Mind Over Sports

Archive for the ‘Fishing’ Category

An expectation is a special kind of belief, a belief about the future.
If a professional baseball pitcher gets in trouble in the first inning, does the manager have faith in the player’s ability to work out of the jam? The pitcher need only look over and see if anyone is warming up in the bullpen. First inning bullpen activity communicates an expectation that the pitcher will fail. Such an expression of no confidence does not promote performance at skill level. Admittedly, some pitchers might consider bullpen action as a challenge and rise to the occasion. But, in general, negative expectations promote lower performance.
If a college football player is told he is third string, the coach encourages third-string performance.
Negative expectations can create a self-fulfilling prophecy for a whole team. In the late 1980’s, an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns described their NBA team as “a ‘dream team,’ as long as management understands that it is going to take time to develop and mature.” Such “praise” told players that they were not expected to do well that season. Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons quickly squelched such talk and the team went on to make the playoffs.
A coach who continually gets into altercations with referees, who shouts that incompetent or unfair decisions are costing the game, establishes a low expectation for players, giving them an excuse to perform at a low level and thereby lose.
If a coach expects players to do well, players can thrive even if the coach’s expectations are based on inaccurate information. Clint Hurdle noted that St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog had an “innate ability to make the 24th guy on the roster feel as good as No. 1, when you know good and well you’re not.”
Expectations are an expression of commitment. Regardless of what we say or think about goals we are committed to achieve, what we’re doing right now is what we are committed to making happen in our lives. To know what an individual athlete or an entire team is committed to, simply look at their actions. Are they practicing? Are they training? Are they overweight?
Beliefs and expectations create the climate in which individual competitors and entire teams perform. Wise coaches stay alert to attitudes affecting performance. Coaches who promote positive attitudes are not only wise in training, they are winners on the field.

How often have we heard someone say they were really “stressed out” but what they actually meant was they were feeling a lot of pressure. People survive pressure but often don’t survive stress because of the effect stress has on their immune system. When an individual is experiencing stress, his or her body gives off hormones (such as cortisol) that impair their immune system, allowing cancer cells in their bodies to multiply at a rate faster than their immune system can devour them.

But people who were reared in a loving, nurturing home environment and have a high sense of self-worth (self-esteem) seldom experience life-threatening illnesses, while those who were reared in a dysfunctional home environment and have a low sense of self-worth (self-esteem) often experience illnesses, such as cancer.

It’s not the issue that causes stress, but how we view that issue based on our feelings of self-worth. The better we feel about ourselves, the less likely we are to see our issues as being stressful.

I’m often asked what I believe to be the secret for living a longer, healthier life, and based on my experience these past 85 years here’s what I’ve found. First and foremost it helps if you are born into a family where there is a loving, nurturing home environment and as a child you receive unconditional love. But this love can come later in life from a spouse, a coach, or even a teacher. It translates into high self-esteem and the most important characteristic for someone with high self-esteem is they deal directly with their issues and do not allow them to fester and hover above them like a dark cloud. People who have low self-esteem and withhold (and by withholding I mean keeping their feelings and emotions bottled-up inside themselves) create stress for themselves and this stress results in their bodies giving off hormones that impair their immune systems. In addition, a regimen of exercise is important. In my case, I played baskeball and handball for more than thirty years, five days a week, 3 hours per day, and never used drugs nor abused alcohol. The way you treat your body when you are young will show up in your older years. That’s why exercise is so important. But even more important is high self-esteem. And a strong belief in the almighty.

Kristan Berset is Sports Anchor with CBS affiliate WUSA-9 in Washington, D.C. and just announced she is experiencing a second bout with cancer. Based on some of the most current research available, there appears to be a high correlation between stress and cancer. And it’s possible (only possible) that she’s experiencing a considerable amount of stress being married to Comcast SportsNet reporter Brent Harris and is stepmother to his two daughters.  If this is true, here’s a bit of advice for you, Kristan.  Don’t try to be their mother but rather just be their friend, someone they can bring their issues to without being judgemental. The result will be a stress-free relationship with them and your husband.  With that said, here’s some backgorund information:

We all have in our bodies one of the most advanced and sophisticated medical systems known to mankind: The Immune System.

But research has found it can be impaired by stress and many believe there’s a high correlation between cancer and stress. Where does stress come from? It’s a result of how we view our life’s issues, which emanates from how we feel about ourselves. If we have a low sense of inner-self (self-esteem) we are likely to view our issues differently than someone with a high sense of inner-self. We are likely to be more negative.

Research has also shown that many individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer are repressing their feelings, which affects their self-esteem and their immune systems. Here’s how it works: When you withhold (repress) your feelings and emotions it’s a form of lying that demeans you and lowers your self-esteem. As your self-esteem is lowered you begin to see your world around you from a negative perspective (“we see things as we are”) and create stress for yourself. As a result of the stress, your body gives off hormones such as cortisol (known as “the stress hormone”) that impair your immune system.

According to the “Surveillance Mechanism Theory” developed by Dr. Carl Simonton, we all have cancer cells in our bodies. Many believe these cancer cells are a result of environmental hazards such as overhead power lines, electric blankets, cell phones, exhaust fumes, and cigarette smoking, just to name a few. The damaged cells are constantly being devoured by our immune system Pac-Man style. But as mentioned before, when we encounter stress in our lives, our immune system becomes impaired and the cancer cells begin to multiply at a rate faster than they can be devoured.  The result is: we are soon diagnosed as having cancer.

Many physicians will agree that a relationship exists between high self-esteem and wellness, and low self-esteem and illness. I’ve found that when cancer patients enhance their own feelings of self-worth, they automatically enhance the potency of their immune systems.

In the late 1980s I lived in Kansas City, Missouri and volunteered my services at a local Cancer Support Center. On various Sunday mornings, with the encouragement of the Center’s co-founder, I would meet with newly diagnosed cancer patients in a support group environment. At the outset I would explain to them that even though they had been diagnosed with cancer that was not their primary problem. Their primary problem was that each had an impaired immune system. Since research has shown the most conspicuous characteristic of cancer patients is bottled up emotions, I would have each person in the group stand and tell his or her own story about stress in their lives. Each would interact with others in the room and, at the same time, bring their emotions to the surface. After talking about their issues (many for the first time) their repressed feelings began to disappear and they immediately felt better about themselves, experiencing an increase in self-esteem.

At that point they were then ready to use a “guided imagery” technique where they would visualize their own healthy t-cells attacking their cancer cells. This exercise was accompanied by Patti LaBelle’s recording of “New Attitude.” They would close their eyes and “see” their t-cells forming an arrow and penetrating the cancer cells, watching them dissipate.

Later, group participants would listen to the music and the images that were embedded in their minds would recreate themselves, automatically. This part of the program could be compared to the “placebo effect” as it applies to health.

One last point: What I have recommended should only be considered as a supplemental program. It should not replace any treatment prescribed by a physician or oncologist.

According to the Internet: “Mental toughness is a controversial term, in that many people use the term liberally to refer to any set of positive attributes that helps a person to cope with difficult situations. Coaches and sport commentators freely use the term mental toughness to describe the mental state of athletes who persevere through difficult sport circumstances to succeed.

Dr. Jim Loehr of the Human Performance Institute defined mental toughness as ‘the ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances.’”

My research over the past 28 years has shown that individuals who are often identified as someone with mental toughness are the same individuals who come from a loving, nurturing home environment or had someone in their lives who loved them unconditionally. People with a high sense of self-worth are the same people who practice endurance and persistency in their personal lives. And these two characteristics are found in individuals with high self-esteem.

When Jamaal Charles fumbled twice last night during the Chiefs-Broncos game, it was as much the coaching staff’s fault (and the front office’s fault) as it was Jamaal’s.

Here’s why: Jamaal is a professional athlete but even professional athletes are human beings first, and then athletic performers. They have problems just like the rest of us mortals. And I’m not talking about deep-seated psychological problems. I’m referring to problems they might be having with their wives, or girlfriends, or financial problems, problems with a coach, or problems with a teammate. If they keep their problems bottled up, if they withhold them and don’t tell anyone about what’s bothering them, it will negatively affect their game during competition. They will not be focused and are more susceptible to fumbles, dropped passes, and missed tackles.

Former NFL coach Joe Gibbs realized this late in his career when he was negotiating an athlete’s contract and figured out the athlete, even though he was making millions of dollars a year, was having financial problems. Former NFL running back Eddie George, when Tiger Woods’ issues became public, stated: “Ninety percent of all NFL athletes are having extra-marital affairs.” If true, why doesn’t the coaching staff and front office do something about it?

Much has been written about the importance of the turnover/takeaway ratio in the NFL. Few however are able explain the reasons turnovers happen.

Some say it’s because the opposing team has focused their defensive efforts on the practice of ripping the ball out of the runner’s hands, or other reasons.

While there may be some truth to these theories, my experience working with athletes and players has made it clear that when athletes are carrying around unresolved issues in their lives, they are more prone to making mistakes. When they are withholding their feelings, when they have misdirected anger at their teammates or coaches, or when they’ve had an argument with their wives or girlfriends (or both) they are prone to fumbling the ball, or dropping a pass that hits them in the numbers, or jumping off sides, or, if the player is a quarterback, throwing multiple interceptions in a game.

The reason is simple: They are not focused.

And it all starts with the coaches and assistant coaches (and the front office) and how they interact with their players, how they listen to their players issues and personal problems, and the type of feedback program they have created internally that allows players to air their grievances (both personal and team related) without being punished.

It’s no coincidence that the NFL teams with the best turnover/takeaway ratio are successful, while those with the worst are not.

We can learn a lot from Mother Nature. For example, how often have we observed a single small bird, very often a female, chasing a much larger hawk that may have just attempted to rob her nest of small chicks or eggs. Sometimes “mobbing” is involved where there are a number of small birds who have joined together to attack the much larger invading hawk. But whether it’s one bird or three, think about this: At any time that hawk could turn and attack the smaller bird or birds, smashing it (or them) to the ground with its powerful wings. But it doesn’t. In fact, the hawk often appears to be afraid of the smaller bird. Why? Perhaps the hawk knows instinctively that the single small bird chasing it is not afraid of the hawk and has somehow become empowered by its need to insure the survival of its offspring. And it’s the same way in life. When we are confronted with what appears to be a major obstacle in our life, we can allow it to envelope us, or, become empowered to attack it head-on, deflating it or chasing it away. Overcoming it.

But we have to believe that we can, in fact, face the issue head on, and defeat it. And once we are committed to defeating the problem, it suddenly becomes a non-problem and we then begin the process of resolving it.


N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

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