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 #2: Motivation

blog Nov 16, 2012

Hopefully most of your athletes are highly motivated individuals. They’ve worked hard to get where they are and are willing to do the work to continue to be successful. You might have to occasionally help motivate them but for the most part, they work pretty hard. This is probably due to your recruiting approach and the culture around your program.

But occasionally, you’ll find an athlete that doesn’t have the need to be their best. They just show up. Most likely they are very talented, otherwise they wouldn’t have made it this far; probably for most of their life they have relied and thrived on talent alone.

Trying to motivate someone that doesn’t have internal motivation is exhausting and more importantly, it doesn’t really work long term. It makes you frustrated and it takes your focus away from other players and other responsibilities. So what is the solution?

Many people that don’t seem motivated are just scared to try. They’ve...

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Injury - The mental side

Being sidelined affects the mind just as much as the injured body part

It’s truly a marvel of modern science that we have so many different ways to reduce injuries, minimize their effect, speed up recovery, rehabilitate after trauma and generally allow an athlete to compete with injuries that, even a decade ago, would have kept them on the sidelines.

In my own collegiate years, I used a variety of contraptions I’d never heard of before: a bone-growth stimulating machine, high-powered ultrasound, an automatic pressurized ankle boot, and a pocket-sized electric stimulation machine. I had customized orthotics, mouth guards, braces and one very confusing shoulder sling … custom made, of course.

Physically, I was more than taken care of, and I have no doubt that each one of those elaborate and costly contraptions helped me a great deal. I’m grateful for that. But psychologically, I had few resources to turn to when I was injured.

Teammates, coaches and trainers...

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NFL kickers

blogs Nov 16, 2012

I know I know. The kickers have been losing the games. They’ve also won quite a few but no one really wants to talk about that. If there is one thankless job in the world, it’s the football field goal kicker, especially an NFL one.

No I’m not asking you to feel sorry for them. I know they make a ton of money to do one thing right, I get it that this is irritating for the 99.999% of us that make way less money and have to do multiple things right. But let’s be clear: successful kicking isn’t always about kicking.

Let’s pick one thing that everyone does, something simple, seemingly easy with a bit of practice. Simple math. Let’s say everyday for a month you practiced solving (without a calculator) some timed math problems that changed everyday.

For example:  2+2x5 (-1) -6x8=X 9-5+(6x3)-4x2=X

Could you do it? Of course you could. They might look a little complicated at first glance but you’d practice. You’d get really good at...

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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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