About 20 years ago I recall being in Major League Baseball spring training in Florida and noticing a number of players with the acronym “DBTH” scribbled on their hats, gloves, and bats. Not knowing what DBTH meant, I asked one of my clients about the initials and he replied, “Don’t Believe the Hype.” My client went on to say how a number of players had picked up on the mantra in an attempt to stay grounded and not caught up in all the media and fanfare that often comes with being a professional athlete, resulting in players using this acronym as a cue word reminder.
Sport psychologists often recommend athletes develop cue words (like DBTH) in an attempt to refine focus, increase motivation, or even galvanize resiliency. Cue words can be very powerful when used, as they prompt athletes to focus on stimuli that are relevant (the next play), while ignoring irrelevant cues (like the last bad play, or a heckling fan in the crowd). Athletes can improve their mental toughness by learning how to minimize distractions, and cue words are a terrific tool to help in this pursuit.
I especially like DBTH, not just because it serves as a cue word, but it’s also a phrase that helps athletes stay grounded and not get caught up with a sense of invincibility. While we want athletes to develop self-confidence, there is a very fine line to where athletes can let this spill over into blind arrogance. It is in these cases where athletes actually become more vulnerable to stress, adversity, frustration, and failure because they have not considered the reality that every athlete will have bad days, and that it is in these moments where character is developed for future success. In other words, while we don’t want athletes to hope for failure, it is important that they use stress inoculation training to prepare for the inevitable — that they will in fact lose at some point, and that it is what they do in that moment of adversity that determines whether they continue to get better or succumb to the stress of the moment.
When you think about it, talented athletes today have a lot of “hype” they can get caught up in – especially with social media often documenting their every on-field success. Star athletes can read about their talents through Facebook, Twitter, chat room forums, and sports websites to name a few social media examples. In fact, it’s easy for talented young athletes to have their ego’s blown up fairly quickly when you think about this, making it that much more important parents and coaches do all that they can to help kids control their consumption of “the hype.”
athletic, Coaching, confidence, cue, mental, parenting, psychology, sport, success, toughness, words