One of my favorite, most accurate sayings in life is “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” and this may be most true when it comes to sports.  Amazingly, even though athletes typically have plenty of time to mentally prepare before practices and games, many do not, resulting in an increase in nerves and anxiety, poor focus, and lacking resiliency.  The reasons why athletes fail to develop a solid pre-game routine varies, but one common answer I receive is that athletes simply don’t know what to do.  My answer to this question is quite simple — do whatever you need to do to relax your body, calm your mind, and get yourself in a position to be successful.  If you’re …
When it comes to playing your best, one of the easiest ways to do this is to simply listen to the coach.  While this piece of advice might sound like common sense, many of my direct experiences with athletes over the years have centered on conflicts between the player and the coach.  When players and coaches clash, the end result in most cases is an athlete left frustrated, angry, and usually stuck to the bench because of his or her disagreements with the coach. Respect the leader of the team Whether you like it or not, the coach is the authority figure and responsible for the success of the team.  What this means is that you don’t have to always …
Athletes who play with intrinsic motivation, also known as playing with “heart,” are those who train and compete for their own reasons relating to self-interest and satisfaction.  While competing, they don’t get caught up in thinking about the attention they will receive, the awards they might win, or any other rewards — instead, their focus is constantly around playing as hard as they can for every minute of the game.  In fact, you might even say these athletes simply want it more than the competition. Playing with heart is a tough thing to measure, but it is precisely intrinsic motivation that is often the difference between success and failure for athletes, as well as the one variable that compensates for …
While it is understandable that athletes sometimes struggle to keep emotions in check during competition, it is often negative emotional outbursts that are the biggest reason why athletes fail to play up to their athletic potential.  When athletes “blow a gasket” and scream at referees, their focus becomes distorted, anxiety spikes, and important mind-body synchrony needed for muscle-memory is interrupted. While it might be challenging to develop strong resiliency skills to deal with adversity, it obviously makes a lot of sense to do so if you want to play your best. Emotions in sports Sports are an emotional life experience, and the roller coaster of emotions felt might best be observed by watching the old introduction to the popular ABC …
Performance enhancing measures these days go far beyond nutritional supplements, fad diets, and even illegal steroids.  Adderall, and other similar ADHD psychostimulant drugs, have become the modern-day performance booster — including for some youth-level athletes.  Rather than being prescribed psychostimulants to address ADHD symptoms, increasingly more athletes are actively seeking these drugs solely to help improve on-field athletic performance.  Add to the problem that ADHD is a remarkably easy diagnosis to feign, and the result is more student athletes receiving prescriptions for these potentially dangerous drugs. A real performance boost? Do psychostimulant drugs provide a distinct and unfair athletic advantage?  That question may be difficult to answer, particularly when trying to ascertain how much athletic improvement is due to natural …
When athletes deal with slumps, most tend analyze (over-analyze?), tinker, and constantly adjust all the details to their swing, shot, or whatever athletic movement(s) they are trying to improve.  Athletes often obsess over trying to “fix things,” sometimes to the point where their thoughts actually become an even bigger problem than the technical mechanics they first tried to fix.  In fact, I have worked with athletes who have gotten so lost in their thinking that they have squandered huge chunks of seasons — or even careers — simply because they couldn’t get out of their own way. Get back to basics – turn off the noise When athletes experience adversity one of the first knee-jerk instincts is to “do more,” …
There are many pieces that go into maximizing human abilities, but from my direct experiences working with elite-level athletes I have found certain specific components to be consistently present.  The good news is that these “pillars of success” are concepts that we can all improve upon if we are committed to becoming the best that we can be in life.  By “committing” I mean that you have dedicate direct and ongoing efforts and actions, not simply think about how good you could be if you actually improved in these areas. Maximize your talents No matter how good you are right now, chances are you can get even better by strengthening mental toughness.  Raw talent alone will only take you so …
The ongoing Colin Kaepernick story has become a great sport sociology case study for a number of important reasons.  While Kaepernick is not the first elite athlete to speak out about societal injustices, he might be the first to face consequences that include seeing his football career end prematurely because of his actions that some found offensive.  Why is Kaepernick still unsigned, while other seemingly less talented QB’s have NFL jobs?  If he is being discriminated against, it it because of the issue he protested, how he protested, or because of his race? The Kaepernick case study Prior to last year, Colin Kaepernick was viewed by fans as a talented quarterback and success story coming out of Nevada (not necessarily …
Long gone are the days when young athletes would only occasionally see their name in a school or local newspaper for their athletic accomplishments.  If you’re a sports parent or coach, it’s likely you remember how rare it used to be to receive press in the news (remember newspaper clippings?!), and probably marvel at how much things have changed with respect to kids getting media attention today.  In fact, talented student athletes probably have more social media posts and pictures go viral in one day today than their parents might have had over their entire youth sport career. Overexposure? Social media has given us countless outlets to use as communication, from Facebook to Twitter and everything in between.  The ease …