Former Utah Jazz coach, Jerry Sloan, used to talk about avoiding playing backwards.
Coach Sloan was referring to that moment when you get “beat” by an opponent, and then instead of getting back on defense, you stop to feel sorry for yourself. He would go on to explain that as you’re sitting there fretting about your mistake (or the great effort by your opponent) the opponent is on the other end of the court making an easy basket. His wisdom was, in effect, saying don’t turn one mistake into two.
As a musician (and a husband, father, brother, and friend), I find myself in that mode all too often.
Earlier this week, while playing a particularly difficult piece with the ballet orchestra – Stravinsky’s Capriccio, I completely misread the conductor’s cue and totally botched an exposed entrance. It was just a mistake. But, I had the hardest time getting my head back in the game. I was playing backwards. For the rest of the show (nearly an hour), I made mistake after mistake. Most of them counting mistakes – mental errors. I kept thinking of Coach Sloan’s advise, but was unable to regain focus.
I study this topic a lot. I read articles by sports psychologists, and even music performance psychologists like Dr. Noa Kageyama who writes a great blog – The Bulletproof Musician. But the grasp of how to master my own “opponent” (the guy that lives in my head that won’t leave me alone), seems to be always out of reach.
So, I am asking for help from all four of the people that follow this blog.
What do YOU do to regain focus, and a high performance level after making mistakes?