Think Like a Bumblebee Train Like a Racehorse
Some would argue that psychology in sport is equally as important as skill and conditioning. You see examples of it everywhere. The underdog triumphing over the favorite. Carlos Sastre‘s Tour de France winning time trial. Liverpools 2014 winning streak and Manchester Uniteds fall from grace.
Times when quantifiable performance attributes and statistics become null and void due to the grey matter that is sports psychology. But how does one exactly describe or even prescribe a dose of sporting psychological grey matter to the typical athlete?
How else but with animal metaphors 🙂
There is a fantastic story about bumblebees and racehorses that I want to share with you. It’s a story that every single athlete of any sport or any level can absolutely take something away from it. I am unsure of the origin, or even the factual accuracies, it doesn’t matter, it makes for a good tale.
Think like a bumblebee, train like a horse
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…. ok well lets say ‘a few years ago’, a group of scientists took interest in the humble bumblebee. They believed the bumblebees incredible flying abilities could unlock secrets to flying and maneuvering in outer space.
Many questions were asked of the bumblebee
How do their relatively small wings produce enough lift for their over sized hairy bodies?
How could their round bodies and awkward body position when flying, defy so many aerodynamic principles, yet have the aerial agility and precision like no other?
After weeks and weeks of tests, studies and cups of coffee, the scientists made their conclusion:
“Bumblebees are not capable of flight”
Luckily for the bumblebees, no one told them they couldn’t fly, so they just went about flying around as usual. The best minds in science had concluded that the poor bumblebee could not physically fly, but the bumblebees believed they could so they did.
(Please no one tell them the truth!)
Already I can see you putting two and two together to see how this relates to your own athletic abilities. It highlights that one of the most important pieces of the sporting success puzzle is your capacity to succeed and your ability to believe in yourself.
Henry Ford said something like:
“If you think you can or you think you can’t… you’re probably right”
The bumblebee thinks it can fly, so it does.
But what about the racehorse?
Well, they are not too different to you and I. They train to a periodization plan. They do specific endurance and interval training. They eat a performance based diet and even use heart rate monitors!
Psychologically though, they are very different
Racehorses never question their training and preparation.
When prescribed a training plan, they follow it without question.
They don’t go out to cram last minute training in because they are worried they haven’t done enough.
They don’t get down in the dumps after a poor race performance.
At the starting gates they get nervous like us, but they aren’t judging the other horses by the size of their ‘calf muscles’ or their shiny coats. They know they are there to give their all and that’s all that matters. They aren’t affected by guessing what will happen during and after the race.
They are just free to run as fast as they can
The racehorse lives for one thing. To get faster. The horse is solely focused on this and the results just take care of themselves.
To succeed in sport, the first thing you need to do is believe in yourself. Just like the bumblebee. If you don’t believe in yourself and your capacity to succeed, all the physical training in the world won’t help you.
You also need to have the focus of a racehorse. Dedication and trust in your training. This is especially hard when you are doing a periodized training plan. You need to stick to the plan and trust it. Just because you are not seeing immediate benefits, doesn’t mean it’s not working.
Trying new things and chopping and changing diets and training after every poor performance is a shortcut to failure. Don’t be distracted by all the ancillary aspects of your sport. Remember…
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing
Get faster, get better, do your best. The results will take care of itself.