IGNITING GREATNESS

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

You Want to Be a Better Player



Do you want to get better at your sport?  Then all you have to do is practice more, right?  If practicing the skills and drills were all you need to be your best, then everyone would be really good and everyone would want the ball for the last minute play or covet the at bat with two outs and the winning run on third.  As we know, that’s not the case. 

We’ve all seen the player who has incredible physical skills, but struggles to get the job done when the going gets tough, or the great practice player who just never seems to bring it to the game.  Yet there is also the “average” skilled player who maximizes every ounce of physicality they possess and just brings it every time; the one you can count on like the sun coming up everyday.  So what separates players when push comes to shove? What makes the great player average and the average player great when it’s all on the line?  It’s their mental make-up.

So much time is spent on physical training, conditioning, and eating right, but the mind drives the bus.  Training the brain like we train our bodies can offer up an advantage that so many overlook.  Mental game training can:
·   Help grow confidence in athletes who have doubts (the doubts that tend to come up when it’s all on the line),
·   Develop coping skills to deal with setbacks and errors,
·   Instill a healthy belief system and identify irrational thoughts,
·   Help teams develop communication skills and cohesion, and so much more.

The games are played from the neck down, but they are won from the neck up.  Being a complete player requires complete training, which should include mental game training.  One great tool that many people have heard about is mental imagery or performance visualization.  There have been studies that have shown an athlete can improve their performance simply through mental imagery exercises.  The mind can’t tell the difference between visualization and an actual movement.  This is what makes our minds so powerful and unique.  A quote from Zig Ziglar says it real well, “the mind completes whatever picture we put into it” and our bodies will follow the message our mind sends. This is true not only in sports, but also in any area of life, because as we also know sports provide us with so many lessons for lifelong learning. 

Creating awareness and learning to connect the body and the mind can not only make you a more complete and successful player, but it will be helpful in all areas of your life because they are forever joined; we just aren’t always attentive to this fact.  To be a complete player you must be a complete person, which includes on and off the field actions and making the mind and body connect.  Sounds simple, sounds easy, and it is.  All it takes is hard work and practice, because every great athlete knows, there are no shortcuts.

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