Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Sports Psychology and bridge

I was reading Glen Ashton’s blog just now and it reminded me of my first world championship in Istanbul and how I prepared for it.

Glen Ashton – Mind Sports and the next board

My biggest problem was that I knew I wanted to play my best but I was worried that my emotions would get in the way.  I tried to find a book that would help me.  The most useful one was by an Olympic Athlete who talked about his fear of winning.  In the end I found a sports psychologist and it really helped me quite a bit.  She disappeared when I tried to find her about a year later.  I wrote an article about what she taught me in the Bulletin in Istanbul.  Here it is.

Anyway after I wrote the article I was surprised at the number of players who came up and told me that they had the same problems I did.  I really thought I was one of the few and I found out I was one of the many.

I believe that the difference between a winning team (or player) and a losing one is mental toughness.  Any time I look back at events that I coulda shoulda woulda done better in, the cause has always been to some extent a problem in my head (or within the partnership’s combined heads).

I am not sure how much team matters although team mates can support you through the tough patches.

How do you handle a specific bad board?  I have passed on this advice to whoever I can.  You know you can’t dwell on it.  Put it aside mentally.  The psychologist suggested using an imagine.  She said you can’t fool your brain into letting it go but you can tell it to put it away for now.  She suggested something like a safe or a jewelry box or anything like that.  You take the problem, wrap it up and put it in the box.  Locking the box might be good.  You plan to come back to it – just not now.  Then you go through your normal set and routine before you start the next hand.  For me that might be drinking a sip of water, picking up my cards, deliberately checking the board for dealer and vulnerability, counting my cards etc.  I try to get into my space.

The same thing can be used when you lose a match.  The captain has to decide if the players should be put back in again after a bad match or changed out to let them calm down.  I almost always want to play.  I almost never want to sit out.  I could play all the sets.  If I say sit my out the captain should know I need it.  When I do and things then go wrong of course I get down on myself.  I should have played.  Well another mental challenge.

I think there are winners and losers.  Winners want to win.  They find ways to win.  Losers don’t.  There is one bridge player I know why I believe doesn’t want to win.  I can count on beating her when it is important.  Francine Cimon is a winner.  She usually wins.  She hates to lose.  She is very mentally tough.

The only way the Canadian women will get all the victory points they need tomorrow night is to follow the cliche.  There is no pressure on them.  They are very unlikely to win.  Stay loose.  Take it one match at a time.  Go in determined to do their best and not let anything get away.  Place themselves in a zone of maximum concentration.  Focus on each deal one at a time.  

The Canadian men have a harder challenge because there is more pressure on them because they are so very close to qualifying.

1 Comment

fat loss for idiotsOctober 9th, 2008 at 1:31 am

Hmm… it seems that you have a talent in writing, great blog. Add to my feed reader!

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