Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Mental Game of Agility

Agility can be confusing, to say the least....especially if you're competing. Do you admit you're IN IT TO WIN? Or do you say that you're training (and competing) JUST FOR FUN?  How do you mentally prepare for an agility trial?  What do you think about - winning? and/or fun??  (Because you can't deny that winning is fun...)

I think agility is a good way to discover the wonder and glory of teamwork with a dog. And entering a trial is a way to share your discovery.

Maybe we don't need to think of WINNING and/or JUST HAVING FUN. It's not always easy to develop and maintain the kind of 'mental game' needed for either one of those goals.  Sometimes we have physical limitations or family concerns. We don't always feel graceful. We don't always feel fun.

So maybe we can try to focus our mental game on SHARING. Our goal can be to simply share the beauty of our teamwork...AS IS. Because it's a beautiful thing - warts and all. Think about it! We have worked with our dogs enough to build this beautiful ability to get through an agility course as a team.

Even if you get clumsy and your dog drops a bar, or you don't run fast enough to prevent an off-course, you're still a TEAM. You were golden before you even stepped up to the start line.  Why worry about winning?  Instead, concentrate on your partnership with your dog.  Think about how lucky you are to be at the start line, and then go play for a minute. 

Another nice thing to think about - you can always BRING HOME COOL STUFF from an agility trial, without any ribbons or qualifying runs.

If you keep your eyes and ears open, if you figure out how to relax and listen while you "hurry up and wait", if you're willing to share the glory of your team, if you're willing to learn from the glory of the teams around get cool stuff.

A few examples:
1) Funny stories
2) Training ideas (you'll see some amazing runs!)
3) Smooth dance moves from a walk-thru flash mob
4) The brand name of a great folding chair
5) The chance to hold a new puppy (or a smiling baby!)
6) Laughter
7) Love

And for more totally cool thoughts on the mental game, check out
You'll be glad you did!
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