I was 13. I sat there writing notes vigorously. My fellow Rhythmic Gymnastics teammates were all around me, and we each listened intently to the woman at the front of the room writing on the green chalkboard. The basement room of the college was anything but great, but the seminar was something I’ve never forgotten.


As athletes, the seminar was designed to educate us in the mental side of competitive sport. For several years, I travelled the world performing and competing as a Rhythmic Gymnast. And oh, was there ever a mental side to it. There is for every sport. I’m sure you can imagine the incredible amounts of stress, pressure and nerves we experienced. Over the years I learned that nerves come from the adrenaline your body experiences before a big event. You can let those nerves get the better of you, or use them in a positive way to improve your performance.

The primary concept behind this particular seminar was this: the better we could control our mental state at any given moment, and harness the power of what it had to offer, the better the athletes we would become.

The woman taught me something that day that I carry with me always, and pass on to anyone who stands to benefit from it as I did.

Simply put:

Adrenaline is a natural energy that arises in the body during heightened moments of our lives and WE have the choice to let it negatively take us over, or to use it positively in our favour.

Power words

Throughout the seminar, she went on to teach us how to stay positive in our minds simply by using effective vocabulary. She geared it towards our Rhythmics routines so that as we were performing, before each important “element” (that’s what the moves are called) we would create “power words” to focus our minds. The words were specific to each element. For example, “Reach”, “Breathe”, “Tight”, “Up”, “Squeeze”, “Look”, “Smile”. While our bodies performed physically, our minds had their own routines…of words.

Use it to your advantage

No matter what you find effective, be it “power words”, deep breathing techniques or simply an awareness of your rising adrenaline, the important part is knowing that YOU have control over what your adrenaline rush does to you. Will you let it take you over into panic mode? Or will you…can you…channel it to your advantage to the point that the added energy in your body is pulled into all the right places enabling you to achieve something truly amazing?