Hmmm … practice?

Years ago I can remember laughing like the majorly of the public did listening to Allen Iverson discuss practice.  In my youth, I found it hilarious.  In my youth, I became conditioned to a game performance being the symbol of attention and acknowledgement.  Mainstream media conditioned me to this.  

We go to our mats with different intentions.  For me, I initially went for vain reasons.  I wanted to be stronger, fitter, more flexible and free from injuries.  I went to full yoga classes because I could feel eyes on me.  I could work hard and have my hard work seen by others.  We’re all human and we want the attention.  However, it is what we do in solitude that defines us.  Michael Jordan had this great quote.

I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.

Michael Jordan

Where a major difference lies between professional athletes and amateur athletes isn’t in the physical makeup.  It rests between the ears.  Our ability to sit down in a quiet place for 10 to 15 minutes at a time is so crucial.  I’m here to tell you how significant it is because I had no grasp of it years ago.  I went through my teens and twenties without any idea of the mental side of life.  We attract what we want (whether we’re conscious of it or not).  If our goals and thoughts are positive, then you’ll see a positive change.  If we stay submerged in loathing and self-doubt, then there is only a negative change to manifest.

Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.

Steven Pressfield

So will you take 10 to 15 minutes today to recharge and focus on what is positive that is and could be happening soon in your life?  Or will you focus on the negative and draw loathing and self-doubt closer to you?  I vote keep life symbol and throw up a huge smile :).

Mental Imagery – Visualize to Actualize

Mentally practice two or three times each week for about 10 to 15 minutes per rehearsal.  Select a specific sports skill to further develop, or work your way through different scenarios, incorporating various situations.

Mental practice sessions that are shorter in length are also beneficial.  Good times include during any downtime in your schedule, the night before a competition, as an element of your pregame routine, and especially as part of a preshot routine.

Let’s conclude our discussion with a mental practice exercise.

Sit up in a chair with your back straight (rather than lying down on a bed or the floor, as this can make you sleepy).  Let your eyes close and become aware of your breathing.  Take a few slow, deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth) to clear your mind and relax your body.

Begin by creating a mental picture of your environment, progressively including all of the sights and sounds.  Pay particular attention to the physical sensations in your body, such as the spring in your ankles and knees, whether your breathing is heavy or relaxed, the weight of the racquet or ball in your hand, and the texture of the ball as you spin or bounce it.

Now fully see, feel and enjoy executing this skill throughout each moment of the movement.

Challenge yourself to do this exercise successfully three times in a row with full focus and a positive result.  If you visualize missing the basket or hitting the ball  into the net or if you lose focus, keep repeating the process until you can visualize yourself doing it right straight through.  This will further anchor your physical self to a gold medal performance.

BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind:  How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow  (BUY IT!)

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