fourpoints Magazine

The #1 Resource for Everything Miss America & MAOTeen

Mentally Prepare for Competition: Part 1 of 3

Monday, 08 April 2013 11:15

CornerstonePreparing for a pageant competition? There's a lot more to it than finding the perfect wardrobe. Heather Sumlin is the director of performance programs at Mental Management Systems, and she specializes in mental management training for pageants. fourpoints talked with Heather to get her advice for the best way contestants could prepare themselves for competitions. For the next three weeks, we're going to be sharing some of her tips with you! This is part one of three: 

For young women who are preparing for local and state pageants this summer, what is your number one piece of advice?  

It is vital to prepare both technically and mentally in preparation. There are three mental processes that control performance: the conscious mind (your thoughts), the subconscious mind (your skills), and the self-image (your attitude/belief).  In preparation it is important to learn how to manage your time and train skill properly. If you want to be successful you have to train all areas of competition as well as prepare for the job. Proper training is important because you need to be able to relax and trust your training on competition day. If you do not train well, you have little to trust. Start now preparing for competition. Set up a training schedule and discipline yourself to stay with it. It is vital to not only train skill in preparation but also to build self-image. The best training tool to build self-image is to journal because you can control what you write and review it again later. The self-image is built up or torn down by what we think; if we can provide more positive imprints we can improve our self-image. We recommend you keep a Performance Analysis Journal. For complete details on how to use it send me an e-mail and I will send you a video that explains how and why to use it for pageantry. Lastly, it is important to be in control of your thoughts. Your conscious mind can only think of one thing at a time. You need to determine what you should be thinking about before, during, and after each phase of competition. In our group and private training we help contestants, parents and directors understand how to build each mental process in preparation.

Tell our readers a little about yourself. What is your background working with Miss America Organization contestants and how did you start Mental Management Systems company? 

Imagine for a moment that you are preparing for the Olympic games. You have the best equipment, the best coaches and you are consistently performing as good or better than the current World Champion in practice. You have what it takes to bring home the Gold Medal and satisfy a childhood goal that is ten years in the making. Competition begins and you choke under pressure, losing your chance and failing to obtain your goal all because you didn't know how to mentally prepare for the most important competition of your life! This was my father, Lanny Bassham. After seeking a course in how to manage the mind under pressure and not finding a solution he began interviewing Olympic Champions to find out what they were doing to prepare the mind for competition. For two years he studied winners and developed the Mental Management System based on his research. In 1974, using his new mental system at the World Championships, my father won fifteen medals, eight of them were gold. In 1976, he won the Olympic gold medal he had been dreaming about for years. His consistency under pressure gained attention from others who desired similar results. Realizing the mental game is valuable in a variety of sports as well as business, he began training others on how to use Mental Management with much success working with clients ranging from Olympic and World Champions to the FBI and Navy SEALS. The company began thirty-six years ago and is still going strong. We provide books, audio programs, and personal training to athletes, performers, business professionals, coaches, and parents across the globe.

I had competed growing up and owe so much to the Miss America Organization for providing me scholarships to college, building my speaking skills and giving me an outlet to pursue my talents. My mother, Helen, and I were even pageant directors for a short time when we lived in Colorado and have always been supporters of Miss America. I started working for Mental Management in May of 2003 and after years being mentored by my father I began to coach pageant contestants in 2006. Truly wanting to give back to the organization that had blessed me, we teamed up with a local pageant lead by Jan Mitchell, the Miss Plano Frisco Organization in Texas. That year we trained each of their 4 titleholders and were excited when each of them performed incredibly on the Miss Texas stage the summer of 2006.  Miss Plano, Heather Hodges, was a double preliminary winner and 4th RU, Teen Plano, Erin Hunt placed 3rd RU, Teen Frisco, Morgan Fuller won preliminary talent and placed 6th and Miss Frisco, Shilah Phillips was also a double preliminary winner and won the title of Miss Texas on her first try.  Shilah went on to place 1st RU to Miss America.  This began a remarkable journey helping girls train and compete to their potential under pressure. 

Heather2Source: Heather Sumlin, director of performance programs, specializes in Mental Management training for pageantry. Upbeat, motivated, fun, and encouraging, Heather can bring the best out in you! Not only will you learn the Mental Management system, but she will help you apply it to your pageant competition as well as other areas of your life. Heather is also offers interview training, resume and platform development, and creative workshop options as well as personal instruction for contestants ages 12 and up. Click here to find out more about Mental Management Systems