Essays on self-improvement, software development, and esports.
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What does Reiterate have in common with top-tier Olympic coaches? It’s all in your head.
Voice Lessons is a great article that talks about Olympic-level athletes and their coaches. In particular, there is one thing that all of the athletes acknowledge, and that is the importance of hearing your coach’s voice. Here is a passage talking about figure skater Tim Goebel and his coach Frank Carroll:
By the time the 2003 World Championships came around in March, [Goebel] had dropped one of the quads from his routine. Yet he felt so good when he stepped out onto the ice for his long program that he wanted to do the third jump. As he skated past the spot on the rink where he would do it, he heard Carroll say, out loud, “We compete the program we practice.” It was something he had said many times—but Carroll was on the other side of the arena, out of earshot. Yet Goebel heard the words in his voice, with his timbre. At that moment, he said, something in him “refocused.” He suddenly felt calm. He felt complete confidence in what he was doing. He drew a breath, and followed Carroll’s advice. He skated flawlessly.
The physical task is the least of it…. It’s whether athletes can get their scattered, hyperventilating, nail-biting minds out of the way and just do what they’re capable of.
Do you “quiet the mind’s clamor” and enter a zen-like state of flow where you’re not thinking at all? Not according to the elite athletes interviewed for the article. Most athletes imagine their coach talking to them while they perform, letting that voice guide them:
Athletes use their coaches’ voices… to cue what their bodies must do. When the pressure to perform is intense, some even hear the voices out loud.
This is exactly what Reiterate was designed to do! When you’re in the middle of a game of League, or any esport, your mind is easily “scattered, hyperventilating.” The voice coming from Reiterate helps you to focus and remain calm. It’s a voice that you hear, out loud, telling you exactly what you should be thinking about. Reiterate gives you the same experience that these elite athletes create for themselves, because they know from experience that this is the most effective way to perform under pressure.
Athletes told me that they call to mind their coaches’ words, often in their coaches’ timbre, and focus on them so intently that the words fill the mental space and tell the body what to do. If the coach sounds confident, the athlete feels confident.
I love this tidbit of information because it brings home the importance of voice. It’s not enough to simply have a timer that goes ding every 30 seconds to remind you to look at the mini-map. The words are important, and the tone as well. You can use this when you record your own audio clips for playback. Sound confident! Instead of simply reminding yourself what you need to do, Tell yourself that you will do it and say it with confidence. Become your own coach, and give yourself the confidence you need, during the game, when you need it most.
You might want to try phrasing your audio clips as affirmations. If you have trouble remembering to monitor the mini-map, for example, instead of recording a clip that merely says “Check the mini-map,” you could record one that says “I check the mini-map every 30 seconds.” This makes it both a confidence boost, and a first-person voice that comes from your own head. If you repeat it often enough, it will become true.
Some athletes had certain trigger phrases, like “let your belly go” or “slam the door.” Do you have a phrase that has particular meaning to you? These phrases were meaningful to the athletes because their coaches would use them, idiomatically, during practice. Perhaps there’s a certain phrase that has meaning to you, that you’ve heard from elsewhere in your life. Take inspiration from your friends, and turn it into an audio clip that will recreate that mental image of success.
The new instructions… were specific tasks, and perhaps more importantly, they didn’t come from her own mind, so they weren’t entangled with her doubts.
One figure skater was plagued with uneven performances and began to second-guess herself. Does that happen to you? Do you worry about your own play? Are you constantly thinking negative thoughts like “I missed another skill shot” or “I have to stop cancelling autos”? Every coach will tell you that thoughts like that are a sure way to degrade your performance. But how do you get rid of the negative thoughts? The best way to get rid of negative thoughts is to replace them with simple instructions that come from an outside source. If your mind is engaged by repeating a mantra, or a goal, or some focus skill, then it doesn’t have time to repeat negative thoughts. That’s what Reiterate can do for you.
Reiterate’s Acknowledgement feature is designed to help you focus, so you can’t ignore it as it tries to help you. Focus is necessary not so much that you need to pay attention, but to drown out and replace any other thoughts that might be filling your head with useless patter.
It’s the same kind of skill people hone in prayer and meditation
Ultimately, the reason we enjoy these games is because of the feeling it gives us when we perform. Reiterate is a tool to help you attain that mental state where your performance is exhilarating.
Often time, when I’m watching some streamer and they make a boneheaded decision, the first thing they say is “Why did I do that?” It’s like you’re fighting your own body. Your hands and fingers want to do one thing, but your brain knows better. It’s a battle of wills, and the way to strengthen the smart side is, like anything else, practice and repetition. Every time Reiterate plays through an audio clip, and every time you repeat it out loud, you’re strengthening your smart side.
It’s when the coach’s voice feels autonomous that it often works best.
For the athletes in the article, their top form was achieved when the “coach’s voice” seemed to repeat on its own. It’s not the player consciously recalling the coach’s advice, but rather as if the coach had taken up residence in the athlete’s mind, a kind of split personality. Reiterate takes on that burden for you. You don’t have to press yourself until you’re hearing voices in your head – because you’re hearing them coming from the app.