Sunday, June 26, 2011

Will Summer Make Us Forget?

Just a question I have been comtemplating - will the passage of summer make us forget about the problems inherent in college football and the NCAA? It seems that in the past, when strikes have occurred in professional sports, we soon forget and are back paying top dollar to see these teams and athletes compete. We forget how upset or angry we were during the strike and are soon immersed again in the entertainment of sport. Part of it probably for enjoyment and another part to numb out from the daily grind of life. But my sense is the same thing may happen with college football. And I am a huge colllege football fan, working with some of the Ohio State teams and coaches and also being an alumnus of Notre Dame. I do feel that college football and NCAA have far more benefits than costs, but I hope we learn and adhere to necessary changes. We do have to keep college football in perspective - all of us! I remember a minister telling me one time that if you want to make changes in the church, simply do not put money in the collection plate. In the same way, we have to be aware that every time we put money toward college football - whether tickets or jerseys - we are supporting the sport - good and not so good. Thus, if we really want changes to be made, then we need to stand out and back our beliefs with actions, not just words. And even though only a minority inside and outside of college football programs are breaking rules, we all have a responsibility. We need to not treat these individual coaches and players as demi-gods from young ages, hold them accountable to rules, and enforce consequences when necessary and appropriate. These are the true values of college football - the majority of these young ment are done with football after college and enter our worlds - where integrity and accountability matter. Let's enjoy college football, but let's also keep important lessons in mind.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Another Great Read

10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program
for Winning Before the Game Begins

No psychobabble, no self-help clich├ęs, no touchy-feely theories. Whether you're striving to get ahead in business or sports, 10-Minute Toughness is the simple and effective mental-training program to help you make the most of what you've got and give you the extra push you need to go the distance.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Athletic Mind Institute Special Event!

Join Dr. Todd Kays, Sport and Performance Psychologist, President of the Athletic Mind Institute and OSU Consultant and Professor, for a1-day mental training bootcamp on Friday, July 29, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio!

Click here for more information!
Dr. Kays' book, Sports Psychology for Dummies, will be available on-site!

A Great Read!

Ever wonder why some people seem blessed with success? In fact, everyone is capable of winning in life-you just need to develop the right brain for it.

In The Winner's Brain, Drs. Jeffrey Brown and Mark J. Fenske use cutting-edge neuroscience to identify the secrets of those who succeed no matter what-and demonstrate how little it has to do with IQ or upbringing. Through simple everyday practices, Brown and Fenske explain how to unlock the brain's hidden potential.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mental Mechanics vs. Swing Mechanics

One of the primary reasons you have difficulty transferring your game from the range to the course is due to how you practice. If you are just hitting balls on the range, you are not preparing to play better, you are simply hitting balls. The challenge of golf is to play better and score, not hit balls. If you enjoy hitting balls, then do so. If you want to score and play better golf, then practice better golf.

To play better golf, you need to implement "mental" mechanics with your swing mechanics. Again, just hitting balls involves minimal mental mechanics. Playing tournament golf, however, involves maximal mental mechanics. Therefore, if you want to play better golf and score, learn to incorporate mental mechanics while practicing swing mechanics at the range. For example, if you are just hitting balls at the range, you will get better at hitting balls. If, however, you force focus and pressure while hitting these balls on the range, then you become a better golfer. What are you striving toward - winning or beating balls?

Keep these tips in mind:

Quality, not Quantity:
It is more effective to hit 30 shots on the range, combining swing and mental mechanics than to hit 200 balls without your mind in it. Hit 30 shots with a pre-shot routine, target, and consequence (i.e., $1.00 to someone for every shot you miss).

Careless Practice Leads to Careless Thinking:
If you just hit balls at the range, you practice both careless swing mechanics and thinking patterns. For example, if you hit 100 balls with minimal concentration, you will engrain careless swing mechanics and poor focus. Therefore, bring maximum focus to every shot at the range to develop maximum focus on the course.

The Critical 5:
The five seconds over the ball is the most critical in golf. If you get your head right for these five seconds, you play better golf. With your mind in the right place during this time, you improve your swing mechanics and your ability to win. Make sure you make the most of these five seconds over then ball when at the range.

Two Critical Questions

"Am I Here?" & "Why Am I Here?"
Two Critical Questions
for Athletes Wanting to Maximize Practice

As athletes and coaches, you know the grind and discipline it takes to get better. Many of you, however, do not maximize your practice time or perform in competition as you would like. This lack of focus in both training and competition creates less than optimal performance. In other words, you do not practice with effectiveness and do not execute when it matters most. The two questions that title this piece are simplistic, yet critical, to improving your success.

"Am I Here?"
Even though you train almost every day of the week, how often are you 100% present and focused in practice? How many times are you only 80% focused because you are thinking about matters off the field? If you are like most athletes, the answer is "too often". How you practice is how you perform, so if you are only 80% focused in practice that will be the case in competition as well. Regardless of setting, most failure is due to a lack of being present and focused, so make certain you are before and during every practice. Some actions to help increase presence:
• Make a commitment to be present and rate (1-5) your success after every practice

•Take 10 minutes before practice to "let go" of all matters not relevant to practice

•Journal - write all irrelevant thoughts before practice, leave them in your locker

"Why Am I Here?"
Answering this question can make certain you are practicing with a purpose. How many times do you go to practice without knowing what you want or need to accomplish? You need to be clear on what you are going to accomplish that day - this will make your skills more sharp and effective. And even though your coach may have a different plan, you can still have your own objectives. For example, you can always accomplish mental objectives regardless of the type of practice (like being present and practicing with a purpose). Some things to improve your ability to practice with a purpose:
• Make it a habit to define 1-3 three objectives before every practice

•Evaluate your success in accomplishing those objectives after each practice

•Use a cue word to remind you of your objectives, especially since practice can be long and tiring

Play Smart, Play Hard, Play Well!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Are You Ready to Jump Off the Cliff?

Many athletes train for weeks, even months, only to come to competition and not execute. This is painfully frustrating. They train hard, do all of the right things, but don't perform like they know how. WHY? The problem is the way they mentally view competition.

Athletes train - look at it like running along a high, steep cliff. This is hard, grueling and sometimes tedious work. However, instead of continuing this flow and jumping with exhilaration off the cliff - actual competition - they slow, stutter, hesitate and sometimes stop right before the edge. The exciting part is jumping off the cliff (competition) and running to the edge is the hard work (training and practice). Why do all of the hard work and then not enjoy the jump? Athletes pay too much attention to outcomes, fears, and worries when it comes to competition and let their mental demons ruin it. If you want to perform your best, allow yourself to enjoy and embrace competition, not fear it. The hard part is training; the wonderful part is competition. So begin taking the following steps:

1.Competition is the Reward
It is important to view competition as reward for all of the hard work and training. This is the time to enjoy and trust your skills and training. Many athletes train hard - the real grind - and then are not able to enjoy competing. They allow fear, worry, and focus on outcomes to "rain on the parade". Practice is the hard part; competing is the reward. When you have fun with competition, you perform your best!

2.Stay Focused on the Process
It is easier to stay focused on the process when practicing. As competition approaches, however, numerous athletes turn their focus from process to outcome. They think about winning or losing, ramifications of losing, and the potential reactions of fans and coaches. This focus on outcomes and the resulting anxiety prevents athletes from performing their best. Clear process goals can get you to the edge of the cliff, and maintaining focus on these process goals is what allows great performance in competition - the exhilarating jump from the cliff!

3.Be Task-Oriented in Competition
When competition arrives, athletes' focus needs to be simple. The training and hard work have been done and now it is only a matter of focusing on the task at hand, letting their body do what they have trained it to do. If athletes do start feeling fear and worry, however, they need to use their "go to" keywords to return to the task at hand. These keywords need to be simple, such as "Just compete", "Relax" or "Have fun." Remember, at the point of competition, your skills are in place and are not going to change; it is only a matter of whether you mentally allow your skills to come out and play!

Play Smart, Play Hard, Play Well!