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Showing posts from 2020

Performance Tip: Just Do It!

There are certain plays in games where an athlete has to wait momentarily before taking action. Examples include a soccer player waiting to take a penalty kick, a tennis player waiting to serve, and a basketball player waiting to shoot a free-throw. In these situations, the longer you wait to take action, the more likely you are to overthink and choke. Conversely, the sooner you commit to taking action, the less likely you are to overthink and choke. Here is an example to explain why this is the case.
When a basketball player is nervous about taking a free-throw, he usually waits longer than he normally does to shoot. This is because he doesn't believe he is ready to shoot. He may think he is too nervous and will likely miss, therefore he takes more time to settle his thoughts and emotions. Sometimes this helps, but sometimes it backfires. Instead of calming the athlete down, waiting to shoot can actually lead to the athlete overthinking and becoming more nervous. This is because t…

Prepare to Succeed!

Stop bracing for failure. Prepare to succeed instead!When athletes are worried about an upcoming game, they often try to reduce their stress by bracing for failure. They may tell themselves, "I'm probably going to lose. It's okay though. I'm not supposed to win anyways. Besides, I'm not 100% healthy, so I have an excuse." This type of defense mechanism is often used during games when an athlete is losing. For example, an athlete may say to himself, "I'm playing so bad. Today isn't my day. I'll just tell my friends and family that I wasn't feeling good today."Bracing for failure may make you feel better about yourself, but it doesn't help you perform better, which is what really matters. Instead of protecting your ego by bracing for failure, wouldn't it be better for you to instead improve your performance by preparing to succeed!? When you're nervous about an upcoming game, instead of bracing for failure and procrastinati…

Using Anger as Motivation

In sports, it is quite common for athletes to use anger as motivation, especially in aggressive and physical sports such as football. Anger can be a powerful emotion that can fuel people to work hard towards their goals. Athletes often feel most motivated when they're angry about something. Much of the time, athletes get angry after losing or after being disrespected/overlooked. For the athletes that hate losing, they often use their anger to work very hard to make sure they succeed more in the future. And since it is human nature to desire respect and high-status, many athletes hate the feeling of getting disrespected or overlooked by others. They take these things personal and use their anger as motivation to prove their doubters and haters wrong.With my experience helping athletes and coaches, I've learned the advantages and disadvantages of using anger as motivation.The obvious advantage of using anger as motivation is that it can be very strong. It can help you stay disci…

Book Review: Relentless by Tim Grover

Tim Grover has been a big influence on me ever since I read his book, Relentless in high school. I've learned so much about motivation, work ethic, and success from this book. I continued to draw inspiration and lessons from this book after rereading it this week.

The great thing about Tim Grover is that he tells it how it is. He's not afraid to tell the truth about what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of sports. You may not agree with everything that Grover writes about in this book, but at least it will give you a new perspective to look at things.

In this book, Grover breaks down people into three groups: coolers, closers, and cleaners.
A cleaner works relentlessly to get the best results. A cooler is a lazy person who allows life to dictate their outcomes. And a closer is someone in the middle. Throughout the book, Tim Grover shows how cleaners distinguish themselves from everyone else.

According to Grover, these are the 13 characteristics that cleaners share:
1.…

Three Reasons Why You Should Put the Team First

Here are three reasons why you should put the team first and be a good teammate:
1. You'll experience deeper happiness through team success. Team success > individual success. When all you have is individual success, you can remain a little empty inside. Your individual ego is too small to fully satisfy yourself. Happiness is meant to be shared. When you share your success, you'll feel more satisfaction, love, and connection with others. It feels amazing to be a part of something greater than yourself! 2. Putting the team first actually helps you individually by making you look good in the eyes of coaches. If you're a good teammate and leader, your coaches will speak highly of you, which will help advance your career. In the long run, this will benefit you much more than being a selfish teammate does.
3. Lastly, and most importantly, being a good teammate improves your character and makes you a better person. In the grand scheme of things, this is much more important th…

Natural Talent and Motivation

What is the relationship between an athlete's natural talent and their motivation? Who usually has more motivation: athletes with lots of natural talent, or athletes with little natural talent? I believe both these kinds of athletes can be highly motivated in their own way.

Athletes that are naturally talented (gifted with great athletic genes) have a great motivational advantage working in their favor. Since they are naturally athletic, perhaps with great size, strength, speed, or coordination, they have a high ceiling. They have a lot of potential for athletic success. This gives them a lot of confidence. They know that if they put in the work, they can reach their potential and achieve great success. This is very motivating. Some of the most successful athletes are motivated for this reason. They know they have God-given talents, and they don't want to have them go to waste. They want to get the most out of themselves and reach their potential. Lebron James is an athlete wh…

Internal Pressure vs External Pressure

Pressure is a form of stress, and no one likes stress. However, some stress is good for you. It keeps you motivated, and motivation leads to effort, which leads to success. You can't succeed without dealing with some amount of stress or pressure. The most successful people don't just tolerate pressure, they embrace it. They actually turn up the pressure at times to increase their motivation and work ethic. But as you know, there's only so much pressure and stress a person can take. Eventually, you can burn out from working under too much pressure.

However, there's a way to thrive under more pressure. The key is to maximize internal pressure and minimize external pressure. Internal pressure is the pressure you put on yourself. It is working towards your own goals, for your own reasons, because you want to. On the other hand, external pressure is the pressure other people put on you. It is working towards a goal for other people's reasons, to earn their approval, beca…

Five Ways to Motivate Yourself Against Weak Competition

One of the most difficult challenges in sports is motivating yourself to play your best against weak competition. When playing against a weak opponent, many athletes play down to the level of their competition. This is mainly because they lack motivation for these games. Many athletes are simply bored when playing against a very weak opponent. Their opponent offers no challenge or excitement, therefore they often just go through the motions and give the minimal amount of effort needed to win. They just want to get the game over with and move onto their next opponent. All of this, of course, leads to poor performance. It can even cause you to lose to a weaker opponent. This is why every coach needs to try especially hard to motivate their team when playing against weaker competition. Here are five ways to motivate yourself against weaker competition:

1. Don't be satisfied with just winning. Aim to play your best and dominate! When playing against a weak opponent, you shouldn't b…

Book Review: The Captain Class by Sam Walker

The Captain Class by Sam Walker is a great leadership book that I recommend to all athletes and coaches. What makes this book unique is how instead of focusing on the leadership of coaches, it focuses on the leadership of players, specifically the leadership of the captain of a team. Walker makes the case that the leadership of a captain is the most important contributor to team success.

I can't say I completely agree with the author's claim that the captain is the most important factor. I personally believe that having a great coach and a talented roster are about just as important as having a great team captain. No matter how good a team captain is, they still need the help of their teammates and coaches to succeed. However, I also believe the value of captains is very underappreciated. Too much importance is placed on coaches and talent, and not enough is placed on captains. This is unfortunate, because it is the captain that acts as the mediator between the coach and the pl…

Low-Intensity Training

When it comes to training, more isn't always better. Your body (and your mind) has limits. Once you reach a certain point, more training becomes over-training.

Over-training is of course something to worry about. However, there are many athletes who think they're training at the optimal amount, but in reality, they could be doing more.

After a few hours of high-intensity training on the practice field and in the weight room, they may think they have done enough for the day. They are convinced that they need to rest. This may be true since there is only so much high intensity training you can do everyday. However, they may be forgetting that while they don't need to be doing any more high-intensity training, they could still do more "low-intensity training" that adds very little wear and tear to their body.

The problem is that many athletes and coaches laugh at the idea of "low-intensity training." They think that training is only worthwhile if it's hig…

Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is the motivation to gain something external from yourself. Extrinsic motives include money, scholarships, praise, accolades, recognition, fame, rankings, and trophies. External motivation can be in the form of punishments as well. For example, you can be motivated to avoid punishments such as being yelled at by your coach, losing your ranking, or losing money.

External motivation is common because most people need tangible rewards in order to survive as well as to feel pleasure and self-esteem. Some people want these external rewards so much, that they become powerful motivators and lead to great work ethic and success. However, there are some major issues with external motivation. First of all, they only motivate you as long as they remain provided. If the rewards stop coming, you may lose your motivation to work hard. If you want more reliable motivation, you need to be intrinsically motivated as well. You don't want to become too dependent on extrinsic moti…

How to Destigmatize Mental Illness

It's natural for people to be afraid to seek help for their mental health. Opening up to others about your mental health and asking for help can be uncomfortable, painful, and embarrassing. It doesn't help that mental illness and therapy are often stigmatized by our culture. People have the impression that if you're mentally ill, you have less value as a person. They associate mental illness with words such as crazy, weird, or weak. This is unfortunate because people often go untreated because of these stigmas. As a result, they suffer when they could be regaining their mental health.

Here are six reasons to not be afraid to seek help for your mental health.
1. Mental health is just as important as physical health. As a society, we don't treat mental health with the same respect as physical health. When we're physically sick or injured, we almost immediately seek help from a doctor, but when we're struggling with our mental health, we often procrastinate and let …

Two Kinds of Fear

To help you deal with fear and pressure better, it helps to know about the different kinds of fear. There's the fear that comes from physical threats, and the fear that comes from emotional/social threats.

Everyone experiences the fear that stems from physical threats. This is the fear of heights, the fear of snakes, and the fear of hurting yourself physically in any way. This is normal and healthy to a certain extent. These fears are ingrained into our biology to help keep us alive. When faced with these physical threats, our bodies automatically go into fight, flight, or freeze mode to help us avoid danger and survive.

However, as we all know, these physical reactions don't help us when it comes to performing in games. The pressure/fear we feel in games can cause us to tense up, play too emotionally, and choke. But why do we feel this fear in games anyways? When we're performing in a game, we're not in a life or death situation. We're not going to die if we make mi…

Embrace Pressure, But Also Reduce It

I often advise athletes to embrace pressure, to learn to enjoy it rather than fear it, and to be excited rather than nervous. This can be great advice. For one, it encourages you to seek pressure situations instead of running from them. This is good because great things can only be achieved by overcoming pressure. As the saying goes: no pressure, no diamonds. Also, by seeing pressure as a challenge rather than a threat, you can manage your emotions better and perform better because of this.

However, another piece of advice I give to athletes is the need to reduce pressure in order to perform better. I say this because contrary to what some people believe, pressure doesn't improve performance. With all else being equal, pressure harms performance by interfering with our working memory and muscle memory. In short, it causes us to choke and act too emotionally. When people perform well under pressure, they perform well despite of pressure, not because of it. This is why I tell people …

Book Review: Total Focus by Brandon Webb

In Total Focus, Brandon Webb writes about seven key lessons he has learned during his time as a Navy Seal and also as an entrepreneur. I really enjoyed this book because not only is it informative, inspiring, entertaining, coherent, and easy to read, but it's also relatively short. I appreciate this because too many books are drawn out and take too long to read. I'm glad Webb kept it compact and stuck to the fundamentals.

Here are the seven lessons that Webb writes about:
1. Focus
2. Situational awareness
3. Taking action
4. Excellence
5. Embracing adversity
6. Teamwork/chemistry
7. Leadership

The first three lessons, when combined together, can help you drastically improve your performance in any field. Success is about action and execution. To succeed, you need to do the things that lead to success. And in order to execute each action well, you need both total focus and situational awareness. These are the basics of high performance. Webb sums it up great when he writes, "Do you…

Themed Practices

In order to improve any skill, you need to emphasize it in practice. This is common sense, of course. Every coach and athlete knows the importance of emphasizing certain skills in practice. However, this is easier said than done. As a coach, you have to know which skills need to be emphasized the most, when they should be emphasized, and how much they should be emphasized. You can't emphasize something in practice too much or you won't have time to focus on other important skills. And if you emphasize too many things in practice, then you're not really emphasizing anything. I've written about this before in my blog post, blocked vs random practice.

But now I want to talk about a similar topic called themed practices. Themed practices are when you have a specific theme or emphasis on each day of the week. Pete Carroll, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, is perhaps most famous for using themed practice. Here is what Carroll labels his practices for four days of the week:
T…

Different Ways to be Mentally Tough

Since mental toughness is the ability to reach and maintain peak performance through a variety of stressors, that means there are many ways to be mentally tough, or to use mental strength. You can be mentally tough when it comes to coping with pressure, stress, distractions, boredom, adversity, pain, fatigue, or the perception of effort. The mentally toughest athletes can cope through all of these stressors. However, this doesn't mean you're not mentally tough if you can't cope through all of these stressors very good. You may be mentally strong for some of them, but not all of them. This is fine because it's rare to be faced with all these stressors at the same time. Also, an athlete that is especially mentally tough in one area can use this specialty to perform very well in games and achieve great success over their careers.

For example, Marshawn Lynch may not have been the mentally toughest athlete overall, but he still used his mental toughness in a specific way to …

Be Proud of Your Effort

Effort is something to be proud of. Unfortunately, there are many athletes who are sometimes ashamed of giving effort. This stems from a fixed mindset, which is a belief that athletic skill is something you're either born or not born with, and cannot be improved with practice. When an athlete has a fixed mindset, they think naturally talented athletes should be effortlessly good. Therefore, they shy away from giving good effort, because they think giving effort proves that they're not naturally talented. They are especially scared of being "exposed" as a bad athlete because they believe there is no way to get better.

Athletes with a growth mindset, on the other hand, are not ashamed of giving effort. They embrace effort for two reasons. First, because they know the only way to get better is by giving effort. And second, because they know that their effort is a better reflection of character than their results are. This is why growth-minded athletes are proud of their …

How to Deal With Bad Luck

There's many times where athletes get very unlucky in games. For example, a tennis player's shot could land out by a millimeter, a football team could lose because of an unlucky tipped interception, a soccer team could lose because a referee made a terrible call, and a basketball player could accidentally land on a teammate's foot and injure himself. All of these unfortunate events can cause a lot of mental anguish. Knowing you missed out on something so large due to something so small and random is a terrible feeling. Athletes often ruminate over these unlucky events. Because of this, some athletes never mentally recover. One unlucky event can totally mess with an athlete's mindset and lead to more failure.

So how do you overcome this and rebound after unlucky events? One of the best ways to cope with bad luck is to have acceptance and know that luck usually balances out over time. Many people focus so much on bad luck, but they hardly acknowledge good luck. They'd…

Book Review: Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew

Here is what I learned from Brett Bartholomew's book, Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In:

A coach's training program and technical/strategic knowledge is only as good as the athlete's willingness to buy into it. The art of coaching is about developing the leadership and communication skills needed to build relationships and buy-in from players.

Conscious coaches master the art of coaching by improving their social intelligence, communication skills, conflict management skills, emotional management skills, critical thinking skills, empathy, and authenticity. With these skills, conscious coaches are able to determine and execute the most effective ways to coach any kind of athlete in any kind of situation. They don't just coach each athlete the same way. Instead, they adapt their coaching style to fit the individual's goals, strengths, and weaknesses. By staying "conscious" of their coaching and their players' needs, they avoid let…