Dec 04, 2019

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Question Suggestion

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

Keeping your mind focused on what’s productive (like transitions between dressage movements or fences) instead of what’s destructive (like worrying about the crowd) is one of the most important skills any rider can learn. While it’s a skill that can require a bit of practice, it’s one that can be learned quite quickly - as long as you know a trick. The good news is that there is a trick, and that trick is called question suggestion.

The idea behind question suggestion is that asking yourself leading questions like, “What can I do to relax?” is much more effective than simply telling yourself what to do like, "Quit freaking out”, because self-directed leading questions stimulate your brain to search out their answers. For example, asking yourself, “How can I stay calm before a show,” might lead to answers like, “Take a few relaxing breaths, think of a positive memory from the past, and listen to a calm song before mounting.”

Question suggestion works because it allows your focus to shift from problems to solutions and from the past to the present. It also creates purposeful and intentional thoughts instead of allowing your mind to randomly lock onto something it shouldn’t (like who’s watching you). Self-directed questions do this by stimulating your mind to search for solutions to problems instead of allowing your mind to be consumed by the problem itself.

Here are a few tricks to creating your own questions suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself questions that begin with “how” because they tend to direct your attention towards solutions. For example, “How can I remain calm?” can be answered by, “Say a motivating motto like, Keep Calm Ride On.”
  2. Avoid questions that start with the word “why” because they tend to direct your answers towards the problem. For example, “Why do I always get so nervous?” is often answered with something like, “Because everyone’s better than me!”
  3. Never answer your questions with the words “I don’t know.” You can avoid this by pausing for a brief moment after asking your question (so your mind can find an answer). If you rush your response, you may not have time to find the answer.
  4. Consider asking yourself questions about how you look and/or feel. For example, “What do I look like when I’m confident?” or “How do I feel when I’m relaxed?” Once you’ve created the picture in your mind, change your body language to match it.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and that I’ll get the chance to teach you in one of my upcoming winter or spring clinics! For more information visit www.pressureproofacademy.com.

Interested in sports psychology? Applications for the 2021 Worth the Trust Sports Psychology Scholarships will be available soon. For more information, please contact Nancy Knight, (703) 669-9997.

Jan 16, 2021 Interscholastic

Announcing the 2021 USEA Interscholastic Eventing League Calendar

The USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) 2021 Team Challenge calendar is now available! This new program was announced in October 2020 and so far there have been over 60 teams register and 18 team challenges added to the 2021 calendar.

Jan 15, 2021 Rules

Rule Refresher: 2021 FEI Rule Changes

There are currently 34 FEI events on the U.S. Eventing calendar for 2021 with the first taking place in mid-March. While all national events in the U.S. follow the USEF Rules For Eventing, international events follow the FEI Rulebook.

Jan 15, 2021 Competitions

Weekend Quick Links: January 16-17, 2021

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.

Jan 14, 2021 Volunteers

Get to Know the 2020 USEA Volunteer of the Year James Newman

In a difficult year for the sport of eventing, it was volunteers like James (Jim) Newman who helped many events stay afloat. Through www.eventingvolunteers.com, Newman recorded a total of 292 hours and 51 minutes of volunteer service in 2020. Newman’s dedication to the sport amidst a pandemic earned him the top spot on the USEA Volunteer of the Year Presented by Sunsprite Warmbloods leaderboard.

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