, I automatically assume I have failed and cant do anything right. When I am

constantly not able to perform certain tasks or if I keep messing up, I start losing my confidence.

I then stop believing in my ability to play which then stops me from playing well. A huge trigger

for this is constantly missing a pass on the ice or on the court. Usually after 3 misses, my mind

completely gives up and I then start talking negatively to myself. This always leads to a poor

performance. A way to fix his would be to always forgive myself after missing a pass or not

executing a certain. Being able to take a breath and regroup would help solve this issue during

my games.

Hockey and basketball are quite fast paced sports. You never know what to expect and

can only predict so much. In these sports, there is always a shift from broad to narrow focus and

there is always constant focus internally and externally. Whether its focusing on the pass

coming towards you or the guy yelling in the stands. There is always going to be a shift in focus.

A great example of this is during hockey, I am constantly telling myself to keep my butt down

when skating just so I am low enough, but also during that, I have to focus on either a pass

coming my way or having to block a shot from a defenseman. Having to predict a pass that

might be made and also thinking about when to crossover is also shifting from broad to narrow.

The environment is constantly changing and you cant predict everything that is going to happen.

A few strategies that I currently use before a game usually involve loosening up my

muscles and getting the blood flowing. I also try to put myself in a more content mind space.
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When I am relaxed and happy, I play a lot better. Before a game, I try doing things that make me

feel content afterwards. Sometimes I put on some music and dance around my room for a bit.

This gets my blood flowing and warms up my muscles, it also makes me feel energized and more

awake. Other times Ill go into my garage and taking a few shots on net with the music also

blasting out loud. By taking shots on net, I start focusing more on the game and a few skills that I

might be using on the ice. This helps me prepare for a game. During the drive to the game, I tend

to give myself a pep talk and self-talk to help my confidence. Self-talking also keeps my

emotions in check because I usually ask myself how I am feeling or what I might be scared of

during the game. I find that once its said out loud, I feel a lot better and can control more.

There are many aspects that can be improved such as being able to self-talk a lot more.

For me personally, self-talking helps a lot before, during, and after my games. I also need to

improve on blocking out certain people and environments before a game. I have certain

teammates that constantly worry about other peoples performances other than their own. Instead

of suggesting ways to improve their mistakes, they continuously point out those mistakes and

keep repeating what youre doing wrong. I found out that I can take constructive criticism but to

a certain extent. When someone is constantly on my back about mistakes and wont explain how

to fix them, I become frustrated and more anxious which leads to me having a bad game. I want

to learn how to block people out completely and just focus on how I am doing and my game

entirely. Being more self-aware is also going to be another way that will help my improve my

focus and emotional management. By practicing these throughout my games, I should be able to

have control of my emotions, confidence, and focus.

Cites

Brendan, N. (1994). The six pillars of self-esteem. New York: Bantam


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Ellis, A. & Dryden, W. (1987). The practice of rational emotive therapy. New York:

Springer.

Garfield, C. A., & Bennett, H. Z (1984). Peak Performance: Mental training techniques of the

worlds greatest athletes. Los Angeles: Tarcher.

Hackfort, D., & Schwenkmezger, P. (1993). In R. N. Singer, M. Murphy, and L. K. Tennant

(Eds.), Handbook of research on sport psychology (PP. 328-346). New York: Macmillan.

McKay, M., Fanning, P. (1994). Self-esteem (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger

Yerkes, R. M., & Dodson, J. D. (1908). Feeling and thinking: Preferences need no inferences.

American Psychologist, 35, 151-175.