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Showing posts from 2020

Turn Up the Pressure to Train, Turn it Down to Perform

Balance Solidarity and Individuality

How to Deal with the Boredom of Training

 

Watching Sports as a Mental Exercise

Book Review: Choke by Sian Beilock

How to Improve Your Concentration in Games

The Importance of Habits

The Weakness Avoidance Loop

One Way to Calm Yourself Down Before Games

Book Review: The Brave Athlete by Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson

Performance Tip: Just Do It!

Prepare to Succeed!

Using Anger as Motivation

Book Review: Relentless by Tim Grover

Three Reasons Why You Should Put the Team First

Natural Talent and Motivation

Internal Pressure vs External Pressure

Five Ways to Motivate Yourself Against Weak Competition

Book Review: The Captain Class by Sam Walker

Low-Intensity Training

Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

How to Destigmatize Mental Illness

Two Kinds of Fear

Embrace Pressure, But Also Reduce It

Book Review: Total Focus by Brandon Webb

Themed Practices

Different Ways to be Mentally Tough

Be Proud of Your Effort

How to Deal With Bad Luck

Book Review: Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew

My Thoughts on the Transfer Portal

How to Deal with Crowd Noise

The Mental vs the Emotional Component of Sports Psychology

Focus Your Life!

Playing Time

Playing Without Fans

Mind Over Matter

Best is the Standard

The Man in the Arena

You may have heard the "man in the arena" quote by Theodore Roosevelt. The quote goes like this: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." This is a powerful message that can greatly help you deal with critics, pressure, and adversity. In fact, Lebron James often

Book Review: Perform Under Pressure by Dr. Ceri Evans

In Perform Under Pressure , Dr. Ceri Evans teaches you how to change the way you feel, think, and act in order to improve your performance under pressure. Based mainly on neuroscience, Evans provides a "Red-Blue" model that gives you a great understanding of how pressure affects performance and how a "balanced brain" improves performance. In the first section of the book, you'll learn how brain anatomy and brain functions can be categorized into two parts, Red and Blue. The Red component of the brain refers to the regions and functions associated with basic survival instincts, motivation, and emotional regulation. The blue component of the brain refers to the regions and functions associated with rational thinking, goal-setting, language, metacognition, attention, and working memory. Evans teaches that pressure is perceived as an emotional or social threat by our Red brain. And when threatened, our Red brain reacts in the same way as when threatened by physica

Self-Esteem | How to Love Yourself and Improve Yourself at the Same Time

You may hear people say, "Love yourself just the way you are." Is this good advice though? While it's important to love ourselves, does this mean we should love everything about ourselves? What if we have negative traits? Should we never feel shame and be motivated to improve ourselves? If we want to improve ourselves, does that mean we don't love ourselves? I believe the best way to go is to love the essence of who you are plus your positive traits, but also be motivated to improve yourself at the same time . It is not an either-or decision. You can do both of these things. You can draw your self-love from the fact that you're a human being with inherent dignity and value, as well as from the fact that you're loved by others. Then, you can draw your self-esteem from all your positive traits. You don't need to be good at everything in order to feel good about yourself. If you're a good parent, a good child, a good student, a good worker, a good ath

Don't be Nervous, be Excited!

I've talked about this topic before in the book review I wrote for Daniel McGinn's book, Psyched Up , but since I believe it's such a good tip, I want to focus an entire blog post on it. One of the most common tips given for dealing with pressure is to try to calm down and relax. While this sometimes can be great advice, other times it can backfire on you. The reason why this tip is sometimes ineffective is because going from nervousness to calmness is often too great of a leap to make, especially if you don't know how to calm down effectively. When people attempt this leap, they often fail and end up choking. Many times, a more realistic and effective strategy is to reappraise your nervousness as excitement, embrace your adrenaline, and use it in a positive direction. The reason why this alternative tip is often more effective than explicitly trying to calm down is that nervousness and excitement are similar states, so it's easier to go from one to the other. A

Old School vs New School Coaching

When it comes to sports and coaching, people like to debate about what's better, old school or new school philosophies. I'm not here to say that one is better than the other. I'm here to say that both schools have their strengths and weaknesses, and it is wise to learn from both of them. What does "old school" and "new school" even mean when it comes to sports and coaching? Before having a debate, you have to define the terms. I define old school sports/coaching as the stereotypes associated with the past. The past can mean 50 years ago, 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, since sports and coaching are always changing. I define new school sports/coaching as the stereotypes associated with the present or more recent years. It is important to understand that with old school athletes and coaches of the past, not everyone had the same exact beliefs, attitudes, training styles, and playing styles. The same thing applies to new school coaches today. Stereot

How to Prevent and Overcome Burnout

To prevent and overcome burnout, it helps to know its main causes. Once you know the main causes of burnout, you can then work to prevent or overcome it. The main causes of burnout: Exhaustion : Sometimes, athletes and coaches get exhausted from the grind of competitive sports. Too many hours, too much expectations, too much stress, too much physical and mental effort without enough time to recharge. All of this can lead to burnout. To prevent yourself from burning out, you need to manage your time better, recover physically and mentally better, find more balance, and increase your motivation. If you do this, you won't feel as exhausted, therefore you won't burnout. Boredom: Sometimes, athletes and coaches just get bored and lose passion after doing the same things over and over. Their sport stops being fun, and this makes them want to quit. To prevent this, you have to actively maintain your love and passion for the game. Have a better attitude and be grateful.  Mix up

Book Review: It Takes What It Takes by Trevor Moawad

Trevor Moawad is one of the best mental coaches in the world. He has helped Russell Wilson, Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Jimbo Fisher, and hundreds of other athletes and coaches throughout his career. His experience has given him the knowledge and tools to write a great self-help book called It Takes What it Takes. One of the main focal points of this book is the concept of neutral, objective, and process-oriented thinking. Moawad points out that people often think the only two options available are positive thinking and negative thinking. We all know negative thinking isn't helpful. Positive thinking can be very helpful at times, but sometimes it is unrealistic given our circumstances. When facing adversity, jumping straight to positivity isn't always attainable. Sometimes we need to shift to neutral before becoming more positive. Neutral thinking also has the benefit of settling down our emotions, which helps us execute the task at hand. Perhaps my favorite part about this bo

Win or Learn

The best athletes never lose. They either win or learn. Obviously this isn't literally true. Everyone loses games, but the best athletes have a positive attitude after they lose. After a loss, they don't get discouraged since they know they can learn a lot from losses, and this learning will help them improve and win in the future. With this "win or learn" attitude, you can always stay positive and motivated to keep working towards your goals. Let's take a closer look at this attitude. When an athlete loses, their weaknesses become exposed. After a loss, an athlete may realize that they need to make improvements in certain areas. This helpful feedback is sometimes hidden after winning. Losing doesn't only give you helpful feedback, but it also gives you great motivation. After loses, you should be very motivated to bounce back. Because losing can help you learn and improve more, a loss is sometimes more valuable than a win in the long-run. However, this &q

The Mental Challenges of Each Sport

I want to talk about the mental challenges of each sport. To begin, let's list all the different ways sports can be mentally challenging: Mental effort: Some sports require a great amount of concentration. Physical effort: Some sports require exerting a lot of physical effort. Remember, physical effort is a form of mental effort, because it takes a lot of mental strength to tolerate fatigue, pain, and the perception of effort. Dealing with pressure: Some sports require dealing with great amounts of pressure. Strategical thinking: Some sports require a lot of strategical thinking and problem solving. Teamwork and leadership: Some sports require a great amount of teamwork and leadership. Every sport requires all of these components of the mental game, but each sport values them differently. Let's look at the importance of each one for each sport. Golf: Mental effort and dealing with pressure are very important in golf. Strategical thinking is also important but not

A New Way to Reduce Pressure and Avoid Choking

A new study came out recently from the science journal,  Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience that discovered a new way to help reduce pressure and avoid choking. Researchers Simon Dunne, Vikram S. Chib, Joseph Berleant, John P. O’Doherty found that there's a way to reappraise an incentive/reward to help reduce pressure and avoid choking. This reappraisal, which is a form of self-talk, involves pretending that you already have the prize, and you're performing to keep it. This attitude, according to the researchers, improves performance more than thinking of the prize as something that you don't have and you must win to have it. Along with providing evidence from activity in the brain associated with motor skills, the researchers say that this way of looking at incentives helps because it calms your emotions, which helps you execute your motor skills better. Think about it, if you're kicking a field goal in the final seconds for the chance to win the game (and if

Be Humble, Yet Confident

Some of the best advice I can give to someone is to be humble, yet confident. By humble, I mean don't think you're better than you actually are. I've met many athletes who think they're better than they actually are. This doesn't help you though. It mainly just makes you feel better about yourself. You need to be realistic, objective, and judge your abilities accurately. By being humble, accepting constructive criticism, and acknowledging your shortcomings, you can then work to improve them. You're less likely to improve yourself if you think you're better than you actually are. In other words, being humble keeps you unsatisfied and hungry. Never be satisfied with where you're at. Always want to be better than you are now. However, being humble doesn't mean you can't be confident about yourself in the present moment. Being humble doesn't mean you have to think you're worse than you actually are. It means you think you're as good

Book Review: The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The Dichotomy of Leadership is Jocko Willink's and Leif Babin's sequel to their first book, Extreme Ownership . Together, these two books provide a comprehensive and excellent guide to leadership. In Extreme Ownership, Willink and Babin teach about the most fundamental mindset of leadership, which is extreme ownership. They also break down the most important elements of leadership. From reading this book, you get a great understanding of leadership theory, as well as the inspiration to take more ownership. The Dichotomy of Leadership adds to all of this by filling in the gaps, and teaching the art of leadership and how to better apply the principles of Extreme Ownership. The Dichotomy of Leadership does this by teaching about the many dichotomies of leadership characteristics/behaviors, and how becoming aware of these dichotomies and finding balance within them improves your leadership. Willink and Babin aren't the first to discover this idea. The philosopher, Aristotle

Every Play Counts!

Every play counts! Every play is important, yet no single play wins or loses you a game. It's the combined plays of an entire game that determines the final score. Each play matters, but each play is just a small piece of the pie. Athletes need to understand this to help them perform better in games. Athletes often place too much importance on individual plays. If they make a mistake, they may think that it will cause them to lose the game. However, this isn't always true. There's usually time to make plays and redeem yourself. There's also times when athletes get too satisfied after making a good play and they become overconfident and complacent. For example, a basketball player may become overconfident after making a spectacular slam dunk, but they need to remember that it only counts as 2 points, and they have to continue to play well if they want to win. Then there are athletes who don't place enough emphasis on individual plays. After making a mistake, they

Age

Age is talked about a lot in sports. People always talk about whether an athlete is too young or too old to succeed. Biological age is a real thing and it definitely affects your performance, but you need to have the right attitude about age to get the best out of yourself. People may tell you that you're too old to reach your goals. They may think that since you're a certain age you lack the necessary athleticism to reach your goals. Perhaps they're right. Maybe you don't have enough athleticism left. Maybe you aren't able to make up for your lack of athleticism in other areas. But maybe they're wrong. Maybe you do have enough athleticism left in the tank. Maybe you are able to make up for your lack of athleticism in other areas. These haters may be wrong for a couple of reasons. When haters say you're too old, they're comparing you to other people at your age. For example, they may assume that just because most 42 year olds don't have what it t

How to Play From Behind

There are teams that play well when they're winning or when the game is close, but they struggle playing from behind. These teams need to learn how to play well from behind. When it comes to playing from behind, the first and most important thing you need to do is maintain your motivation and confidence, and not get discouraged . However, maintaining effort and confidence is not enough. You also need to stay composed, patient, and not panic. When teams fall behind early in games, they sometimes panic, get impatient, and try to do something special to quickly get back into the game. This however often leads to more mistakes and increases their deficit. Here is a recent example of this happening. In the AFC divisional round of the 2020 NFL playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens fell behind early against the Tennessee Titans. It seemed like the Ravens panicked slightly and went away from their normal game plan, which is running the ball. Instead, in attempt to catch up quickly, they chose

Book Review: Psyched Up by Daniel McGinn

Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed, by Daniel McGinn is a great self-help book that gives you practical tips to improve your performance . This book is about the moments before high pressure situations and what you can do in these moments to give yourself your best chances of succeeding. McGinn writes seven chapters, each about a different type of strategy you can use to psych yourself up before a performance. The book is written very well. It's easy to read, with a great blend of entertainment and information. The first chapter talks about how to effectively cope with your body's fight or flight response to pressure. The author explains how one of the most common tips for dealing with pressure, trying to calm down and relax, can sometimes backfire on you. The reason why this tip is often ineffective is because going from nervousness to calmness is often too great of a leap to make, especially if you don't know how to calm down ef

Do Your Job!

Coach Bill Belichick has made the phrase, "do your job" famous. It is a key component to his coaching philosophy and has helped his teams have lots of success. So what does the phrase, "do your job" fully mean, and how can coaches adopt this teaching to help their team? "Doing your job" is somewhat self-explanatory. It means to do your job, obviously. But there's more to it. It means to focus just on executing your job as best as you can. It is another way of saying focus on the process, or focus only on the things you can control, and do your best no matter what the score is. It is taking personal responsibility and ownership for your role on the team. It is also the motivation to perform your duty to help your team and the people who depend on you. But there is another aspect to this phrase that is beneficial. Doing your job means to just focus on your assignments, and not try to interfere with other people's assignments. It means each playe

Never Hate Your Opponent

Some athletes like to draw motivation from hating their opponents. While this can give you strong motivation at times, I don't recommend it. It's fine to have rivalries, but you should minimize the level of hate and anger you have towards others, and you should definitely not truly hate your opponent. Even if this gives you stronger motivation than alternative sources of motivation, I still think you shouldn't do it. Why? Because life is bigger than sports, and you should care more about being a good person than being a good athlete. And remember, you can still motivate yourself fully without using hate and anger! You just have to find other, healthier sources of motivation. Think about how Kobe Bryant's death brought us all together this week. We mourned together and celebrated Kobe's life together. His death reminded us that life is in fact bigger than sports. During these sad times, we come to realize that our rivalries, grudges, and beefs are unimportant in

Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

My heart sank when I heard the news of Kobe Bryant’s death. I want to honor Kobe with a blog post dedicated to him.  Kobe was one of my favorite athletes of all time. I’ve had so many great memories watching Kobe play basketball on TV. I still remember getting goosebumps watching Kobe score 60 points in his final NBA game. I teared up then and I teared up today. That game showed me how special and exhilarating sports can be. Sports can transcend courts and fields, and bring people together and make life that much more worth living. Kobe provided us many of these moments. That’s why he was so loved.  But Kobe wasn’t just loved for the special moments he gave us. Kobe was also loved for the inspiration he gave us. I’ve always admired the “Mamba Mentality!”  I loved how dedicated, singularly focused, intense, mentally tough, and clutch Kobe Bryant was. Kobe gave me the courage to dedicate myself to my passions without worrying what others would think. For me, Kobe made it cool to

The Time in Between Plays

Some of the most important times in games are the times between plays. Almost every athlete can focus decently during the time of play, when you have something obvious to pay attention to, such as the ball, but not every athlete can focus well in between plays, when it's harder to find something to attach your attention to. This is when athletes get distracted most often. During the time between plays, whether in the huddle or on the bench, your mind can get distracted. You can start to dwell in the past or think too far in the future. This overthinking can cause overconfidence or discouragement. Then once the next play begins, you're often not able to refocus in time, which can lead to mistakes. This happens very often in sports such as tennis and football, with small breaks in between lots of plays/points. It is also very prevalent in sports with longer breaks in between action, such as golf and baseball. The longer time in between action, the more time there is to get distra