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Drive – The Ultimate Athletic Attribute & Mental Skill
Why do some athletes consistently excel when the game is on the line or when the “pressures” of competition seem to be greatest, while under the same conditions others perform inconsistently or are sometimes at their worst? Why do so many athletes often perform better in training than in competition? And what is the thing in sports that most often separates the winner from second place? For so many athletes, the answer to these questions is no mystery – the difference is the incredible 3 1/2 pounds of electrical energy, power and potential between our ears – our minds. The purpose of almost all mental training exercises and all peak performance skills is to build and improve composure, focus, and confidence. These three “C’s” of peak performance are supreme in their influence on sport-related performance. Trace the root of almost any positive or negative sports performance experience and you will find one or more of these variables. But there’s another ‘C’ of peak performance that’s just as important – and that’s our commitment or drive. The great Bill Russell, one of the greatest winners in the history of all sports – winning 11 NBA championships in 13 years – once said that “the heart of a champion is tied to the depth of our commitment” .
Of all the accolades and superlatives sportswriters used to describe Miami’s first NBA championship, most have focused on Dwayne Wade’s incredible will to win, drive, and commitment throughout the series. It is certainly worthy of praise. His total of 157 points over the last 4 games, including his Finals MVP with 36 points, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 block wins, makes him worthy. Yet, taking a closer look at Dwayne’s career, we find that the real reason for Miami’s first NBA championship has as much to do with his approach and commitment to his career as it does with his NBA Finals heroics. . In just 3 short years, Dwayne has increased his career scoring average from 16.1 to 27.2 pts. per game. His FT% went from 74.7% to 78.3%, his FG% from 46.5% to 49.5%, his steals from 1.4 to 2.0 per game and his rebounds from 4.1 to 5.7 per game – all with only a slight increase in minutes per game played. These kinds of results and improvements aren’t the result of trips to the mall, fancy meals, and lazy afternoons playing X-Box. These types of improvements are the result of blood, sweat and tears in empty gymnasiums with a serious commitment to athletic excellence and continuous improvement. As reporters, fans, NBA general managers and coaches discuss the strategy, chemistry and development of their draft pick, it’s the level of commitment that will ultimately determine the total impact each player recently selected in the 2006 NBA Draft will have on their teams. and the league.
Only winning commitment and motivation will bring out the best in any athlete
Without a doubt, your level of commitment, often referred to as motivation or drive, is the number 1 predictor of how far you’ll go in your sport – from elementary school to state, national and world championships, Olympic gold. or the Hall of Fame. Motivation predicts how far you will go to improve and excel – both physically (skills and athletics) and mentally (mental training skills). You could be the most skilled athlete in the world, with the most gifted athleticism, possessing the most natural composure, focus and confidence; and yet, without motivation, all this means nothing. Talent would be wasted. If you have no desire to achieve excellence in your sport, you never will – it’s as simple as that. Motivation stems from a deep love and passion for the sport you play and a deep competitive spirit. Passion is something that can grow over time or has always been there – from the first moment you picked up that ball, and the first time you stepped onto that court… there was a feeling that something deep inside you was coming alive. For some athletes, it’s just the thrill of competition that makes them feel alive.
But any discussion of levels of motivation for playing time should always involve two levels of responsibility – one level for coaches and one for athletes. Some coaches are world renowned for their ability to deliver the ultimate “pre-game talk” and enjoy watching their teams lock down their opponents with four quarterbacks of impressive intensity. However, the problem many coaches face is consistency. That same set of ‘magic words’ that worked so well for one game often won’t work for another, and every coach has occasionally shrugged his shoulders in a hugely important game asking, ‘Where’s the intensity? “I thought we prepared so well!” This is where athletes have to take some responsibility.
Maintain engagement levels
The following 3 “quick” tips will help any coach or athlete maintain a fierce level of intensity and a high level of motivation, whether it’s a 6am practice or the biggest game of the season. year.
1. Inspire the athlete with a vision:
The great essayist Jean La Fontaine wrote “whenever the heart is captured, the impossibilities vanish”, and in few arenas this is truer than in the sports arena. Athletes want to know and need to know exactly what to aim for. As a coach, don’t just ask the athlete to lead – tell them exactly how you want them to lead (on the court? off the court? vocally? through action? teaching? guiding? Inspiring others?… ..Being specific!). General and non-specific direction leads to “general and non-specific” results. If you’re an athlete, don’t just talk about the year-end championship… get inspired and challenge yourself with very specific expectations and goals related to the very specific role you’ll play in the race for the championship . How will you contribute offensively (what specific skills will you use to contribute?). What about defensively? What is your action plan to develop these specific skills?
2. Set more “performance” based goals than “outcome” based goals:
Performance-based goals relate only to controllable behaviors versus outcome-based goals that relate to actual statistics. which are not always fully controllable. For example, if an athlete sets a goal to shoot 50% of the 3pt. Line in the next game, or hold an opponent with a high single-digit score for the game, these factors can sometimes be affected by an opponent’s excellent defensive or offensive performance. Failure with statistical goals can be demoralizing and can add emotional pressure to a game or playoff series. That’s not to say that “keeping score” and setting quantifiable goals are bad things to do. On the contrary; Sometimes this type of goal setting and tracking is absolutely essential. However, the majority of objectives should be related to “performance” so that they are based more on fully controllable elements, i.e. the intensity of defensive effort, or the quality of ” gaze” or the concentration that the athlete gave to the rim before each stroke. . Focusing on the variables that are responsible for the 3pt. the actual incoming shot (versus the actual shot result), can often be much more productive while alleviating any additional stat “pressure”.
3. Inject more fun into workouts and games without sacrificing intensity:
As is often said about many athletes and their relationship with their coach… “if they fear you in your presence, they will hate you in your absence”. No player has ever given 100% intensity in every game of the season to a coach he hated. Coaches and players need to find creative ways to inject fun into a practice or game. Creativity and fun in practice also have an incredible way to counter pressure. Pressure begins and ends in the mind of any athlete, and the physiological response to pressure that the body feels through muscle tension, short/shallow breaths, and general nervousness is nothing more than the brain affecting the body. Pleasure can neutralize stress and the body’s physical reaction to stress in remarkable ways.
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