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Don't just TALK about the mental game, BE about it

blog Nov 16, 2012

"Be mentally tough. Concentrate. You aren’t focusing. Get your mind right."

Everyone loves to TALK about mental game issues. Coaches, athletes, fans, media. Everyone wants to comment about the mental game aspects that are necessary for peak performance. But very few people actually know how to cultivate the mental skills that lead to enhanced performance.

We don’t expect to tell an athlete to get stronger, lose weight, shoot better, jump higher, get in better shape without telling them HOW to get there. If a coach tells an athlete that they need to get stronger to play better, they also point them to the strength coach so they have exercises to improve their strength. They just don’t tell them WHAT they need, they tell them HOW to get it.

But when it comes to mental skills, we assume everyone should get them (by magic?) or have them already (but deliberately don’t use them?). Everyone seems surprised when mental improvement isn’t automatic or blames the...

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Mental Toughness issue #4: Pressure

Uncategorized Nov 16, 2012

The thing about athletics is this: Everyone is watching. Whether you play professionally and on television or in your local golf tournament. Whether there are 15,000 people in the stands or 5, you are performing in public. This can add a great deal of pressure to a situation. No one really wants to let anyone else down or embarrass themselves. (Which is why public speaking is the #1 fear in America- ranked higher than death). And while that fear of embarrassment can be really uncomfortable, there actually is some biological reason for it. Our brain actually considers a ‘social death’ (i.e. complete and total embarrassment, rejection, public failure) comparable to real death because it could mean actually death. In primal terms, a ‘social death’ meant we were ostracized from the group that could protect us, the group that we depended on for survival. So some of this ‘fear’ is ingrained in us and some of it can be healthy and normal. It’s the...

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Mental Toughness issue #3: Perfectionism

blog Nov 16, 2012

Many athletes want to be perfect. They want every shot to go in, every pitch to be a hit, every serve to be an ace. Letting go of being perfect is difficult for them to do. They think it means failure, they think it means a slippery slope of eventually being mediocre.

Sure we want our athletes to be driven, they didn’t get to play at a high level by being indifferent about their performance. However, once they learn how to motivate themselves and have a strong work ethic, the irony is that the more they hold on to being perfect, the worse they play. They start thinking (moving into the conscious brain which is WAY too slow to react in a game), they start TRYING to play well, trying to be perfect.

This type of reaction ends up being a disaster more times than not.  So, if it doesn’t work why do they do it? Somewhere along the line we almost all learn that thinking constantly helps us to improve in everything. We want to solve the problem. And solve it fast. But it...

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Mental toughness issue: #1. Playing well in practice but not in games

blog Sep 26, 2012

Taylor was a top Division 1 basketball player. She was unbelievably talented but going into her senior season, she just didn’t feel like she had ever learned to play her best in games.

In practice: She was an All-American.

In open gym: She dominated. It was driving her and her coaches crazy.

When we started working with her, the first concern was dealing with this all too common issue: playing great in practice but not able to perform in the game. We worked

Changing her self talk

She understood that telling yourself something negative in the present tense constantly is like making a print on your subconscious on repeat. And since we have to act and behave how we see ourselves (what our subconscious tells us) we have to be really careful about what prints we are making. Her language changed from “I play well in practice but struggle in games.” to “I used to only play well in practice but now I’m able to transfer that great play to games,”...

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