The questions we ask ourselves about our ability and our decisions when we're on the water fishing is often a negative and unproductive process that feeds doubt, unravels our self belief and confidence in the systems and methods we are using to catch fish.
This is something I have been thinking on over recent seasons because I am the worst person to self criticize and constantly ask questions in my head, like should I be doing this or that, the what ifs and wondering who is catching what or am I catching enough. I beat myself up all the time when I am not fishing effectively; staying in contact properly or snagging in trees, knots in boats, losing a crucial fish. I become very agitated with myself and my processes have gone out the window. I am no longer fishing with confidence and doubt is now setting in.
Having all the right work done before hand is one thing but what happens when you start using the one word that can undo all your good work.......should?
Should I be catching, should I change, should I do this, should I move, should I, should I, should I, should I.....and the only thing you are doing is clouding your mind and not concentrating on what you should doing. This happens to us all and it takes a bit of effort and work to remove this from your fishing mind-set; but when you do it will push you further towards a more enjoyable experience and very effective fly-fishing.
A lot of sports people at the top of their game have said that the match is often won before you even step into the ring, pitch, court, track or field. Their meaning of this is not just that you have your fellow competitors beaten before the event but you have the mental preparation complete and in your mind there is clarity on the event ahead. You don't have to question yourself and all you got to do is follow what your plan is and keep focused. This is something I have though about a lot every day before I compete in fly-fishing and i am trying to not wreak my head with questions.
It is at this time that you have to focus more on your processes and have some mechanisms that will aid you to keep your mind in the game and not question your self or what you are or should be doing.
When your thoughts on the job start to wander then its worth trying some simple pre-thought out mechanisms that work for you. This could be simple things like taking a drink of water but when you do, take your time and think about all your actions putting the bottle to your lips the taste of the water and the feeling of it going down. This can break your current trail of thought and bring back clarity and efficiency to your thinking, this is popular with golfers when they need to refocus on their game. Others can be organizing your gear for a moment, eat some sugars, as hunger can destroy any soul, just sit and take some time to gather your thoughts and refocus your plans.
For some, taking this time out can come across as wasting time when you could be catching, but being in the water dropping fish while getting all flustered is a bigger waste of time, getting in knots and stuck in trees will waste more time, while sometimes taking 2-3 minutes can be the winning of the competition. Also by just reminding yourself of your psychological state will help keep you heading in the right direction and fishing effectively. I have won and lost many competitions over the years, some for different reasons as bad draws etc, but the majority of my wins I can safely say that I had my head right throughout the day and did not lose focus but I had to remind myself along the way.
We all have to make decisions during any event and I try to make them for a reason and stick by them, once I have made it I don't think about the what ifs or dwell on the decision for any length of time I just do it or I don't. I do feel that the developments in sports psychology can be very beneficial to anglers that compete and I regularly research the topic to see what we can use to help us fish effectively. If you find yourself asking the same kind of questions and allowing doubt creep into your mind while fishing then I would recommend that you try some simple things that will help you focus on what you are doing and not on what every one else is doing or any negative aspects of your day.
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