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High Expectations

by Tim Laskis, PhD

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Any rider will tell you that they have a variety of expectations for themselves on race day. Whether it is getting the holeshot, finishing in the top three or winning the overall, the expectation is usually very high. However, I recommend that you throw away all expectations on race day. Expectations are like poison that will ruin your entire program. Here’s why.

Expectations will most likely set you up for failure and disappointment. What happens when your expectations are not fulfilled? What happens when you crash in the first turn? What happens when you fall while leading a race? Most likely you are going to be disappointed and become consumed in negativity. You might be asking, Why me? Why is this happening? Or, What did I do to deserve this? The reason it happened is because expectations cause APD. “A” stands for Anxiety, “P” stands for Panic and “D” stands for distraction.

No matter what you believe your team, fans, media or friends and family expect, never buy into it. Your sole focus should be on riding how you trained.

Let’s use an example of a newly signed pro rider who is given his first chance on a factory team. The rider believes the expectation is that he must win or podium. Or, maybe he was specifically told “We pay you to win, not just show up.” The rider then starts to think of a variety of thoughts such as “I don’t want to let them down.” “I must do well.” And, “If I fail, I will lose my ride.”

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When the rider shows up on the line at Anaheim 1 he begins to worry. This leads to a change in his breathing pattern with quick and shallow breaths. As the gate drops his heart rate sky rockets and adrenaline floods his symptom. His reaction time decreases and arm pump sets in quickly. He becomes tired, makes poor decisions and finds himself on the ground more than once. At the end of the race he dives deep into misery, disappointment and embarrassment. Now he has a BIG problem. His expectations set him up for failure. He did exactly the opposite of what he wanted to do. So, what is the answer? Dump expectations.

Never create expectations for yourself at the races. Also, never internalize the expectations of others either. No matter what you believe your team, fans, media or friends and family expect, never buy into it. Your sole focus should be on riding how you trained. Do what you do best, ride unrestricted, without worry and at a level just as you trained.

Instead of having expectations, set short and long term goals prior to the race season. Then work on achieving your goals during the week while training. Showing up at the race is only a measure of how well your training is going. Racing should be a learning experience and a measurement of how well your training is going. If the results are not there, you may want to adjust your training. There is nothing to worry about at the race, just ride like you do during the week between races. All the preparation is done prior to the event. Just show up relaxed and excited to compete. Your results will improve and your goals will be reached. Best of luck in the 2019 racing season!

About the Author: Tim Laskis holds a masters and doctoral degree in clinical psychology from The California School of Professional Psychology. He also graduated with honors from Rutgers University with a bachelors in psychology. In addition to his work as a clinical psychologist, podcast host, professor and author, he works as a Motocross Mental Performance Coach at ClubMX. Since 2014 he has worked with amateur and top pro riders on factory teams in the 250 and 450 classes. He offers individual and group mental performance coaching sessions. Have a question? Email Tim.

Tim developed a NEW online Motocross Mental Performance Coach Certificate Course. This is designed for riding coaches, fitness trainers and parents of riders who want to develop a new arsenal of skills to help their riders reach their goals. Take his free Intro course today! Click here

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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