UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Performance Psychology and tournament fishing

In the world of performance psychology, as in life, what stands out are extremes, the really good days, the spectacular events, the colossal failures. Since we are hardwired to pay most attention to negative information, errors and setbacks are generally more emotionally powerful, and their memories more long-lasting, than successes. From an adaptive standpoint, it's clearly in our best interest to focus on, and hopefully correct or avoid, mistakes.

However, it's all too easy to get wrapped up in things gone wrong in ways that interfere with performing in the moment. As athletes in every sport know (you know this, too!) attention and concentration in the here and now are absolutely essential for peak performance. If you want to be "in the zone" you need the mental discipline to learn from and then quickly let go of mistakes in order to focus on the next play, the next cast.

Performance psychology says letting go of the past not only frees you from the emotional burdens that often accompany mistakes, it also opens you up to all future possibilities. And that's important because, especially in the world of fishing, what happens next could easily be you at your very best. Put another way, it's never too late to have your best day. Here are a couple of stories which illustrate this.

Besides anglers, I work with athletes in other sports. One of my competitors, a racquetball player, sent me this e-mail.

"So, I've told you about this guy in my club who consistently beats me. He's slightly better than me, but not much. What he does have is what I have worked on with you, Doc, and that is the ability to patiently wait for a good shot. He just returns the ball, calmly playing defense, while I flail away going for kill shots too much of the time. Trying to `make something out of nothing', as you describe it, usually leads to mistakes by me or to setups for him.

"Recently, all my concentration exercises and my here-and-now focus practice paid off. When he got ahead 7-0, instead of giving up I just focused on seeing the printing on the ball, like you've told me, and forgetting about the score. A few minutes later I realized I had won, 15-7. I actually scored 15 points in a row, Doc! I've never done that before, with anyone. I couldn't even tell you about any of the shots I made (except the last one!) during that time because I was so focused on just seeing the ball. It was just like everything I've ever read about being in the zone: time stood still; the game was in slow motion; and I was like oblivious to everything around me. It really was just me and the ball, and when it was all over I was less elated than I was quietly surprised."

The kicker here is this person is way past 50, and has been playing racquetball since he was 23. It's never too late to have your best day.

A tournament angler here in Minnesota told me a story about an event last fall.

"You know there are tons of nice fish in Lake Bill-Bob; it's where I take people for fun fishing who don't know how to fish because they're likely to catch a good one. But I've never done well there in tournaments before. Last fall it got cold early, and almost all the weeds in Bill-Bob were gone. I had done quite a lot of practicing for this event, but I couldn't put anything together. I finally sat down in the boat and asked myself what I needed. The answer was I needed to find healthy green weeds, because that's where the bass usually live this time of year.

"I went back to practice casting with renewed optimism, not expecting to catch fish, but just looking for vegetation. About five hours later, my lure came back with a piece of bright green coontail weed. I changed rods, threw my favorite jig in there, and caught a 3-pounder. Doc, I gotta tell ya, it was one of the happiest moments of my fishing career; without trying to force anything, I let what I knew guide me to some fish. The following week, the bottom fell out of the thermometer, but I didn't care; I was as calm as I've ever been in competition. My first fish was over 5 pounds, and I won the event, but the real highlight was the week before when I found those weeds. The whole time I was looking for green vegetation I was relaxed and focused; and I was most certainly not thinking about how poorly I had performed in other tournaments on that lake."

This guy? He's fished more tournaments than you and I put together. It's never too late to have your best day.

A few weeks ago another tournament angler weighed over 30 pounds for five fish on two consecutive days on Falcon Lake. He described it as the best two competitive fishing days of his career. You may recognize his name: Rick Clunn. In August, he'll be 67.

Learn from your mistakes; then erase them! It's never too late to have your best day!

Jay T. McNamara, Ph.D., L.P.
--------------------------------------------------
Jay T. McNamara, Ph.D., L.P., also known as Dr. Fish, has published his book "The Psychology of Exceptional Fishing." You can order it by contacting Jay via e-mail at this address: jay.DrFish@gmail.com.
--------------------------------------------------

Jay T. McNamara, Ph.D., L.P., is a psychologist, who is also an avid bass and walleye angler. With more than 28 years of professional experience complemented by participation in competitive fishing at local and national levels, he is uniquely qualified to illustrate how performance psychology principles apply to tournament fishing.

Tags: jay-t-mcnamara-ph-d-l-p-aka-dr-fish  performance-psychology 

/tips/2016-02-05-an-ill-wind-at-okeechobee-

An Ill Wind at Okeechobee?

The wind can be a bass fisherman’s best friend or worst enemy. On its best behavior, it creates a temporary current, positions baitfish and helps an angler move around more stealthily in shallow water. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-04-aquatic-plant-id

Aquatic Plant ID

Val Osinski, the owner of Gambler Lures and winner of the 2015 Costa FLW Series event on the lake, knows as much about the Big O as anyone and is an expert on finding and targeting bass in its various grasses. When we had the opportunity to ride along with him for a tour of the lake and to learn to identify some of the grasses, it was a no-brainer to accept. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-poche-services-set

Poche Services Set

Funeral services for Dylan Poche, the 18-year-old Bass Fishing League angler who was stabbed to death Saturday night, are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Freedom Life Church in Natchitoches, La. Visitation will take place at Freedom Life beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-time-to-shine-for-setzer

Time to Shine for Setzer

With three years on Tour and a Co-angler of the Year (COY) award under his belt, Braxton Setzer believes now is his time to start casting from the front. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-01-ambassador

Ambassador

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-29-glenn-browne-s-timeout-is-over-

Glenn Browne’s Timeout is Over

By his own admission, Glenn Browne isn’t the most organized guy. After the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener on Lake Okeechobee, he spent hours returning stuff to its proper place and tossing out the usual flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in a bass boat during a tournament. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-flw-podcast-109-mike-surman

FLW Podcast 109 - Mike Surman

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-john-cox-gives-himself-a-makeover

John Cox Gives Himself a Makeover

Last fall there was a rumor going around that John Cox was entering the electronics age and souping up his boat with sonar gear. Just to clear the air, the Florida pro reports that though he did flirt with the notion of incorporating an offshore strategy centered on depth finders into his act, he eventually abandoned the idea. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-austin-felix-is-ready-for-the-big-time

Austin Felix is Ready for the Big Time

Back in the spring of 2014, Austin Felix and his University of Minnesota teammate Chris Burgan were on the top of the FLW College Fishing world. With a win in the National Championship on Lake Keowee, Felix was headed to the Forrest Wood Cup as a pro. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-flw-canada-sets-tournament-sites-dates

FLW Canada Sets Tournament Sites, Dates

FLW Canada, one of four partners in FLW’s International Division of the Costa FLW Series, recently released its 2016 tournament schedule. The season includes three two-day regular-season qualifying events and a three-day championship. Anglers fish as two-person teams. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-26-jigging-spoons-for-winter-bass

Jigging Spoons for Winter Bass

Of course, the application of the spoon hinges on finding bass in the first place, which is the biggest challenge. Walmart FLW Tour pros Jason Johnson and Clark Reehm are experts at finding winter bass in their respective regions of the country and offer FLW readers some advice on where to look and how to get them to bite the spoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-24-how-bryan-thrift-got-to-be-so-good

How Bryan Thrift Got to be so Good

My No. 1 focus out here is to support my family and make a living. Whatever I have to do to make that happen, I’m going to make a valiant effort. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-high-school-fishing-makes-the-grade

High School Fishing Makes the Grade

Jacob Smith and Daniel Clark are typical teenagers, at least in everything except bass fishing. In that, they are above average, as the two juniors from Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina proved in the TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open held Jan. 17 on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-flw-mexico-at-the-starting-gate

FLW Mexico at the Starting Gate

Our excitement is so great that we wanted to share this important news with all of you. Believe me, fishermen in Mexico are talking it up as if it were dock talk surrounding the Forrest Wood Cup. What really matters at the end of the line is knowing that FLW is showing its true devotion to promoting bass fishing and making it a truly international sport. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-making-the-case-for-haynes-as-aoy

Making the Case for Haynes as AOY

As many have noted, the Walmart FLW Tour schedule for this season looks a lot like it did in 2014. Back then, in his sophomore year on Tour, Randy Haynes had one of the strangest seasons you’ll ever see. He finished 104th at Okeechobee, 149th at Sam Rayburn (ouch) and cranked out top-30 finishes everywhere else. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-21-flw-podcast-108-jason-lambert

FLW Podcast 108 - Jason Lambert

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-bfl-choo-choo-division-postponed

BFL Choo Choo Division Postponed

The FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division tournament on Lake Guntersville originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23 has been postponed due to impending inclement weather. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-tigerodz-aligns-with-auburn-team

TIGERODZ Aligns With Auburn Team

Custom fishing rod manufacturer TIGERODZ of Scottsboro, Ala., has signed an agreement to become the official rod brand for the Auburn University Bass Sports Club. Scott Dobbins, president of TIGERODZ, is an Auburn alum, and he says the pairing involved a natural progression of involvement. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-becoming-aware-of-your-angler-strengths

Becoming Aware of Your Angler Strengths

The ongoing sentiment among fishermen is that versatility is the key to becoming a successful professional angler. While I’m certain that statement holds some weight, I think there is an alternate perspective that is worth entertaining. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-18-pundits-picks-for-aoy

Pundits Picks for AOY

Winning the Angler of the Year title is a tremendous feat. It can solidify a budding career or affirm a veteran’s status among the best. It also comes with a hefty reward – $100,000 and early entry into the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. READ MORE »