Mental Game

Dog agility is a sport and a large part of any sport performance is mental. Many agility competitors struggle with poor performances at trials (while they do well at home or in practice). Mistakes and failure happen very often in agility both in practice and trials, and people who don’t know how to deal with them can develop a negative attitude toward their dog or the sport. Handlers can also get very nervous right before a run and this can cause physical problems like anxiety and stomach upset. In addition, handlers, especially beginners, have trouble memorizing courses in pressure situations like big events. They might forget key parts of the course in the middle of a run and become frustrated, even blaming their age or brain for the failure.

Here’s a way to use the practice jump to help you memorize courses: ​How to Use the Practice Jump

We have competed at the highest level of agility in front of thousands of people and millions of viewers on television. We understand how to perform well under extreme pressure. Watch Jennifer share her thoughts on ring nerves and tips for course memorization: ​Ring Nerves, Highs and Lows, Remembering the Course

Perfectionism, self-doubt, fear of failure, unrealistic expectations, all or none thinking—these are real problems that plague competitors. We recommend that dog agility trainers should recognize that dog agility is a sport, and then begin to explore sports psychology. There are many free sports psychology resources available on the internet. For agility specifically, especially for course memorization and performance at big events, we recommend starting here: Visualization and Mental Preparation

As always, our podcasts are an excellent resource for you. Try listening to these podcasts that address different aspects of the mental game in agility:

We encourage you to explore your own thoughts, feelings, and motivations with respect to dog training and agility competition. Doing so will help you develop resilience in the face of adversity. Remember, you have ultimate control over your agility adventure: ​Choose Your Own Agility Adventure

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