If a player's tendency to choke, lose concentration, give up, act angrily or simply underperform stems from listening to the difficult passengers that often get on our bus during matches (or maybe even trying to kick them off the bus), this activity called ‘Thanking the Passengers’ is very helpful when practiced regularly.
As soon as a player recognises that they’re no longer committing to helpful actions during a match (such as your strategy or helpful cues), they should scan their mind for any difficult passengers commenting on the situation.
Typically we find that the nervous passengers say things like “you’re going to mess it up/don’t lose from here/don’t miss”, the frustration passengers say “that’s not good enough/that’s not fair”, and the helpless passengers say “there’s nothing you can do”. When players notice what their difficult passengers are saying (or yelling), they should simply thank them for their comments- e.g., “thanks nervous passengers”, thanks frustration passengers”.
Once they’ve done this WITHOUT trying to reduce the difficult passengers in any way, they should simply return attention to the present moment and commit to the action (e.g., strategy such as ‘hit it deep’ or cue such as‘ move your feet’) that increases the chance of success for the next point.
Why Is This Activity Helpful? The 4 D’s…
This simple activity improves our ability to gain choice in how we respond to difficult passengers on the bus by way of the 4 D’s: Distance, Dissolve,Develop, Describe
Observing our thoughts like this gives us a perspective of distance from them, rather than being so swept up in them.
Most people believe that paying attention to elements of our difficult internal experiences will intensify them. This is not the case however…Observing the passengers on our bus without trying to reduce them actually tends to dissolve them.
Practicing developing awareness of difficult passengers like this improves our fitness over time in the same way that physical fitness training develops our ability to handle physical discomfort…so in the end we become fitter at handling and responding well to the difficult thoughts (as opposed to simply being a slave to what the passengers are saying).
By labelling difficult thoughts as ‘nervous’ or ‘frustration’ passengers scientists have found that, despite what we might expect, the description tends to reduce the intensity of the difficult thoughts without intention.
Check out the video above where Anthony Ross completes the 'Thanking the Passengers' activity with a player who has some difficult passengers on his bus...
And if you would like to get a free download of the complete bus story as well 'Thanking the Passengers' activity instructions (+ an explanation of why it works so well) please click here :-)
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