The lights of the NHL shine bright on draft night and they can easily blind optimal motivation. Sometimes dreams can be so vivid and so emotionally sustaining they leave an individual neglecting to attend to important initiatives and hurdles during the journey.
Confidence when poorly defined and poorly understood can be both arrogant and ignorant. Not a great combination when high performance is the goal. “Positive of victory.” A quaint wish. Perhaps a nice pop psychology mantra. Performance confidence at its truest, is likely more honest than this statement.
This seasoned and successful coach seems to understand that fussing and cussing is not much of a way to build a championship team. There is evidence that less dramatic leaders create better functioning teams…exactly what sport is all about.
Too often society’s approach to sports is paradoxical – serious in emotional investment, yet frivolous in community educational investments. The growth and development of children at play ought to be too important for this amateur approach to education.
Mental imagery. Cue words. Goal setting. Centering techniques. Anecdotal reports suggest that Olympians are masters of mental skills… the scientific evidence however suggests that sometimes mental skills are much ado about nothing.
Rafael Nadal absolutely dominated the 2013 tennis hard court season. Color commentators and fans alike praise his relentless competitiveness as the foundation of his mental game. Such observations overlook his ultimate sign of mental mastery achieved.
Rules and regulations about moral conduct are poor motivators towards fair and healthy play. The player himself makes the final choice to inject the juice or rub the cream, but the steps to the shady doctor’s (or pseudo-doctor's) office are paved by community and culture.
Expectations in sport are a funny thing. They can lift you up, break your heart, and just about anything in between. The frustrated athlete can often be heard lamenting, “If I just lower my expectations a bit I would be less disappointed and feel less stressed around the playing field.”
Sports parenting is tough. There is a fine line between supporting and smothering. It was exciting to see a room of passionate sport parents reflect and refocus on how best to play positive roles in their children's growth and development.
I get the spiritual roots of many martial arts, but the modern day padded rooms, centered by a cage, and filled with board short wearing combatants feels a long way from the well manicured grounds of the Eastern temples. Sure one research participant said “temple,” but should we cling to this idea?
Vast resources are being put towards understanding the neurophysiology of concussion. Sports equipment experts are readily searching for the Holy Grail – concussion preventing headgear. Yet too often neglected is a keen understanding of emotional care for the concussed athlete.
Sport parenting is a thankless task. The brush of “bad sport parent” paints in broad strokes, regardless of the best intentions of most sport parents. The message is in essence, sign your kid up and back away… far away. This needs to be reconsidered now more than ever.
Professional and collegiate sport teams spend endless hours scouting and recruiting players… youth sport teams do not. Moms, dads, and unwitting volunteers often find themselves standing in front of a band of pre-adolescent athletes who more resemble the cast aside toys in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer rather than the starting squad for Manchester United.
Balance may not be a prerequisite for achieving athletic excellence, but it certainly appears critical to maximizing and sustaining it. Having interests beyond the playing field seems to serve as an innoculator for the stresses of sport.
Sport itself has exacerbated the cognitive confusion presented by Lance Armstrong, he did good and bad. There are enough complexities to the human condition. Is it too much to ask for our play and our everyday to share the same values?
There is a problem with fun. It is the wrong word that creates the wrong idea... especially at more adult levels of competition (teenage years on). Words matter. They create cognitive schemas and shape behaviors. Fun is the right idea, but the wrong mental message.
Leaving mental readiness to motivational quotes and calorie-light phrases is a sure way to fail the confidence and resilience test on game day. The key to a robust mental game is the meaning making that an athlete does to give the simple phrases resonance.