Becoming a triple threat:
Use all three of your minds
Newsflash: You’re not using all of your mind, and you’ve yet to unlock your full potential.
Today, I want you to consider not only how to get the most out of your ONE mind, but how to take advantage of all three of your minds. Wait, three? Yes, each of us has three minds with which we learn and teach. Learning to access each mind—whether you’re an athlete or coach—will impact how quickly you improve and DRASTICALLY affect how well you perform. Here’s how I define the three minds:
- Intellectual Mind
- Emotional Mind
- Imaginative Mind
The Intellectual Mind … is our reasoning mind. It understands technique, angles, strategy and statistics. It plans workouts and evaluates performance. It breaks down strengths and weaknesses and tends to be the mind of practice and repetition.
The Emotional Mind … is where we find our passion. It’s where we react from our gut—in anger, frustration, celebration, exultation or fear. This mind motivates us. It protects us from danger. The emotional mind is one of our great sources of strength while simultaneously doubling as the weakest point in our mental defenses.
The Imaginative Mind … is where our creativity comes from. It’s where we dream big dreams and envision performances that we have not yet achieved. It’s how we activate our subconscious. The imaginative mind helps us improve our performance based solely on how we think, and it permits us to learn by watching and modeling.
Players—and coaches—will learn best when they learn how to leverage the strengths of all three minds. When all three minds are activated in the learning process, the acquisition of skills is fast and the integration is enhanced.
If you’re a coach, it’s important to understand that most of us only address our players’ intellectual minds. And this is why it takes so long to see improvement. It’s why so many coaches know so much about the game but seem to pass along so little. It’s why many players get frustrated when they know what they want to improve, but don’t see the results from their hours of work.
So, want to see improvement in your game? Practice with ALL THREE MINDS.
Here is a simple example. If you’re practicing shooting and focusing on technique, emphasizing keeping your elbow in on the shot, you’re using the intellectual mind. Each correction and evaluation is accessing the intellectual mind. This is the process of repetition and linear, implicit learning.
To access the imaginative mind in this example, you’d close your eyes and picture yourself in a phone booth. The booth is small and tight, only shoulder width across. You imagine the roof is ripped off the booth and open to the sky. And the sky? It’s blue. You shoot with eyes closed and no ball, using extremely slow micro-movements. Don’t touch the sides of the booth and make sure the ball leaves through the roof and rotates up into the blue sky.
To access the emotional mind in this same example, re-introduce the ball and for 10 shots, be sure to say “YES!” each time it leaves your fingertips. Regardless of make or miss, notice how good your shot feels as it leaves your fingers. As you say, “Yes!” say it loud and with the confident feeling you choose to have every time you shoot. You love the feel of your shot. You say “Yes!” and channel your inner Steph Curry with every shot.
Using processes like these allow a player to acquire skill sets much faster and embed them more deeply than common practice. A typical shooting practice would include 60 minutes of shooting with constant correction by the intellectual mind. Engaging the three minds in a shooting workout might mean only 40 minutes of repetitions with the ball, but your opportunity for improvement grows dramatically. Of course, this shooting approach is but one example. The three-mind approach can—and should—be applied to all skills.
Coaches: Want better results? Teach all three minds.
Players: Want to realize your full potential? Learn to tap into all three minds when you practice.
OK, here’s some performance gold before I wrap up: When you compete, you should only be using your imaginative mind. That’s it! Your Intellectual Mind and Emotional Mind only get in the way of you achieving your peak, flow state. Another way to think of The Imaginative Mind is as The Athletic Mind.
The performing players must only see the shot, visualize the move, and be in creative, adaptive mode. Feeling the emotional highs and lows of a game or getting buried in your story during the game is destructive. Analyzing technique during a game is paralyzing.
So, here’s your challenge: The next time you head to the gym to workout, use all three minds. And the next time you lace ‘em up for a game: Take your athletic, imaginative mind with you and leave the emotional and intellectual minds in the locker room.
THINK THE GAME
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