#BeastmindTips

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Hi all. On this page are tips for your mental game. I call them Beastmind Tips because I believes it takes a Beast of a Mind to be successful in the most competitive situations in sports and in life. One of my associates Dr. Jared Wood also contributes content to this page. Please check back now and then for a new tip to take your game to the Beastmind level.

Beastmind Tip: Mental Traps: Recognizing the Uncontrollables (Modified, based on the work of Dr. Alan Goldberg)

Dr. Alan Goldberg is one of the most respected Sport Psychologists in our country and abroad. His website https://www.competitivedge.com/ offers a lot of great resources. One of his recent post discussed something we all do from time to time: Fall into mental traps by focusing on things we cannot control. Below I (JN) modified one of Dr. Goldberg’s recent posts to include some strategies that we use to help our Champion Mindset Group #BeastMind athletes to STAY IN THE MOMENT. Please read on and use this activity to help you avoid mental traps.

Below is a list of some typical uncontrollables that can be mental traps. Go through the list and put a check next to each UC that has shaken your concentration and confidence. When you’re finished, take a piece of paper and list all the UC’s that you checked. Next, take this list and post it in a highly visible place in your room. Why would you want to do that? Isn’t that sort of negative? Yes, but if the uncontrollables are mental traps, the only way to AVOID a trap is to be able to SEE it ahead of time. Having such a list will keep you aware of them and remind you to recognize them and adjust to control what you can control: Attitude, Effort and Thoughts.

The UC’s:

  • How big the game/tryout is
  • Your teammates performances
  • Your opponent – his/her size, strength, talent, reputation, aggressiveness, etc.
  • When your opponent plays head games or talks trash
  • The officiating
  • Weather, temperature (hot/cold), wind, rain, snow, etc.
  • The field conditions
  • Luck – either good or bad
  • Your coach and decisions he makes about the lineup and playing time
  • How much time is left in the game
  • How you feel that day (both physically and emotionally, i.e. sickness, fatigue, injury, etc.)
  • The kind of warm-up you had
  • Other people’s expectations of you (what they will think about you)
  • Who’s watching the game (scouts in the stands)
  • Anything related to the FUTURE and outcome like winning, scoring, etc.
  • Anything in the PAST (mistake, last game, missed opportunity, etc.)
  • The unexpected (game delays, etc).
  • Academic/personal stuff outside of your sport
  • Injuries that occur during the game

Keep in mind that occasionally focusing on an uncontrollable by itself won’t get you trapped. What WILL get you trapped is focusing on an uncontrollable and NOT immediately returning your concentration to those things that you CAN control! It is perfectly natural to get periodically knocked off balance by the UC’s. When this happens be sure that you:

#1 RECOGNIZE THAT WHAT YOU ARE NOW FOCUSING ON IS AN UNCONTROLLABLE

#2 USE YOUR MENTAL ROUTINE SUCH AS B.S.T.S. (Breathe, Situation, Task, Success) TO GET BACK IN THE MOMENT AND FOCUS ON THE W.I.N. (WHAT’S IMPORTANT NOW).

#3 COMMIT TO CONTROLLING THE CONTROLLABLES: YOUR ATTITUDE, EFFORT & THOUGHTS

Please give me a call or send an email (586-206-6451 – jasonnovetskyphd@gmail.com) to schedule an appointment to learn more about Controlling the Controllables and other ways to help you win your personal championships.

JN

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Beastmind Tip: The Who, What, Why and How of Being Mentally Tough (Part 4 of 4): The How.

Happy Halloween! In my recent 3 posts in this 4 part series (below) I (JN) have discussed the WHO the WHAT and the WHY of becoming a mentally tough #BeastMind athlete. Today I will add part 4 of 4 and provide you with some strategies for the HOW.

In my work with athletes, after we establish a firm foundation of the WHO, WHAT and WHY of mental toughness I help my athletes learn the process of learning HOW or in other words the strategies to use in practice and competition to be mentally tough. I believe that mental toughness for competition is essentially made up of an athlete’s ability to mentally prepare (before and during competition), sustain their focus and recover from adversity.

Preparation: For an athlete to be ready to compete at their maximum potential they need to be prepared. Several great coaches have said: “It’s not the will to win that matters…everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” I believe that whole heartedly. I teach my athletes that they must invest their time in matters of preparation. To help prepare I teach the importance of routines. Having routines helps us feel comfortable and provides a sense of confidence that we are ready. There are a few different types of routines that are significant in getting ready for competition. I teach my athletes how to develop routines for the day/night before the completion, the day of the competition and pre-game routines. There are no standard routines. Every athlete develops their own and what works for them. The important thing is that the athlete has routines and sticks with them. Routines like this lock the athlete’s attention in and helps to block out distractions.

Sustaining Focus: Once a competition or game has started the elite athletes are the ones who are able to remain focused and play in the moment. One of my favorite quotes to drive this point home is: “If you are not in the present moment, you will soon be history.” To help my athletes stay in the moment we focus on process goals for the day (see post about goals below), use various forms of positive self-talk or performance statements and most importantly depending on the sport, some sort of pre-play routine. In an earlier post I wrote about the Think Box, Play Box approach developed by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott who helped World Champion and Hall of Famer Women’s golfer Annika Sorenstam with her mental approach to golf. In this approach an athlete takes a moment between plays in sports where there is a natural break like baseball, softball, tennis, golf, foul shots in basketball, football and others. In sports such as hockey and others where breaks are less common this approach is used between shifts or at time-outs or between halves etc. The pre-play routine typically involves a few short steps that helps the athlete reset their attention and focus to the task at hand. I have developed the acronym BSTS to help. It stands for: Breathe, Situation, Task and Success. After each play the athlete steps back and takes a deep BREATH to clear the mind and slow down. Then they analyze the SITUATION to make sure they are in the moment. Next they are either instructed by a coach or decide on their own the TASK they want to accomplish next. Finally they visualize SUCCESS in that task. At that point they step back in the play situation and execute the plan. By having this type of process the athlete is focused in the moment and the routine by its nature blocks out the last play and other distractions. The routine replaces any other thoughts the athlete may have been having.

Recovering From Adversity: The last strategy to help athletes to be mentally tough involves recovering from adversity. So often great performances are derailed by an athlete’s inability to move on after a mistake. We have all seen athletes that completely become unglued after a blunder and are unable to recover. Often this takes the form of foul language, negative body language, throwing of equipment and negative self-talk. I have covered this strategy in a previous post so I will simply repost the meat of the process of the recovery routine here.

Step 1. Recognize the adversity. A mentally tough athlete recognizes quickly when they are losing control of the situation or their emotions. A mentally tough athlete also allows others to help them recognize adversity, poor body language, negative emotions etc. It is OK to let teammates, coaches and even parents help you recognize you need to recover. Remember no one successful has made it 100% alone. We all need help.

Step 2. Thought Stopping. Once you have recognized the adversity and negative self-talk or poor body language you need to STOP! Simply visualize a big fat red stop sign in your face yelling at you to “CUT IT OUT, STOP!”

Step 3. Flush It! After telling yourself to stop, simply flush the bad thought, bad play or any negative image from your mind by doing something physical. An example in baseball might be tapping the dirt off your spikes or picking up some dirt and lightly tossing it away. A tennis player might toss an imaginary ball and hit it away. Just do something physical that simulates getting rid of the negative thought or experience. It also helps to say “flush it.”

Step 4. Re-Focus (Focal Point). Find a focal point to stare at for a few seconds. For example, the Major League Baseball player Evan Longoria often stares at the foul pole when he needs to regroup and re-focus. Simply take a few seconds and stare at something like a foul pole, chalk line, label on your bat or racquet and notice everything about it; the color, shape, size etc. The point here is after you have flushed the negative image you need to replace it with something else to transition back to the positive. So noticing every little detail of your focal point replaces the negative image with something neutral.

Step 5. Breathe and get back into your routine. After refocusing, take a long deep centering breath in through your nose and into your stomach, hold it for a beat and then exhale through your mouth. After the breath get right back into your routine or the game using positive self-talk such as: “OK, next play.”

This concludes the 4 part post on The Who, What, Why and How of Being Mentally Tough. I hope these #BeastMind Tips have been able to help you achieve your personal championships. Please call or email me to learn more, set up a private appointment or seminar for your team.

JN

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Beastmind Tip: The Who, What, Why and How of Being Mentally Tough (Part 3 of 4): The WHY

In my recent 2 posts in this 4 part series (below) I (JN) have discussed the WHO and the WHAT of becoming a mentally tough #BeastMind athlete. Today I will add part 3 of 4 and have you consider the WHY. Soon I complete this 4 part post and add the HOW. For today let’s focus on the WHY.

The WHY of an athlete may mean many things to many different people. I believe your WHY is about WHY you play or more specifically what you love about your sport. Too many athletes I work with often discuss the reason or their WHY they play is to get a college scholarship or professional opportunity. While those are certainly good reasons to play a sport I believe they miss the mark. Former Navy Seal and president of SealFit, Mark Divine often says; “You may be mentally tough, but if you are not deeply connected to a sense of purpose you may quit at the first sign of pain.” I think those are very powerful words and I agree with them 100%. A person and in this case, you, need to really understand your sense of purpose and love for your game.

To start this process I suggest that you invest some time and think deeply about what you love about playing your sport. What are the sights, sounds, smells and experiences that truly make you feel comfortable, motivated and a sense of connectedness to your sport? For example I was a Division 1 collegiate pitcher. And even well before I toed the slab in college I loved the sound of a swing and a miss and the pop of the catcher’s glove. I loved being the home team pitcher and being the first person on the freshly manicured mound to be able to carve it out the way I wanted. I loved and still do love the look of the recently dragged and freshly lined infield and especially the mixed smell of the grass and dirt in the morning. I loved the sound of my team’s spikes walking around the dugout while sharing and spitting sunflower seeds. I could go on but I think you get the picture. Those experiences were WHY I played in addition to and more importantly than the scholarship or potential professional opportunities. Those experiences motivated me more than other things when I needed motivation to get my workouts in and go to practice after a long day of classes. I believe to be mentally tough as Mark Divine said you have to have a sense of purpose. My purpose among others was to make sure I was able to keep having those experiences on the ball field.

So, what is your WHY?

Tweet me at @jsnovetskyphd and share your WHY with the hashtag #MyWHY

JN

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Beastmind Tip: The Who, What, Why and How of Being Mentally Tough (Part 2 of 4): The What

In my last post (below), I (JN) discussed the importance of understanding who you are as an athlete. In this post (part 2 of 4) I will teach the next step of the who, what, why and how of being mentally tough by discussing the WHAT.

The WHAT of being mentally tough is making a decision about WHAT you really want out of your investment in your sport. You may think that I mean your goals, and you would be partially correct. In earlier Beastmind Tips my associate Dr. Wood wrote about the 3 different types of goals that we counsel athletes in setting: Outcome Goals, Performance Goals and Process Goals. Certainly those aspects of WHAT you want are important. Now I would like to take it a step further and make you think about a BIGGER WHAT.

The BIGGER WHAT I am asking you consider is the Ultimate Goal. The Ultimate Goal can be thought of your legacy. It may help you to think of it this way: Imagine you are retiring from your sport and we are going to have a banquet in your honor. Many people that you played with, played against, were coached by or maybe that you coached will be there. Many of them are going to give speeches about you at this banquet. What are they going to say about you??? This is the Ultimate Goal. When it’s all said and done, what will be said and what will you have done?

You may have been very successful in achieving your Outcome Goals and that would be great. However would it not be even more incredible if those that spoke about you spoke about how significant you were in their lives and in the lives of others? This is what I mean by the Ultimate Goal. Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

So, I am suggesting that to truly understand your WHAT, beyond your Outcome Goals, invest some time and think about when it is all said and done, what will you have said and done?

If you would like to discuss this more send me an email at jasonnovetskyphd@gmail.com or call me at 586-206-6451.

Check back soon for part 3 of 4, “The Why?”

JN

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Beastmind Tip: The Who, What, Why and How of Being Mentally Tough (Part 1 of 4)

As a sport psychology coach I (JN) like to keep things simple. There is no reason to make things difficult. Recently I did a presentation for a high school tennis team and found that framing the concepts of mental toughness by the WHO, the WHAT, the WHY and the HOW really helped them understand the process of becoming what we call a #BeastMind Athlete.

In today’s post I am going to teach you the “WHO.” That of course is you the athlete. The “WHO” asks who you are. What is your self-image as an athlete and as a person in your sport? Are you the player that works hard and hustles everywhere? Are you a future collegiate or pro athlete? Are you the player that just gets by on base level talent? Are you the player that makes the clutch shot under pressure? Or are you the player that chokes??? Mentally tough athletes understand and live up to their positive self-image. Understanding who you are as an athlete helps you sustain your focus on what you want to accomplish and is the building block for the WHAT, WHY and HOW of being a #BeastMind.

Your self-image is the sum of your habits and attitudes. What do you want your self-image to be? You may not realize it, but you can create the self-image or identity that you want. Unfortunately many athletes allow their self-image to be dictated by past events, what others say about them or negative things they say to themselves. You must be very careful what you allow in your mind and what you say to yourself because you are listening. Have you ever said to yourself that you are not good at math or anything else? If you have, you are creating an image of someone that is not good at something and probably never will be because your habits and attitude follow what you say to yourself.

Creating the self-image and identity you want involves doing some thinking and exploring with your sport psychology coach. To begin to create the self-image or identity that you want, you have invest some time brainstorming some positive adjectives, real strengths, future aspirations etc. and then write them on a white board. For example you may be or wish to be: a college athlete, mentally tough, strong, quick, a leader and a hard worker.

Then using the work of Dr. Jason Selk (10 Minute Toughness) create a simple self-image or identity statement from the adjectives that says something like:

“I am (your name here). I am a future Division 1 collegiate athlete. I am a mentally tough, powerful and quick all-state tennis player and the best teammate and leader on my team. I out hustle and out work my opponents and I am always in position to make the right play. I am (your name here).”

To solidify your new image you must write it down, post it (See article below on Advertising to Yourself), read, think and visualize about it often. The more you see the statement, really concentrate on it, the more it pushes your old image out and allows you to see and feel your new self-image. Many of my clients have also created a self-image board where they take pictures off the internet or from magazines that represent their self-image and surround the typed out version of their self-image statement with the pictures. They then post the board in their room and invest time studying it and seeing themselves as that person every day.

Understanding WHO you are as an athlete is a crucial step towards becoming mentally tough. At the end of the day you cannot outperform your self-image. So, create and live the image you want.

For more information on this topic I highly recommend the books 10-Minute Toughness by Dr. Jason Selk and the classic The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.

Check back soon as I will post the next segment: The WHAT?

JN

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Beastmind Tip: Recovering From Significant Adversity During Competition. 

One of most important attributes of mentally tough athletes is their ability to overcome and recover from adversity. Many successful athletes say “it is not about what just happened, but what you do about what just happened.” In previous Beastmind Tips we have offered some advice and strategies to stay in the moment and  be positive. However there are times when we need “a moment” if you know what I mean to really get back in the game. Read on if you have ever really needed a personal time out to recover from a tough set of circumstances during competition.

Recently I (JN) was working with one of my rising senior tennis players and we were processing a recent tournament where she had to overcome some adversity against things she could not control. In her first match she played an opponent that hit sky high lobs back on almost every point, which at her level is not seen very often and made it very difficult for her to play her power game. In her third match of the tournament she faced an opponent that was out right cheating, making bad line calls many times during the match.

My client knows and uses positive self-talk such as CtC (Control the Controllables), focuses on “Next Point” and W.I.N (What’s Important Now) and she did her best but she needed a bit more in this situation because as the matches progressed she found herself becoming more and more frustrated, needing something a bit stronger to regain her focus in the moment.

So, we added a powerful 5 Step recovery strategy to her mental toolbox that will help her recover quickly and get back in the present moment when basic positive self-talk is not doing the trick. I am going to outline it here for you so you will be able to put it into your mental toolbox and have it ready the next time you are facing significant adversity in your sport. You will see that this approach works best in sports that have natural breaks in the action like baseball, golf, tennis etc. However even in basketball, hockey and other continuous type sports it can be used as soon as you get a chance, such as a time out, free throws or line changes respectively.

Step 1. Recognize the adversity. A mentally tough athlete recognizes quickly when they are losing control of the situation or their emotions. A mentally tough athlete also allows others to help them recognize adversity, poor body language, negative emotions etc. It is OK to let teammates, coaches and even parents help you recognize you need to recover. Remember no one successful has made it 100% alone. We all need help.

Step 2. Thought Stopping. Once you have recognized the adversity and negative self-talk or poor body language you need to STOP! Simply visualize a big fat red stop sign in your face yelling at you to “CUT IT OUT, STOP!”

Step 3. Flush It! After telling yourself to stop, simply flush the bad thought, bad play or any negative image from your mind by doing something physical. An example in baseball might be tapping the dirt off your spikes or picking up some dirt and lightly tossing it away. A tennis player might toss an imaginary ball and hit it away. Just do something physical that simulates getting rid of the negative thought or experience. It also helps to say “flush it.”

Step 4. Re-Focus (Focal Point). Find a focal point to stare at for a few seconds. For example, the Major League Baseball player Evan Longoria often stares at the foul pole when he needs to regroup and re-focus. Simply take a few seconds and stare at something like a foul pole, chalk line, label on your bat or racquet and notice everything about it; the color, shape, size etc. The point here is after you have flushed the negative image you need to replace it with something else to transition back to the positive. So noticing every little detail of your focal point replaces the negative image with something neutral.

Step 5. Breathe and get back into your routine. After refocusing, take a long deep centering breath in through your nose and into your stomach, hold it for a beat and then exhale through your mouth. After the breath get right back into your routine or the game using positive self-talk such as: “OK, next play.”

In summary, sometimes we need “a moment” to get us re-focused and back into the flow of the game in a positive way. Often our typical routine or positive self-talk is not enough in the face of extreme adversity. This recovery process will usually do the trick to get us back to being a #BeastMind!

JN

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Beastmind Tip: Modified Think Box Play Box Routine

Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott are perhaps two of the most successful golf instructors in the game. They are credited with helping World Champion and Hall of Famer Woman’s golfer Annika Sorenstam with her mental approach to golf. One of the concepts they developed is called Think Box Play Box.

As in golf and most sports there is a time to think and a time to play or execute. The problem is some athletes confuse the two areas which results in over thinking or freezing. The Think Box Play Box is a system you can use for a routine where you have a dedicated space where you relax, review and plan, then a place where you execute your plan. I (JN) am going to offer a modified version of the Think Box Play Box adding something I call BSTS: Breathe, Situation, Task & Success.

In golf the pre-shot routine has become standard practice (if you don’t have one by now, call us). However this approach can be utilized in many sports where the athlete needs to first mentally prepare and then execute.

Being a “baseball guy,” I am going to offer a baseball example using the Think Box Play Box with the added features of BSTS.

During a baseball game, before every pitch regardless if you are hitting, pitching or playing in the field you can use this approach:

1. First, stand in your Think Box: A place on the field where you do not execute your action. Let’s use a right handed hitter’s example. As you are walking up to the plate, stop before you get in the batter’s box (this is your Think Box area), and check the coach for signs. In this example you are told to hit away.

2. Take a deep BREATH in through your nose into your stomach, hold it for a beat and then exhale through your mouth focusing on your breath. Maybe you are also using a focal point, i.e. staring at the label of the bat or a fence sign.

3. Next, you consider or ask yourself what is the SITUATION. For example you come up to bat with a man on 2B with no outs. You are hopefully telling yourself (if you know baseball strategy) that the situation dictates that you need to move that runner to 3rd base.

4. Then decide your TASK or job. You will be looking for a pitch in the middle to outer half of the plate that you will let travel deep into the zone so you can drive the ball to the right side of the field.

5. Then you visualize SUCCESS. In your mind, see yourself successfully executing your task.

6. Step into the PLAY BOX, which in this case is the batter’s box and execute your plan.

7. Repeat this process for every pitch. The more your practice it the faster and better at it you become.

This process helps you mentally prepare and sustain your focus, because when you take a breath it relaxes the body and mind. If you focus on what you need TO DO as opposed to what a scout or coach is thinking of you or what you did last time at bat you have a much better chance to be successful. In addition to golf and baseball this approach can easily be applied to most sports. For example prior to a serve in tennis or volleyball, before the snap in football, and a foul shot in basketball just to name a few.

For more information on the Think Box Play Box with BSTS or to schedule a team or individual consultation click on our Contact page.

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Beastmind Tip: Process Goals (Part 3 of 3)

So far we’ve covered two of three goal types (see below). Win or outcome goals are great for motivation and effort. Performance goals are great for tracking progress over time. The problem is, neither win goals nor performance goals actually help an athlete focus on how to perform. Knowing one wants to win and know what stats are important to winning are not the same as knowing how to perform physically, mentally, and emotionally in order to earn a win. In order to focus on how to perform and create the best opportunity to win, a third goal type is needed. The third goal type, process goals, help an athlete (or coach) focus on how to perform in any given moment.

Process goals should exist for anything we do. We mean this literally. In practice, in games, in any endeavor in life, we should know how we want to perform (or act), and a process goal serves as a simple reminder of how to do this. The process goal is a focus target for the mind, which then tells the body how to respond. The key is that the process goal must be stated in to do terms. A process goal must not contain not messages such as can’t or don’t. The mind and body will only communicate effectively when focusing on what to do.

Process goals can be set for any emotional-set, mindset, or physical action. The process goal is a simple reminder of what to focus on. Coaches can help athletes by reminding them of process goals for certain activities. At the very least, every drill in practice should have coaching points that serve as process goals to cue the athlete’s focus.

Here are some examples of process goals. Notice, each of these process goals is set in the mind, but they cue different targets(i.e., feelings, thoughts, or actions).

Emotion:

  • Be calm.
  • Play with courage.

Mindset:

  • See it then do it.
  • Be persistent, you can do it.

Physical action (movement):

  • Play low.
  • Swing aggressively.

Physical action (effort):

  • Play this play as if it is your last.
  • Go all out.

A simple way to effectively cue a process goal is to create consistent self-talk messages as reminders of how to perform. Athletes can simply speak the process goal out loud or in their own mind. Coaches can help athletes do this by being their voice for them and helping the athlete realize that he or she can internalize the coach’s words and say them on their own.

By using all three types of goals, athletes create a strong, thorough foundation for excellence. Setting win goals is motivating and spurs effort. Setting performance goals creates a focus on the types of performance standards that usually lead to wins and helps track progress over time. Finally, setting process goals helps athletes focus on how to think, feel, and act in any given moment. Taken together, the three goal types assist coaches and athletes on multiple levels in any situation.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part series on goal setting. If you have comments or questions, please let us know. Also, soon look for some posts with videos helping illustrate these goal setting principles.

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your team or individual sessions click on our contact page.

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Beastmind Tip: Performance Goals (Part 2 of 3)

Last week (below), we covered outcome goals, also known as win goals. Win goals help athletes get motivated to put forth an effortful practice or game performance. Further, win goals help keep a focus on what to do in order to win a game. But focusing one winning and knowing how to win are two different things. Often, we need to know more about the type of performance that leads to a winning score, and we need to know whether we are improving performance over time. In other words, regardless of whether we are winning, we need to know if all of our efforts are resulting in improved performance. With that in mind, we will cover the next goal type: Performance goals.

Whereas win goals are goals set against an opponent, performance goals are goals set against oneself, or to be more accurate, one’s former self. Performance goals help measure progress against one’s own past performance or against a standard, such as a personal best, a team record, or some other type of standard.

Good performance goals should be closely aligned with the type of performance that tends to lead to winning scores. Most sports track statistics that are already aligned with important aspects of game performance, so personal statistics are a good place to start when creating performance goals. Batting average, free-throw percentage, yardage gained or given up, race times, and judges scores are examples of ways different sports have built-in performance statistics that can be used to set goals. Coaches and athletes should work together to set good performance goals that are challenging and aligned within the game plan the team or individual is trying to execute.

One under-utilized way to set performance goals is strength and conditioning training. Without proper goals and a plan, motivation will be lower than it could be, and training is not going to be optimized. Working with a trainer or coach can help an athlete set effective training goals. This is especially important in off-season training.

A strong combination of win goals and performance goals can help athletes and coaches analyze performance and track progress within a season and across one or more years or seasons, but knowing one wants to win and knowing what statistics usually lead to winning are not enough. Tracking wins and statistics is important, but neither inform an athlete how to play. In other words, an athlete needs to know what to focus on from one second to the next. In order to do that, an athlete needs a third type of goal. The third type of goal is called a process goal, and it will be the focus of next week’s Beastmind Tip of the Week.

JW

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your team or individual sessions click on our contact page.

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Beastmind Tip: Outcome Goals (Part 1 of 3)

First, Happy Thanksgiving to our #Beastmind Athletes.

Athletes and coaches know that setting goals is important. What they often don’t know is what type of goals they should set and why they should set them. This three part series on goal setting will help clarify the issue and improve your knowledge greatly. If you learn the information in the series, you will be well on your way to being skilled in the art of goal setting. Armed with this goal-setting knowledge, all you have to do then is put it use. The first type of goal we are going to cover in this three-part series is called an outcome goal.

An outcome goal is a goal you set against an opponent. Therefore, if you play a team sport against a single opponent, the outcome goal is always the same: Win the game. In  team situations against a single opponent we often change the term outcome goal to win goal because it makes sense and is easier to remember. But sometimes, a sport is played against a field. In this case, athletes or coaches may set goals to finish in a certain place. This is also an outcome goal because the goal is set for a competitive outcome against an opponent. Thus, outcome goals often look like this: Win the game or finish in the top 3.

The major benefit of an outcome or win goal is that it is motivating. The idea of winning is exciting. Thoughts of winning fill you with positive energy. You can then use that energy to prepare with enthusiasm and great effort. One of our favorite uses of win goals is to use some imagery of winning to create excitement and then use those feelings of excitement to go out and have a great, energetic practice. Thus, to tap into the main benefit of a win goal, use some imagery of winning before both practice and competition to bring about the appropriate emotional state for an enthusiastic, energetic practice or game.

Outcome and win goals also help you focus on the “to do” thought of playing to win rather than playing not to lose. The mindset of playing to win brings attention to what to do rather than what not to do. This is an essential mindset for playing like a champion. Playing to win should be emphasized in practice as well as competitions to stir some of the strong emotions associated with competition, and competitive practice situations in which athletes compete to win should be part of the regular practice routine.

Setting outcome and win goals is essential to competing at one’s best, but other types of goals are also necessary to bring about improvement and excellence. Next week’s Beastmind Tip of the Week will focus on another type of goal: Performance goals.

JW

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your team or individual sessions click on our contact page.

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Beastmind Tip: Advertise To Yourself

Why do successful companies like Nike, Gatorade and Coca Cola advertise? They spend millions of dollars advertising because it works! We are aware of and know about their products because they make thousands of brand impressions on our minds. As athletes we need to advertise to ourselves. We need to bombard our minds with our goals, positive self talk, positive self image statements and inspirational messages as much as possible.

I (JN) recently finished the book Seeds of Success by John Brubaker and among many of the elegant approaches to mental growth for athletes, coaches and business professionals I found this powerful yet simple strategy to the old adage of “putting your goals on your mirror” for making sure we stay mindful of them. Coach Brubaker calls it “Advertising To Yourself.” He offers that we must think like a successful business and impress our goals etc. on our minds much like companies like Gatorade do so well. For example, when we finish a workout and need to hydrate we do not think about grabbing a Sam’s Club electrolyte drink. No, we immediately think of buying a Gatorade. We do this because of the brand impressions they have made on our minds. The point is we need to do the same with our goals, positive self talk and image statements because “what you see and think about, you bring about.”

So, once your determine your goals, positive self talk and inspirational messages you want to live by; write them down on several things such as a card you keep in your car, wallet, purse, and on your mirror or nightstand and appropriate places on your athletic equipment (inside bill of cap). This is a great strategy to impress on your mind what you want to be focused on to become a #Beastmind Athlete.

JN

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your team or individual sessions click on our contact page.

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Beastmind Tip: Next Play

Before our tip for this week, we sincerely thank all the Veterans that have served and protected us.

Lately I (JW) have been reading Jay Bilas’s book Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court. I highly recommend it for athletes and coaches of all sports. It’s filled with great insight and quotes from many of the games best coaches and players. One concept I love that is very similar to techniques we teach through Champion Mindset Group is that of next play. As Bilas describes it, he learned next play from Coach Mike Krzyzewski while at Duke. Coach K uses next play to remind players that no matter what the outcome of the previous play, an athlete has to quickly focus on the next play in order to be completely focused and at his/her best. Regardless of whether the last play was a complete failure or success, the next play is the only play that matters to the present. To use next play appropriately, an athlete just has to say, “Next play,” and then mentally, physically, and emotionally move on to the next play, or as we like to say at Champion Mindset Group, move on to what’s important now (WIN). The athlete can say next play silently in his/her own head, which is an example of self-talk, or out loud – loud enough for other teammates to hear – which is an example of not only self-talk but also communication and leadership.

While one use of next play is to prevent athletes from getting too wrapped up in celebrating a good play and not moving on to the next play quickly enough, thus missing an opportunity to keep pressure on the opponent, the reason I like next play so much is that it helps an athlete avoid too much mental focus and emotional attachment to mistakes. There is a time and place to analyze mistakes. That time and place is during film study or practice with coaches present to help correct the mistakes and focus on proper skills or decisions. Game time is the time to focus only on what to do. To me, the best thing about next play is that it helps the athlete focus on the to do of the next play rather than dwelling on past mistakes.  Dwelling on mistakes only encourages negative emotions and a mental focus on what not to do, both of which will lead to poor play and memories of mistakes rather than successes. Next play creates a mindset of focusing on what one needs to do in the present moment.

To develop a #beastmind, get in the habit of using next play to move on and focus on the to do of the present moment. Say it to yourself anytime you need to move on. Use next play habitually in both practice and games to be a focused and engaged coach or player.

JW

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your team or individual sessions click on our contact page.

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Beastmind Tip: Killer Instinct: We All Hunt Differently

In our quest for the best way to support and teach our athletes we often read about the most successful athletes. Recently I (JN) read an interview with LeBron James in ESPN the Magazine and was excited to learn about his mindset in terms of having a killer instinct. During this interview LeBron was asked by ESPN the Magazine’s Chris Broussard (among other things) about the media’s portrayal of his lack of a killer instinct despite his incredible success. I thought his response was very insightful referencing animal shows that he watches on the Discovery Channel. LeBron explained like animals we as athletes hunt differently as it relates to getting our prey or in our world attempting to dominate an athletic competition. He said the following:

“I’ll just put it this way, man. There are different ways to hunt. I watch the Discovery Channel all the time, and you look at all these animals in the wild. And they all hunt a different way to feed their families. They all kill a different way. Lions do it strategically — two females will lead, and then everybody else will come in. Hyenas will just go for it. There are different ways to kill, and I don’t think people understand that. Everybody wants everybody to kill the same way. Everybody wants everybody to kill like MJ or kill like Kobe. Magic didn’t kill the way they killed. Does that mean he didn’t have a killer instinct? Kareem didn’t either. But does that mean Kareem didn’t have a killer instinct? The same with Bird. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a killer instinct. Tim Duncan don’t kill like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, but I’ve played against Tim Duncan twice in the Finals and I know for sure he’s got a killer instinct.”

I think we can learn a lot from this mindset. While we are coached to have a killer instinct and get after our opponent or finish off a competition, not everyone approaches this the same way. As athletes and coaches we need to be mindful of individual differences and make sure we stay within ourselves and understand our self image to achieve success. Thanks LeBron!

JN

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your team or individual sessions click on our contact page.

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Beastmind Tip: Managing Stress/Anxiety

Stress and anxiety responses are caused by your nervous system sending signals that tell your body you are going to have to fight or flee for your life. This was good for the caveman, but it’s not very good for your game.

1. Manage the stress response physically by breathing deeply. Breathing causes the nervous system to send relaxation signals. When relaxation signals are being sent, stress signals cannot be sent simultaneously.

2. Manage the stress response mentally by positive self-talk. Say encouraging messages to yourself. Verbally persuade yourself to be confident.

3. Focus the mind and body for the task at hand by using a technique called Centering. Centering is a three step process that helps calm the body and focus the mind:

1)    Inhale deeply through your nose into your diaphragm, hold the breath for a few seconds.

2)    Exhale slowly through your mouth like blowing through a straw while focusing on the feeling of your breathing to focus your mind on something specific and take your focus off whatever is making you nervous or fearful.

3)    Say something to yourself to make you more confident, calm, or whatever other feeling state you want at the moment.

Examples: I love the challenge; Trust it; Be confident and then visualize the perfect execution.

JW

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your team or individual sessions click on our contact page.

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Beastmind Tip: W.I.N.

WIN is an acronym for What’s Important Now. This acronym is used by sport psychologists and performance coaches to help athletes stay focused on the most important thing in the present moment. By reminding yourself to WIN you begin to focus on the next pitch, the next play, the next shot and not on the most recent blunder, mistake, or future events etc.

The WIN approach works like this: Before each play or shot etc. or if you find your mind wandering tell yourself to WIN. Take a deep breath, quickly review the situation, think about what you need to do to execute and visualize yourself being successful. Consider the steps or process and not the outcome. If you focus on the process, the outcome will take care of itself.

Be a Beastmind Athlete today and go WIN.

JN

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your team or individual sessions click on our contact page.

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