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2 Ways to Prepare for Pressure

Our family spent the last week on a much anticipated and well-deserved vacation.  We spent the week in Avalon, New Jersey, a beautiful little town on the Jersey Shore.  We have been to portions of the Jersey Shore before at various times during past summers.  This past week was NOT the peak of summer tourism, as a matter of fact, many Jersey schools had just finished their school year, so the summer buzz was starting, but overall it was quiet compared to previous visits we took during the months of July and August.

While the number of visitors like myself was lower, the intensity of the lifeguards on the beach was higher than I have ever seen.  In other words, they were preparing for the busy times that lie ahead.  On our second day there, right as the lifeguards came on the beach at 10 AM, there were many whistles being blown and a number of lifeguards running up and down the beach.  The first thing that popped into my mind was the concern for those they had to rescue at other locations, when in reality they were training themselves to work as a team and prepare to save a person life.  There was a lead lifeguard right in front of us that would blow his whistle at random times and the neighboring guards would jump out of their chairs, grab their buoy and run down the beach to the next station.  It was impressive to watch.  They were always on watch, expecting the unexpected.  Thus, when something out of the ordinary occurred, they hopped into motion without hesitation.

Then an amazing challenge occurred, right in front of us, a “rescue.”  The lifeguard whistles blew and they hopped into action swimming out to save a “person” that had gotten caught about 50 yards out from the shore line.  As the crowd gathered, the lifeguards swam out to the person in distress, and quickly brought them back to shore.  While the other lifeguards cleared an area, the practice dummy was brought to shore and given CPR.  These lifeguards were practicing experiencing pressure.

These lifeguards were building habits, so that at some point this summer, when they are called upon to save a life, they have prepared by expecting the unexpected and practicing under pressure.  The challenge to the Community of Competitors is to in our lives, expect the unexpected and practice experiencing pressure.  We learn these from great performers in athletic events to the daily jobs that many of us engage in every single day.

 

Following the completion of this challenge and practicing saving the life of the “practice swimmer,” the lifeguards debriefed on the beach.  This was just another example that we are all COMPETITORS in life.

LifeGuard_Debrief

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A Coach’s Super Bowl

A mess can become a message. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my mess as a coach becoming my message. I had gone through a difficult coaching experience, wherein I was focused on comparing myself and the program I was running to everyone else; when true competition is competing against yourself to do the best that you can. This experience has led me to the message that is the Heart of a Competitor and the program that is nearing completion.

Over the past year and a half I have had the opportunity to work with athletes and coaches in a variety of sports and it has taken me to a number of different athletic contests. In these athletic contests, the competitive arena, I love to watch the relationship between competitor and coach. The title of coach comes with great responsibility, a responsibility to connect with an athlete and translate your knowledge to their performance. There are a variety of ways to do this, but there is only one time to do it, in practice.

Practice is the coach’s Super Bowl, while the competition should be the competitor’s Super Bowl. The young competitor’s we work with always feel they are being evaluated because they are being recorded and evaluated in competitive situations. Great coaches do record and evaluate game situations, but they use it to teach in practice, not in the middle of a competition.

Using this video in the middle of a competition is a recipe for “Paralysis by Analysis.” Competitive greatness for an athlete is a mind and body connection to perform during competition, leaving the analyzing and judging for a later time. Competitive greatness is not enhanced by being shown where your feet or hands are located at during a movement; competitive greatness is about being connected and focused on performing at your peak.

For all of the competitors that read this message, continue to focus on competing and giving your best effort in the present moment during competitions. Then during practice be focused and connected to your coach and the lessons each of you have learned from competition.

For the coaches that read this message, treat practice like your Super Bowl and connect with and teach your athletes then, allow them to demonstrate their progress and COMPETE in the competition.

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Are you Focusing on the Process?

“There is nothing either good or bad except that thinking makes it so.”

 – Dr. David Schwartz in his book, The Magic of Thinking Big

Understanding that life is a process is a huge step in the development of the Heart of the Competitor. A competitor is accustomed to keeping score. Keeping score begins early in life. Parents compare their children in their timing of reaching developmental milestones, like walking, talking, potty-training, and the list can go on. Since true competition is with yourself, the Heart of the Competitor understands true development is consistent improvement. Instead of comparing milestones, to see if something is wrong, even the parent with the Heart of a Competitor enjoys the process that is getting their child to be potty-trained, to walk, to talk, and reach the other important developmental milestones in its’ life.

 

The viewpoint of daily development is a battle that must be fought against the world’s view of competition. The world views competition as a defined outcome or result, for if we have a defined outcome or result, either you met the outcome or result and you are a WINNER, or you are a loser because you failed to achieve the desired outcome or result.

 

Review Dr. Schwartz’s quote above. There is no good or bad, just the thought process and thinking that makes an experience good or bad. The world has trained people to think they need to view something as good or bad. The Heart of the Competitor refuses to be drawn into this limited view and understands that nothing is good or bad, it just is. This view allows the Competitor to accept their current state, observe what has occurred, and focus on the process of improvement.

 

Question of the Day:

What can you do to remind yourself the process of developing and improving is the ultimate goal and that an event in your life just “is”?

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One Way to COMPETE in the Present

Peanuts1990255

 

Competing in the present moment is about being where your feet are. If your feet are in the batter’s box getting ready to hit, your mind needs to be there ready to hit. If your feet are in the shotgun position, your mind needs to be there as well, progressing through your reads of the defense. If your feet are at the foul line shooting a free throw in the waning seconds of a tight game, your mind needs to be there, where your feet are.

In the Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown always takes a beating from Lucy for his deficiencies. The shortcomings Lucy attacks are usually related to his preparation and commitment to being a confident competitor. In this edition of Peanuts, Lucy belittles Charlie Brown for striking out to the end the last game of the year and attempts to provide feedback on his inability to play in the present moment. Lucy’s words are “insightful” however; Charlie Brown’s response demonstrates his lack of ability to play in the present moment, admitting that he was thinking about his new girlfriend.

When the Competitor enters the arena of competition, all other factors must be pushed away and left outside the field.   When you tie your shoes to dress for practice, you are like the race car driver strapping in for the race, or the fighter pilot preparing for takeoff, there are no other thoughts than the mission you are embarking on. Leave these thoughts and concerns in your locker, your gym bag, or at home and be where your feet are.

Question of the Day:

When preparing for competition, where will you leave your concerns?