Getting my head right

I’m still in Florida getting ready to fish another tournament. That one should be over on Sunday. I’ll fly home as soon as possible after that to get ready for the Classic. My mother-in-law and her husband, Bill, are going to take the boat to Tulsa for me so that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about. I really appreciate what they’re doing. It means a lot to me.

When I get home all my time will be spend getting my head right. That’ll be the critical thing for me. I’m not going to worry about patterns or what they’ll bite two weeks from now. That’ll take care of itself when I get there. What I have to do right now is get my mental focus and my attitude ready for the big event.

Everyone can fish who has qualified for a Bassmaster Classic. That’s a given. It’s basically impossible to get there by just being lucky. You have to earn it. As a practical matter that means that a lot of what goes on in something like a Bassmaster Classic is in your head. You have to ignore the pressure, try to make the right decisions and have the courage to go with your gut.

That’s how I won last year. I made decisions every morning that were different than those I’d made the day before. They had to work out for me to win, and they did. I have to believe — not just think, but believe — that the same decision making process will work for me again.

To get into the right frame of mind I intend to relax with my family, not always thinking about bass fishing, and I plan to watch all the tapes of my Red River win. The benefits of the family thing are obvious. When I’m with them I can put things into perspective. Fishing or not, I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have a wife and kids like I do.

I’m not just saying that, either. All the fishing success in the world would mean nothing if I didn’t have them. And, it doesn’t hurt me one bit to know that they’re with me even if I don’t have a lot of fishing success.

But the tapes are also important. Watching them will reinforce my confidence in my decision making ability under pressure. When I look back and see that I can rely on my fishing skills and my instincts to make the right call it’ll make it easier to do that again when push comes to shove on the water.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes in a big event you have to make a call and go with it. It’s not about splitting the difference. There can be no second guessing and you can’t allow doubts to affect your thinking. You have to have confidence in yourself and in your abilities. If you don’t, you’ll be beat before you ever make the first cast.

I’ll be in the middle of all that next Tuesday. We’ll talk some more then.

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