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What I learned from the Olympics?

The 2014 Winter Olympics have wrapped up and many people are already looking forward to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.  It makes no difference whether we are watching athletes compete in the Winter or the Summer Olympics, each of these competitions are a feeding frenzy for the importance of the mental game in competition.

 After watching these 2014 Winter Games, I was reminded of two important parts of competition.

  1. It is about the process.

Many Olympic events are based on an individual activity focusing on achieving the lowest time at the moment.  This is the epitome of the process.  It is the athlete versus the half pipe, the ski slope, or the bobsled track.  They have no control over the other athlete’s and their time, but they have total control over their focus and attention to the task at hand.

2.  It is the athlete that performs the best that wins.

The Olympics is a process and performance-based event.  In any event, there is a “favorite” to win a medal.  Even the favorite must go out and perform the best to win the medal.  Olympic medals are not given out before an event; they are given out after an individual has earned it.

A successful life is often expensive.  It will cost you something to become a champion.

Time.  Energy.  Focus.

Dominate the Day With Enthusiasm and Energy.

 

 

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It is not Under Armour, it s a suit of ARMOR.

The second week of the Olympics brings another week of examples of the importance of the Mental Game.  Last week I discussed the “difference” of the ice for Figure Skating in Sochi.  This week’s post moves to a different sport on ice, that of speed skating.

The hot topic in speed skating has been the American’s lack of success, failing to win a medal up to this point in the Olympics.  A myriad of “reasons” for this lack of success have been provided.  This lack of success highlights three points related to the mental game.

  1. Preparation is not just a physical act, but also an emotional FEELING.

There is a lot of discussion about the speed skating athletes training at high altitudes, when Sochi is a low altitude city.  There is science to support training at high altitudes to aid in an athlete’s preparation, however, the athlete’s have not FELT the benefits from this training.  There may be science to support this decision, but the athletes have not FELT this as being a positive.

2. Uniforms are part of an athlete’s routine and part of their confidence.

The speed skating suits have received plenty of media coverage during the Sochi Olympics.  Whether the Under Armour suits are the reason for the American failures will be debated.  What cannot be debated is the feeling that an athlete achieves from their routine and putting their uniform on.  These athletes have never used these suits prior to the Olympics, thus it is impossible for an athlete to FEEL confident in something they are wearing for the first time.

3.  Confidence = Belief.

Preparations and routines allow athletes to walk and carry themselves with confidence and confidence equals BELIEF.  Confidence is how we carry ourselves, a speed skater should see themselves slipping on suit of ARMOR, not because it says Under Armour, but because they are heading into a battle with themselves, to do the best they can to reach their potential.

Until next week, slip on your suit of ARMOR and FIGHT.

“Confidence is the emotional knowing that you are prepared, mind, body, and spirit, for anything.  Confidence is knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do.”

– – Gary Mack

 

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Is the Ice Different in Sochi?

Watching the Winter Olympics is a perfect opportunity to dissect the mental game.  While watching the Sochi games over the last couple of nights, there have been a number of quotes from the commentators that make for great discussion about the importance of a strong mental game.

During a recent broadcast of a figure skating session, the commentators noted, “Skating on Olympic Ice is different.”  When I heard this quote, I thought to myself, “What is different about the ice?”  Physically, there is nothing different about the ice in Sochi, however, the feeling and outcome of skating on the ice is different.  This underscores the need for a strong mental game and a focus on maintaining the process and allowing the result/outcome to take care of itself.

While watching the Biathlon Women’s Sprint, I was amazed at the participants’ ability to ski as fast as they can and then calm themselves to hit a target.  These world-class athletes are the epitome of focused individuals.  These women were not perfect in their shooting, which led the announcers to make this statement, “They usually miss the first or last shot.”

This highlights the impact that our minds have on performance.  The first and last shots are no different than any other shot, however, we place more importance on them.  During the first shot, they are trying to find a routine, while on the last shot; many participants are focused on completing a perfect shooting performance.  This focus on perfection, an outcome, takes their focus away from the process, which is all they can control.

As you watch the remainder of the Olympics, feel free to comment on this entry with a variety of quotes from the commentators that highlight the importance of the mental game.

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The Best Team DID NOT Win the Super Bowl

It was NOT the best team that won the Super Bowl; it was the team that played the best.

The Seattle Seahawks once again proved that it is not the best team that wins.  The team that plays the best is the team that wins.  If you look at the box score of last night’s Super Bowl, it is easy to see the Seahawks played the best.   They played the best in every aspect of the game.

Defensively, the Seahawks registered 84 Tackles, with 6 of those being tackles for loss, while the Broncos only had 70 Tackles and only 3 of those tackles were for a loss.  In the turnover column, Seattle had 0 turnovers, while the Broncos had 4 turnovers.  The Seahawks played the best on defense.

Offensively, the statistics are not quite as lopsided, but look specifically at yards per play and it becomes clear that the Seahawks played the best on offense as well.  The Seahawks averaged 6.2 yards per play, while the Broncos averaged 4.8 yards per play.  The Seahawks played the best on offense.

The Seahawks played the best on Special Teams as well.  It is easy to see that Percy Harvin returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown, however a deeper look at the statistics shows the Seahawks had essentially the same amount of return yardage in 2 returns (107 yards) as the Broncos had in 5 returns (109 yards).

It was NOT the best team that won the Super Bowl; it was the team that played the best.

The Seahawks played the best on Sunday night because their head coach, Pete Carroll is focused on taking care of his players, showing that he cares for them, and trusting in the process.  The team that plays the best is focused on competing each play, adhering to the process and trusting the result will take care of itself.

Watch Pete Carroll’s entire post-game interview by clicking here.  Take special care to listen to the end of the interview where he notes that Russell Wilson believes he is going to make everything he says happen.  There is no replacement for belief.

Until next week, KEEP COMPETING!!

“Whatever your age, whatever your game, you can learn how to use your mind more constructively.  You can learn how to stay focused.  You can learn how to deal with adversity.  Stay motivated during difficult times.  Avoid fatal distractions.  You can learn how to follow your dreams and live your life on purpose.”

– – Gary Mack