Much like the classical conditioning that Pavlov used on his dogs, triggers are a technique used in behavioral modification. For instance, many people associate the smell of a wood burning fire place with cooler seasons. It could bring about feelings of warmth and security. On the other hand, the sound of an ambulance roaring by has the adverse reaction. You may hold your breath for a moment, making sure you know where your loved ones are. Triggers act much the same way. Both positive and negative, triggers can be a song, a person, a smell, a place, or whatever you choose. What does this have to do with baseball?
My high school baseball coach, Coach Baker, would harp on us (the baseball team) to develop our own rituals. He knew these rituals would help get us into the right mental state before every game, at bat, or pitch. It took me about 6 years to develop it, but once I did, I was addicted. I knew these rituals or triggers were a way to set myself up for success every practice, every game. I won't bore you with the actual rituals that I had (there were too many to list), but I will stress to you an important one for me now.
Go ahead and roll your eyes, but this is my number one trigger - I start every day by drinking a glass of water. It seems simple and inconsequential, but when I do it, I feel like I am more prepared to make the right choices all day long. The decisions go beyond healthy eating and working out. I feel that when I start my day this way I can make choices based on a wholistic sense of who I am, what I represent, and where I want my life to lead.
How can a simple glass of water be so important? I have ZERO statistical evidence as to how this works, but whole books have been written on the subject. However, I have first-hand anecdotal evidence. My morning glass of water sets the tone for the day. It calms me down and allows me to focus and attack the day.
It is my goal, that all of you find your ritual, positive trigger, addiction, or whatever you want to call it and commit to it. It can be a daily mantra, a morning yoga/stretching routine, box breathing, or making a to do list for the day. Whatever you decide, it should help you work towards your goals. Remember, unbreakable fitness is not just about becoming physically stronger. It is about becoming mental stronger to make the hard immediate choices that ultimately lead to your long term success.
If you’d like to check out a book on the subject, here’s a link: