Grind is defined as “to reduce (something) to small particles or powder by crushing it.” Crushing it … a phrase that any athlete loves to utter or hear spoken about them. Whether it is crushing the crux on a boulder problem in climbing, taking an 0-2 hanging curve ball into the seats or that lob in tennis that is at the perfect height to smash, the moment when we get to crush is exhilarating.
Grind is also defined as “to move with difficulty or friction especially so as to make a grating noise.” With all of the amazing moments listed above, what is not shared is the number of failures. The number of times we had to move through difficulty to come to the same scenario again and again and hope for a new result. How do we eliminate from our minds the number of times we’ve fallen at that same move on the boulder problem? How do we eliminate from our minds the number of strikeouts? How do we eliminate from our minds the number of overheads that have sailed long or wide? We grind.
Through athletics and through life, we grind. Each of us deals with difficulty. So how do we eliminate the negative thoughts when in moments of despair? We hold true to ourselves and bring it regardless of the past. The present is for the grinders. Those of us that choose to press on in the face of repetitive frustration. Here’s to the grinders that never give up on themselves. You are worth it! Now go do it! Welcome to the grind …
Love the Grind!
“There is always a way to get the job done – even when you are struggling in one area of your game. Figure out how to close the deal on that day!
When you are struggling with your driver in golf, win with your short game. When your shots aren’t dropping in basketball, be a glove on defense. Step up your game rather than throw in the towel. Refuse to quit even when a scenario seems bleak or hopeless.
Use these acronyms … UBE – “Ugly but Effective” or GBD “Good Bad Day”
Keep your head in the game and grind it out!”
BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow (BUY IT!)
Life is full of ups and downs. Yin and yang. We ride along waves. There are moments of absolute zen that we wish could last forever and then there are moments that seem to last an eternity that we wish we could destroy. The moment during a 5k where it feels like we’re in mile one but we’re heading toward the finish line. We throttled up and are about to set a new PR! The moment during a basketball game where we come off the bench nervous, anxious and promptly dribble the ball off of our foot. We throttled down and lost our focus on the moment.
The balance of intensity is where we find the zone. We look to athletics as a means to find that balance. The moments that exist in the present are opportunities to see if our training and practice of managing intensity can help us perform at a peak level. There is a moment prior to a contest where a team will do one of two things. They or the person may get so pumped up and excited with the crowd backing them that they come out making careless errors. They’re way too far up on the throttle spectrum of intensity. They or the person may come out already looking defeated with poor body language. They’re way too far down on the throttle spectrum of intensity.
The San Antonio Spurs of the NBA provide a gorgeous example of finding their place on the intensity spectrum. Their bodies and minds are engaged in what they are currently wanting to achieve, but there are no extremes. What is absent is the over-the-top hype that is believed necessary to intimidate an opponent. Each play down the court is an opportunity to find the balance. The body language of players does not show a disinterest or dislike for one another or the game they are playing. There is no absence of love for the game of basketball. The Spurs are a beautiful example of the balance of intensity.
We go up and then we will come down. Let’s work to make our movement along the intensity spectrum less extreme. Let’s work to find balance and see shifts that are small and controlled. This is where we find “the zone.”
Intensity – Own Your Zone
“Don’t get psyched up, get psyched right” – Anonymous
When athletes are “flowing” or “in the zone,” they are maintaining a certain intensity level while being mindful of the moment, which helps them achieve their peak performance.
Consider the following strategies to increase or decrease your intensity levels to meet the demands of the situation.
- Throttle Up
- Take three to five forceful breaths.
- Create a powerful image such as battleship, a fierce animal or a volcanic eruption.
- Make powerful movements such as pumping your fist or clapping your hands.
- Repeat energizing thoughts such as “Yes, I can!” or “Get my A-game on!”
- Recall your favorite up-tempo song.
- Throttle Down
- Take three to five calming breaths.
- Imagine a serene scene such as a cool mountain lake.
- Perform light stretches.
- Think calming thoughts such as “Clear mind, relaxed body.”
- Recall your favorite relaxing song.
The next time you are practicing or competing, ask yourself, “Is my intensity level too low, too high, or just right?” Adjust accordingly to achieve your ideal zone for peak performance.