In Chapter 8 of Psyched to Win Dr. Nideffer refers to “Centering” as a technique, borrowed from the martial arts, whose purpose is to instill feelings of emotional control. These simple breathing and cueing exercises are used to calm and relax both the mind and body.
Center of Mass
Your Center of Mass is located one or two inches below and behind your navel. If one can consciously bring one’s attention to this point, one feels grounded or centered.
In Dr. Nideffer’s article for class, he describes the importance of keeping a balanced, stable lower center of mass. This balanced foundation allows athletes in all sports to be ready to react swiftly and efficiently to any situation.
Anxiety or negative thoughts alter an athlete’s center of mass, making one feel clumsy, self-conscious, and off balance. An uncentered athlete makes physical mistakes, usually leading to more anxiety and negativity.
Dr. Nideffer teaches a few simple techniques to help an athlete re-center and re-focus:
Dr. Nideffer teaches athlete’s to re-center with cue words. These cue words remind an athlete of the feelings of being centered. He uses such words as “Balanced” and “Fluid” to re-create physical centering and words such as “Confident” and “Focused” to re-create psychological or emotional centering. Dr. Nideffer combines these cues or trigger words with a relaxing, deep breath (from the diaphragm) to re-center an athlete.
If you want learn more about Centering and Attentional Control Training:
• Dr. Nideffer discusses ACT in an entire chapter in our Applied Sport Psychology book.
• Visit Dr. Nideffer’s website at www.enhanced-performance.com (Click on “Articles” and read the article entitled: “Preventing ‘Choking’ and Downward Performance Cycles”)
• Dr. Nideffer also has a Workbook on Attentional Control Training that gives many examples of “Centering” and other focusing techniques. Dr. Nideffer is e-mailing me back the information to obtain this workbook.
• There are many other excellent books besides Psyched to Win that refer to centering and breathing techniques. A pair of recommended books are as follows:
Lynch, Jerry and Al Huang, Chuangling (1994) Thinking Body/ Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life. Bantam
Lynch, Jerry and Al Huang, Chuangling (1999) Working Out/ Working Within. Tarcher/Putnam