In Search of the Inner Animal
For years athletes have looked for ways in which they can improve sporting performance and tried many methods for finding that little bit extra when it counts, whether it be lifting themselves when they are down, gaining confidence in the face of adversity or helping them to find every last little bit of energy and will-power needed to achieve their goal.
One method that has proven itself useful for many athletes is to compare their movement and state of mind to that of an animal whose qualities they identify with and to internalise the desirable aspects so that during sporting performance they can draw upon images of that animal for inspiration. This method has been called “Finding Your Inner Animal.”
Of course the inner animal must also be consistent with the personality of the athlete; a peaceful person will find little inspiration from envisaging a violent animal.
A sprint kayak paddler for example may find that they identify with the shark, envisaging the strength and power in the water as well as the ruthless efficiency, while a more placid person in the same sport may find that they are more in tune with the image of a dolphin, admiring the speed, strength and gracefulness of that creature. In addition, the nature of the sport will influence the Inner Animal; while a Sprinter may acquaint their sport with a leopard or cheetah, a rugby player may find that they gain inspiration from visualising the rhinoceros or bull.
Ultimately each individual’s Inner Animal will theoretically be influenced by an infinite number of variables.
For a while I have had this spot, just out of reach, that thing that you know is there but can’t quite put your finger on, so tantalisingly close, and yet so far… what was it? What was nagging at me like a splinter that you can feel but not see?
With this in mind I set out to find my own Inner Animal; As a sporting coach of many years I had encouraged many athletes in a variety of sports to go on their own journeys of self-discovery and yet I had never taken my own advice. What is it they say about mechanics having the worst cars?
So off I went on my own journey of self-discovery, not knowing what to expect. Sometimes the hardest thing to do in the world is to be brutally honest with yourself: you can lie to yourself for years to the point where you actually start to believe your own bullshit, however there comes a time when you must face up to the truth of what you find deep inside yourself. The first step of course is always the hardest, the trepidation of not knowing just what you will find or if you will like the person you discover, but nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, so I went. Searching deep within myself I looked, going deeper than I ever had before, and it was painful at times, but I just put up with the discomfort and plunged deeper. After what seemed to be an eternity I finally came to the point where I had found my Inner Animal, but you see, finding the Inner Animal is only the first part, you then have to be able to bring that Inner Animal to the surface, out into the light of day so that you can find the motivation that you were looking for, and this was by no means an easy task because my Inner Animal was a Gerbil, and it had suffocated.