Mental Strength in the present moment

As a Mentor, this is my main lesson for the High
Performance Athletes I serve.

Introduction

In a world characterized by excess information and constant distractions, staying
centered and focused on the present moment has become a challenge for many of us.
However, for certain professionals in certain fields, the ability to stay present can be the
difference between victory and defeat.
Throughout my career as a professional jockey and world champion, I have faced
considerable challenges, many of which were not visible to the public or even to my
fellow athletes.

Today, throughout this article, as a mental strength mentor for high-performance
athletes, I want to share valuable lessons I've learned throughout my career to stay
centered in the present moment, to be fully focused on the “now”.

Establishing Honest Connections

In my career as a jockey, I quickly learned that success didn't just come from technique
or fitness, but also from a strong, trusting connection with the horse. The same
principle applies to all high-performance athletes, regardless of their sport.

Understanding Partnership with the Horse

Each horse I worked with had its own personality, its good and bad days, its strengths
and weaknesses. To maximize our performance together, I needed to be more than a
pilot; I needed to be a partner. Feeling the slightest tremor in his muscles, a subtle
change in his slow pace, or even detecting a distracted gaze were all crucial. These
insights allowed me to adapt my approach, anticipating and responding to the animal's
needs before they became obvious problems.

Athlete’s connections to their Bodies and Minds

In the same way that I sought to be in tune with my horse, athletes in other disciplines
must seek a deep understanding of their own bodies and minds. Every muscle, every
thought, every sensation has a meaning. For example, a tennis player needs his
space/time perception, he must feel the tension in his racket and the pressure of the
grip in his hand, as well as perceive his own breathing and heart rate, adjusting as
necessary to improve his performance.

Connection with the environment

In addition to the body and mind, it is essential that the athlete gets in tune with their
environment. It is essential to establish a similar connection, whether it is a field, a
track or a court. A runner, for example, needs to feel the texture of the track beneath
his feet, understand how the wind can affect his run and take into account the sound of
the crowd, filtering out the noise to focus on the run. A football player needs to be
aware of the weather, the condition of the pitch and the atmosphere created by the
fans. This connection with the environment allows us to capture nuances and details
that can make all the difference.

The depth of pressure

Being truly present doesn't just mean physically being in a location. It means diving
deeply into the experience, absorbing every detail and using that information to direct
your decisions and actions. By cultivating this quality of presence, athletes can capture
nuances that most might miss, small details that can be the key to unlocking
exceptional performance.

Accuracy in the Perception of Time

Mastery of time perception is a subtle skill, often underestimated, but of immense value
in high-performance sport. Those who master this art find themselves in a privileged
position, ready to capture decisive moments and transform them into memorable
stories.

The relativity of Time in Sport

In sport, time is not just measured in seconds, minutes or hours. It is perceived through
accelerated heartbeats, the speed with which a player reacts to an opponent's
movement or the delay between thought and action. This almost tangible perception of
time is what often defines the decisive moments in any competition.

 

The Value of a Second

For a jockey, like me, one second could determine the difference between victory and
defeat. In swimming, that same second can separate a world record from a runner-up.
In basketball, it is the time left for a final shot. This fragmentation of time, where every
fraction counts, requires a mental and physical precision that few can master.

Decisions in the Heat of the Moment

In high-performance sports, there is often no room for hesitation. The ability to make
assertive decisions in fractions of a second, whether to make a pass, choose a path on
a running track or react to an unexpected blow, is a testament to the athlete's acute
temporal perception. Training this skill is as vital as improving technique or fitness.

The “Now” as your Greatest Ally

In the sporting world, the past is irreversible and the future is uncertain. The only
moment the athlete truly possesses is “now.” Being immersed in this present moment,
with total awareness of every detail around you and within you, is an art. It is this deep
connection to the present that allows the athlete to get the most out of their
performance, recognizing and taking advantage of the exact opportunities as they
arise.

Overcoming Internal Barriers

The Journey to Self-Knowledge and Liberation. Every athlete, regardless of their level
or sport, faces internal barriers. The path to overcoming them is a continuous journey
of self-knowledge and self-transformation. Those who dedicate themselves to this
process not only elevate their performance, but also discover a deeper and more
meaningful connection with the sport and, most importantly, with themselves.

Recognizing the existence of barriers

Before anything else, the first step is to admit the existence of internal barriers.
Whether they are the result of past experiences, social expectations or self-criticism,
such limiting barriers can manifest themselves in subtle ways, often masked as
"intuition" or "instinct".

Understanding the Origin of Limiting Beliefs

Most of the internal barriers that are known as limiting beliefs originate from lived
experiences, especially in childhood and adolescence. Casual comments, family
expectations, and experiences of failure can become crystallized and deeply ingrained
about our ability and worth.

Confronting the Barriers

Confronting does not mean aggressively fighting these ideas, but rather facing them
with empathy and understanding. It is a process of self-questioning. Why do I feel this?
Where does this belief come from? Is it true or just a reflection of past fears?

The Strength of Mental Resilience

Mental resilience is not just about being strong in the face of external adversity, but
also about facing and overcoming internal obstacles. It means developing a growth
mindset, where challenges are seen as opportunities for learning and evolution.

Liberation Techniques

Many athletes use different techniques to face and overcome internal barriers.
Meditation, visualization, therapy and mental training are some of the tools that can be
used to reformulate limiting beliefs and strengthen the mind.

Authenticity in Performance

By overcoming internal barriers, you also overcome your competitive limits, aligned
with your true values ​​and objectives. This state of internal congruence can unlock
previously unimaginable levels of performance, allowing you to perform with
confidence, passion, and purpose.

In short, mental strength in the present moment is the pillar for success in high-
performance sport. By establishing deep connections with themselves, with partners
and with the environment in which they operate, the athlete becomes highly capable of
achieving victory. Mastering the perception of time becomes an art that separates
champions from just participants. But true triumph comes from overcoming internal
barriers, unlocking authentic performance aligned with personal values. The key is to
be totally focused on the "now", where every possibility of winning is pulsating.