Athletes have a mindset, coaches have a mindset and teams often have a different mindset. Why is it that some players can get into the “zone” more often than others? Why is it that some great basketball players like Karl Malone, “The Mailman” and hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretsky or our Maryland favorite, Cal Ripkin that never seemed to have spent a lot of time on the injured list? Look at Michael Oher, offensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans; subject of the movie Blind Side. What do they all have in common; they are all a testament to having a healthy mind.
Now, let’s talk about the amazing athletes that aren’t making millions but are equally amazing. I have worked with many weekend warriors and hard-core serious athletes. Ironmen who don’t do one but several ironmen competitions a year. Runners who not only run a marathon or two a year but throw in a few ultra-marathons. Miles upon miles on their bodies and most with full time jobs and a busy family life. Who among them are the ones that always rise to the top, smiling and injury free? Those who train their mind along with their bodies.
Part of the answer is very simple but often overlooked. Yes they have great physical ability, they workout with great trainers and probably have a brilliant nutritionist, but without a strong (and quiet) mind it’s hard to stay focused and healthy. Day in and day out, under grueling physical and emotional pressure, you can reach the finals and then play well in them!
One of the most misunderstood, often overlooked thing is found between our ears; our brain. You can work out all day in a gym, working to become strong enough to last the entire game, the entire season and feel the pain only to find no gain. Why? The mind doesn’t need to work harder to get better, but it does need to be trained. There is a great sports performance coach named Garret Kramer who coined a word that seems to say it all - “Stillpower”. Stillpower’s defined meaning is the clarity of mind to live with freedom and ease; the inner source of excellence, for sports and life.
Staying present in the keenest of mental games seems like a no brainer, but we all know how incredibly hard it can be. With a brain that can process 70,000 thoughts a day, we need to train ourselves how to weed through them, take what is needed and still stay present with the task at hand. When you can’t stay present, you get sloppy, your decisions become less sharp, you become less focused and often the result can be not only a bad play but an injury as well.
The positive benefits of quieting the mind and staying present, will not only improve your game but carry you from the court, the field or the rink to a peaceful daily life.
Clear your mind, find your edge.
It’s not hard but it sure is powerful.