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.


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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28 Days later: Better than yesterday’s me

Bad habit baby steps

One month ago I gave you a challenge: to break a bad habit. How have you fared?

I was told once that great leaders should never ask for something that they wouldn’t do themselves. In light of that good bit of advice, I took on the 28-day habit challenge along with you.

My bad habit: negative thinking. My goal: Go caffeine and gluten-free and restart on the path to a regular exercise routine. The result? I’m not perfect, but I’m feeling pretty darn great.

My bad habit: “I can’t”

My bad habit is negative self-talk. I say “is” because the habit isn’t completely eradicated.... yet, though I can already see and feel the benefits I’ve gained from omitting 90% of negative self-talk from my daily walk.

I not only feel better physically and mentally, but my positive self-talk has in turn made me, well, more positive, which makes the positive self-talk easier, which…

Well, you get the picture.


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FAQ: Coaching female athletes

Our live webinar series, Coaching Female Athletes, ignited great discussion. We felt it would be an disservice not to share some of the questions we received  from coaches that attended the webinar. The questions below highlight some of the biggest challenges that our coaches are facing in coaching their female athletes and the answers that Lindsey gave in our live webinar. 


Q: "Our players are very committed academically. This creates a healthy tension. How can I encourage my players to invest themselves completely while we are all in the gym?"-Coach Rich Aubrey

  A: The really good news is that if your players are driven academically, they likely respond well to clear goals and measurements (like getting an A on a test). So you’ve got some good stuff to work with. But perhaps they aren’t naturally bringing that same mentality into practice. So you will have to create that for them.

In the Coaches Guide to Achieving Great...

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Confidence and female athletes: Haves or have nots?

Men overestimate, women underestimate.

If only I had a nickel for every time I heard that from a coach when they were asked, “What’s the difference between coaching men and coaching women?”

Which brings me to a question that has literally been nagging me for years:

Do women naturally have less confidence than men?

This question is really tough for me because I have this knee-jerk emotional reaction that screams ‘Of course NOT!’

But then a quieter voice asks, ‘Hmm. Do we? And, if so, what can we DO about it?’

In my work with male and female athletes of  all ages, I will say there are clear differences between the two. And two things stick out for me: Men somehow know that appearing confident is beneficial, even if it’s just a façade, and the ‘fake it till you make it’ principle really does work in regards to confidence.


But, that’s just my opinion.

What do smart people say about this?

We did what...

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Pregame reframe: Use stress to improve performance

Is that a look of fear, stress, or nerves?

What's the difference between feeling nervous, and feeling excited?

I often ask athletes what the difference is between feeling nervous before competition and feeling excited.

The responses I typically hear involve this idea of varying levels of confidence. Specifically, some think that feeling nervous comes from "hoping it all works out", while feeling excited comes from "expecting to be successful". In short: Excited is a positive mindset, while nervousness is a negative mindset.

They're not wrong.

But the biggest difference between feeling nervous and feeling excited is perception. After all, the chemical reaction in the brain is the same for both: the stress reaction.

Stress flow

When I played I always talked about being excited for big games. Nervousness felt like a weakness, it felt like opening the door to failure, it felt like inviting self-doubt in for afternoon coffee.

I don’t think I was ever taught to do this, to think...

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WHOOPS! My bad: How negative self-talk can transfer into your post-graduation life

“You’ve graduated! Now what?”

Whether you’ve just recently graduated or you’re anticipating hearing those words in the near future, just know: It’s a good thing you’re an athlete.

College is tough, no doubt, but life after college is its own unique challenge. You’ve spent years making it a habit of getting to classes, taking exams, studying, going to practices scheduled by others, being directed by others (namely, professors and coaches) who would tell you what you need to do, when to do it and, sometimes, even how to do it.

That time has ended. YOU’RE in charge now.

Are you scared?

You shouldn’t be, because...

You’re better prepared to battle negative self-talk than others

Look, we’ve already talked about how self-talk can impact your game, so now’s the time to think beyond sports and into your career life, post-graduation.

You’re an athlete. For years you’ve been learning skills that have...

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