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Training the mind is as important as training the body

I’ve been coaching more and more athletes on the mental game over the past several years! A reoccurring theme is what to do with criticism. It’s part of a larger discussion on mindfulness. When we are able to slow down our thought process and become more aware of our mental and emotional states we then have the capacity to unhook from our reactions and change our thoughts. This applies to parents as much as business people or athletes. Suppose you are pitching a solid game and have one rough inning and your coach comes to the mound all pissed off. He says a few words, goes back to the bench and kicks the water cooler. Do you let that rattle you? Get under your skin? Or do you pay attention to your breathe, settle down and redirect your thoughts to throwing a strike on the outside corner? It’s similar in extreme examples like road rage? Do you let someone’s idiocy get you going or do you pay attention to your breathe and redirect your thoughts to the possibility that this other person is dealing with an emergency?

Training the mind is as important as training the body. The more you practice the better you get. So the next time you find yourself overreacting to one of your children breathe, pay attention to your thoughts, and redirect them to something positive or something you appreciate about them. This works!!

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Sports Psychology

I was in a nine hole golf match last week in Westport, Connecticut not LaQuinta, California where I took this picture last month. On the ninth hole with the individual and team matches all squared I was casually talking with my playing partner, a retired finance guy, and really enjoying the moment especially the camaraderie of playing with a really nice guy. I asked him to range find the distance to the stick after driving the ball down the middle. He told me it was 138 yards to the back left pin placement. Choosing a pitching wedge, I recall going into pure focus mode, completely empty of all thought. I took an effortless swing and hit the ball directly into the setting sun having that flush feeling of striking it solidly. A moment later, my opponent yelled from across the fairway that the ball was “In The Hole!” I held my hands up, did a little salsa waggle and high-fived my playing partner having effectively ended both matches. Afterwards, we decided to play up 16 to play the last three holes before dark. On 17 my partner said he didn’t make his usual two birdies. I asked him if that was his intention and he said that he tries to make two birdies every time he plays. I shared that I intend to have at least one experience of Magic every time I play! He responded by saying I had clearly pulled it off holing out from the fairway!

Magic is possible for all of us in business, life, and sports if we learn how to get crazy present and enjoy the experience as opposed to the outcome. The key is present moment time which enables us to get into the zone where Magic happens! To become more and more present practice following your breathe and bringing yourself back to the here and now as often as you can. The more you do this the happier and more focused you become, a great way to do intimacy, business, and sports!

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A client of mine asked me to work with her thirteen year-old daughter who is a competitive ballerina in south Florida. I said sure, relishing the challenge of helping an adolescent in a sport that I have never experienced first hand. The cool part about working with athletes as a Sports Psychologist is that no matter what the sport, the underlying issues are similar. And so are the techniques that we can apply to address them!

This young girl was experiencing significant anxiety before big competitions as well as having normal adolescent challenges with her family and friends. We chatted for a bit about her life, her friendships, and her passion of dance. Attending a performing arts school, she was consistently dancing five to six hours a day during and after school. This left her with very little down time and much less social time than most of her peers, two significant challenges for anyone let alone an adolescent.

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