Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association

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Sports Psychology with Dr. Ashley Samson | Annual Meeting 2024

02/27/2024 7:07 PM | Maddie Ozbun (Administrator)

Dr. Samson is a professor at the University of Kentucky who specializes in Sports Psychology. As an amateur equestrian herself, she shared some tips on how equestrians can utilize her tools in their everyday rides and at competitions. Samson shared that under stressful moments there are two angled approaches you can look at the situation, the “Zoom Out” or the “ Zoom In” methods

The “Zoom Out” approach suggests that you change your perspective on the task at hand and look at the bigger picture. Samson suggests thinking of all the progress you made to prepare yourself for that moment in time. It is easier to be more confident in the small steps you have made, rather than looking at one large goal. She broke this down into the acronym MEI2. 

  • Mindfulness

  • Expectation Management

  • I2: Intentionality and Infusion

The “Zoom In” approach encourages athletes to pay attention to the finer details. Samson brings up 5 exercises athletes can utilize: 

  • Set Daily Goals

  • Create and follow preparation plans 

  • Regulate emotions/arousal 

  • More productive thoughts

  • Regular self-evaluations of performance

Dr. Samson then discussed how each of these exercises can be used in your daily life. She mentioned that goal-setting is an important routine for yourself as an equestrian, and recommended that you begin each ride with a purpose or a task that you would like to complete within that ride. She also mentioned how important pre-performance routines are, and stated, “consistent preparation leads to consistent performance”. 

Samson also gave tips on how to breathe through stressful moments. She suggested using “the box method” which teaches athletes to visualize a box while they are breathing. You breathe in while visualizing a line going up, hold your breath while you visualize a line forming on top, breathe out while the line goes down, and then hold while a line completes the box. Samson wrapped up her presentation by stressing the importance of positive self-talk, and suggested instead of asking yourself “How do I feel about this?” think “ What do I do about this?”. Attendees at Dr. Samson’s session gleaned many important skills to help them succeed mentally in both daily rides and at competitions. She encouraged attendees to reach out to her for further support in their riding journeys.

Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

MSEDA’s mission is to promote and preserve the sports of Eventing and Dressage in the Mid-South area, by providing leadership and education to its members and the community at large. To further these goals, MSEDA will provide educational opportunities, fair and safe competitions, promote the welfare of the horse and rider and reward the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the FEI level.

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