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.

Apr 14, 2021 Interscholastic

A Day in the Life with the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League

The new USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) is in its first year and this new program has welcomed 83 teams. Recently, the IEL teams participated in an IEL social media video contest by submitting creative videos that represent a day in the life of an IEL team member.

Apr 13, 2021 Volunteers

Volunteerism with Come Again Farm and Lee Ann Zobbe

It is the eventing programs like Lee Ann Zobbe’s program in Area VIII that help keep the sport alive. In addition to teaching students how to ride, Zobbe the manager and coach at Come Again Farm, also teaches her students how to volunteer. Whether her students are 11 years old or 70 years old, volunteering is an integral part of her program located in Sheridan, Indiana.

Apr 12, 2021 Young Riders

Adequan®/USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge Adds Two New West Coast Legs

US Equestrian is pleased to announce the addition of two new 2021 dates for the Adequan®/USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge (YTC):

Apr 12, 2021 Competitions

Inaugural McKinlaigh Cup and Twin Rivers CCI4*-L Title Goes to Amber Levine and Cinzano

"Too plain" is not a description that fits today's wire-to-wire winner of the Twin Rivers Spring International's inaugural CCI4*-L. But that's what Amber Levine heard five years ago after importing the now 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) as a sales prospect. So, she kept him. His long-delayed debut at the CCI4*-L level proved the wisdom of that decision.

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