Showing posts with label thoughts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thoughts. Show all posts

Friday, November 23

The Attitude of Gratitude

Being grateful means being appreciative, and to appreciate means to value or admire something or someone highly. Another great definition from Merriam-Webster for "appreciate" is: to judge with heightened perception or understanding; to be fully aware of.

I bring these definitions to your attention this Thanksgiving weekend in an effort to heighten you and your athlete's awareness, perception and appreciation for the gift of softball and youth sports in general.

Let's get down to specifics with The Attitude of Gratitude:

Players - Recognize and be aware of just what a privilege it is to play your sport. No matter  what team you play on your coaches chose YOU to be on it. They believe in your ability, so respect and honor your coaches and teammates by giving 110% effort all the time and bringing the Attitude of Gratitude to every practice and game. Get excited about being on your team and appreciate every minute of it. Your energy of gratitude can inspire you and your team to do great things!

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As well you should express deep gratitude and appreciation to your parents and other family members who support you in playing your support and sacrifice both valuable time and money for you to participate and improve through private lessons, traveling tournaments, clinics, top equipment, etc.

And although it may be hard to grasp in this generation but a generation ago young female athletes did not possess the opportunities to play the game as you do today. Honor those opportunities and those players who went before you to pioneer the game paving the way for the great opportunities you have today.

Remember that effort and attitude are always a choice. That you can be as good in this game as you want to be and are prepared to work for. Being grateful for the opportunity means not squandering it. If you have goals to play your sport in college find that burning desire to be your best and go for it!

Parents - For parents the Attitude of Gratitude looks like appreciating coaches for the hard work and commitment they make to your athlete's development (no, you don't need to like or agree with all their coaching decisions, but you can still be grateful and respect their time, energy and commitment). Appreciate your athlete and their team for the effort they put into mastering a very difficult sport. This means don't expect perfection; allow them time to learn by making the inevitable mistakes and adversity the game will throw at them. Focus on the process or getting better rather than solely on the results.

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Appreciate your spouse, your family and yourself for their (and your) sacrifices made that enable your athlete to pursue her dream. Being a sports parent today can be stressful, especially if you have more than one child pursuing their athletic dream! Employ "big picture" thinking.

Be grateful for all the wonderful life lessons your athlete is learning through her sports experiences...win or lose. As in life we tend to learn more in the midst of failure and adversity than constant smooth sailing, so allow your athlete to fail and know that inside she is learning and growing greatly from it. These life lessons she will carry her entire life and will (and likely already) make her a better, more disciplined, more resilient person able to handle the many challenges life will throw at her as an adult.

Also in your grateful bliss commit to honoring the game which means supporting your athlete's team 100%. Nothing is worse and more detrimental to a team's success than parents talking poorly about players, team or coaches to other parents or within earshot of players. This divisiveness creates negative energy among parents and team that can only hurt your athlete. Also support and appreciate the opposing team for without them there would be no game. Despite wearing a different uniform, as adults, we should wish success for all these young athletes. Recognize that they are all working hard to achieve their athletic dreams too.

Finally as part of having an Attitude of Gratitude please respect and appreciate the umpires and officials each and every game. As with the coaches you may not agree with all their calls (I know I usually don't!), but you can still show respect and recognition that he or she is doing the very best they can to get each call right. I can assure you, having spoken to hundreds of umpires and officials over the years, that they take their jobs very seriously. Most of them sat where you did years before watching their own kids play sports. As such they respect the athletes and want to be a positive force on the field. Your verbally ridiculing an umpire only serves to disrespect the game and undermine your athlete and her team.

So on this relaxing Thanksgiving weekend, while you and your athlete are likely taking a short break from the game remember the Attitude of Gratitude. I'm confident that if you and your athlete keep the points I have written here in mind you will both enjoy the game more and you might even enjoy writing those sports related checks a little more (okay...that might be a reach!).

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Friday, June 8

The Real Secret Behind Alabama's Softball Title

Winning a National Championship is never an easy feat and it certainly wasn't so for the Alabama Crimson Tide softball team this week in Oklahoma City. After going down in game one fairly convincingly against the hottest pitcher and team in the tournament, Oklahoma, Monday night Alabama was just seven innings away from another disappointment at the NCAA Women's College World Series.

But something magically happened overnight to the Bama team and they came out in game two a different team.

As I say often...success is a choice and so, apparently, is winning a National Championship.

In addition to some tremendous on the field adjustments Head Coach Patrick Murphy and his staff employed the Bama girls brought an incredible energy, enthusiasm, focus and a skyrocketed expectation for victory.

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As Alabama had been close several times before in the OKC the team's motto for the season was "Finish It!" And finish it they did in jumping out to an 8-1 lead in game two against a virtually un-hittable Keilani Ricketts (the NCAA Player of the Year).

Almost as exciting was Oklahoma's last inning five run comeback to make it close. Alabama won it all with another comeback in game three winning, arguably, the most exciting softball championship series ever.

So what is to be learned from both Alabama and Oklahoma?

1. Both teams never gave up and never gave in. They got to the championship series because of their talent and their character. Champions simply never stop competing.

2. Alabama made critical adjustments in the batter's box that served to take away one of Keilani Rickett's main strengths...the outside corner on her devastating curve. All great players and teams must make constant adjustments to maintain their edge and give them the best shot at victory.

3. Alabama got incredibly noisy on the bench. Their energy became contagious and absolutely spilled out onto the field and got into the Oklahoma players' heads. This energy literally shifted the momentum back over to Alabama's side and was the outside emotion of the inside thoughts (cause and effect).

4. I guarantee you that inside each of the Bama players' heads were nothing but positive, "can do" thoughts. Their internal conversation was all about "finishing it" and the expectancy for success. Their ultimate success was not an accident. It was the result of design...including incredible mental toughness and rock solid self-confidence.

5. There was an absolute absence of doubt on the Alabama team, starting with their coaching staff. I would suggest that immediately after game one Coach Murphy was already minimizing the loss and framing it as but a challenge to be overcome. Alabama played hard and lost. Game over...let's make some adjustments and come out tomorrow and win (one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time). This is a huge reason why the Crimson Tide came back, and one your athlete needs to learn. Any adversity she faces can deflate her or pump her up to rise to the challenge like Alabama did.

In the end Alabama refused to lose. They willed themselves to victory against a tremendous opponent. They chose victory...this is the Alabama Advantage.

In the bigger picture each of the players on Bama won something much greater than a National Championship...they learned a life lesson they will never forget: If you work hard enough, keep believing long enough and never give up dreams can and will come true!

Congratulations to both teams for putting on a phenomenal show of effort, competition, sportsmanship, drive and passion. They demonstrated for three days what makes the game of fastpitch softball so great!

Your athlete and her team can use the Alabama Advantage whenever they choose to. Remember, success is a choice!

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Monday, April 9

The Confidence Cycle in Sports

For most younger athletes their game day success, particularly during the most pivotal moments of the game, all comes down to their belief in their ability to succeed or fail. In other words do they have adequate self-confidence on the field or court or not?

As I prepare in the coming weeks to launch what I believe will be a groundbreaking online mental performance course for athletes, parents and coaches, The Game Day Domination Course, my research on the subject of self-confidence for younger athletes (along with my own experiences as a game coach, mental performance expert and former collegiate athlete) has convinced me that self-confidence is not an accident. In fact I have concluded that self-confidence for any athlete is the product of a clearly defined "cause and effect" cycle that is quite predictable. Moreover this confidence cycle is a clear predictor of game day performance as well.

For your athlete to achieve and maintain a high level of self-confidence, and thus a high level of game day performance they will need to be mindful of their own "confidence cycle."

So what is the "confidence cycle" that ultimately propels or sabotages game day performance?

It all starts with how your athlete processes his or her performance. In other words what are the thoughts swirling around in their head before, during and after his or her games?

If those thoughts are expansive, positive, and "can do" they have laid a great foundation for their confidence cycle and game day success.

However, if their mental reaction to their game day performance is highly critical, negative, limiting and "can't do" he or she has created a rocky foundation for their confidence cycle and game day performance.

Below is a flow chart illustrating the cycle between the most important components that make up self-confidence:

The Confidence Cycle

 The cause and effect relationship between the components in the "confidence cycle" can be explained like this:

1. Your athlete holds certain beliefs about themselves and their game. These beliefs in themselves can be expansive or limiting (for example, they may believe they are competent in certain aspects of their game, but not others).

2. How your athlete reacts, via their thoughts, to a game event (in part based on their beliefs) will trigger specific thoughts (positive or negative; motivating or deflating; "can do" or "can't do") that will have an enormous impact on their emotional state.

3. Your athlete's emotional state will either allow him or her body to be relaxed or anxious; able to laser focus on the task at hand (play) or be unable to focus.

4. Your athlete's emotional state, triggered by their thoughts, will dictate in any given moment the level of self-confidence he or she will experience.

5. This confidence level will dictate their game day performance, particularly in the most pivotal moments of the game.

To summarize the "confidence cycle," when your athlete believes they can succeed in the execution of a future game event they likely will. Strong beliefs in future success come from: 

1. Previous game day successes.

2. A belief that the athlete has adequately trained or prepared themselves physically for game day success.

3. A supportive environment (coaches, parents, teammates).

4. Use of proper mental performance training to use mental imagery and other mental cues to prepare themselves mentally for game day success. 


An athlete who consistently dominates on game day is an athlete with:


1. Strong beliefs and expectancy for their game day success.

2. Positive, "can do" thoughts that sees every game as an exciting challenge.

3. A clearly defined "pre-game" and "in-game" plan or strategy to heighten both relaxation and mental focus that will allow them to optimally approach each game day situation proactively and by design.

4. Rock solid self-confidence is built from beliefs, thoughts and feelings of success, as well as a calm, relaxed and focused mind and body.


So be aware of the "confidence cycle" with your athlete and whether his or her "confidence cycle" is setting them up for game day success or failure.


Remember game day success is not an accident; it is cultivated and maintained by design and by choice. Supreme confidence is the key to sustained peak performance on game day.


Game day domination requires that your athlete be ultra prepared both physically and mentally. One without the other will never yield consistent game day performances. Find out how to improve your athlete's game day performance here.


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Sunday, March 11

How Emotions Can Destroy Her Game Day Performance

Let's face the facts...all the hitting and pitching lessons you can afford, and all the ground balls and batting cages swings in the world won't matter a lick if your athlete folds under the pressures of the game.

I have seem countless players look fantastic in practice only to come unraveled during pivotal moments on game day. Why is that? There are certainly a number of contributing factors, all found between the ears. However, in today's post, I want to focus on how your athlete's emotional state can and will destroy her game day performance.

girls softball player losing her poise
If you are a parent or a coach we all grapple with the weekly emotions of our teenage daughters/players, don't we? Teenage girls in general can be a handful, but add the stress, pressure and expectations of a softball diamond into the mix and these young ladies can quickly become their own worst enemies in a heartbeat!

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The diagram below illustrates the impact your athlete's emotional state has on her performance. Your athlete has the choice of how she reacts to a "game event" by her "thoughts." Her thoughts (positive or negative) will trigger an emotional reaction. This emotional reaction will have a direct impact on the quality of her overall game day performance.
 


If the "chain reaction" of event / thoughts / emotions (feelings) is a positive and healthy one a domino effect of high performance will ensue. However if that "emotional" chain reaction is negative and limiting the domino effect can create a continual stream of poor performance during subsequent game events (or plays).

Here is an example of a negative emotional "chain reaction" that can destroy game day performance:
  • An athlete makes a crucial error in the field and immediately engages in negative thought patterns that question her ability to succeed. She starts internal dialogue like, "I can't believe I missed that ball. I suck at shortstop."
  • As these negative thoughts continue and compound the emotional reaction ensues. The athlete feels frustrated, angry or sad based solely on her reaction to her game event and the negative thoughts that bombard her head as a result.
  • Now her emotional state is heightened in a negative and destructive way, including the inability to focus on the present moment and the task at hand.
  • The athlete, as many do, takes her mistake in the field and carries it over to her next at bat. Unfocused with diffused energy and "can't do" thinking she strikes out and walks away with an even more elevated emotional instability as her frustration may now turn to anger. Her failure at the plate only serves to reinforce her own conclusions in her head that she "can't do it."
  • For the remainder of that game (and perhaps several games that day or weekend) the athlete's emotional state prevents her from playing at an optimal level nor from enjoying the game. Her game day performance is dismal...far below her true softball potential.

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Let's look at an example of a positive emotional "chain reaction" that can propel game day performance:
  • An athlete strikes out with the bases loaded at a pivotal time in the game. Rather than engaging immediately in negative thought patterns she recognizes the pitcher made a great pitch and she can't wait for the challenge of hitting against her next time.
  • These positive and healthy thought patterns lead to a healthy emotional reaction whereby the athlete is still disappointed in her strikeout but the overwhelming feelings are ones of excitement and determination to do better next time.
  • Because of her positive and constructive emotional state she is able to remain focused in present moment awareness and is ready to attack the next task at hand.
  • Any future game events will likely be approached with a "can do" attitude, minimizing the chances for adversity.
  • For the remainder of that game and likely many more to follow this athlete will perform more near her true softball potential, while greatly enjoying the process of playing the game.
The solution to insuring optimal game day performance for your athlete lies in her ability to properly frame the results of a game event. If she expects perfection or is burdened by excessive external expectations (from parents or coaches), or simply lacks self-confidence a less than optimal game event can cause her emotional state and game performance to spiral downward rapidly. If she can frame the same game event positively and productively (as in "mistakes are part of the game and opportunities to learn" and "I see that opportunity as a challenge") then the potential negative impact from the game event will be minimized and game day performance can be optimized.

Simply stated your athlete's emotional states can expand or limit her game day potential for success. Here are three steps she can take to turn that frown upside down after a mistake:

1. Recognize how she is responding to the game event (what are her emotional habits?).

2. Acknowledge that she has a choice as to how she reacts to the event (taking responsibility for her emotions).

3. Frame the event more positively, focusing on the effort and process rather than simply the results (keeping it all in perspective).

Remember, how your athlete responds to adversity is always her choice. Help her to develop the mental tools she needs to dominate on game day!

**Give your athlete and his/her team the gift of self-confidence and peak performance with The Sports Confidence Blueprint program! On sale for only $39.97...full of a ton of mental performance resources!

  
The popular Game Changer Audio Program...over 6 hours of kid friendly mental performance instruction from expert John Kelly to help boost self-confidence, focus, and joy for playing the game is 


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Wednesday, February 8

The 10 Point Blueprint to Sports Confidence

Of all the topics I write about, speak about and train on self-confidence is consistently at the top of the list for parents, coaches and players...and for good reason. Without a high and consistent level of self-confidence your athlete will stand little chance of becoming a consistent peak performer on the field.

Self-confidence is the mental trigger mechanism that drives performance. Unfortunately for a young athlete self-confidence can be as fleeting as sand through their fingers, and a frustrating mystery for both parents and coaches.

It's a given that all athletes want to perform their best every time they step on the field. However, optimal performance is a result of both physical and mental skills mastery; one without the other will create a disconnect that will show up in key game situations when an athlete's success or failure will hinge on their "crunch time" performance.

Fortunately there is a blueprint to gaining peak self confidence, the ingredients of which are found in the complex set of variables that either serve to propel and empower confidence or sabotage and destroy confidence. The path this blueprint lays out is easy to understand, yet hard to master. Peak self-confidence comes with time and conscious effort by both player and parent. It requires being honest about the current state of the athlete's level of self-confidence and why it is where it is.

Here is the 10 point blueprint your athlete MUST follow in order to cultivate and maintain peak confidence that will, in turn, yield consistent peak performance on game day:

1. Acknowledge their current state of confidence, fear and anxiety. In other words for parent and athlete don't pretend the problem isn't there. With self-confidence issues your athlete can't just tough it out and work through it.

2. Recognize that fear is the base for most self-confidence issues for athletes. Fear of failure; fear of disappointing parents, teammates, coaches and self; fear of being embarrassed (particularly for girls); fear of the unknown.


3. The kids I train like this acronym: F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. Most young athlete engage in distorted thinking predicated on false evidence. Often they belief they cannot do something because their friend can't or simply because they haven't done it before. As a parent it is your job to challenge their beliefs about themselves and their game to get their thinking right. This alone will greatly diminish their fear.

4. Have a short memory. Like professionals your athlete needs to accept that mistakes and poor execution are part of the game; that these mistakes offer great opportunities to learn and get better in their sport. No athlete who ever played any game has been perfect 100% of the time. Having a short memory insures your athlete can get their focus back to the present moment, where peak performance lives.

5. Recognize that mastery of their sport is a journey not a destination. In other words your athlete won't just wake up one day and be a master of their sport; it takes time. Mastery is a process that looks like taking a step backwards some days. Patience is a requirement for building self-confidence.

6. Lighten the burden of expectations. Our kids today are under unprecedented pressure to excel in both school and on the athletic field. In addition to external expectations from parents, coaches and peers, your athlete may also have exceptionally high self-expectations for their performance. I see it every weekend. Setting the personal bar at a high level is admirable, but too high may be unrealistic and damaging to self-confidence when game results can rarely match expectations. In short, excessive expectations are a performance and confidence killer. 

6. Visualize Success. In my Game Changer Program I offer a detailed audio lesson on visualization or mental imagery. Your athlete can literally see their success in advance by utilizing these visualization techniques. By using all of their senses they can trick their subconscious mind into believing the performance they see in their head is real, so that on game day the mind and body perform anxiety free and with great precision. This mental "trick," used by elite athletes worldwide, can skyrocket self-confidence.

7. Have a positive mindset. With distorted thinking comes doubt. If your athlete's thoughts are negative they are limiting success. Negative, or "can't do" thinking will never grow confidence. Have your athlete develop positive trigger statements that can be used on game day as well as overall positive "can do" self talk during the course of the day. Re-boot the mental hard drive with a positive mindset.

8. Remember previous success. Often times a young athlete gets negative and engages in catastrophe thinking, when they expect the worst. By remembering a prior success they have had in their sport the chain of negative thinking that leads to a drop in confidence can be broken. Expecting success instead of failure is the goal and it starts with replacing the failure thinking with success thinking...including a belief that I can execute the task successfully because I have executed it successfully before.

9. Unconditional parental support. A fundamental foundation for any athlete's sustained self-confidence is their parents' unconditional support of them on and off the athletic field. Parents, while well meaning, can be the worst offenders to their own child's self-confidence. Being critical or judgmental of game performances is counter productive. All kids, by definition, want to please their parents and desperately want their acceptance. Understand that your athlete will never be perfect, so celebrate their effort more than their results and you will do wonders to build your athlete's level of confidence. Remember...it's only a game!

10. Build confidence by design. The goal of this 10 point blueprint is to change the way your athlete thinks; to start the process of building rock solid self-confidence one brick at a time. The starting place is always addressing the negative and fearful thoughts that bombard their head on game day, and particularly at the key moments of the game. Have a conversation with your athlete about all of these blueprint points as well as have them write down their own thoughts and feelings in their sports journal as a process of elevating their thoughts about themselves and their game.

Lack of self-confidence can be a very dangerous thing for your athlete. So many kids define themselves as individuals based on their athletic performance, particularly as adolescents. Low self-confidence can lead to low self-esteem and low self-image which can cascade into poor academic performance and poor social choices. Work with your athlete to build their self-confidence slowly but surely. The long term benefits will be well worth the time and effort.

Check out my new Sports Confidence Blueprint program, designed to skyrocket your athlete's game day confidence with dozens of proven strategies!



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Friday, January 13

The No Limit Athlete in 2012 - Part 2

In my first installment of The No Limit Athlete (Part 1) I covered The Physical side of the "no limit" athlete equation. Today I will share the second crucial part of the no limit athlete: The Mental. Again, physical training without mental training will never produce a consistent peak performing, "no limit" athlete. Like the physical the mental part of becoming a "no limit" athlete is always a choice.

The Mental

While all athletes are accustomed to the rigors of physical training few understand or undertake significant mental training. For athletes and their parents mental skills training can be hard to wrap their heads around (no pun intended). In reality the game is 90% mental and when the rubber hits the road...when the game is on the line physical training alone is simply not going to be enough to get your athlete to the no limit level. Let's look at what mental factors will:

1. Thoughts are things. Building mental skills mastery begins with the recognition that thoughts are things and thoughts are powerful! We each have over 50,000 unique thoughts every day. What your athlete thinks about in terms of her game will determine her level of success. Thoughts can limit or propel your athlete toward no limit status.

2. Beliefs. Your athlete's beliefs about herself are interwoven with her thoughts. If your athlete believes that she can accomplish a certain task or play at a certain level she will likely create thought patterns which reinforce her positive "can do" beliefs. Likewise if your athlete engages in limited thinking, that she cannot accomplish specific tasks or play at a certain level, she will engage in thought patterns which will reinforce her limited beliefs about herself. Beliefs are extremely powerful and become ingrained within the mind. Young athlete's beliefs are often distorted, so question your athlete's beliefs about herself and her game.

3. Resiliency.  Because of the difficult nature of the game your athlete must be resilient and bounce back from the inevitable adversity the game throws at her. This means framing mistakes and less than ideal at bats or pitching performances as opportunities to learn and grow from versus responding harshly towards herself after each mistake, causing a downward spiral in her game.

4. Managing Expectations.  We put enormous pressure and sky high expectations on our kids today. The current generation of kids have been bred as "super achievers." But in reality they do not wear capes and will experience failure on the field. The no limit athlete manages the expectations of others (as well as her own) by recognizing her limitations and those of the game. No one who ever played the game has been perfect, so lighten up!

5. Controllables. Hand in hand with managing expectations is your athlete's recognition of the factors she has control over: her effort, her attitude and her mental focus. So much of the game is clearly outside of her control, but the effort, attitude and focus she brings to the field are not only 100% within her control but are always a choice she makes. Understanding this key point will allow your athlete to better handle her own expectations for her performance and focus solely on these factors rather than judging her game performance simply by the results alone.

6. Building a laser focus.  The most evident benefit of proper mental skills training is  developing a great ability to focus and concentrate during a game. As a hitter your athlete has about 1/3 of a second to determine pitch velocity, location and movement. Unless she is laser focused she will never be the hitter she is capable of being. Cultivating a higher level of focus is a result of positive thoughts, proper breathing and the ability to shut the thoughts down the moment she steps into the box.

7. Self-Confidence.  At the heart of every no limit athlete is a high level of self-confidence. Self-confidence is a product of having the proper beliefs, the proper thoughts, framing adversity as a learning opportunity, recognizing her controllables, and the ability to block out all "noise" before each pitch is thrown. Unfortunately most young athletes have a hard time doing any of these things, leaving self-confidence as a sometimes thing at best. An athlete struggling with self-confidence will bring up thoughts of previous failures in their head, which leads to further failure. Confidence or lack thereof becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. To break the chain your athlete must stay in the present moment and commit to implementing the points written about in this blog.

Becoming a "no limit" athlete is a difficult path, which is why so few athletes ever achieve no limit status. As I said at the beginning of this post mental mastery like physical mastery is a choice. If your athlete is willing to put in the time and effort to address these crucial mental skills factors she will be well on her way towards becoming a no limit athlete. But beware...ignore the mental side of the equation at your and her own risk! It is always during the most pivotal moments of the game that your athlete will require mental toughness and mental skills mastery to be great. Will she soar or will she implode? Remember...it's always a choice.

Look for the final part of the "No Limit Athlete in 2012" trilogy; Putting It All Together...soon!

The game is 90% mental. How much do you invest in your athlete's mental game? Change her game forever. See how!

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Monday, January 9

The Alabama Championship Formula & Softball

The Alabama Crimson Tide football team just finished capturing the BCS National Championship in a dominating fashion over previously unbeaten and SEC rival LSU 21-0. But it was really how Alabama won that any sports parent, athlete or coach should be paying attention to.

It's not an accident that Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban won his third National Championship (the first one, ironically, at LSU). His team played nearly flawlessly on the biggest stage in college football. He and his coaching staff did a phenomenal job coaching and mentally preparing their kids for the pressures that awaited them in the Louisiana Superdome.

So what is Alabama's championship formula and how can you and your athlete benefit from both understanding and implementing it?

1. Poise - In the biggest game in these players' lives it was Alabama  that played poised ball. Because they were poised they did not make mistakes during big plays. In fact, their defense caused mistakes because of their poise. All night long the Alabama players displayed poised body language. Excelling under extreme pressure is the mark of a champion...and it takes poise and ice water in the veins to do so.

2. Confidence - It was clear from start to finish that Alabama was the more confident team. Their poise is, in part, a product of their collective self-confidence. They were able to play aggressively on offense, defense and special teams because of their confidence. The LSU quarterback, by comparison, seemed to hesitate all night...showing his lack of self-confidence.

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

3. Positive Energy - Alabama's coaches had their team fired up for sure, but their individual and collective energy was amazingly focused and it allowed them to stay disciplined on the field and make plays. Theirs was certainly "can do" energy.  LSU, on the other hand, did not have positive energy. It was easy to see the Tigers "can't do" energy as the camera panned the sideline and zoomed in on their star players.

4. Expectations - As you would expect in a national title game both teams likely expected to win. After all, LSU handed Alabama their only loss earlier in the season. However, as the game wore on it was clear that Alabama was more prepared mentally. LSU made several mistakes at key moments that collectively seemed to deflate the team. While Alabama stayed on attack mode. The Crimson Tide played with that calm confidence that champions have. They expected success at every turn and achieved it.

5. Teamwork - Football requires great teamwork, however Alabama's performance was one of the most selfless I have seen in college football. No dancing, no "me" displays after a big play. Their goal was a national championship and it took an elevated level of teamwork to get the job done in such a convincing manner.

6. Focus - None of the above five points would have mattered if Alabama was unable to exert such tremendous mental focus throughout the game. This after the Crimson Tide lost their #1 receiver and team leader early in the game. Against such a tough opponent Alabama needed to be mentally prepared with a zen like focus to play as well as they did on such a gargantuan stage.

7. Effort - I saved the best for last...effort. Last night's game was truly inspiring to me as a sports parent and coach to see the herculean effort Alabama put forth. Each play LSU ran it seemed like four or five 'Bama players were swarming on the ball carrier. Because they were focused there were virtually no missed tackles. No name receivers were diving and stretching out for balls like their lives depended on it. Effort is always a choice and it was clear that Alabama simply wanted it more last night.

To recap Alabama's championship formula: poise, confidence, positive energy, expectations for success, teamwork, focus, and effort. If your athlete and her team can employ the same strategy they may be holding a trophy of their own soon!

The 2012 season is near. The game is 90% mental...how much are you investing in her mental game? The Secret Weapon Audio Collection 1 may be the answer! Over 3 hours of cutting edge, softball specific, Mental Skills Audio Training certain to elevate her game to new heights!

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Friday, January 6

The No Limit Softball Player in 2013 - Part 1

As fastpitch softball players begin preparing themselves in the weeks and months ahead for the 2013 season one thing is clear...each player will choose by their beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions just how successful her season will be. Will hers be a memorable season, one that sets her apart from the majority of the team as a true game changer...or will her season look much like the previous season in which she has occasional flashes of greatness but for the most part blends in with the rest of her team as an average player.

As I write about in my books the goal of being her best looks like being a consistent peak performer, but being consistently great is no easy task. It takes a high level of both physical and mental mastery to, not only, overcome the adversities the game throws at her but to actually thrive in the face of adversity.

In this three part series I will go into great detail of what it will take for your athlete to truly become a "no limit" athlete; where all things are possible for her. In my heart of hearts I believe that every young athlete can be as good as they want to be. Yes, for some that path may be shorter than for others. Nonetheless, I will explain exactly how to become a "no limit" athlete in three parts: "The Physical," "The Mental," and "Putting it All Together."

The Physical

The foundation for any "no limit" athlete is to recognize the factors they do and do not have control over. One's effort, attitude and mental focus are certainly controllables. We know that no two athletes have exactly the same bodies and physical skills, so what can your athlete do become a "no limit" athlete in the physical sense?

1. Develop a detailed physical training plan. Know her strengths and weaknesses. Does she need to improve her strength, her speed, her quickness, her command of sport specific skills? Make sure her physical training plan puts her on track to turn her physical weaknesses into strengths.

2. Mastering the physical is a choice that requires hard work. How committed is she to getting stronger, quicker, faster? Is she putting in the 30-60 minutes each day to work on her weaknesses? Most players don't. Once her regimen becomes habit she will see massive improvements that will catapult her game performance.

3. Believing the physical training is working. Because a well designed physical training program will be physically and mentally fatiguing your athlete has to believe that all her hard work is paying off. Her belief will motivate her to work harder and stay on schedule. This also requires patience as all physical improvements develop slowly but surely. Remember, a little improvement each day over time equals massive growth!
Michael Jordan, the ultimate "No Limit" athlete!

4. Doing more game related repetitions. This may sound like a simple task, but in my experience few girls ever do it. This looks like grabbing mom or dad, sister or brother, a teammate or neighbor to help with 100 grounders each day, 100 swings each day, as a pitcher throwing 100 pitches each day; as a catcher blocking 50 balls and making 50 throws to 2nd and 3rd base (and if not each day at least three times/week). Softball is a game of reps, so the more she takes outside of her regular practice the more her mastery will accelerate. Is all this easy to do combined with school work, other sports and a social life? Perhaps not...but again the choice is hers as to how good she wants to be. A "no limit" athlete makes the time.

Is she a "game changer?" Give her the tools to be one here.

5. Be the best you. Because no two athletes are the same it is vitally important that your athlete recognize the focus is on her being the very best "Chloe" or "Angie" she can be, and not comparing herself to a teammate or opponent. Being a "no limit" athlete means working her hardest to be the best you, given her unique body and innate skills.

6. Physical mastery is a challenge. To really get the most from your athlete's physical training she needs to look at the activity as a challenge. How hard can she work? Can she challenge herself to do 5 more reps...10 more reps. The "no limit" athlete never lets the unseen competitor work harder than she does. Make it fun, make it a game...win the challenge.

7. Bring it with passion. Physical training is much easier to endure with a smile on her face. If she can tie her hard work into tangible on the field results her motivation should carry her through. The "no limit" athlete always sees the end game; meaning she always recognizes that the effort she puts in today will yield the desired results down the road.

8. Begin it now. Whether her season starts this weekend or in three months begin it now! Small but steady physical repetitions to improve her strength, speed, agility, quickness or game skills add up over time...so don't wait to get her physical training plan into action. The sooner she starts and builds muscle memory and habit the easier it will become.

9. Make it easy. I'm not suggesting that you enlist 17 private trainers for this process! Your athlete can do wrist rolls to improve her wrist and arm strength for 10 minutes while watching TV. She can do 200 jumps with a rope for 10 minutes before dinner or when she gets up in the morning. If you have stairs in the house she can climb them anytime to increase her foot quickness and leg strength. The easier it is the more likely she will do it.

10. Keep track of her progress. Keeping a training journal is a good idea. It allows your athlete to not only follow a written training plan but also to record how she feels about her effort and how her body feels. Each time she goes on the field she will progressively feel stronger or quicker and her results will absolutely reflect that. Having a plan and recording its success will serve to further motive your athlete to continue her hard work on her way to mastery.

The bottom line...physical training is a choice. It is easy to make excuses about not having the time or energy to workout (particularly if she is a teenager). But if she has clearly definable goals for her softball career use those to help motive her and keep her focused on the big picture. Remember, the "no limit" athlete is also the no excuse athlete!

Read "The No Limit Athlete - Part 2, The Mental"

Thanks for reading!  -- John Kelly

Every athlete needs a high level of sports confidence to be successful on game day. Does your athlete have it? Take her sports confidence to the next level with the Sports Confidence Blueprint program...a proven step by step formula to skyrocket game performance and game confidence!



Thursday, December 29

10 Tips to Make 2012 Her Best Season Yet

It's January...the start of a new year when all things seems possible. Whether you are basking in 75 degree California weather or the wintery 20's in Detroit the 2012 softball season will be here before you know it (my first practice of 2012 is in two days).

As a coach the beginning of a new season is always exciting because every team and every player starts off with a clean slate, with thoughts of championships and .500 batting averages dancing through our heads. And the truth is that phenomenal success for your team or athlete is entirely possible...it really is.

It all gets down to what level of effort, dedication and attitude she brings to her game. After coaching for over a decade and having played ball through college I know that any player can expect to get out of the game exactly what she puts into it. You see the harsh truth is that "the game" doesn't care who wins. The game doesn't care who gets a hit and who makes an error. The game will giveth and taketh away without regard for who the players or teams are. The definable variable for success in a difficult game is personal choice.

Here are 10 surefire ways to turn the new season into a memorable one for your athlete:

1. Inspire yourself and others with your effort. Bring 110% effort each time you step on the field and stand out from the crowd.

2. Work harder than everyone else. Put in the time for more grounders, more swings, more pitches. To be great you have to be willing to want it more.

travel softball hitter
Give her the gift that will change her game forever!

3. Work equally as hard in your mental skills training. Question your assumptions and beliefs about yourself that may be limiting your performance.

4. Trust yourself more. If you are trying a new position, new hitting or pitching mechanics, or advancing to the next age level be willing to step outside of old comfort zones and embrace the opportunity in front of you with a "can do" attitude.

5. Set measurable goals you can track during the season. When you are tired or mentally fatigued during a game or long practice remember your goals and push a little harder.

6. Understand why you play the game. What motivates you? Find the underlying motive as to why you play and you will unlock the true secret of success.


7. Play the game with passion and joy. Once you know why you play and you trust yourself enough to give 110% have fun playing. Playing with passion brings great energy, focus and joy. Play the game with a pep in your step!

8. Be a relentless student of the game. "ABL" (always be learning). Greatness comes from understanding the game on the path of mastery. You can learn from playing or watching. It is always the little things that make the different between good and great.

9. Focus on your effort not the results. It is easy to get caught up in the results in such a numbers oriented game. However, know the factors you have control over (effort, attitude, focus) and the ones you do not. The irony is if you work hard at the things you can control the results you desire will come!

10. Support her unconditionally. This last point is aimed at parents. Remember that your athlete's journey towards mastering a very difficult game will take time. Be patient with her, celebrate her efforts, and be sure you help her to keep the game fun by keeping her perspective balanced.

Your athlete will get out of this great game what she is willing to put into it, with stellar physical and mental training and effort. She can truly be as good as she wants to be because the game doesn't care; the game does not play favorites. It will give her every opportunity for greatness whenever she is willing to accept the challenge!

I wish you and your family an awesome 2012. If your athlete can embrace these 9 tips (and you the last tip) she will be well on her way towards creating her best season ever!


 Watch John Kelly explain how to skyrocket your athlete's game day performance HERE.

Don't leave her 2012 success to chance! The game is 90% mental. Give her the gift that will change her game forever...The Game Changer Program: A Mental Skills Blueprint to Make Her the Best She Can Be!

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Thursday, December 22

She's Just One Thought Away from Success

Success...we all want it for our kids, don't we? Whether it be in the classroom or on the athletic field we do all we can to insure that our daughters have every opportunity to succeed. And yet the secret to her success may be far simpler and far closer than you can imagine. Let me explain.

Every human being carries within him or her self a dominant thought pattern. This dominant pattern of thinking is the result of many internal and external factors. However, the most important determinant of someone's dominant thought patterns is his/her belief system. In the case of your athlete what does she believe about herself? What does she believe herself to be capable of?

For most of us our beliefs limit our potential, it's that simple. As I say often, "Either you think you can or think you can't." But even within that statement are varying degrees of success and limitation.

Now you may say..."John, are you crazy...of course my daughter wants to be successful," and I don't doubt for a minute that at the "conscious" level of her thinking she does. However given that she, like all of us, has over 50,000 unique thoughts swirling through her head every day ultimately it's what her "subconscious" thoughts say that will determine her fate. These subconscious thoughts are, again, a byproduct of what she believes about herself.
"The Thinker" by Rodin

As a game coach, as well as a mental skills coach, I see young athletes struggle on a weekly basis with self imposed limitations -- all as a result of their beliefs about their abilities and their potential. Much of this limiting belief may come from thoughts, and the emotions that accompany them, of past mistakes or failures. This "past focus" can ship wreck your athlete's performance before it even gets started.

A single positive thought about herself, her abilities and potential can truly hurtle her towards levels of success she never thought possible. If she can start to believe greater success is possible (and ultimately, with enough "right" thinking, believe her success is "probable") this will trigger a subtle shift in her subconscious mind and empower her towards an avalanche of positive thoughts that become her new dominant thought pattern.



As she takes this new approach to the field her successes will mount and those old negative files (thoughts) will be deleted forever from the hard drive between her ears! And it all starts with a single thought.

Your athlete's thoughts are powerful enough to make or break her level of success on the athletic field and in the classroom. The good news is that she always has a choice of what she thinks. After all, who else controls the inside of her head?

Is this process easy...no. It takes a recognition of what her current beliefs about herself are, and a commitment to changing those beliefs and the thoughts that ensue. It also takes having access to the proper mental skills tools and training.

A majority of elite amateur and professional athletes throughout history at one time or another struggled with limiting beliefs about themselves. However, with enough hard "mental work" over time they overcame these limitations and soared to greatness. Your athlete can do the same.

It all starts with a just a single thought. What could be simpler?

On Tuesday, December 27 we will be having a one day holiday sale of all of our Mental Skills training products at a whopping 40% discount. Look for the banner at the top right of the blog to get your one day savings. Give her the gift that will change her game in 2012 and forever...give her the Winner's Edge!