Flag Football



September 27, 2013

Attitude is Everything
    Attitude is everything; I call it the first holy grail of mental skills training (focus is the other). What we think directly affects how we feel, which directly affects what we do.  Therefore, attitude will determine the quality of our approaches, our performances, and our responses; it determines our altitude.  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.  Which comes first: successful outcomes or a positive, confident, fun attitude?  For many, success does, but that's not good!  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 you're in a raft and the current is, for example, the Niagara River.  It might not even seem dangerous at the moment, but it could be leading 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.  In that choice lies your freedom, your happiness, and your personal power.  Choose wisely.
    Many people have a less-than-ideal attitude toward "failure."  Instead of viewing it as a stepping stone to 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 remember that we learn and grow from adversity.  It took me a while to accept this, but I am now a firm believer that adversity is always good for you, as long as you survive!  You survive as long as it doesn't kill you and or cause you to quit.
Concrete examples:
* A mistake by self or a teammate often leads to negative emotions, which can cause the problem to snowball by leading to a poor approach/attitude on the next play.
* An athlete or her teammate makes an error and she tries to "make up for it" by trying harder on the next play?  Was she not trying hard before? If not, this will be effective, but if so, trying to do too much (pressing) is not the way to be mentally tough.
* A losing player is so mad that he forgets to learn from the experience.
* An umpire or referee blows the call, but it's just one call. It is almost always the athlete's response to this that blows the game.
* 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.
COACHING POINT -  Teach relentless positivism, which is the process of thinking in patterns that emphasize whatever helps, and de-emphasize whatever doesn't.  Don't let your players underestimate the "glass half full" attitude's impact on performance!