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Help Your Students (And You!) Achieve Excellence

"Trainer Tips" by Laura King. Written for MatchNRide.com by Sue Weakley.


Laura King has been helping people heal their minds and bodies for 25 years. Using her unique combination of Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Life Coaching, Laura is able to help individuals with even the most difficult of issues to create positive and lasting change. She is director and founder of Summit Dynamics, LCC and is a certified hypnotist and certified sport hypnotist. "Click here" to learn more about Laura.


We are all products of patterns we have created, whether consciously or unconsciously. Nothing about us is because of chance. You can help your students (and yourself) change these patterns by using some of the techniques I use in my practice to produce excellence. In this Trainers Tip, I’ll explain four ways you can produce positive results for training and competition.

  • Modeling
  • Circle of Excellence
  • Theatre of the Mind
  • Anchoring

The theory of Modeling says we can achieve excellence in anything by finding a place where it already exists and copying the traits and behaviors. In other words, copying success can lead to success.

  • Imagine someone riding with ease, poise, and confidence. Look at the person’s body position, from the tip of their feet to the top of their head. Memorize it. Put yourself in that position.
  • What are you thinking about that allows you to be in that position? What are you feeling? How do your legs, your back, your shoulders, your arms, your hands feel? Memorize this feeling so you can mimic it.

When you think about anything other than the peak performance you expect, don’t be surprised when your performance doesn’t measure up. What you think is what you get.

The Circle of Excellence is the people, images, sights and sounds you surround yourself with that exude excellence.

  • Picture yourself in the middle of a circle, and then fill that circle with whatever has contributed to your excellence (trainer, parents, spouse, a horse, etc.) and whatever is proof of your excellence (ribbons, trophies, etc.).
  • Accessing that mental image—and its corresponding confidence and self-esteem —recreates that excellence. The subconscious mind responds as if that circle is your reality.

Theater of the Mind is visualization. Repeated imagined activity stimulates nerve connections in the brain in the same way that real activities do. This sets up pathways for repeated excellence and, because there will be no errors in your mental activity, the repeated movements will enhance the skill when put into practice in real life. The better you are at using your imagination, the more successful you and your students will be.

  • Create the entire scene when riding your dressage test or jumping the course. What do you look like, who’s around you, what’s around you, what kind of day is it, what are you wearing, and what does your horse look like? The object is to create as realistic a vision as possible of the outcome you’d like to achieve.
  • Add as much sensory information as you can pack into your movie. It’s 3-D, it’s scratch and sniff, and you can even taste it. Imagine your hands are lighter and lighter. Your feet are heavier and heavier.
  • Add internal dialogue. In movies, there are voiceovers to tell us what the characters are thinking. What are your characters thinking? What are they feeling?

Anchoring is a technique that creates a response through association. It completely bypasses your conscious mind and creates an instant reaction. I have found that anchoring is the tool that creates the most powerful and lasting changes in my clients.

Anchors can be just about anything: a touch (when you take the reins), a sight (when you see the ring you’re about to show in), or a complex set of movements (when you mount your horse). The key is to attach the anchor to a desired emotional response. For example: when you take the reins, you immediately relax.

Remember to practice these techniques yourself. Once you are completely comfortable with the process, it will be easier to use them with your students. Stay tuned, because there is more. In the next Trainers Tip, you will see how word choices that get amazing results for one student may not work so well with another.


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