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Showing posts from 2021

Mental Fitness: How to Train Your Brain for Athletic Success, an Interview with Matt Fitzgerald

Most athletes and coaches agree that mental fitness is equally, if not more important than physical fitness. However, not many athletes and coaches know how to properly train the mind and build mental strength. The basics of physical fitness training are widely-known and practiced, but when it comes to mental fitness training, most athletes and coaches just "wing it." This is understandable, since the mental side of sports is much more intangible, but still, a lot needs to be done to help athletes and coaches learn how to effectively train the mind. This is why I'm excited to share with you my interview with Matt Fitzgerald, an author who has written multiple books on mental fitness. I hope you enjoy it! SPT: Hello Matt, can you please give me your definition of mental fitness?   MF:  I define mental fitness operationally, as the ability to make the best of a bad situation. This ability depends on an underlying capacity to fully face reality in challenging moments.   SPT:

Book Review: The Comeback Quotient by Matt Fitzgerald

Matt Fitzgerald is one of my favorite sports authors. I've already written a review on his previous best-selling book, How Bad Do You Want it? And now I'm excited to share with you my review of his latest book, The Comeback Quotient: A Get-Real Guide to Building Mental Fitness in Sport and Life . Here is what I learned from this well-written and practical book:  Mental fitness can be simply defined as the ability to make the best out of bad situations. As athletes, we're often dealt with all kinds of bad situations, such as dealing with injuries, fatigue, and intense pressure. The mentally fittest athletes are able to make the best of these situations and achieve great success. But how? According to Fitzgerald, the essence of mental fitness is facing reality effectively. Whenever we're faced with a bad situation, we can either face the reality in front of us and push through it, or we can turn away from reality and fail to do what needs to be done. There are three st

Book Review: Zen and the Art of Coaching Basketball by Ben Guest

As you can probably tell from my past book reviews, I am a big advocate of reading. I believe all athletes and coaches should make reading a part of their daily regimen. There are so many great books out there that can help improve your motivation, mindset, athletic performance, mental health, and leadership skills. You can gain great knowledge and wisdom not only from sports science and self-help books, but also from sports autobiographies and memoirs. In fact, these autobiographies and memoirs (along with some fiction books) can often teach you lessons in ways that other books cannot. For example, the engaging storylines and characters in these books can leave a lasting impression on you. This is why I'm excited to share with you my book review on Zen and the Art of Coaching Basketball by Ben Guest. In this memoir, Ben Guest shares his story of coaching high school and professional basketball in Africa. One of the main reasons why I like this book is because it's very short

The Benefits of Mindfulness: an Interview with Thomas Singleton

The practice of mindfulness is something that many people have heard about, but not everyone truly understands. This is why I'm excited to share with you my interview with Thomas Singleton, a sports psychology graduate student at Boston University who focuses on the topic of mindfulness. Here is our conversation. I hope you enjoy it! SPT: Hi Thomas, could you help me define what exactly mindfulness is? TS: Mindfulness is a focus on the present moment. It includes recognizing your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations and observing them without judgment. Mindfulness can be used to separate you – your consciousness – from your thoughts, emotions, and urges. SPT: How can mindfulness help athletes perform better in games? TS: In order to play their best, athletes need to be present and aware of what is happening. With mindfulness, we can recognize our negative thoughts and feelings, not judge them or deny them, and then bring our focus back to what we need to do in order to perfo

A Simple Motivation Equation

Here is a simple equation for motivation that I learned about in the book, Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool . It goes like this: Motivation = reasons to give/sustain effort - reasons to not give (or reduce) effort I like this equation because it is easy to understand and because it can be a great tool to increase your motivation. To make this motivation equation even easier to understand, think of a scale. Your level of motivation is determined by which side of the scale outweighs the other. If your reasons to give/sustain effort outweigh your reasons to not give (or reduce) effort, then you'll have the motivation to give/sustain effort. The more this side of the scale outweighs the other, the more motivation you'll have. But on the other hand, if your reasons to not give (or reduce) effort outweigh your reasons to give/sustain effort, you won't have the motivation to give/sustain effort. The more this side of the scale outweighs the other, the less motivation you&#

Four Ways to Become a Better Leader

 Here are four ways to become a better leader: 1. Earn trust . Leadership is about earning trust. People will only follow your lead if they trust you. As a leader, you can earn trust in a number of ways, including: Helping your players (or teammates) get results. Showing others that you truly care about them as people. Connecting with others on a personal level. Being authentic and leading by example. Being a servant leader and putting the team first. These are the basics of leadership. If you make earning trust your main priority, you'll greatly improve as a leader. 2. Gain experience. Like most things, leadership is best learned through doing. The more experience you gain as a leader, the better you'll become. After years of being a leader, you'll have faced a variety of challenges and discovered many solutions and lessons. As a younger athlete or coach, it's important to put yourself in leadership roles and gain as much experience as you can. It'll pay off a ton

Financial Advice for Athletes: an Interview with Ulrick Edmonds

Learning how to deal with finances is important for everyone, but for athletes, it is especially important. While most people can stay in the same profession for decades if they want to, professional athletes only have a limited amount of years that they can earn a living from playing sports. Not only this, but professional athletes are often faced with the difficult challenge of handling a large amount of money at a young age. How professional athletes deal with their finances can make a big impact later in their lives. This is why I’m excited to share with you my interview with Ulrick Edmonds, who is a financial advisor that specializes in helping professional athletes. Here is my conversation with Ulrick. I hope you enjoy it! SPT: Hello Ulrick, could you tell me a little about what you do as a financial advisor? UE: As a financial advisor, my primary focus is to partner with professional athletes who are fortunate enough to play the game that they love for a living. My main goal is

Book Review: Above the Line by Urban Meyer

Above the Line by Urban Meyer and Wayne Coffey stands out as a leadership book because it deals directly with sports. While the lessons taught in this book are especially helpful for football coaches and athletes, they can be applied by coaches and athletes from almost every sport. Here are the top lessons I've learned from this well-written, insightful, and inspiring book! "Leadership isn't a difference maker, it is the difference maker." - Urban Meyer This quote resonated with me because I believe leadership is the most important factor of a team's performance. Leadership is the heart and mind of a team. A team is only as good as its leadership. With great leadership, a team can reach its potential and achieve great things. This is why it's so important to read leadership books and improve your leadership skills in all ways. While most people understand the importance of leadership, not many people know how to lead effectively. Like Urban Meyer says in th

How to Deal with Refs

One of the hardest things to learn as an athlete is how to deal with refs. When a ref makes a bad call, it's easy to get frustrated, but the mentally toughest athletes are able to stay calm in these situations and move on to the next play. Here are five tips to help you better deal with refs: 1. Take a step back . When a ref makes a bad call, you need to mentally take a step back, breathe deeply, and evaluate your mindset. Once you notice your thoughts and emotions, you can work towards shifting into a more positive mindset. 2. Use positive self-talk. Here are some things you can say to yourself to help manage your emotions: "Getting overly emotional isn't going to help me play better, so I need to stay calm, forget about the past, and move on to the next play." "There's nothing I can do to change the ref's call, so I need to focus only on what I can control, which is moving on to the next play." "It's just one bad call. It's not going t

Tips for Becoming a Professional Athlete

If you're like me, you've probably dreamed about becoming a professional athlete. This is a great dream to have in life. Who wouldn't want to play the sport that they love for a living!? While I've never been a professional athlete myself, I have learned from others what it takes to reach your full potential and play sports at the highest levels. So I'd love to help others by offering some of my best tips for becoming a professional athlete. While every sport is different, I believe these tips can be applied by all athletes. I hope you find them helpful! Tips for young athletes and parents: Play many sports as a kid . One of the most common mistakes parents make is pressuring (or forcing) their kids to specialize in a single sport at a very young age. While early specialization may seem like the best way to help your kids become professionals, it actually does more harm than good. Having your kids play many sports  helps set them up for long-term success. Help find

Book Review: Rebound by Carrie Cheadle and Cindy Kuzma

Rebound: Training Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger from Sports Injuries by Carrie Cheadle and Cindy Kuzma is a book that all athletes can greatly benefit from, since injuries are a universal aspect of sports. Unfortunately, every serious athlete will have to deal with injuries at some point in their career. And no matter if it's a career threatening injury, or just a minor injury, all injuries come with mental and emotional challenges. This is why it can be so helpful for athletes to read this book, which is a comprehensive guide to mental rehab that greatly complements physical rehab and helps maximize the chances of athletes bouncing back strong from injuries . Here are the top lessons I've learned from this book. First, it's important to understand the emotional impact that injuries can have on athletes. For many athletes, their injury may feel like a major setback. Without being able to train and perform, they may lose hope in their ability to achieve their dreams, as

Three Types of Practice

The better you practice, the better you perform. This is why I like to give advice on how to practice better. For today's post, I want to talk about three types of practice: One-on-one teaching Repetitive training Game simulation The first type of practice is what I call  "one-on-one teaching."   This is where you slow practice down and focus on the small details of the fundamentals . This is the type of practice you need to correct flaws in your technique and raise your game to the next level from a technical standpoint. Although  one-on-one teaching usually requires a coach that gives you specific and immediate feedback/instructions, sometimes you're able to coach yourself while working on your fundamentals.  The second type of practice, which I call  "repetitive training," is pretty self-explanatory. This is where you complete many repetitions in order to increase your muscle memory and master your skills. However, this doesn't mean just mindlessly

The “you’re either born with it or not” Fallacy

One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing coaches and sports commentators talk about how great athletes are “born” with certain traits. These people may say things such as “when it comes to great leadership, you either have it or you don’t, and this guy has it.” I’ve heard similar statements regarding traits such as throwing accuracy, strength, speed, coordination, mental toughness, and feel for the game. While there is certainly some truth to these statements, their overall message is false. I agree that genetics play a role in athletic development, but to say that you can’t teach leadership, mental toughness, or any other skill or trait (besides height) is completely false. Just because learning certain skills comes easier for naturally talented athletes doesn’t mean they don't have to work very hard to become a pro. And just because learning certain skills may be more challenging for some athletes doesn’t mean they can’t train hard to master these skills. There are thousands of ex