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Embracing failure: The clumsy, embarrassing (and usually ugly) path to success

A guest blog, By Tyson Hartnett


It was my first game on my high school's varsity basketball team. I was a rising junior and the starting point guard after being on the JV team the season before. What do you know, my first game is against a crazy-athletic team that full-court pressed the entire game. Great, I thought. Just great. As the point guard, it was my responsibility to catch the ball and organize our attack against the full-court pressure.

At that moment (after my fourth straight turnover), I wanted nothing more than to hide and never touch the ball again. I was humiliated and embarrassed. But, even more so, I was scared. I was afraid that if I got the ball, I would fail yet again.

Clearly, it wasn't going very well.

At that moment (after my fourth straight turnover), I wanted nothing more than to hide and never touch the ball again. I was humiliated and embarrassed. But, even more so, I was scared. I was afraid that if I got the ball, I would fail yet again.

But, I...

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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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What I learned from completely changing my jumpshot (and how it can help you)

Why fix what isn't broken?

Old habits aren’t necessarily bad habits...but they can turn into them down the road.

I remember having to completely change my jump shot in high school. I had started working with a new coach who told me point blank, "Your set shot might work now in high school, but it’s going to get thrown out of the gym in college."

It was time to get worse before I could get better.

And so began the slow process of completely changing and unlearning a skill I’d practiced for over 10 years and relearning it all over again. One might look back and minimize it; after all, learning something new at 16 years old doesn’t sound like that big of a deal.

But I remember the experience pretty clearly: the resistance, the emotional pain, and the pretty much constant frustration. After all, the idea of working really hard and getting worse at something is a tough pill to swallow, even for a 16 year-old.

It was made even more difficult because I was...

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Case Study: Niagara Women’s Basketball

Before mental training

Not long ago, the coaches of Niagara University's Women's Basketball team, including Head Coach Kendra Faustin and Assistant Coach Corinne Jones, felt their program had untapped potential.

In 2013, they knew they wanted to make a change in their team’s collective mindset. More specifically, they knew, in order to get to the next level of performance, there were

4 things they needed to address

  1. “Get Over It.”

    Failure, that is. A fear of failure across the board in their program was manifesting itself in competition. The team would have great practices but were overly nervous about their performance when game time came, resulting in losses and, ironically, failure.
  1. “Drop the Language.”

    The Niagara athletes held on to a lot of negative self-talk (e.g. “I can’t believe I missed that layup in the first half”). Basically, “I can’t” was heard way too often.
  1. Confidence Un-Boost

    Each...
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