An experienced equestrian psychology coach has shared his secrets to success in his new book, ‘Inside Out: Train Your Mind and Your Nerve Like a Champion‘. Charlie Unwin, previously featured on Your Horse, details the techniques that enable elite performers to perform at their best under pressure, allowing riders to try them for themselves.
In his first book, Charlie shares insight into the minds of the world’s most accomplished performers, taking readers on a journey through the three dimensions that shape your inner world — the Thinking Dimension, the Feeling Dimension and the Intuitive Dimension.
“In any high-pressure environment, from special operations to the operating theatre, you can divide people into two groups — those whose performance is controlled from the outside in and those who control their performance from the inside out,” he said. “Inside Out is about your ability to achieve incredible things on the outside by paying attention to what’s on the inside.”
Charlie turns neuroscience, stress adaptation and cognitive performance into simple training principles which can be used to give confidence to do more and “go further with what you already have”.
Quieting the noise
Charlie said the story that you tell yourself about yourself is crucial to your performance in the saddle at a recent World Horse Welfare conference.
“It’s very easy to focus on people’s knowledge and skills as they’re more obvious and visible,” he said. “But there’s a whole raff underneath far more important [things] that allows us to enact our knowledge and skills, like confidence in self and the story that you tell yourself about yourself.”
Charlie said a person’s attention is naturally drawn to negative comments and the things we cannot control. For instance, at a competition the things we have no power over tend to play on our minds, such as other competitors, the weather, and our previous performance.
“Our brain hates things we can’t control, [these thoughts are] five times stronger than the rational behaviour we can control,” he said. “We seem to forget we have choice where we place our attention. It’s not easy but we can train to be better. We can learn to accept what’s on the outside to take away sting.”