Showing posts from 2021

How Your Body Language Affects Your Performance

One of the best ways to improve your mindset before and during games is to control your body language. The human mind and body are very interconnected. The mind greatly affects the body, and the body greatly affects the mind. This means that you can improve your mindset by consciously controlling your body language.  When athletes are in a negative state of mind, they often express negative emotions through their actions and body language. For example, when under pressure, an athlete may be slumped over, or after making a mistake, they may throw their hands up in the air in frustration. Most of the time, expressing these negative emotions just makes the problem worse. You can do a much better job improving your mindset and performance by forcing yourself to stand tall and act confidently no matter what happens in games. Positive body language sends positive messages to your brain, which will actually help you feel more confident and motivated. Not only does your body language affect yo

Book Review: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

We've all read self-help books that are meant to improve our confidence and self-esteem. While these books can be helpful, it's great to balance them out with a book like Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. In this book, Holiday teaches you how to manage your ego, reconnect with reality, and focus on making a real impact in the world. Here are the top lessons I learned from reading this book: Ego can hurt us during any time in our lives. It can hurt us as we aspire towards our dreams. It can hurt us once we finally succeed in reaching our goals. And it can hurt us during times of adversity and failure. If we're not careful, we can allow our egos to sabotage our goals, prolong failure, and keep us from experiencing true happiness. When we first set out to achieve our goals, we look to successful people for inspiration. Often, we see their egos and assume that if we want to succeed like them, we need the same amount of pride, arrogance, and swagger. However, as Holiday points

Fitting in with the Normal Crowd as a Dedicated Athlete

To succeed as an athlete, you sometimes have to accept not being normal. It's hard to live a completely normal life and succeed in sports at the same time. Many of the things that normal people do are incompatible with athletic success. For example, a dedicated athlete can't train hard all week and then spend the weekend partying, binge drinking, and staying up til 3:00 a.m. Here is a list of other things that normal people can get away with that dedicated athletes can't: Eating junk food regularly. Spending hours watching Netflix or playing video-games every day. Hanging out with friends for hours every day. Sleeping in every morning. Going on long vacations every summer. While a typical student can live a more normal, relaxed, an undisciplined life, a dedicated athlete cannot. There are simply not enough hours in the day. An athlete that trains for three hours after school will not have enough time to watch a movie every night. If an athlete tries to fit two hours of Netf

The Five Downsides of Passion

To succeed as an athlete, you need to have passion. Without a strong emotional fire burning inside of you, it's hard to motivate yourself to give your best effort in the short term and persevere for the long term. However, passion does come with some downsides. By itself, passion is not enough, and if uncontrolled, passion can become counterproductive. Here are five downsides of passion: 1. Passion is inconsistent. Since passion is based on emotions, it fluctuates according to your emotions. Sometimes you'll feel passionate, and sometimes you won't. If all you have is passion, without any discipline, you won't work hard when you're not feeling motivated. Strong, consistent work ethic requires both passion and discipline. 2. Passion can lead to burnout. If you allow your passion to burn too strongly, it can start to burnout. Being passionate about your goals can be emotionally exhausting. If your passion causes you to over-train and work too intensely, you may not h

The Importance of Exposure to Competition

As an athlete, it is very important to be exposed to your competition. What I mean is that it helps to know who your competition is, how good they are, how they play, and how they train. This is especially important for athletes who grow up in small towns. Many small town athletes are not aware of the level of competition outside their town, county, or state. As a result, successful athletes in small towns may become overconfident and complacent. They may think that just because they're the best in their town, they can compete with anyone in the nation. However, they may not know much about their wider competition. They may not realize how many athletes they are truly competing against. Also, they may not know just how athletic, talented, and hardworking their competition truly is. If they are not exposed to this level of competition, then they may become satisfied with their level of talent and training. If they don't know that they need to train harder and smarter, then they

Book Review: Tennis: Winning the Mental Match by Dr. Allen Fox

Tennis: Winning the Mental Match by Dr. Allen Fox is one of my favorite sports psychology books. Although it focuses on the sport of tennis, most of the lessons and advice taught in this book can be applied to almost every other sport. Fox gives practical solutions to many mental challenges that all athletes face. I will share some of my favorite tips I learned from this book. To begin the book, Fox explains how humans are genetically wired to care about the outcomes of athletic competitions. Even though we know sports are just a game that we play for fun and we shouldn't get too stressed out about winning and losing, our subconscious mind still cares, because as humans, we have a deep need for social power and acceptance. Although it is impossible for us to turn this part of our brains off completely, we can train our minds to manage stress better. Next, Fox talks about about how the stress and emotions of competition often cause us to do counterproductive things, such as get ver

Book Review: Endure by Alex Hutchinson

I really enjoy reading sports science books that are about the relationship between the mind and body and their effects on human endurance. I’ve read a very similar book called How Bad Do you Want It in 2019. You can read my book review  here . Both of these books are great. While How Bad Do You Want It is a little more practical, Endure is a little more academic and scientific. So together, they complement each other very well. You should definitely read both books.  Endure begins by sharing the most prominent theories on human endurance of the last century. At first, physiologists believed that the determining factors of endurance and exhaustion were all physical. Since scientists viewed humans as machines, they thought they could predict endurance outcomes simply off of physiological traits such as VO2 max and muscle fuel (food). This view led people to think that physical limits were what always led to slowing down and stopping in races.  Then, as Hutchinson writes, people start

How to Finish Strong in Games

Learning how to finish strong in games is one of the hardest things to do in sports. Playing well for the first three quarters isn't always that difficult. It can be easy to build a large lead against a weaker opponent, but it's not always easy to finish them off in the fourth quarter. Many times, teams will build a large lead but then blow it away towards the end of the game. For example, a football team may be up 28-0 at halftime, but then only win 35-21. What could have been a dominating performance becomes a close game. Even worse, a team may be up 21-10 with five minutes to go, but then choke and lose 21-24. So as an athlete, how do you learn to finish stronger in games?  The first step to finishing strong in games is maintaining motivation. Too often, teams will get too satisfied with a lead and become complacent. They get overconfident and think they are safe with their large lead. In some cases, this may true, but still, taking your foot off the gas to save energy is r

Three Keys to Sustaining Long-term Motivation

There are three main keys to sustaining motivation and having a long, successful athletic career. The first key is loving the process. Some people only love outcomes such as championships, fame, or money. These things can be strong motivators at times, but they aren't always reliable. There will be times when you're facing adversity such as a being in a slump or getting injured. At these moments, if you only care about outcomes, then you're likely to get discouraged, lose motivation, and be tempted to give up playing your sport altogether.  This is why it's important to love the process, since it gives you a reliable source of motivation to get through adversity and have a long, successful career. But what exactly does loving the process mean? It means loving all the little things that go into being an athlete. It means loving each step of the journey. It means loving the grind. It mean loving the process of improvement. It means finding joy and meaning in all of th

How to Deal with Bad Coaches

As an athlete, you will have many coaches throughout your career. Some of them will be good, and some of them will be bad. You’ll love playing for the good coaches, but you may hate playing for the bad coaches. The bad coaches may negatively affect you in many ways, including: Hurting your confidence and self-esteem. Spreading a negative attitude and mindset. Teaching you bad habits and techniques. Not pushing you hard enough. Pushing you too hard and causing burnout/injuries. Not giving you the playing time you deserve. We’ve all had coaches who hurt us in these ways and many more. Playing for bad coaches can not only stunt your growth and prevent you from reaching your goals, but it can also cause you to lose your love for the game and quit. So how do you deal with bad coaches? The first thing you need to do is check yourself. Is your coach really a bad coach, or do you just have a bad attitude? Is your coach behaving in unacceptable ways, or are you just being mentally weak and unco

Book Review: Be All In by Christie Pearce Rampone and Dr. Kristine Keane

Be All In: Raising Kids for Success in Sports and Life , by Christie Pearce Rampone and Dr. Kristine Keane is one of the best sports books I've read in a long time. Unlike most sports books, which are geared mainly towards athletes or coaches, this book is geared mainly towards parents. This is what makes this book special. It is parents, not coaches or even kids themselves, that have the greatest impact on a child's development. Good parenting helps kids develop into healthy, mature, and mentally tough athletes/people. On the other hand, bad parenting stunts the growth of children and can lead to all kinds of emotional and behavior problems later in life. By the time a kid is 18 years old, they will have an entire set of attitudes, skills, and experiences that will either help them succeed or fail as an athlete and as a person. While coaches can have a great influence on children, it is mainly parents who provide their children with the attitudes, skills, and experiences neede

Social Comparisons and Self-Confidence

As an athlete, your self-confidence can be affected by the way you compare yourself to others. This is especially true in the age of social media. Many athletes struggle with self-confidence due to social comparisons. So how can we better maintain our self-confidence as athletes? Some people say that the solution is to just stop comparing yourself to others. While this can helpful at times, it's not always possible, and sometimes it can even hurt our development. As athletes, we often need to compare ourselves to others to know how much we've improved and what we need to work on. Without this feedback, it can be hard to gain the information and motivation that is needed to improve. And sometimes, comparing ourselves to others can actually improve our self-confidence. As you can see, comparing yourself to others isn't bad in itself. It depends on how you do it. Here are five tips on how to better use social comparisons to improve your self-confidence. 1. Most importantly, y

Book Review: Limitless by Jim Kwik

Limitless by Jim Kwik is one of the most helpful self-help books I've read in a while. The premise of the book is that we can transcend our perceived limitations by learning how to learn. Kwik provides a very practical model to help give you the tools to learn better and reach your goals. This model has three components: mindset, motivation, and methods. We need all three of these things to reach our potential. Any limitation that is hurting our progress stems from one of these three factors. Either our mindset (attitudes) is holding us back, our lack of motivation is holding us back, or the methods we use are holding us back. With the proper mindset, motivation, and methods, we can learn and accomplish almost anything! The first factor of learning that Kwik writes about is mindset. Your mindset includes the attitudes and beliefs that you hold about yourself, others, and the world. Perhaps the most important attitude is your belief about what is possible or what you're capab

Book Review: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear is one of the best books I've read all year. Unlike other self-help books, Atomic Habits isn't just full of cliches. It provides sound scientific advice on how to change your behavior for the better. In this book, James Clear gives you the four fundamental laws of habit change along with dozens of helpful tips and inspirational messages. Here is what I learned: First, it's important to understand the power of habits. Habits, or the things you do on a daily basis, make up the foundation of your success. It is the little things you do every day, such as waking up early, eating healthy meals, warming up your body before working out, training hard, listening to your coach, thinking positive, studying film, and going to bed early that add up over time to create great results. Having one great day full of good habits won't make a big difference in your improvement. Perhaps one great day will only make you .05 percent better. But if you're co

Trust Your Instincts

In order to play your best in games, you need to trust your instincts. Instead of trying too hard to control your movements, you need to quiet your mind, relax, trust your muscle memory, and allow your body to do what you've trained it to do. If you do this, you'll execute your skills much better than if try to take conscious control of your skills. This is because your motor skills are stored in the subconscious parts of your brain. Your conscious part of your mind doesn't know how to execute your skills nearly as well as your subconscious mind. If you try to consciously control your skills while under pressure, your movements will be clunkier and less coordinated, and as a result, you'll perform poorly. For most athletes, this may seem like common sense. We've all experienced being "in the zone" at times, when we play our best without thinking too much. We know that overthinking and trying too hard hurts our performance, but we still do it anyways. This

Three Modes of Training: Fun, Flow, and Grind

As an athlete, the quality of your training determines the quality of your performance in games. The better you train, the more you'll improve and the better you'll perform in games. This is why I like to write about training. Today, I want to write specifically about three modes of training that you can use to maximize your development as an athlete. These three modes are categorized by their level of enjoyment and difficulty. I call them "fun training," "flow training," and "grind training." Fun training is pretty self-explanatory. It is training that is very fun and enjoyable. This mode of training may include things such as simply playing your sport for fun, playing scrimmages, and doing fun games and drills. It can also involve training with a group of friends and training with music. For the most part, fun training is done within your comfort zone. While training just for fun, you don't have to exert yourself too much or worry too much ab

The Best Way to Improve Your Ability to Perform Under Pressure

The best way to improve your ability to perform under pressure is to simply get used to pressure. The more you put yourself through pressure situations, the more comfortable you'll be in them. After exposing yourself to pressure situations many times, they'll start to feel less threatening, and your heart rate and anxiety will decrease. As a result, you'll be more confident, and you'll be able to relax and trust your instincts better. Many times, athletes think that in order to perform well under pressure, all they need to do is train a ton and think positive. However, this is often not enough. It doesn't matter how much your train and how positive you think, if you're not used to performing on big stages, with high stakes and a large audience, then you'll still feel too much anxiety before and during these games. It's not until you get more used to pressure that you start to feel less anxiety and perform better. Yes, it's very important to train har