Mind Over Sports

Archive for September 2014

Should a coach demand perfection or excellence? Let’s take a look at what happens when you as a coach (or a parent) demand perfection versus demanding excellence, not only from other people, but from your self as well. When we demand perfection, everything has to be right. Otherwise we experience anxiety, the anxiety turns to anger and, to make sure everything is just right, we exercise control. It’s a must. Then, judgments are made, and you begin taking from a relationship – and there is no journey, only the destination. On the other hand, when you demand excellence, you are willing to be wrong – and you are automatically willing to risk. You become more spontaneous – there’s more “aliveness,” more passion, and instead of judgments, you’re more open. And you are giving to a relationship. There’s a journey – relating to each other – and a destination.

When you demand excellence of yourself or another, you provide yourself or the other person with the opportunity to “fail” – and to learn. This process, which requires changing your demands, will help enhance your feelings of self-worth. And as you feel better about yourself, you’ll begin to set higher goals for yourself and actually achieve them.

 

Since 1986 I’ve been a Sport Psychology Consultant working with athletes and sports teams, most of them African-American, and I’ve found something that really is quite unique to that segment of our society.  That is, and this could be a cultural thing, many African-American parents actually encourage their male children to keep their feelings and emotions bottled up since it’s not “manly.”  In one instance, I even watched a mother discouraging her two year old son from crying and kept admonishing him for doing so.  Again, I could be wrong about this (that it’s cultural) and certainly there are many African-American parents who are loving and nurturing and encourage their male children to talk openly about their feelings and emotions, and these are the athletes I’ve found to be most well-adjusted and least likely to be involved in a domestic violence situation with a spouse.  Also, since some of these young men often make it to the NFL, I don’t understand why the NFL doesn’t require ALL teams to conduct group therapy sessions in the privacy of their own facilities allowing team members to openly discuss their personal problems (and feelings) with each other rather than keeping them bottled-up.  If they did, I think you would find the number of domestic violence cases in the NFL to be greatly diminished

I’m a big believer that relationships in sports can have a positive or negative effect on performance. When the relationship is good, the results in competition are good. But when the relationship is bad, it can be devastating to performance.

That’s why I believe it’s no coincidence that Caroline Wozniacki experienced a three year drought on the tennis courts during her relationship with PGA golfer Rory McIlroy. According to USA TODAY the breakup came about after a phone call from McIlroy after the wedding invitations were printed…”At 25, he’s clearly playing better without her. At 24, she’s clearly playing better without him.” I wouldn’t be surprised if she won the U.S. Open.


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