The Importance Of Mindset For You next level
18/04/2023 - Actualizado: 01/05/2023
In sports like soccer or basketball, physical training is essential, as is being in good shape and eating well. In chess, being in good shape undoubtedly helps, but it is not as essential and critical as in more physical sports, which is what makes chess so special. Everything that is important at the time of training and competition happens in our heads, so having a good mindset makes all the difference.
I will address this important topic based on my experience as a chess player and coach during my years of teaching chess to children and young people.
By "mindset" I mean our beliefs, the way we make decisions, the way we manage our emotions, everything that goes on inside of us and that sooner or later is reflected in our results on the outside world.
Importance Of Mindset
A Double-Edged Sword
Our mindset can drive us to improve, or it can be an anchor that prevents us from seeing our true potential. This is one of the main reasons why we can't let go of our mindset, both in training and in the competition itself.
Now I am going to tell you a little anecdote where I realized the importance of mindset.
A Small Anecdote, but a Big Change
Around the year 2019, I was called by my school where I studied a few years ago, my job was to prepare the kids for a competition (I also had to represent the school in a chess competition a few years ago, the twists of life! 😄) in another six months.
At the beginning of the workshop there came a boy (let's call him "Slow") who wanted to learn chess, he was quite shy at the beginning (I think like most of us, later we are devils 😈); little by little he began to like chess more and more, he always asked me ways to improve, he came with questions about a certain opening or some tactical exercise that was complicated for him, he was very interested in improving and learning more about chess.
After about three months, his level was already much better; thanks to his interest, Slow was already better than his other teammates, but he himself did not know it, he believed that he was at the same level as his other teammates, he had a problem of lack of self-confidence when it came to demonstrating his skills, this lack of self-confidence conditioned his way of playing, it was very different when he was training than when he was playing.
The Role of the Coach
Here I think it is an important moment where one as a chess instructor has to help his students, I had two options, to say, "this is something he has to overcome and learn on his own" (which he certainly could overcome on his own) or to find a way to help him overcome his lack of self-confidence; I think that chess instructors are teachers and like all teachers our duty is to help our students along the way (not to do all the work, just to create the conditions for them to overcome their difficulties), we cannot pretend to be blind.
A Simple Idea
A month went by thinking about how to help him, there were only two months left for the competition, until I came up with an idea that could work.
I thought of letting him play against his teammates at the same time (simultaneous), I thought of this way so he could show himself that his level was better than that of the other kids. Two things could happen: he would have difficulty playing against all of them and lose a game, or he would have no difficulty winning all the games. The latter was what happened that day, he proved to be one of the best in the workshop, from here on his level exploded almost from one week to another, he was able to beat opponents of higher levels than him a few weeks ago.
Results of Believing in Ourselves
In the workshop I had to choose two kids to represent the school in the final competition, Slow was one of those chosen, his result was simply amazing, out of the 8 games he participated in he only lost one, all this in only 6 months, something that when it was my turn in previous years it took me about two years first to stand out in the workshop and a couple of months to prepare myself for the competition.
When we came back, we had a get-together with the whole workshop where we shared funny moments of the whole process, the games they liked the most; in Slow's case, he named the games against his teammates, he didn't even name those of the final competition, many of which were of a great level. He himself commented that from that day on he noticed a change, as if all the games became easier to play from one moment to another, as if all the moves came naturally to him.
This is when I realized how important mindset is when it comes to what we think of ourselves, the profound difference that exists when we know we are capable of more. Often we are the ones who put invisible mental obstacles in our way. We do not know why we do not improve when we are training and doing everything right. This is a topic we can talk about until the year 2030; from time to time I will publish an article on this topic, which is very important not only for chess or competition, but also something fundamental for the professional world and life itself.
What is a strong mindset like for you?
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