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Why great athletes are great liars

blog Nov 18, 2013

by: Lindsey Wilson In this article:

  • Explore why self-deception is an evolutionary advantage that leads to higher performance.
  • Positive Performance's Lindsey Wilson shares her experience with self-deception
  • Learn how self-deception works, and how to determine if it's right for you or your team.
  • Implement a simple, four-step process to practicing self-deception and using it to improve your team's self image and overall performance.

  Great athletes are great liars. It’s the unspoken superpower of top tier performers. When I played, I was full on Pinocchio. Whether it was during practice or during a competition, I’d lie to myself constantly, saying things like:

  • “I never get tired.” Humanly impossible and 100% not true… for anyone.
  • “I only have so many misses in me,” when I was missing shots. Sort of true (maybe?) but there is no statistical reason I couldn’t keep missing, forever and ever. Science, after all, plays no favorites....
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Five Steps to building a fortress of leaders

blogs Oct 10, 2013

Sports training isn’t about generalities. You’d never tell your team, “Just get the ball out there… somewhere.” Or say, “Don’t worry about the goalie. Just kick it within the vicinity.”

Without accuracy, without precision, there is no game. There is no goal, there is no team. More importantly, there is no win.

Leah Johnson, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at Southern Illinois, felt concerned enough about the generalities surrounding leadership to get in touch with our team of experts at Positive Performance. Specifically, she wanted to know our opinions about:

  1. Leadership in athletics;
  2. Developing leaders within the team;
  3. The importance of strong leadership skills.

And we’re going to tell you precisely what we told her.  


Let’s get specific

Generic leadership training isn’t specific to the sports arena. Leadership tips are being passed around everywhere. From the mouths of retail managers to their...

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Meditation? 3 ways the Seattle Seahawks are using it to gain a competitive edge (and how you can too).

blog Aug 23, 2013

new.toughness.practice ESPN published an interview and article on how Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks are using mental training to gain a competitive edge. Pete's philosophy matches ours: If you have happier and more balanced players, they will be better able to manage their emotions, deal with stress, and ultimately perform at their peak when the pressure is on.

After all, sports don't happen in a vacuum and athletes are human beings capable of unproductive thoughts, excess emotions, and vulnerability to stress just like the rest of us.

Expect to see more and more teams doing this as the results speak for themselves and the cost is relatively low. As the article points out, meditation is a key component of their mental training plan. So let’s take a closer look at how meditation can help athletes perform better.

Here are 3 specifics ways meditation can help your athletes:

1.    Stress management: Athletes are under an enormous amount of pressure and stress fairly...

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Pre-practice mental warm-up

blog Jul 21, 2013

Many of our clients report that the first 20-minutes of practice drastically improves after implementing this one 5-minute pre-practice routine.

Athletes are often scattered by the time they get to practice. Some days, it takes a long time for their mind to catch up to their body (i.e. ‘it’s time to practice’). They might be tired, hungry, stressed, late, or thinking about boyfriends/girlfriends, school, or life outside of their sport. Giving them 5-minutes to get their mind focused on practice, visualize what they want to achieve, and let go of unproductive thoughts and emotions can be the key to engaging in a productive practice.

Here at Positive Performance we use something we’ve developed call the BRAVR™ method and it goes like this (by the way coaches should do it with their athletes).

The BRAVR™ method

  1. Breathing: close your eyes and take 5 deep, long, belly breathes (6 seconds in, 6 seconds out)
  2. Release: we encourage athletes to...
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Coaching & Recruiting the gay athlete Part 1: Homophobia and performance

Uncategorized Jul 10, 2013

We are really excited to present our new podcast series: The Brittney Griner Effect-Coaching and Recruiting the Gay Athlete with Dr. Jenny Withycome. We'll be presenting podcasts on a number of different issues related to this topic including:

  • Should I let my players date each other?
  • What should I do if one of my athletes 'comes out' to me?
  • I coach at a religious institution, when it comes to homosexuality how do I balance my players needs with my responsibility to my school?

Our first podcast is: How does homophobia affect performance?  

Here are 3 things you should know:

  1. Schools that are inclusive of all people have a higher winning percentage.
  2. Athletes that don't feel included can't give 100% to their team.
  3. Teams must make an effort to be inclusive. It's not enough to assume you are inclusive.

  Looking to gain a competitive mental edge and win more? Sign up for our newsletter and receive straight forward advice and tips on...

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2-Minute drill (video): An off-season plan

blog Jun 25, 2013

Our 2-Minute Drill Videos are designed to give you 2 minutes of mental training tools and information. This video is about how to design an off-season plan. Listen in while Lindsey talks about her own off-season plan. Some points to remember:

  • Choose one or two things to REALLY get better at this off-season- be as specific as possible and don't try to do everything
  • Journal your workouts
  • Get a skill plan ready by talking to your coach
  • Ask your strength coach for an off-season workout plan
  • Take some time (10 minutes a day) for mental training


Looking to gain a competitive mental edge and win more? Sign up for our newsletter and receive straight forward advice and tips on how to develop your team's mental game.

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You. Diving. Olympics.

blog Jun 04, 2013

Imagine you are an elite diver competing in the Olympics. Going into your final dive of the games, you hold a slight lead over your rival, the defending Olympic Champion. As you climb up to the platform, you see thousands of people cheering, but you can only hear your breath. One dive. One chance. Four years. You know you'll have to have a nearly perfect dive to win. One minuscule mistake and you'll lose. You've spent you whole life for this.one.moment.

How are you going to do? What if I told you we could predict your performance? Under all that pressure, with so many variables, there is one thing that separates the good from The Champions. So what is it?

In 1988, 235 Canadian Olympic athletes competed in Seoul, South Korea in the Summer Olympic Games. These athletes were asked to rate themselves on mental, physical and technical ‘readiness’ factors using a 1 to 10 scale where a ‘1’ means ‘0% ready’.

Despite the fact that these athletes rated...

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Trusting the process, not hoping for a result

blog May 24, 2013

When athletes are struggling, the most important action they can take is to stop thinking about the results of their performance. This is easier said than done and may even seem counter-intuitive to what they have ever been taught. However, just as in business, give me two teams of similar abilities and the team that consistently follows the process will perform more consistently with better results (wins) over the team that is focused solely on results.

But I WANT my athletes to focus on winning. 
Athletes are already focused on winning (or at least performing well). This is what drives them. No one would be motivated to practice hard if everyone got a ribbon at the end. But ultimately, if you are ONLY focused on results, at some point you'll meet failure. EVERYONE does. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Let’s rephrase that: EVERYONE that challenges themselves, everyone that pushes themselves, everyone that strives for greatness meets failure...
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Go for it!!!

blog May 15, 2013

One of the many reasons I’m so passionate about sports is because I think learning to ‘go for it’ is vital to reaching one’s full life potential. I also believe it's better to learn this at a young age: when we're closer to the ground and have less distance to fall, when we have less money to lose, when we have less insight and more naiveté. This is a special time in one’s life. Where the habits and attitudes developed have an enormous impact on one's success or failure.

Mental training helps teach young people to ‘go for it.’ I was thinking about this watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 about Reggie Miller. What struck me again and again is how critical Cheryl Miller was in her brother’s success. In the family driveway, Reggie lost again and again to his sister. In his world, those one on one games took everything that mattered to him as a kid: his pride.

So what did he do? He learned to conquer the fear of failure. He learned to...

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Reset day

blog May 05, 2013

It is a given that the mind and body are intrinsically connected. As a general rule of thumb: If one feels crummy, the other follows. If one feels great, the other does too. When the body experiences a lot of physical and psychological stress (a sports season being one example), it wears quite significantly on the body and the mind. It’s not enough to take a day off. Instead, one needs a Reset Day- a day completing dedicated to getting ‘back on track’- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. There is something significant about taking a full day, a dedicated effort, a sense that one will be different (i.e. rested) after the said day than they were before.

To my clients, I recommend taking a Reset Day which consists of the following in order:

  • Physical: You can do something physical but not too taxing- shooting, stretching, walk through, even getting in the pool. And it shouldn't last more than 45 minutes. Anything more than that is...
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