It’s a New Year – What’s Your ‘Oh Crap!’ Plan? An Excerpt from ‘Fit & Focused in 52’

What can you do when you’ve done everything right but it still goes wrong? In his new book “Fit & Focused in 52,” Coach Daniel Stewart gives us a few tools to use when your totally tubular ride suddenly feels like it is totally going down the tubes.

Photo by Cindy Lawler.

You’re having an amazing ride but your super handy horse uncharacteristically refuses a fence, causing you to end up on his neck, lose a stirrup, and drop your crop! Pick yourself up (and your crop) because it’s time for Plan D.

Your Plan D is known as your “Oh crap!” Plan. This is the plan you put into action every time you get yourself into trouble and hear yourself say something like, “Oh no,” “Oh my gosh,” or “Oh crap!” You’ve only got a split second to figure out how to recover, so you’re going to need to have this plan committed to memory. Repeating a mantra like, “Shake it off,” while shaking your shoulders might be all you have time for and might be all you need to keep your train of thought on the correct track.

Try One of These on for Size…

You only have a short period of time to complete your oh crap plan so you might want to consider some of the following:

– Use a thought-stopper and thought-replacement. With thought-stopping, you teach yourself to disrupt the flow of those bad thoughts by yelling a thought-stopper word at yourself, like “Whoa!” or “Halt!” Once you’ve stopped the bad thought, you replace it with a good one. Here’s an example. The next time you recognize yourself saying,

“She’s better than me,” stop the flow of that negative thought by yelling the word “Halt!” at yourself (inside or outside voice), take a deep breath, and replace it with, “Do your best, forget the rest.”

– Whisper a calming cadence like, “Breathe, believe, bedazzle;” or “Keep calm, breathe on.”

– Briefly recall a memory when you successfully coped with a similar situation.

Blower Breathing

A few deep breaths are an important part of your Oh Crap! Plan. Use something called blower-breathing—that is, take in a deep breath and force it out while making the blowing sound of a horse. By the way, horses do this by fluttering their nostrils but you don’t have to. Just fluttering your lips will be fine.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

You’re going to breathe about 20,000 times today. Make sure you don’t skip any, especially when the pressure goes up.

Weekly Homework

This week, come up with one or two split-second techniques you can use to keep your head in the game after an unexpected problem. Memorize them and practice them as much as you can.

This excerpt from Fit & Focused in 52 by Coach Daniel Stewart is reprinted with permission from Trafalgar Square Books (