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3 Ways fear improves performance

competition fear Oct 26, 2015

This time of year is ripe with haunted houses, frightening costumes, gory props, heart-stopping pranks, and a deluge of horror movies infesting our television networks. And it's all fun, right? The pretend danger, the lure of mystery... these things give us a thrill unlike any other. After all, as I've told you before...

Fear is our body's response to something new, not necessarily something dangerous. Fear is also a tool you can use to improve your game in all it's facets: mind, body, and soul. Sounds deep, I know, so let me break it down...

Fear sharpens your MIND

Who knew scaring yourself could actually improve your brain's function?

In the words of Joseph LeDoux, neuroscientist and author of "The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life", fear "juice[s] up the brain". It activates our amygdala (the fear center of the brain) which increases our fight or flight response- something that is necessary for sports.

And remember, just as Megan Smith, Assistant...

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Using visualization to crush the next pitch

Coaches, have you ever had a hitter who puts in the work, does extra reps, and who genuinely cares?

She’s a player who legitimately works HARD.

Yet she continues to spin her wheels and her progress is slow at best, leaving both of you frustrated. However, she still has moments of brilliance that keep her going and reaffirm to you that she, indeed, can do it.

Knowing she’s capable, you push the fundamentals in practice and do everything possible to prepare her physically for competition. But nothing much comes from it.

So, what’s the next step?

If we were to poll all the softball coaches reading this, it's likely that most of us would say the mental game is incredibly important. Yet, when we examine the time spent working on our mental game each week we find we’re severely lacking.


Softball: The mental game

In the game of softball, I find that hitters most often lose out on the full benefits of mental training mainly because there are so many of them....

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Prove it: The science behind the power of purpose

Last week we discussed some ways that athletes can make the most of injury. We talked about how a sidelined athlete can take opportunities to learn new skills, interact with fans, improve mental strength, and build closer bonds with coaches and teammates while going through the rehab process.

While not explicitly mentioned, all those tasks point to maintaining one thing: PURPOSE.

During injury and rehabilitation, an athlete can experience depression and anxiety as a result of loss of identity. Maintaining a purpose throughout that confusion is essential to a having a successful emotional, physical, and mental recovery.


The purpose of positivity

FACT: Maintaining a sense of purpose makes you healthier.

James Clear, writer and ex-All-American athlete, shared his thoughts on the connection between a longer, healthier life and purpose. He explains that Japanese women maintain an average 86 year lifespan, the “longest disability-free life expectancy in the world.”

...

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5 Ways being sidelined can be a good thing

Nobody likes injury. First, it hurts. Second, it means you need to take time out in order to heal. Third, being apart from the game and from your team can leave you isolated and alone. Nobody likes feeling alone. But the fact is that injury is a part of sports. There comes a day when every athlete is injured, and many have to sit it out of practice and games until they've been given the thumbs up to start playing again. You can’t change injury once it’s there. So own it, face it head on, and commit to healing from it as you would commit to taking down an opponent.


The mental side of injury

There’s a lot of mental flak that gets thrown into your face when you’re injured. Even though we mainly focus on mentally preparing athletes for performance, we know that preparing athletes for periods of non-performance is also important, but it’s also a whole different ball game. That’s because you can’t meditate your way out of an...

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Mind over matter: Use visualization to increase your one rep max

If you’ve ever had a ‘max day’ in the weight room and found yourself staring at an amount of weight you’ve never seen before, much less lifted, wondering what in the heck you are thinking taking on such a task, you know what I mean when I say weight lifting is extremely mental.

For those of you who walk out of a good weight workout feeling more confident and powerful than when you walked in, you know what I’m talking about: weight lifting expands the mind just as it expands the body.

But did you know that the mind can actually benefit from lifting weights even when the body cannot?

Read further, this is just plain amazing.


Mind or muscle?

According to HumanKinetics.com, “there is a temptation to focus entirely on an idea of humans as motors when one considers resistance training.”

Sure, the human body is an incredible machine with lots of motors (aka muscles). In addition to our motors though, there are a lot of things that make humans...

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Why trying to be cool will ruin your basketball career

By Tyson Hartnett, contributing author.


Everybody tries to be cool. That is the goal for everyone growing up. That was the goal for me growing up, too. Coolness was this far away land where the kids who partied and smoked lived.

But guess what?

I wasn’t cool. I was never cool. Believe me, I tried but I didn’t fit in.

Seriously.

I was too tall and lanky; I was weird and shy; I was awkward. I tried being funny so other people would believe I was cool, but I’m pretty sure they saw through the desperation.

It was tough, not being cool. I didn’t get invited to parties, I didn’t drink every weekend, and I definitely didn’t smoke.

But all the cool were kids doing it. A lot of times, I thought, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I fit in?”


Basketball was my escape.

It was rough not having everybody want to be your friend, but the one place I didn’t care about being cool was on the...

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Are you busy? Banishing busyness in a chronically over-scheduled world

I’m on a new kick these days to limit the use of the word ‘busy’. I mean, really, as a society we’ve become addicted to being chronically over-scheduled. Even more than that, we wrap our ego up in how busy we are by pretending that busyness is equated with importance. In fact, I’d go so far as to say busyness is the new boring. Everybody’s doing it, and…

I’m over it.

It’s not that I’m never busy. I am, of course. But if I’m always busy? That’s a problem. If I'm always busy then it’s not that I’m actually busy, but rather that I haven’t figured out how to prioritize my time and ultimately learn to say ‘no’. My point is that we often over-inflate the importance of having things to do, as if doing nothing or doing only some things is the worst fate imaginable. God forbid we finish a weekend and say,

"I really didn’t do that much… and it felt great!"

Or we finish a...

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The Coach vs. The Critic: Who's in control?

Picture this: It's 10 years from now and you are up for a promotion. You should be elated, but instead just feel exhausted by your 50+ hour work week. You glance in your reflection in the window. Even through the smudged glass, you see the deep line that has made a home between your eyebrows.

When did that happen? You ask yourself.

Then it sinks in: you’re unhappy. You haven’t been happy for a long time. This heavy realization begins to weigh on you as you consider the "what if's" of your past. You ask yourself, What if I had traveled more. What if I had taken the job I actually wanted. What if I had taken that year off to spend time with my family. What if...

What if you had made your life decisions based on the parts of yourself that you wanted to preserve. What if you had chosen the life course that would best reflect the strengths in yourself that you value, not your parents, friends, or professional community. The strengths in yourself that you value.

...

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The 1 thing women don't do (but need to)

If you've never met me, I suppose you could say one of the last things people think about me is, "Wow, this woman really lacks confidence". I teach confidence, I speak in front of hundreds of people regularly about confidence, I try to exude strength and confidence in everything I do.

I FEEL confident most of the time, but there are also times when I don't. During these moments of obvious uncertainty, I learned to put into play some skills to snap out of it.

And yet...

Through all my talks and lectures, even I need a reminder sometimes. Even I need to make sure my confidence is coming through in all that I do; during one notable season of my life, it wasn't.


 

The story...

I was playing professional basketball. At first I was excited to share the news, but quickly grew tired of the onslaught of attention I was receiving when I revealed my chosen profession.

So I stopped telling people.

Instead, I'd say I was in "athletics" and try to leave it at that. Basically, I started...

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Female athletes and peer pressure

I started getting good at basketball in high school. I was physically growing into a more athletic body and my hard work in the gym and weight room was finally paying off. I remember it being an exciting time as I made varsity as a freshman and was zeroing in on basketball being the one sport I was going to fully dedicate myself to.

Unfortunately, the girls around me didn’t share in my excitement, especially the ones who were slowly watching their ‘best’ status fade away, either because their 5’10” stature in middle school wasn’t really cutting it anymore or because the mall was more important to them than working on their jump shot.

So I remember that initial positivity about my success slowly disappearing and jealously, back-biting, and general nastiness taking its place.

My game slowly started getting worse as a result of this negativity. I’d stop shooting and focus only on passing to make other teammates happy. I’d keep my points...

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