The problem with the thinking behind sports psychology books is that they are exactly that – an exercise in thinking.
Many texts come forward with all the best intentions only to end up sounding like some sort of James Joyce-esque stream of consciousness, into which, as amateur psychologists, we are expected to delve, extracting nuggets of inspiration to help us along on our way.
The reality for those of us who are rather less well versed in Nietzsche, Plato and Freud than the author would suppose, is that we need to be guided along the path to mental excitation in rather more manageable steps. And for that reason, Phil Pierce here has struck gold, in his self-published book Mental Combat.
As he determines in his opening exchanges, the path to mental magnificence is a gradual incline that must be approached over time. Sure enough, across 164 pages of intuitive thinking, he prepares, affects and assesses a perceived climb in mental fortitude that, if done properly, can lead the reader towards achieving and fulfilling ambitions far beyond what they perceived as possible.
And despite referencing case studies, individual sportspeople and specific pieces of scientific research, there is no pigeon-holing of type within this engaged, well structured, entry level guide. Instead, whether the chosen pursuit is football, fencing or forest clearance, the approach is one to suggest that anyone can better themselves and take a psychological head start to the opposition, and for that the author must be applauded.
Mind Hack Number 1: Fake it until you make it.
“I wanted to begin with a trick that has been used by movie stars, world leaders and politicians for years. In fact, this technique is so powerful that you can try it right now and see results in seconds.
Have you ever met someone you considered confident and relaxed and wondered how they managed to be so composed? The real secret to beating stress and taking control of your mind is to accept that no-one is born immune to stress. We all experience it. We all have the choice of how to handle it. Those who appear unfazed by tense situations start by simply “acting” unfazed until it ultimately becomes a reality.
The simplest way to manage a long-term, positive mental change like this is summed by up a great phrase: “Fake it until you make it!”
We already know that the mind has a powerful control over the body. You can use this principle of acting calm to become calm to establish long-term benefits for your mind and body by emulating the mannerisms of confident and relaxed people.
The more often you “fake it” (act in the way you would like to feel), the more often the brain begins to change and accept this change as agreeable. The more times your brain accepts this change, the more permanent the effects become. Eventually, they will take a fixed place in your personality.”
MENTAL COMBAT, Phil Pierce.