RELENTLESSNESS -I Will Give My Best Effort No Matter What; I Will Compete

All coaches are looking for signs of leadership and toughness from their players.  They’ll see these signs when their athletes truly understand what it means to give their best effort one pitch at a time.  So often, unfortunately, athletes allow the situation to keep them from this lofty goal.  Many don’t truly max out their effort until it’s perceived to be a particularly important game, opponent, or audience.  Some “gamers” coast along early in the contest and truly put out their best effort only when they fall behind or it’s close in the late innings.  Many push at the start, then coast if they get a lead.  Others quit working hard when way behind, subconsciously thinking that a comeback is too unlikely to deserve their best effort.  Most have a natural letdown when the opponent is perceived to be weak.

 

Coasting is not the only reason athletes fail to relentlessly give their best effort one pitch at a time. “Normal” competitors have trouble staying confident when things aren’t going well, and they don’t perform as well when they’re not confident.  Some athletes become negative when it’s too cold, too hot, too bumpy, too far, too dry, too wet, or too dirty — even though they know they give a better effort when they are positive and having fun.  Many lose intensity in particular situations, like a 3-0 count, 0-2 count, 2 outs and none on, or hitting with none on base (RBI lovers).  Some stop putting out their best effort when they perceive (whether it’s true or not) that the umpire, a teammate, or a coach is putting out less than his or her best effort.  Whatever the situation, all of these examples represent a lack of mental toughness, a lack of leadership by example, and a missed opportunity to practice giving another best effort performance.

 

Hopefully athletes learn the dangers of letting an inferior opponent hang around, the risks of taking any situation lightly, and the joys of walking through the door that the other team left open for a great comeback.  Hopefully athletes learn to compete one pitch at a time.  Ultimately, relentlessness is about controlling the controllables, and you can control giving your best effort one step at a time, each step of the way. When you don’t do this, your self-esteem suffers a little hit. When you do, you feel like a success regardless of the things going on around you that are outside of your control.

 

What about relentlessness at practice?  Andrew Carnegie said, “The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world tips its hat to those who devote more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.”

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GOALS

We all have goals, whether we realize it or not. Some simply act to avoid pain. Others move towards pleasure. A select few systematically set and use their goals to navigate themselves towards exactly what they want in life. Well-stated, monitored, and adjusted goals will help direct attention appropriately, provoke physical action on this focus, improve time management skills, and increase persistence. These goal directed behaviors are not always normal, so if where you’re headed isn’t normal or average either, actually writing down well-formed goals will help you achieve the EXTRAordinary.

 

Short-term (under a year) goals should have six characteristics. They should be SMART and controllable. That is, they should be [S]pecific, [M]easureable, [A]ttractive, [R]ealistic, [T]imed, and Controllable.  It will not, in and of itself, help me to say that I want to be great. I need to define greatness specifically, in controllable and measurable terms. Then I must choose a level that is both attractive and realistic, and a date by which I will reach this level. For example, a softball hitter may commit to having quality at-bats two-thirds of the time by April 1– where a quality at-bat is one where she sees each pitch well, makes all good decisions about whether or not to swing, and then either gets a base hit, advances a runner (when trying more to advance the runner than get a base hit), or hit the ball very hard.

 

Short-term goals must be monitored and adjusted. This is what separates the goal setting process from setting New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are usually set on January 1 and forgotten about by January 15. Adjusting goals so that they remain both attractive and realistic is critical to maintain motivation and prevent frustration. This monitoring process will also keep goals relevant and help increase awareness of what controllable factors (behaviors) are working and should be repeated, and which are not and should be changed. Key point: goal setting is an ongoing process, not a one-time thing.
Formal daily and/or weekly goal setting as described has been consistently shown to increase the quality of a person’s behavior and outcomes. This is true across the board, plus this process is particularly powerful for people who have or had Attention Deficit Disorder. Despite this, following this procedure is rare. If you decide to invest the time into goal setting and commit to your goals (rather than just being interested in them), give yourself a pat on the back. If you want some forms to make this monitoring process easier, email Coach Traub at aaron@CoachTraub.com and he’ll send them to you – free (or buy his book – it’s in there).

 

Aaron Weintraub has been coaching athletes for 19 years, 13 of which he spent as a college baseball coach. He is a disciple of the late, great Harvey Dorfman, who wrote The Mental Game of Baseball and other books.

 

Weintraub published his own book, Coaches Guide to Winning the Mental Game, in 2009 and added An Elite Athlete’s Manual for Training Mental Skills in 2011.

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Attitude is Everything

What we think directly affects how we feel, which directly affects what we do. Said another way: attitude determines our altitude, and it comes from how we think, whether we realize this or not. Wait…does this mean that athletes who are confident and having fun play better than those who are frustrated and timid? Absolutely! So which comes first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t know. But which comes first: successful outcomes or a positive, confident, fun attitude? For many, success does, but for the greatest athletes in the world, the ideal attitude for performance comes first.

 

Attitude is a function of what we think about/focus on. Most people’s attitude goes with the flow, thinking about/focusing on current events, current needs, current fears, current desires, etc. That can be good, but can just as easily be bad if the current is, for example, the Niagara River. It might not even seem dangerous at the moment, but it could be heading towards a great fall! My reminder to athletes: you have extremely little control over what goes on around you, but total control of how you choose to respond to it. It is in these choices that lay your freedom, your growth, your happiness, and your personal power. Choose wisely.

Many people have a less-than-ideal attitude about “failure.” Instead of viewing it as a needed stepping stone for success, they see it as an end in itself — a bad one. If they would remember the wonderful goal of approaching their potential, it would be easy to think like a scientist pursuing the question, “How good can I be?” Always remember that we learn and grow from adversity.

 

Concrete examples:

 

• A mistake by self (or someone else) often leads to negative emotions, which can cause the problem to snowball by creating a poor approach/attitude on the next play.

 

• An athlete or his teammate makes an error and he tries to “make up for it” by trying harder on the next play. Was he not trying hard before? Trying to do too much (pressing) is not the way to win the mental game.

 

• An official blows the call, but it’s just one call. It is almost always the athlete’s response to this that blows the game.

 

• A losing player is so mad that he forgets to learn from the experience.

 

• A winning player is so pleased that he forgets to learn from the experience.

 

• Poor self-talk words such as “gotta” “impossible” and “don’t screw up” lead to a less-than-ideal performance attitude. These words could be replaced with “opportunity” “challenge” and “excited” to create a winning attitude.

 

Suggestion: relentless positivism, emphasizing whatever helps and de-emphasizing whatever doesn’t. Don’t underestimate the “glass half full” attitude’s impact on performance! Mental skills improve with practice just like physical skills do, so don’t wait until game day to practice the skill of having a positive attitude. Consistently bring positive energy, respect, and appreciation to practice. Hold yourself accountable for your attitude and body language, even during conditioning or after making a mistake. If you receive constructive criticism, be grateful, not resentful. Use your brain to overcome your fearful emotions. After all, would you prefer that the coach ignores your mistake, signifying that she’s giving up on your potential?

 

Your perspective on things determines your attitude. Appreciate your opportunities; they are significant. Compare our chances for happiness, satisfaction, and service to others to what they would be if we had been born in a different place or time. Statistically speaking, you and I did better than winning the lottery when we were born.

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Make Learning Most Important Every Day

By: Dr. Aaron Weintraub   – Performance Consultant

Make your top goal is to be the best you can be at your sport because this will maximize your chances to achieve all your other goals. What does it take to approach potential? It does not require that you perform perfectly today, but don’t get excited that it is easy: it requires that you learn as much as possible today about how to give your best effort in the future.

 

Three questions: Do you perform better with a positive attitude than a negative one? Isn’t adversity inevitable? If yes to both, then isn’t staying positive through adversity going to be a critical skill for you to develop to be the best you can be? Here’s how to do it: make learning most important! Adversity is good because it usually provides information about something that isn’t working. Even when it doesn’t, it provides an opportunity to practice controlling your attitudes and emotions with the positive self-talk that comes from an optimistic explanatory style.

 

When you make learning more important than achievement today, you are able to adopt the scientist’s mindset that there is no such thing as “failure,” only poor outcomes that can be avoided in the future by making effective adjustments. Learn what to repeat from your successes and what to change from your “failures.” But remember, learning doesn’t happen automatically. You have to pay attention, looking for patterns and details. This is too much trouble for most people, but since you are committed to being the best you can be at your sport, it’s certainly not too much for you. You know that to get what most people won’t ever get, you’ll have to do and think things that most people won’t do and think.

 

Consistently ask questions, including:

 

What was I trying to do?

 

What happened?

 

Why?

 

What do I want to try to do the next time that I’m in a similar situation?

 

How do I do that?

 

We are not born with the information needed to formulate the best plan of attack for any situation. We must seek it out if we are going to have a chance to approach our potential, being open to the possibility that our old maps of life that tell us how to get to where we want to go probably have a few mistakes on them. Also, each map is certainly lacking in some of the details and distinctions needed to traverse such a challenging path as yours.

 

Here are two big ‘ifs:’ If you know what you want and if you have both the motivation and courage to go and get it, then you are on your way. That way is learning to be your best, and this process defines your success (most people think it leads to your success). Our ability to get what we want in life is no different from our rate of learning and applying what we learn. Know your job and do your job!

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