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Align Your Behavior With Your Goals

It's the time of the year when people are motivated to make changes in their lives. "New year, new me" is the saying. So I will attempt to make today's post motivational.

Some of the best advice I can give to someone is to align your behavior with your goals. This means to live an authentic and committed life. Many people don't have their behavior and goals aligned. Some people have large goals but by looking at their daily behavior, you couldn't tell. They may have large goals, but they don't work very hard. They may think they can still reach their large goals despite being lazy, or maybe they don't realize that they are lazy. Either way, they will be disappointed when they don't reach their large goals.

On the other hand, there are people who work very hard to reach a certain goal, but they don't actually desire this goal. For example, a student could work hard to become a doctor in order to please his/her parents, but he/she may not want to …

The Pros and Cons of Playing Music During Practices

There are coaches on both sides of the music argument. Some love playing music during practices. Some hate it. Here are the reasons why coaches might either love or hate playing music during practices.
The pros of playing music:
Music can improve an athlete’s mindset for training. Some songs get you pumped up. Some songs get you motivated to work hard. Some songs get you relaxed and loose. Some songs make you happy, laugh, and dance. These are all positive emotions that help athletes train hard, execute well, and be happy. These kind of coaches prioritize happy, motivated athletes, so they allow and encourage music to be played during practices.

The cons of playing music:
The coaches who don’t allow music to be played during practices are not blind to the benefits of music. They just prioritize other things. They still want motivated and happy athletes. But they think athletes should already by happy and motivated to practice without music. They are more concerned with teaching athletes s…

Social Loafing

Social loafing is when a person gives less effort in a group than when working alone. A person may slack off because they think no one will notice therefore they won’t get punished. Some people are freeloaders, wanting to gain from the hard work of others while they do nothing. An athlete may think "I don't need to play hard. I'll let my teammates carry me."

Being a part of a team sounds good because it can bring better results than when working alone, however if everyone on the team slacks off, the team won't reach its full potential.

It is when every individual on the team gives their best effort, team success is maximized. Athletes should strive for this maximized team goal, not just for the ability to slack off. Full effort should still be a requirement, no matter how many teammates you have helping you. Emphasize that the reason for forming a team is to maximize success, not just to make things easier. 

Social loafing happens a lot when "super teams" …

Wanting to Win vs Wanting to Give 100% Effort

Last week I talked about the inner game vs the outer game. It can be a complicated topic, so I want to talk more about it, specifically about balancing two different motivations: the motivation to win and the motivation to give 100% effort. Balancing these 2 motives and knowing when to shift your attention from one to the other is a key to peak performance.

The reason why you should want to give 100% effort is because this helps you win (it is also a reward in itself.) Your chances of winning are maximized when you give 100% effort. Winning is a byproduct of effort. So shouldn't you just always focus on giving 100% effort and never worry about winning/results? This sounds good in theory, but it doesn't always work out well in reality. This is because you need the motivation of winning to motivate yourself to give 100% effort. Giving 100% effort is hard and uncomfortable. Thinking about winning reminds you to keep pushing through. Intrinsic motivation isn't always enough to …

Winning the Outer Game vs Winning the Inner Game

Within any competition, there are two games going on simultaneously: the outer game and the inner game. The outer game is the one that is more familiar with athletes. It is the scoreboard. It is the actual objective results of the game. The inner game is different from the outer game. You can lose the outer game but still win the inner game. You can win the outer game but still lose the inner game. This is because the inner game isn’t dependent on the scoreboard. The inner game involves a different set of criteria. These criteria includes things such as effort, peak performance, improvement, enjoyment, and sportsmanship. These criteria are arguably just as important as the scoreboard and winning/losing.

First of all, winning is a byproduct of effort and performance. If you focus on maximizing your effort and performance, you maximize your chances of winning. You can’t completely control winning, but you can control your effort and performance. Furthermore, losing a game to a superior …

Is it Wrong for Parents to Force Their Kids into Playing College/Pro Sports?

Is it wrong for parents to "force" their kids into playing college/professional sports? I believe so. Before I give my reasons, let me explain what I mean by "force." By force, I mean overly pressuring a child down a certain career path. We've all seen parents who badly desire that their kids become professional athletes. They have their children start training intensely at a young age. They sometimes have their kids sacrifice education, friends, vacation time, etc. for their athletic development. They spend a fortune on equipment, coaching, travel, etc. They sometimes even send their kids to far away academies. Does any kid voluntarily desire all of these things? The answer is rarely. Most of the time, they are pressured by their parents. Their parents mainly make these decisions for them. The children are told they should want these things, so they may go along and agree with their parents, but deep down, they don't want this type of life. Most kids want …

Jack of All Trades vs A Specialist

What is a jack-of-all-trades type of athlete? A jack-of-all-trades type of athlete is a well-rounded athlete. They are average at every skill, but not great at any. You could also say they are good at every skill but not great at any. For example, a basketball player could be good at shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding, and playing defense, but not exceptionally great at any of these skills. 

The advantage of being a well-rounded athlete is that you have no weaknesses. Without having weaknesses, it is harder for opponents to beat you because they have a harder time forcing you into mistakes. With no weaknesses, you are more reliable, consistent and are less prone to having slumps. Well-rounded athletes are less reliant on one specific skill, so if one skill isn't working well on a certain day, they can rely on the other skills that they have.
The disadvantage of being just a well-rounded athlete is that you have no notable strengths.  Without any exceptional strengths, it is ha…

Confidence Tip: Call Their Bluff

I got this idea from a sport psychologist named Allen Fox. He called it "calling your opponent's bluff." It can help improve your confidence in games. Let me explain.

If you're not familiar with the phrase "call their bluff," it is from poker. A poker player may be "bluffing," meaning they are acting like they have good cards, but they really don't. Their confidence that they are portraying is supposed to discourage their opponents. But a smart poker player knows when to "call their bluff," meaning they don't believe that their opponent actually has good cards. They think they are lying. Since they think they are lying, they are able to maintain their confidence. This same kind of situation can happen in sports. Here is an example:

Imagine two equally skilled basketball teams are facing each other. One team may be winning by 10 points at halftime. It may seem like the winning team may be superior to the losing team and should win t…

Another Reason Why Confidence is so Important

I've written about the importance of confidence before, but I forgot to mention one of the most important aspects of confidence. I'm talking about the spiraling nature of confidence. Confidence can create a spiraling, or cyclical pattern. This pattern can be positive or negative depending whether you have high confidence or low confidence. Here is a simple flow chart to explain what I mean:

High confidence ---> motivation ---> effort ---> success ---> more confidence ---> repeat

Low confidence ---> less motivation ---> less effort ---> less success, more failure ---> less confidence ---> repeat

You can easily see how confidence can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. We've all experience it for ourselves or have seen it happen to others. We've seen it catapult people to the highest levels of success and we've seen it sink people down to rock bottom. 

However, it is not this simple. Life, as well as psychology, is complex. Things do not alwa…

Natural Talent vs Learned Skills

Talented, naturally talented, skilled. These are words that we hear often when describing athletes. What do these words actually mean? I want to explain the differences between them because people often get them confused and the implications are important.

Natural talent refers to attributes or abilities that you are born with. Height is the most notable and most "pure" natural talent, meaning there isn't much you can do to influence it. Yes, diet matters, but assuming you have a normal caloric intake and have access to nutritious food, which most people do in America, you will grow close to your potential. A 7 foot tall basketball player can be said to have a lot of natural talent, at least in regards to his height, since height is very helpful in basketball.

Then there are many other traits that people are born with but need more effort to fully develop. Size is an example of one. Some people are "built" with "bigger frames" than other. It is easier f…

The Benefits of Coaching

In my opinion, one of the greatest things on earth next to playing sports, is coaching sports. The worst part about sports is that eventually, athletes must retire due to aging or injuries. However, many of the benefits of sports can still be provided by coaching, which doesn’t necessarily require a young, healthy body. There are many reasons to coach sports, whether you are a youth coach, a high school coach, a recreational league coach, a college coach, a professional coach, or a private/individual coach. Impact: Perhaps the greatest reason to coach sports is to make an impact in kids’ lives and help your community. Coaches can be role models and heroes to their players. They can teach their players life skills and they can help them earn scholarships or professional contracts. Coaching also allows you to be a part of something greater than yourself. You can make history, change the world, and impact future generations. Achievement and esteem: Whether it is rankings or championships,…

The Benefits of Playing Sports

Sports are amazing. They are great for many reasons and they can be beneficial for a variety of people.  There are reasons to play and love sports, whether you are a non-athlete, a recreational player, or an athlete playing competitive sports. Here are the benefits of playing sports: The health benefits of exercise: This is pretty self-explanatory. Obviously staying active and fit is great for health and prevents health issues in the future. Most people agree that health is one of the most important things in life.The social benefits of sports:Sports allow you to meet new people and be a part of a team. This is great for mental health and happiness. For athletes, the word ”teammates” is almost equivalent to “best friends.”Flow and enjoyment: Sports are fun. The simple acts of catching and hitting balls, running, and strategizing can put athletes in a state of flow, which is known as one of the most enjoyable states of being. Sports are called games for a reason.Self-Improvement:It feel…

Rebuttal: "Practice Is Overrated" Research

We've all heard of the "10,000 hour rule," which states that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a complex activity such as a sport or a musical instrument. Most people assume there's a relatively positive correlation between time spent practicing and success, meaning the more you practice, the more you improve and succeed.

However, there have been recent studies that suggest the correlation between time spent practicing and success isn't as strong as we once thought. There are plenty of examples of athletes who haven't practiced as much as others and still have success. And there are plenty of examples of athletes who have trained way more than others but don't succeed. These studies point to genetics and mental game performance skills as factors that may be more important to success than practice. They argue that people with great genetics and natural talent can still succeed without practicing as much as others. And people wi…

What Does it Mean to be "Clutch"?

What does it mean to be "clutch"? Many people use the term "clutch" to describe certain athletes, but I'm not sure these people know exactly what it means. Most people think of the idea of being clutch as it relates to plays such as buzzer beating shots in basketball and last second field goals in football. According to many people, if athletes make these plays, they are clutch. If they don't, they are not clutch. However, it is not this simple. The concept of "clutchness" is more complex. To understand it, you first need to define what it is.

I define "clutchness" as the ablity to play with peak performance during pressure situations. Peak performance is the ability to play up to your potential. It is being in "the zone". It is playing with maximum effort, concentration, relaxation, confidence, and intelligence. It is playing the best that you are capable of playing given your physical limitations. Once you understand these ter…

The Clutch Gene: Real or a Myth?

You may have heard people talking about the "clutch gene." Is there really such thing as a clutch gene? The short answer (and obvious answer) is no. That's if you take the question literally. There's not an actual clutch gene in people's DNA. There's no single gene that makes people clutch in pressure situations. That's not even how genetics works. For most complex behaviors, there are many genes that interact not only with each other, but also people's environment and freewill.

The debate isn't really whether or not there is an actual clutch gene. That's just a fun name to call the idea that a person is born clutch. The real question is whether or not the ability to be clutch in games is influenced by genetics? And if it is, to what extent does genes affect clutchness?

I believe "clutchness" or the ability to be play with peak performance in high pressure situations is partially genetic. This is because being clutch has a little bit t…

How to be the Ultimate Team Player

There's not many things that coaches love more than having a player who is 100% committed and is a great teammate. I call these type of athletes "ultimate team players" because they do everything they can to help the team succeed. These types of players are very valuable, even if they're not very talented physically. This is because they make everyone around them better and contribute to team success in many different ways besides from just their individual stats.

So how do you become the ultimate team player? It all starts with your goals. You have to want to become the ultimate team player. And to become the ultimate team player, the compass that guides you must be team success. Do whatever it takes to help your team succeed as much as you possibly can. In order to do this, you must know what actually helps teams succeed. Here are characteristics of ultimate team players. Memorize them and emulate them so you can become the ultimate team player.

They value team succe…

Team Chemistry

I define team chemistry as simply effective teamwork. Effective teamwork requires good team chemistry. Before I get into this, you should know that team chemistry is not the same as team cohesion, although they are similar. A team with high cohesion doesn't always have great chemistry. A team with great chemistry doesn't always have high cohesion, although they usually do. Team cohesion refers to the togetherness of a team, in their striving towards shared goals and also in their love for each other. Team chemistry just refers to effective teamwork.

 Teammates gain chemistry with each other mainly from experience. When you've played with the same players for many years in a row, you'll gain chemistry with these players. You'll learn the ins and outs of not only your teammates' games but also their personalities. When you know these things, it makes it easier to work together and play better. For instance, when you know the strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies o…