As a former player and now coach, it’s hard to explain the feeling and atmosphere surrounding tournament time. The opportunity to compete in a game, when all the hours and sweat have come down to that one moment, is nothing short of spectacular. But I have a challenge for you this year: Don’t just watch these moments. Instead, study them.
Creating positive places in your life is often not easy. But it’s something you have to strive to do, even if the only positive place you can create is the space between your ears. That space is the most important. But once you’ve taken care of that space you have to try to make some other places as manageable, as positive, as perfect as possible for yourself. People who have positive places to go to, and established routines to follow, can get so much more accomplished.
Why do so many players prepare for the season like they are playing the lottery? Why do we look at our future and hope something good happens? Instead, create a dream for your future, map out your direction, and create the discipline you need to develop championship habits.
When your harmless superstitions and rituals get you to the point that you are trying to have a bad day in practice (so you will play well in the game the next day) or trying to miss in warm-ups (so your game shooting will be on), you must realize that you have gotten carried away in your thinking. You have become not merely a bit superstitious, but allowed something other than your preparation, give you confidence. A mind does seem to have the tendency to bring about the things it believes in; therefore, you need to realize that you are causing your own poor performances by a faulty way of thinking.
THINK THE GAME
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When a young athlete wakes up to instagram, eats with snapchat and falls asleep next to youtube, then their whole paradigm of what a basketball player is becomes what is captured in a loop of video. The hero is someone who can make others fall, a hero is someone who puts someone on a poster, and the loser … never be the loser who get’s made fail-famous in a video.
When athletes say “It’s just not fun anymore” they mean that they are failing, either individually or as a team (or both), to produce results commensurate with their training efforts. To have fun in sports, your training and your efforts and your diligence and your striving must show up in the performance of the skills for which you trained. If your performance does not reflect your training, don’t expect any fun.
It was the 2007-08 basketball season, and I was going into my junior year at Emmanuel College. We had graduated five seniors from the previous year—a loaded team that not only won the most games in program history, but had also made the school’s first ever conference championship appearance. Riding that wave of success our head coach left, leaving myself and one other teammate as the two lone holdovers from the previous season. In our first scrimmage of the year, we squared off against North Georgia and emotions began to run high. After that game, coach pulled me aside and gave me three nuggets that changed the way I have approached leadership. I hope they can have the same impact on your leadership game as they did mine.
You will probably never again be in a position to delight and honor your special friends and family the way you can as an athlete or performer. The phenomenon of acknowledgment is so strange it’s almost funny. Let me give just one example.