The Mental Approach Is Everything
BG: Brad, we’ve talked about your medical attention and approach, your diet, and some specific things you’ve found help your warm up. How about the mental approach to what you do? Are there specific things that you do to prepare mentally for competition?
BW: Your mental approach at the top level is the single most important factor. Everybody who can jump 19 feet or higher is a talented pole vaulter and it comes down to the mental game when you go to a major championship or begin that third attempt at a major meet.
The mental approach is everything.
Not only do I think the mental approach is important in the event itself but I also personally believe that your mental approach and stresses in life can lead or help your body overcome injury. When I loosen up mentally, my body loosens up along with it.
When I get to a competition, I have a meditative focus. I am also an intense person in general and I like competing intensely. What I don’t do, however, is intensely think about things. I stay in an intensive mindset but I don’t overanalyze or over think things.
It’s a weird balance because you want to stay in a certain kind of mindset but not focus on specific things. You need to try and keep yourself from over thinking. It’s being in the moment; it’s relaxed intensive preparation. I think the more you can stay relaxed, confident, and focused, the better your body responds to everything.
I’ve gone to meets where you start thinking too much and you get in this mental mindset where you’re not relaxed anymore. You’re now tense and over thinking. Its hard competing in that mindset.
BG: Have you had guidance in developing your mental edge?
BW: No, it’s mostly me. Once you get adrenaline going in a competition, the energy is there. You don’t have to create excitement; you don’t have to run around and stay all that warm. The body knows that it is in battle. It knows that the energy is going to be there.
If you can focus on a specific cue and not let internal butterflies interrupt you, if you can stay relaxed, this mindset is what I have found works best. As you build more and more confidence, you think less during the competition. You know what you are doing. It is the people who don’t have confidence instilled in them who sometimes over think under pressure and then they start losing their ability to execute more