Tab A (Intro & Overview)

Summon The Magic
How To Use Your Mind to be a better Athlete
(or anything else you want to be)
Tab A: Intro & Overview:
compiled and edited by Ed Jewett
June 2005
On Possibilities & Practice
Tab A Introduction & Overview: Possibilities &
A-1 What is Magic? What does "Summon" mean?
A-3 What are the limitations?
A-4 Using Your Brain (?) to be a Better Athlete?
A-4 In the Zone: 4 Characteristics
A-5 Hints about the Possibilities
A-8 The Embryonic Journey
A-8 How and Where We Can Put Our Brains to Work for Us
in Athletics; At the Beginning;
A-9 Awareness is a Quantum Event
A-10 The Five Levels of Sport
A-12 Five Basic Ways to Improve Sports Performance
A-8 Looking for Your Big Payday?; Have a Quality
Experience; Making Your Dreams Come True; The Benefits of
Participation in Athletics
A-14 From Locker Room to Board Room; The Living
Presence Within Us
A-16 Five Misconceptions about Mental Training for Athletes
On Play
A-18 On The Simple Power of Pen and Paper
A-19 The Hand Speaks to the Brain
A-20 An Amazing Athletic Feat; Playfulness is the Father of
A-22 In Lane Two, The Cheetah....;
A-23 Determine Your Athletic Success Profile
A-24 The Nature of Games: The Experience of Excellence
Expressing Itself
A-25 When We are Good at the Things We Like
A-26 thru A-31 Twenty-Two Tips for Making The Most Out
of Practice; Focus, Intensity and Presence
A-32 The Warm-Up A-34 Grooves; Self-Talk
A-36 What is Real and What is Imagined?; Tools of the
A-38 You Can Visualize Success
A-40 Make Something Real Through Action
A-42 Create Your Own Engine of Success
A-44 Action and the "As If' Principle
A-46 Navigating Your Journey; A State of Psychic Balance
A-48 thru A-60 On Learning, Attention, Intelligence
A-61 Imaginative Play, Passion, Skill Acquisition,
Understanding and Realization
A-62 Enrolling in the Greatest University on Earth
A-64 Attention: The Content and Quality of Our Life
A-66 The Power of the Experience of Understanding
A-69 Sport's Exploration of Human Limits
The Impact of Music on Mind, Body and Spirit [Intensity,
Immersion and Immediacy; Optimal Experience
A-73 Disappearance of Self in Action; The Zone: States of
Absorption and Flow
A-75 What Does All This Touchy-Feely Stuff Have to do with
A-77 Three Questions to ask yourself Before Practice
A-78 Develop Your Own Unique Scoring System; Proper
Technique and Shortcuts
A-79 The Five Cornerstones of Movement
A-81 Handling Criticism and Feedback Effectively; The
Meaning of Competition
A-83 Re-Creation; Creating Flow Through Challenge; Our
Capacity to See & Hear
A-85 Success equals....
What Made Tiger Woods So Great? [And…]
A-89 Your Ideal Performance State; Preparation; One at a
Time; Break Your Game Down Into Increments
A-89 Optimal Readiness; Long-Term Preparation
A-90 On Your Quest; Inspiration, Spontaneity, Joy,
Intensity and Commitment
A-92 Wynton Marsalis on Excellence; Wrestling the Gorilla
A-93 The Manifestation Formula
A-94 Perseverance; The Task at Hand
A-95 Find Yourself a Spotter; Identifications (How You See
Yourself) and Belief
A-96 Competitive Greatness; Find the Key; Life Force and
Energy; Ki
A-98 Three Tools; Ripening; Revelation
What do I mean by magic?
In this book and its source books, you will find many
definitions. These include “in the zone”, “en fuego”, when
everything was flowing just right, a state of existence that
comes and goes in which you are able to fully do
whatever it is that you do at very high levels of ease,
enjoyment and competence. Athletes have spoken about
this with a bit of skeptic awe, often in poetic, even mystical
terms; so have musicians, artists, doctors, gardeners, and
people from all walks of life. Dion Fortune says that "Magic
is the art of changing consciousness at will." 1
Magic is the art of evoking power from within. Magic is
first of all about an inner shift. That, in turn, will produce
effects in the outer world. One of the things that you learn
when you learn to make magic is to become responsible for
your own mind. You learn how to take charge of it, how to
concentrate, how to visualize, how to be aware of the
energies in and around you, and how to shift them and
change them. In the end, magic is going to be defined by
you. It is going to be defined by what you are interested in,
how it captivates you, and how you approach it.
This book has no agenda except the one that you give it.
What do I mean by summon?
Can we call up a state of being or a top-flight performance
at will? At first, no. We can call, but there is no response.
When we begin something, we are in a state of existence
that is close to confusion, ineptitude, and discombobulation.
We are all thumbs, and the brain doesn't seem to want to
work right. Things are difficult, and frustrating, no matter
how hard we try. After a little practical experience at
something, we might want more.., more enjoyment, better
performance, more gracefulness. So we continue to call.
Once in a while, we think we get an answer, but the voices
that answer are unintelligible. We keep at it, and eventually
we can get a short conversation going, but the responses we
get aren't yet what we had hoped for.
What I mean by summon is this: We can enable it
(although we can all still have an off day).
We can empower ourselves (and each other). We can give
ourselves permission to achieve and accomplish. We can do
this by understanding some of the "rules", some of the ways
things work, especially with regard to the way our body
interacts with our mind and spirit, and the way that they
affect each other. We can allow it. We can make our own
magic. This is true no matter whether we are a 9th grader
hoping to make the varsity team, a 10th grader with dreams
of going to the world-famous Juilliard School of Music, an
11th grader gearing up for a career in health care, a senior
who wants to play football for Notre Dame, a college
freshman who wants to become an All-American, a college
sophomore with dreams of being in the Olympics, a college
junior with his eyes set on being a major league ballplayer,
or a college senior who would like to be a leader in business,
government or another chosen field. We can make magic in
literally anything we do, at any level.
You do not have to be a great chef in a Paris restaurant; you
can cook with panache in your own kitchen. You do not
have to be a professional athlete; you can play well in the
park league, or on the golf course on weekends. You do not
have to be a Broadway dancer; you can go dancing any
night you'd like. You do not have to go to Harvard to learn;
there is a great university sitting right there in your chair.
But it is entirely possible for you to end up at Harvard,
perform on Broadway, or become a pro.
Where are the limitations we seem to run into?
Once we get this conversation with ourselves and our world
and its energy going really well, once we start to get some
clear successes and some satisfying experiences, we learn
that we can make things flow more smoothly with increasing
regularity. We do seem to find a lot of hurdles, obstacles,
and pitfalls. We discover that, yes, this is hard work. But
we keep at it because we enjoy it (some days we can barely
live without it, we love it so much), and the days when
things go pretty well outnumber the days when we don't
make any progress. We become absorbed in it. We can
become proficient. Having learned how to do that, we might
then soon be an All-Star. We learn how to learn, how to
explore our world, and eventually how to create a sense of
flow in our everyday world. We find that we are beginning
to master what it is we do. What is mastery?
Mastery is "the mysterious process during which what was at
first difficult becomes progressively easier and more
pleasurable through practice." 2
Having found that we have this ability, however, why
wouldn't we want to get better? Wouldn't we want to get
more reward, to have a greater impact, to get some
applause and recognition, to be the best that we might be at
something we really enjoy and at which we have found a
way to excel? We start to have fantasies... visions of what
might be. We think "Wouldn't it be great if...?"
Where is the limit? There are no limits, except as you
define them. Arthur C. Clarke, the famous science fiction
writer, says that you can't tell the difference between magic
and any sufficiently-developed tool. 3 With mastery of the
tools given us, we can summon the magic.
Using your brain (?) to be a better athlete?
Isn't athletics about muscles? Well, yes... and no. Athletics is
about movement. Musicians are called athletes of the small
muscle groups; watch a great violinist or pianist; listen to a
great guitar riff; watch a premier drummer do a solo. What
we have learned through scientific research and study of the
human brain in the past 20 years starts with this: "The
whole point of the brain is to enable movement. Plants
don't have, or need, brains." 4
Why is Larry Bird considered to have been a great athlete?
James Worthy said he'd rather guard Michael Jordan than
Larry Bird because, when you're up against Bird, you have
to play the game as a thinker. 5 Wilt Chamberlain called Bird
"the consummate pro". Despite not having the physical
attributes of other NBA players, "Bird does everything better.
The brain, used in the right way, is also a talent." 6
Being an athlete does not necessarily mean being a
dumb jock. 7
Athletes are only people trying to get the most out of
themselves. That's a cerebral enterprise if you go at it
right, no matter how much muscle it takes.
Being “in the zone” has been described as having four
characteristics: 8
1) It’s beyond words; language can’t communicate its
2) Important new knowledge about the nature of reality is
acquired through that experience;
3) The experience is transient; it comes, and then it goes;
4) While certain preparatory efforts can be made that
may (or may not) enable such an experience, when a
person is in that experience, they feel as if their own
will has been dissolved, replaced by an external and
superior power.
A Few Hints About the Possibilities
The way in which the brain interacts with the body is a complex
subject, one just now beginning to be understood by specialists
in cognitive studies. Much research has been done, and much
more remains to be done. But a great deal is already known.
Here are a few hints about the possibilities for you:
When you talk to yourself without speaking out loud, the
tiny muscles from which the bones in your ears are
suspended actually move, exactly as if they were hearing
what you were saying;
A baseball player experiences hitting a ball long after it is
An automobile driver begins a panic stop before he or she
is consciously aware of the danger. (The neurological
response begins well before the physical response.)
Runners have been wired to machines that record electrical
impulses received by muscle groups. (Remember the
science experiment with the frog leg and the battery? It's
the same concept.) The runners were told to lie perfectly
still and imagine themselves running up a steep hill. The
machines recorded electrical impulses being received by
the brain within the muscle groups that would be used to
run up a steep hill, and the muscles were activated at a
very low level. From the point of view of the brain, the
nerves, and the chemical neurotransmitters in the muscle
cells, thinking about and using the senses to mentally
see an athletic performance in a detailed, simulated
way is equal to doing it.
Motor neurons in your brain's parietal complex that would
activate your arms and fingers to grasp a football become
active at the mere sight of the football.
Less than 10-15% of the mind's power and activity is
conscious; the remaining 85-90% lies below the level of
Recent research 9 using magnetic resonance imaging (done
at UCLA and the National Institute of Mental Health)
indicate that the parts of our brains responsible for
planning, organization, emotional control and the ways in
which we integrate sensory input (like sight and smell) with
our memory go through rapid growth in the approximate
years of 12-18, and again between the ages of 40 and 50.
The brain grows by greatly expanding the number of cells
and connections and then winnowing them down again,
keeping the cells that are frequently used and letting
the unused ones wither away. Only the strongest and
healthiest neural connections survive.
■ Scientists at MIT have recently revealed a "plasticity" of
the brain. 10 Experiments showed that areas of the brain
designed by nature to perform a highly specialized task can
adapt to doing another simply by being exposed to different
information. In delicate surgery, scientists re-routed nerves
in the brains of ferrets, moving the nerves that came from
the back of its eyes so that they led to that portion of the
brain that processed what the ferret hears. When their juice
spout was placed in a different location, testing showed
that the ferrets could respond to visual information that
was processed by what used to be the hearing-oriented
brain structures. Other experiments showed that the
auditory brain structures had undergone physical changes
so they more closely resembled the visual centers of the
brain. The head of the Department of Brain and Cognitive
Sciences at MIT said the research addresses "age-old
questions about whether the brain is genetically
programmed or whether it is shaped by its environment".
Another researcher at UCal/San Francisco said that the
experiment offers "compelling evidence for the exquisite
sensitivity of higher brain development in reaction to
external cues". The buzz phrase used in the world of the
cognitive sciences for this concept is this:
Neurons that get fired together get wired together.
■ In blind people who learn to read Braille with their fingers,
the visual cortex that is designed to process visual
information is transformed into one that processes tactile
information. 11
■ Studies at Stanford University by Dr. Marilyn Schlitz 12 have
shown, in a continuation of the research that she originated
with Dr. William Braud, that we can affect the blood
pressure, heart rate or electrical conduction of the skin of
another person at a different location through our thoughts.
■ Scientists at Princeton have documented the mental
communication of information from one person to another
over distances of thousands of miles. 13 Dr. Roger Nelson,
of Princeton's Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory
(or PEAR Lab), announced the results of research that
showed that subjects in the study were able to
communicate complex information such as images of very
different types of buildings and sculptures to other subjects
thousands of miles away. The proof that such information
could be communicated mentally from one person to
another was interesting enough, but what really astounded
the audience in the Smithsonian seminar in February 1994
where the results were announced was that, in a large
number of cases, receivers got the information up to three
days before it was sent out. [See also S-11.]
Is it true, then, that you can program yourself for success in any
endeavor you wish?
Perhaps the only limits to the human mind are those that
we believe in. 14
It is possible now to gather verified data 15
about our greater capacities from medical
research, anthropology, psychology, sociology,
psychic research, religious studies, sports, the
arts, and other fields.
The Embryonic Journey
"All the information needed for learning to read and
write, playing the piano, arguing before a senate
subcommittee, walking across the street through
traffic, or the marvelous human act of putting out one
hand and leaning against a tree, is contained in that
first cell. No one has a ghost of an idea how this
works, and nothing else in life can ever be so
We are taught from infancy how to talk to other people 17,
but most people never receive any instruction on how to talk
to themselves.
As one athlete said to me, “My ‘inner voice’ and I have never
been properly introduced…
he thinks my name is #*!*#@#*!”
How and where can we put our brain to work for us in
athletics? (or any other mind-body discipline we work in?)
We might put our brains to work for us in the areas of
attention, preparation, discipline, confidence, goal-setting,
belief, breathing, better approaches to practice, handling
doubt and anxiety, visualization, mental imagery, handling
situations, having better poise, being better at observation,
developing more power, avoiding errors, preventing choking,
becoming mentally tough, dealing with slumps and injuries,
counter-balancing negativity, developing more energy,
fighting off fatigue, developing a stronger will, getting the
most from our coaches, being a contributing member of a
team, and becoming a leader.
The method used in Summon The Magic is a series of
excerpts from the best sources that will introduce concepts,
ideas, theories, guidelines, tools, techniques, exercises and
thoughts for reflection. These have been edited and
sometimes paraphrased. Although examples and exercises
are given, it is up to you to do the work, to figure out how
they might apply to you, and then to apply them. (Don't be
afraid to ask for help!)
At the Beginning
Starting anything demands outsized investments of energy.
To change rest into motion, to change nothing into
something, requires a concentrated initial input. Tulip bulbs,
start-up capital, pregnancy, and other occasions of birth
demand rich infusions of energy -- nutrients, money, love.
Infancy, a stage of rapid growth, is hungry for resources.
Often, beginnings mean new physical structures that
demand abundant raw material. Starting can also mean
setting a new course or simply accelerating, both of which
require disproportionately strong doses of energy.
Awareness is a Quantum Event
Recent research in how the brain works tells us that simply
being exposed to a thought instantaneously begins an
internal mind-body process. Like learning to ride a bike,
repetition will be necessary for a while, but magic begins
Our thoughts not only interpret but actually can create
our physical reality.
In the brain and throughout the body, there are wave
oscillations, vibrations and subatomic activity that can be
explained only by quantum physics. In a groundbreaking
1999 study on perception at the National Center for
Scientific Research in Paris, Francisco Varela showed that the
instant we are aware of a concept, our whole brain is
energized, which is probably a quantum event.
The very best way to predict the future is to create it.
And so we begin:
There are five levels of sport.
The first is the simplest and the purest; it is called
recreation, when we play simply for the fun of it. We all did
this as kids in the backyard and, as adults, we may continue to
do it in many ways and places. The emphasis is on the
experience, the enjoyment, the opportunity to get some exercise,
or to be on a team and join with friends. And, while we all want
to win, the emphasis is not on winning, or statistics. Recreation
provides a balance in life, a chance to get away from daily
routine of school or work, and to get the benefits of a good
workout. Ideally, if and where there is a coach involved, that
coaching is focused on creating a positive experience.
The second level has to do with educational and personal
development. We may discover that we really enjoy a certain
sport and that we might have a talent for it, and so we make an
effort to participate more, and in a more structured setting. We
join a formal team, work with a coach, learn more, and actually
practice. We engage in physical development through strenuous
effort. We buy a book or watch an instructional video, go to a
camp, try out for travel teams or off-season leagues, work out at
the gym, or go to indoor practice arenas. We have started down
the way to find out how good we can be. Some of us drop out, or
move on to other things that have more interest, or seem to be
more suitable to who we are. Some of us stay on the path and
move onward to higher levels.
The third level is the Olympian model. Here, originally, is an
even higher level of purity, the concept of having participated, to
have brought out the best that we have in us, to see how much
better, faster and stronger we might be, and to have shared with
others in a deep and meaningful experience as a way of
developing peace and harmony among people. Many people think
this model has become tainted by over-emphasis on
achievement, by money, by various forms of cheating and
scandal, by nationalism, and by other influences. It is difficult to
make a counter-argument, but the ideal is still there, and there
are pockets in which the exemplary summit is approached and
achieved, there are moments of shining grace and joy, and there
are people within whom the ideal still resonates.
The fourth level is the personal-career model. This is
where a person decides to find a place in the huge world of
sports, perhaps as a player, a coach, an entrepreneur, a lawyer, a
sports psychologist, an athletic trainer, a rehabilitation specialist,
a referee, or in a dozen other ways.
The fifth level is the business model. This is where a few
industrial teams out of the Midwest rise to become the national
phenomenon that is the NFL, complete with its own national
holiday. This is where a couple of coaches get together and
formulate a business plan and develop a facility where they can
teach youngsters to hit a small ball with a stick. This is where a
complex partnership is formed to buy a pro baseball franchise for
$700 million. This is where professional athletes sign contracts
that enable them to earn more money in a few short months
than the rest of us can earn in a lifetime. This is where dynasties
like the Celtics and the Yankees get built. This is where the pro
athlete leverages success into fame and endorsements, becoming
an economic conglomerate in sneakers, sweats and Armani suits.
This is where companies that make sneakers exert tremendous
influence on a game and a society. This is where, as you can see
in the news on an almost-daily basis, there are tremendous
failures in personal character. (There are successes, too, but
they don't make headlines.)
No matter where we are on this ladder, we can find and use
skills, knowledge and information, the best that sports has
to offer us in the way of personal development, and apply it
to our quest, and to the rest of our lives as well.
There are five basic ways to improve sports
performance: 22
nutritional aids,
physiological aids,
pharmacological aids,
mechanical or biomechanical aids, and
psychological aids.
Nutrition is about the food we eat, the fuel for our muscles,
and is of significant importance in athletic performance.
Water is even more important. The amounts and types of
liquid and solid food we consume can make a difference in
how well we perform both on and off the fields of athletic
competition. Add to this list numerous food supplements,
vitamins, caffeine, sports drinks, and so on, and you have a
smorgasbord of scientific theory, advice and research,
countless books, lots of marketing and advertising, many
unproven claims, and lots of controversy.
Summon The Magic makes no attempt to discuss nutrition
and makes no suggestions regarding nutrition. For most high
school or college athletes (assuming a reasonably healthy &
balanced diet), there are no concerns, and there can be no
dramatically meaningful way to enhance performance aside
from proper hydration and some carbo-loading with pasta
dinners if and when appropriate. For the advanced athlete,
this may be a subject for serious study; there are countless
resources, and professional help should be sought. [One
example is the Bio-Dynamics Institute at 1-800-828-3343 or]
Physiological aids include such benign and useful aids as
sports drinks with electrolytes. Proper hydration is a
scientifically-proven key to optimal brain/body performance.
Physiological aids also include:
• the intake of sodium bicarbonate to counteract lactic
acid buildup for athletes requiring short bursts of
intense physical effort (sprinters, for example) but
which is potentially hazardous and injurious;
• the use of oxygen before, during or after exercise (the
only scientifically-proven benefit comes from the
consumption of oxygen during actual exercise, which is
usually against the rules, and you have to carry that O2
tank with you);
• specialized breathing techniques, such as intense and
prolonged deep breathing just prior to a short-distance
sprinting-type event;
• the intake of substances like creatine and l-carnitine;
• blood doping (a dangerous process outlawed in
virtually every sport).
Other than the appropriate intake of something like
Gatorade, there is likely no need for any young athlete to
consider the use of any physiological aid. Ask your coach,
athletic trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and
personal physician for accurate and up-to-date scientificallybased information as well as appropriate input and guidance.
Resources in these topical areas can be found through
Human Kinetics (the publisher noted in the bibliography),
as well as through some of the other books and resources
noted in the bibliography, as well as through these
The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation
and Dance;
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise;
The Physician and Sportsmedicine;
National Strength and Conditioning Association
Exercise and Sports Science Reviews;
International Journal of Sports Medicine;
American Journal of Sports Medicine;
Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport;
Athletic Training;
The International Society for Mental Training
and Excellence;
The Sport Psychologist.
Pharmacological aids include the use of such harmful
practices as the ingestion of both prescribed and illegal
substances such as amphetamines and anabolic steroids as
well as the use of something so seemingly benign as
caffeine. Virtually all such known practices are outlawed in
sport, with good reason, as the short-term and long-term
negative effects of such practice on the brain and the body
are a very high risk. Summon The Magic suggests that
the athlete use no pharmacological substance (unless
directed by a reputable personal physician)
and generally steer far afield of the intake of anything that
wouldn't show up as an unprocessed foodstuff in the local
supermarket or be served to the public at a local restaurant
or in the school cafeteria. Strict rules regarding the use of
physiological and pharmacological aids are established in
most sports. The higher the level of competition, the greater
the severity of these rules. Even where such rules are not
established, you can be assured that the effects are
potentially harmful. Positive, non-harmful, long-term
shortcuts or benefits don't come in a can, a pill or a needle.
Mechanical and biomechanical aids include attention to
such things as clothing and equipment. Whether it is
wearing a better shoe, getting a better bat or racket, using a
lighter bicycle with fancy new tires, or in a host of other
ways, the local sporting goods store stands ready to help,
and to take your money. Buyer beware. The simple truth
about a mechanical or biomechanical aid is that it can add
some value, but that that value will be limited and that, once
that level of value has been attained, you are left alone
again with your training, your technique, and what your
mind/body/spirit can achieve.
Psychological aids include such things as the use of goalsetting, stress management techniques, various rehearsal
strategies, autosuggestion, etc. Summon The Magic is
devoted in detail to this subject. These types of techniques
have been researched by scientists for over 30 years and are
widely used by athletes. [See also G-30.] The research
tells us that:
the theory behind these techniques is sound;
the evidence is somewhat supportive if inconclusive;
the techniques must be individualized;
some techniques work for some athletes and others
don't; and
the use of these techniques produces results that tend
to be improved as measured against no use of any
technique at all.
In the research done on many aids, it is difficult to
determine if the benefit gained was not gained from the
placebo effect, which is scientifically proven and far more
powerful. "The body is the best pharmacy ever
Furthermore, the benefits of mental techniques go with you
wherever you go (there's no need for an extra sports bag!);
they contain and use nothing more than what is already
within your mind and body, and that, once developed,
refined and regularly used by you, they are always available
to you. Hard work in the mental and physical arena, proper
goal-setting, and focused intention will have a longer and
better payoff than any other aid.
Synapses are the sites of action [and cross-synaptic
neurotransmitters are the target]
for most drugs [legal or illegal] that affect the
nervous system. Many mind/body disorders are the
direct result of a disruption of synaptic
communication. 23
The most potent fertilizer for human growth is praise.
The Ins and Outs of Accomplishment
Every extraordinary achievement is the result of thousands
of ordinary little achievements that no one ever sees or
appreciates. Every great accomplishment is the result of
hundreds and perhaps thousands of hours of painstaking
effort, preparation, study and practice that very few people
are even aware of. What you put in, you will eventually
get out.
The greatest breakthrough 26 is taking your own sweet
time to reach the goal, working all the while with the
attitude that any sudden opening comes like Grace,
that it is given when the time is ripe and not before.
This does not mean that you need to practice less, or aspire
less. On the contrary, it means you can work on your game
even more because you will work at it in a way that you
Looking for Your Big Payday?
In 1960, a researcher interviewed 1,500 business-school
students and classified them in two categories: those who were
in it for the money -- 1,245 of them – and those who were going
to use the degree to do something they cared deeply about -- the
other 255. Twenty years later, the researcher checked on the
graduates and found that 101 of them were millionaires -- and all
but one of them came from within the smaller group of 255
people who had pursued what they loved to do!
Having a Quality Experience
There are plenty of purely recreational athletes who go at their
sport with an intensity and seriousness that puts would-be
Olympians to shame, just as there are athletes who find in
competition a light-hearted escape from seriousness -- and who
achieve no less success for their carefree approach. Recreation
sometimes gets a bum rap. Recreation is about having a
quality experience. Any effortful gross-motor activity, extended
over time, is a powerful tool for keeping ourselves in the
present tense, and the present tense is always a vacation.
Vacations are restorative -- unless, perhaps, we go at them
Making Your Dreams Come True
I went to the supermarket for the mid-week extras of milk, bread
and cat food. Standing in line at the register, I scanned the
magazines and tabloids. McCall's had a cover picture of Tara
Lipinsky, the gold medalist in figure skating, appearing in a
"touch-every-mother's-heart" red and white Christmas sweater
with the headline "Tara reveals her secrets to making dreams
come true". Well, for two bucks, I had to find out what it was.
The article was full of fluff and blather. In the second to last
paragraph, I found her answer, a two-word phrase: mental
intensity. As you will see, however, the kind of mental intensity
she was talking about involves no straining.
The Benefits of Participation in Athletics
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of participation in
athletics, there are mental and social benefits as well. Find
out more about the work being done by the Women's Sports
Foundation, which has documented a wide range of benefits
that can accrue to young women when they participate in
sports. The first major benefit is a higher level of selfesteem. It has also been shown that female athletes
perform better academically, are less likely to be victims of
abuse, have much lower rates of teen pregnancy, and so on.
These people deserve our support. The good work being
done is not just with female athletes. The NFL sponsors the
Play It Smart program which is supported by Springfield
College and is focused on the role that sports can play in
improving performance in the classroom, and demonstrating
dramatic improvement in grades, test scores and college
admissions when sports is combined with effective personal
From Locker Room to Board Room
The lessons learned on the playing field also contribute to
later success in business, according to a survey
commissioned by MassMutual Financial Group.
Businesswomen felt that athletic participation was
particularly beneficial. Of the 401 women surveyed:
69 percent of executives said sports helped them
develop leadership skills that led to their professional
86% said participation in a sport helped them be
better disciplined.
81% said playing a sport helped them to function
better as part of a team.
69% said sports helped develop leadership skills that
contributed to their success.
68% said sports helped them deal with failure.
59% said organized sports gave them a competitive
See also the article "Title IX Impact: From the Locker Room
to the Boardroom" by John Powers in Boston Globe "Sports
Plus" (Page E-1), Friday, December 27, 2002.
The Living Presence Within Us
The athlete that dwells in each of us is a living presence that
can change the way we feel and live. The ideal unity of
physical and spiritual, lost so long ago in specialization,
professionalism and the obsession with winning, may well
represent foundations for a workable approach to athletics
[and other endeavors] that will make sense for the
awkward, the shy, the unfocused, the troubled, the perennial
fourth-stringers and the Olympic aspirants. Athletes can be
given back their feelings and humanity at no long-term cost
to performance. In fact, the programmed development
of higher awareness may will result in breakthroughs
in performance levels. Athletics can change the way we
live and provide the basic guidelines for a lasting
transformation of our consciousness. Athletes can return to
their rightful place of honor in the arts and humanities.
While many think athletics involves only over-muscularized,
cognitively-challenged individuals, prizes were offered in the
ancient Olympics not only for physical arts, but also for
dance, poetic improvisation, speech-making and music.
Five Misconceptions About Mental Skills Training for
Athletes 31
is only for problem athletes.
is only for elite athletes.
provides only a quick-fix solution.
produces results immediately.
is not useful.
Since the force generated by the use of the body as a
whole will be greater than that obtainable by employing
any of its parts separately (i.e., arms, legs, etc.), so will
the force resulting from the use of the mind and body
as a totality be greater than that realizable by their
separate employment.
On Play
Play is a refuge from ordinary life, a sanctuary of the
mind, where one is exempt from life's customs, methods
and decrees.
Play always has a sacred place -- some version of a
playground -- in which it happens. The hallowed ground is
usually outlined, so that it's clearly set off from the rest of
reality. This place may be a classroom, a sports stadium, a
stage, a courtroom, a workbench in a garage.
Play has a time limit, which may be an intense but fleeting
moment, the flexible innings of a baseball game. Sometimes
it's pre-arranged; at other times, it's only recognizable in
retrospect. The world of play favors exuberance, license,
abandon. Shenanigans are allowed, strategies can be tried,
selves can be revised. In the self-enclosed world of play,
there is no hunger. Play is its own goal, which it reaches in
a richly satisfying way.
Play has its own etiquette, rituals and ceremonies, its
own absolute rules. As Huizinga notes in Homo Ludens, his
classic study of play and culture, play "creates order, is
order. Into an imperfect world and into the confusion of life
it brings a temporary, limited perfection. The least
deviation from it spoils the game." But play also has its own
distinctive psychology.
Above all, play requires freedom. One chooses to play.
Make-believe is at the heart of play, and also at the
heart of much that passes for work. (Let's make believe we
can shoot a rocket at the moon.) Most forms of play involve
competition, against oneself or against others, and test
one's skills, cunning or courage. One might even argue that
all play is a contest of one sort or another. The adversary
may be a mountain, or a computer. To play is to risk; to risk
is to play.
To be on the wire is life; the rest is waiting.
Karl Wallenda, aerialist
Gap Zap !!
Everything you are.., everything you sense, remember,
think, say and do is expressed through
a complex series of changes in intrasynaptic voltage down
chains of neurons. Each individual zap across a gap
measures some thousandths of a volt, lasts for a thousandth
of a second or so, and occurs within the space of a few
thousandths of a millimeter.
Writing in a journal 34 to express your bouts of anger,
hope, fear, fantasy and dreaming keeps these emotions from
getting buried too deep to reach. Using capital letters,
exclamation points, lots of adjectives, drawings and colored
inks is a way to cheer, yell or scream without waking the
neighbors. Get yourself going with one or more of the
following paragraph starters:
I wish....
My favorite...
I love it
when ...
I hate it when....
The best thing about ....
When I grow up....
If only…
On the Simple Power of Pen and Paper
A daily journal is a powerful tool. It documents the contents
of your mind, records your rhythms and subtle patterns. It
measures your growth and proves the reality of your growth
process to your inner Skeptic. Because this process is a
function of the mind becoming one with the body, you must
include your body in the learning process.
Your body loves physical, sensual, repetitive and ritualistic
acts. It loves splashes of color, swooping bold lines, swirling
waters, lots of sensory input, and especially movement of
any kind. If your body is to trust you and willingly give you
the wealth of knowledge it possesses, you must spend
companionable time with it, just as you must play with a
Give your body/mind a notebook and a colorful and
comfortable pen, and give that pen fun things to do. Create
a ritual around your notebook. Find time at least once a day
to write, doodle, sketch, make lists, pose questions, answer
questions, tell a story, create a haiku poem, talk to yourself,
talk to others, do exercises found in books like these, or
whatever. Feel free to be messy. Feel free to make mistakes.
Above all, don't censor it. Don't judge it.
When you are doing direct writing exercises, let the
question serve as a magnet. Write down whatever pops into
your mind. Let words flow forth. Don't second-guess where
the process is taking you. Don't jump ahead. Don't stop and
read back over what you've written until the writing stops of
its own accord.
Find a big notebook that's yours and only yours. Put pen to
paper and let it go where it wants to go. Stand back and
watch what happens.
The Hand Speaks to the Brain
The hand speaks to the brain as surely as the brain speaks
to the hand. The old mind-body separation does not stand
up to careful scrutiny, even when one considers the most
complex forms of culturally derived behavior. High levels of
achievement in purely ‘physical’ skills like juggling and
competitive athletics depend on a mastery of both
procedural and declarative knowledge, and achievement in
those domains follows the same developmental course
observed among highly successful mathematicians, sculptors
and research scientists. The clear message from biology to
educators is this: The most effective methods for
cultivating intelligence aim at uniting (not divorcing)
mind and body.
Where "What You Know” Meets "What You Do Not
Know” 37
Play always begins at the spot where what you know meets
what you do not know.
When play finds its way into work, it is called imagination,
invention, improvisation, innovation, getting into a groove,
or just good collaboration.
Play is one of the universal ways through which we test what
we know.
As Carl Jung said, "The creation of something new is not
accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct acting
from inner necessity."
An Amazing Athletic Feat
The announcer's voice quivers with excitement as the video
replay begins: "Ladies and gentleman: You are about to
witness the amazing David Seale perform an athletic feat for
the first time, a feat requiring total concentration, daring
and coordination, a feat requiring months of preparation!"
David looks relaxed and confident as he is about to begin a
complex series of movements. He remains poised and
balanced, he hesitates a moment and, with eyes focused
and looking ahead, his mind concentrated on the task, he
begins to move. Suddenly, with a tremor, he begins to fall!
Quickly, David catches himself, and without wasting a
moment on anger or fear, he stands again and continues
toward his goal, his face serene yet concentrated. As he
nears his goal, he has another near miss but again regains
his balance. He reaches out, his face beaming. After a final
moment of suspense, the spectators applaud with delight as
the 10-month-old inner athlete reaches out and grasps his
mother's outstretched arms. Recorded by his father's
camcorder, David has walked his first steps.
All of us were inner athletes in our infancy -- our minds were
free of concern and anxiety, focused on the present
moment; our bodies were relaxed, sensitive, and elastic; our
emotions were free-flowing and spontaneous. We begin life
with unlimited potential. We lose touch, however, with our
childhood aptitudes as we experience a variety of tensions,
become burdened by limiting beliefs, and endure denial of
our inner joys and dreams.
How can we achieve the mastery and mystery
that was implied by the
rapidly-expansive mental, physical and psychological
growth of our childhood?
Playfulness is the Father of Invention
If necessity is the mother of invention, then surely
playfulness is the father.
Playfulness is a roving, wandering, wondering "What if?"
It's following a flash of insight, getting lost in a stream of
consciousness, abandoning yourself with pretending.
Through play, we can capture and recapture our sense of
wonder and exuberance for life. To play in a childlike way is
to let go of all our self-consciousness, to drop the armor of
our defenses.
Recent discoveries in neuro-anatomy indicate that adult play
may actually increase the number of glial cells, the
connective tissue that links neurons within the brain. It has
long been known that the number of glial, or connective,
cells is a much better indicator of brainpower than the
number of neurons themselves. By increasing our brain's
connective tissue through play, we are enhancing our mental
and creative capacities. A long-term study found that
children who spent more time playing had better survival
skills and were more likely to succeed as adults than those
who played less. One of the important habits acquired in
play is that of taking risks. Creativity requires the ability to
think independently, and the capacity for bold, decisive
action -- and both of these demand that we take risks.
In Lane Two, the Cheetah…..
We are taught that we are puny and helpless, compared to
other animals, but this is not true.
Imagine a decathlon competition at the San Diego Zoo; the
events include sprinting, long jumping, high jumping,
hurdling, an endurance running event, swimming, deep
diving, gymnastics, striking, and throwing.
You are entered in this event, along with a cheetah, a
porpoise, a grizzly bear, a horse, an antelope, a monkey, a
whale, a sled dog, and some other of Noah's minions.
You think you wouldn't have a chance of winning, and one or
another of these animals will win most of the individual
events. But a well-trained human would likely win up to
three of them, and a well-trained human would clearly have
the best overall score.
As a human, you have a God-given ability to move skillfully,
gracefully and joyfully.
Determine Your Athletic Success Profile
In the eyes of "coaches" at any level, your character (what's
inside you) as you exhibit it on and off the field, is as
important -- and perhaps even more significant -- that your
"cosmetic" features of height, weight, strength, speed, etc.
or your performance factors of how far you can throw
something, how high you can jump, or how good your stats
Rate yourself conservatively and honestly:
Emotional Control
Mental Toughness
Then ask someone else (a parent, a coach, a former
coach, or an older athlete) to assess you. Ask them for ideas
on how you can improve. Read the pertinent sections in this
book. Set improvement goals for yourself, and develop a
plan. Turn your weaknesses into affirmations. Work on the
weak areas first. Re-assess yourself regularly. As
evaluated by your peers, coaches and future employers, if
you stand out, your chances for success at whatever you do
are outstanding.
The Nature of Games: The Experience of Excellence
Expressing Itself 42
All games have certain qualities in common. They are limited
in time; they have designated beginnings and ends. They
are limited in space; they are played within specific physical
boundaries. They have goals, and obstacles that must be
overcome to reach those goals. They are always limited by a
set of rules. Learning occurs most naturally in a setting
where mistakes can be made without dire
consequences. Yet learning and growth also require the
acceptance of challenge, and the motivation to reach a goal
is not always attained. Hence the value of a game lies in its
ability to create an illusion, a separate reality in which you
can experiment and take risks without great penalties for
The simulated challenges, obstacles and pressures of
competition are for the purpose of enjoyment and learning
better how to meet the real challenges of life. In addition,
games can be an expression of skill for the sake of
excellence. It can be art.
So, in the final analysis, we hold to one goal:
to express our best in the direction of the game's goal,
not for the sake of that goal
but for the experience of excellence expressing itself.
Our punishment for not doing our best is immediate and
simple; we do not feel the excellence. By not making the
effort to concentrate and relinquish control, we don't
get the pleasure that comes when we do. Our reward
and our punishment are immediate and indivisible, and they
do not emerge from frustration, thoughts and expectations.
When We are Good At the Things We Like
When we say we are good at the things we like, we mean that
we are able to make progress if we like the kind of thing we are
doing. Conversely, if we do not like what we are doing, we find it
difficult to concentrate our mind on it. Though our body may be
pointed the right way, our mind will fly off in some other
direction. Progress in things we do not like is slow because we
cannot achieve a state of mind and body unification. The
critical thing to learn if you want to make progress in anything is
to first unify your mind and body and then give play to the
highest of your own abilities.
Assigning the role of Director of Information and Learning to
only our mind [and not our body] encourages us to be
spectators, and not players. Traditional education
encourages us to live society's image and discourages us
from awakening to our deeper and more energetic impulses.
We learn, but we don't learn how we learn.
We are not
taught how to use ourselves in the learning process. 44
Wynton Marsalis on Practice
The great jazz and classical trumpeter Wynton Marsalis was
asked, in an interview by Richard Dyer (Boston Globe, December
12, 2003, E-21), how to stay true to oneself while absorbing
influences from learning about and being exposed to the thinking
of others. Marsalis replied “Every influence gives you the
opportunity to learn something, and that expands your sense of
yourself. All of us have originality; not all of us have the courage
of our convictions.”
Asked if he was ever satisfied with himself, Marsalis said: “You
have to know and take the middle road - you have to practice
hard enough to improve, but you don’t want to practice so
hard that you don’t want to play anymore. Above all, you
gotta have a good time.” A-26
Making the Most Out of Practice
So you've made the team. Maybe you are a returning
player, maybe even a "star"; maybe you just decided
to give it a shot. No matter: either way, practice is
where your coach gets to see how hard you work, how
well you listen and learn. It's where the coach gets to
see you in action, and gets to see you apply what you
are learning. It's your opportunity to make a long
string of positive impressions. Here are five "facts of
life" you'll need to understand and remember:
1. Sports teams are rarely democracies. Your
opinion will not count for much until you have
demonstrated years of hard work. Don't offer one
unless it is requested.
2. Practices are not fair. Work hard anyway.
3. If you are an experienced older member of the
team, or a star, you will be expected to work
even harder.
4. Coaches will play who they want to play. Your
job is to make yourself one of the people the
coach wants to play.
5. If you've got issues or problems, don't make it
public. Talk one-on-one with a teammate, or talk
to a brother or sister or parent, or go see the
coach. In private.
Practice time is essential. It's when you get to know
your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those
of your teammates. Look around at the older returning
players who are well-regarded by the coach to see
what you are supposed to be doing, how you are
supposed to act, and what kind of attitude you should
Here are twenty-two “intangibles" that every coach
looks for:
1. Be consistent. Show up every day. Practice hard
every day. Don't let runny noses and hangnails get in
your way. Be there. Be ready, mentally and physically.
Show up pumped up and ready to go.
2. Take care of yourself, your uniform and your
equipment. Be well rested. Watch what you eat and
drink. Make sure your equipment is in good repair.
Make sure your game uniform is clean and looks
3. Concentrate. Pay attention. Look like you're paying
attention. Make eye contact with the coach. Don't be
chatting with someone else when the coach is talking.
Don't let your eyes wander.
4. Have a winning attitude. Don't whine, roll your
eyes, or smirk. You love practice. You live for practice.
You will run through a brick wall for your coach. If
asked, you will build the wall first. With stones that
you dug up. With your bare hands. And carried on
your back for miles. In the hot sun. Get it?
5. Hustle. The coach wants that wall built faster,
okay? Even if you are only going through the motions,
hustle. If you're heart's not in it, then look like a
dynamo even if you are not accomplishing anything.
6. Be tough. Practice is not a real game, but pretend it
is. There are no fans or coaches from the next level
there to watch, but pretend there are. Get dirty. Dive
for loose balls. Do whatever it takes to show your
coach you are a gamer.
7. Understand teamwork. Support your teammates in
word and deed. Cheer them on. Encourage them. Help
them stay positive.
8. Know your role. Starter, key substitute, bench
player, practice player, spark plug, bench cheerleader
-- whatever it is, perform that role to the best of your
ability. Don't complain. If you believe you deserve a
greater role, talk to your coach privately and then
prove it.
9. Master the fundamentals. Most coaches don't have
the time, or the inclination, to teach and drill the
basics. Ask the coach for drills you can do on your
own time. Read books. Watch videos. Watch athletes
at the higher levels. Go to camps. Find a mentor who
will help, like an older athlete or even the coach from
your previous level.
10. Learn quickly. If the coach demonstrates
something and you don't get it, you may fall behind. If
you do get it, and master it quickly, you'll make a
great impression. After practice, make a mental note
of the two or three most critical things you worked on,
and go home and practice them some more. If you
keep making the same mistakes over and over, you
won't be playing much.
11. Show advanced and/or refined skills. Learn
advanced skills in the off-season. Ask your coach
what you should be working on. Practice and develop
finesse, timing, strength and speed on your own.
12. Develop a feel for your sport. It is very difficult to
teach the intangible elements of rhythm, timing,
tempo, and the subtleties of situation and strategy.
They are usually acquired only through lots of practice
and competition. Watch others play your sport as
much as possible. Videotape games. Read books. Ask
good questions.
13. Demonstrate big play ability. Determine what
skills you have that you can exploit and aggressively
show them off in practice. Learn how to make things
happen. If you can consistently and successfully
execute a critical play at a critical time, you will get
14. Motivate yourself. You cannot depend on your
coach to instill in you the necessary hunger for
success and achievement. If you aren't motivated
enough to work hard, find something else that does
get you fired up and go work hard at that. If you do
want to play but don't feel you have the hunger
needed to excel, then go ask the coach, an adviser, a
parent, someone... Find a mentor.
15. Arrive early and stay late. It makes a good
impression. Before practice, use the time to stretch
and warm-up properly, to get in the proper frame of
mind, to prepare equipment, and to check in with
coaches and teammates so you are clear on what's
going to happen. After practice, it's time to do cooldown stretching, to reflect on goals, performance and
technique, and to get equipment ready for the next
time. It's also a great time to catch the coach alone
for a moment to review something important. And it's
a great time to put in a little extra work.
16. Do more than expected. Ask your coach for extra
drills. Offer to help out during team functions. Be
ready to step in and lend a hand, or step up when
something needs to get done. Don't come across as a
brown-noser or a coach's pet; it's not going to get you
extra playing time. But showing a commitment to the
team will provide unexpected benefits.
17. Exude confidence. Watch your language. Stay
positive; keep others positive. Watch your posture
and body language. You have to think you are good
enough to play, and win; if you keep thinking it, you'll
believe it, and so will your coach.
18. Fight through small injuries. Don't miss practices,
assignments or games because of assorted nicks,
scrapes, aches, colds and headaches. Throw a bottle
of Tylenol, some band-aids and so on in your gym bag.
Learn to take care of yourself. Go see the trainer
when necessary. By all means, get the SITS checked
out (any Serious Injury, Twist or Strain), but don't
wimp out with the small stuff.
19. Improve your mind, attitude, physique and
stamina, if you show up at the beginning of the
season with body/mind/spirit that says "I've been
working out in the off-season", you are going to get
noticed. If you are out there looking fresh as a daisy
when your teammates are dropping like flies, you are
going to get noticed. If you can perform the required
drills, routines, sprints and gut-busters more quickly,
sharply and smoothly, and for longer time periods,
you are going to play.
20. Demonstrate leadership. Don't be someone who
needs to be baby-sat. Be mature and responsible for
your actions.
21. Be personable. Practices and competitions are
situations in which you are often seen by fans, alumni,
boosters, administrators, coaches and evaluators from
the next level, members of the press and media, and
other important people within your community and
your sport. Often, you will not know who these
people are, and it is entirely possible they will have an
impact on your future. Don't act like a jerk. Smile.
Watch your language. Be positive and upbeat. If
introduced, chat cordially and briefly, and then go and
attend to your business.
22. Get your personal and academic work done.
Family and self come before athletics. If you have
personal matters that need to be attended to, get
them handled ahead of time, or make plans and
commitments to do so afterwards. Then you can leave
your concerns about them in the locker room so that
they don't interfere with your learning, enjoyment and
If you are in school, you won't play if you are not
making the grade in the classroom. Get your
homework done. Go to all your classes. Ask for help,
if necessary, from teachers, advisers, counselors,
parents, coaches, anyone who will listen. Sports can
be an integral and supporting part of your educational
experience, but it's an extra. The most important
athletic arena is the classroom. Solid academic
achievement, learning how to learn, will determine
the quality of your life and open more doorways to
future success (including those in the world of
athletics) than anything else.
He practiced the assigned technique
with a focused, contained intensity...
a presence
that set him apart from all the other students.
The Warm-up
We train muscles by contracting them: stretching is
the uncompleted half of every muscle contraction,
critical to the health of muscle's and joints. So don't
stretch to the point of pain, or to stretch the
unstretchable, or to increase your range of motion.
Stretch because it feels good. [Stretching should be
done, not just before practices and games, but several
times each day.]
Getting Loose
Serious athletes don't get warm; they get loose. They
play around with the moves of their sport until they
reach a shambling, tension-free kind of confidence
that tells them they're ready for real effort.
They don't pursue warmth; they pursue bounciness,
elasticity, fluidity.
The goal is to get the soft tissue pulled out to length,
the joints lubricated through their ranges of motion,
the synapses charged, the proprioceptors alert.
Getting loose reminds the nerves to remind the
muscles just how to do that next demanding thing.
Looseness is also a state of mind, much to be desired:
tight minds make tight muscles, which make tentative
movements, turnovers, booted plays and possibly
injury. Tight minds make bad athletes. Send me in,
coach; I'm loose.
I'm always struck by how meticulously top-level
athletes warm up. This shouldn't surprise,
considering on how much depends on careful
maintenance of their physical plants. Still, the
thoroughness of their preparation always impresses
me. (And the attitude, the very air: it seems to be
important to cool out while you’re warming up,
doesn't it?) Militaristic drills have given way to
introspective stretching, to a floppy-jointed desultory
jog. You see bursts of real effort now and then, but
most warm-up time seems devoted to a kind of
leisurely checking-out -- of hamstrings, groins,
throwing arms. Among serious athletes, there are no
non-participants in this enterprise.
One good reason for a deliberate, careful warm-up is
to establish a rhythm to your workout. You want to
warm up just enough to get everything not just
moving well, but also slightly tired, pushed gently into
the first fringe of fatigue. You want to burn off the
uppermost layer of nervous energy. Then stop for a
brief rest until the surge of recovery begins to set in,
and start the hard part of your workout on the crest of
that surge. If you attempt to bull your way right on
through the first slump of fatigue, your workout gets
uncomfortable early on, which is discouraging, and it
will take longer to get everything balanced so that
you're perking along at a steady state.
Always practice in the spirit of joy.
Close your eyes and imagine an ESPN highlight.... Ken Griffey. Jr.
hits another home run..., see his mind at work... and then the
utterly smooth explosion of his bat through a graceful arc..., as
recognizable a movement as any in the history of sports.... Why?
What is that groove he has found?
Working a typewriter by touch, like riding a bike, is best done by
not giving it a glancing thought. To do things involving
practiced skills, you need to turn loose the systems of
muscles and nerves responsible for each maneuver, place
them on their own, and stay out of it. There is no real loss of
authority in this.., you decide to do it or not, and you can alter
the technique. This, in its best form, is what athletes call "playing
unconsciously". To achieve this level, you must do a lot of
work. You must practice the skill, and practice it correctly,
and repetitively.
In other words, the skill is there, somewhere. It needs only to
be summoned up and turned loose, set to work. When we learn a
new skill, we put it somewhere. When we call it up, there are
difficulties; we acquire the new skill incompletely and
inaccurately at first. What it is, how we acquire it, where we put
it, and how we bring it back are questions that speak to the most
profound mysteries in human understanding: memory and
learning theory.
One article of faith in our understanding of sports is that the
athlete picks up a new skill more quickly and accurately than the
non-athlete, that he or she somehow absorbs the physical
requirements of the motor task more easily. Occasionally we see
athletes exceed our expectations, usually by some marvelous
show of "ability" that falls outside their narrow area of athletic
specialization. When we do, we speak of such things as "body
control" or "coordination".
But if you bring ten world-class athletes into a laboratory
in search of an answer,
the only identifiable across-the-board advantage
that good athletes seem to have over the rest of us is
the quality of their attention.
They pay attention to the task at hand a little better
than you and I do.
The human brain communicates to the body through words and
Therefore, no voluntary action takes place without a preceding
Therefore, a performance of any kind is preceded by self-talk.
Why not choose to speak positively to yourself about yourself?
The subconscious mind does not know the difference
between what is real and what is imagined. 50
At the University of Chicago, an important study was done in
which the effects of the imagined performance of a task
were measured against actual practice. In the study, the
ability of three different groups at shooting basketball free
throws was measured.
The first group was told to practice shooting for an hour a
day for 20 days.
The second group was told to imagine shooting hoops for an
hour a day for 20 days.
The third group was told not to mentally or physically shoot
any baskets for 20 days.
The performance of the first group improved 24%.
The performance of the second group increased 23%.
The performance of the third group remained
The subconscious mind is the most powerful part of your
mind. It can only do what it has been wired to do. It
cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is
Does this give you any ideas?
The subconscious mind believes what it has seen, heard and
felt, but it does not know whether it was real or imagined.
[What's that TV show you're watching?] So long as the
neuron chain has been established, you can act in a
manner consistent with your goals. It does not matter
whether that wiring comes by means of actual or imagined
experience. The trick is to enter the behavior you want to
manifest into your subconscious memory.
See it; believe it; receive it; value it.
Tools of the Imagination
The power of thought allows [us] to create a
place, not an imaginary place, but a place that is as
real as reality... During the time I'm writing, [a
fictional place] is as real to me and as solid as this
table top. I have smelled the smell of a campfire with
an odor from no wood you'd ever have on earth.
There has been quite a reality there.
-- Gene Roddenberry
The creator of Star Trek describes how mental creativity can
be harnessed in the service of expanding perspective,
building empathy, and sharpening contextual clarity,
certainly a tool that can also be harnessed by athletes, in a
vivid mental experience, to boldly go where they had not
gone before. In a fictional holosuite located on their
starship, trekkers could holographically replicate people,
objects, scenes or experiences from any time or
environment, and interact with them "for real". Or at least
almost for real.
How can you know what a camel ride is like if you've
never taken one?
How can you know what it feels like to dive off a cliff if
you've never stood on one?
How can you know what it will be like to approach and
achieve your dreams?
You Can Already Visualize Success!
Note the clarity and detail in your mind as you re-create
each image noted below.
Visual Images: Can you see a tiger?... a clown..?, your
mother's face ....? a cathedral ...? your living room..?, a full
moon..?, the place where you play your sport?.
Visual Movement Images: Can you capture the motion of
a kitten lapping milk from a bowl? a waterfall? a kite flying
in the breeze? your best friend walking towards you?
an airplane taking off? you in action in your sport?
Auditory Images, or Sounds: Can you hear chimes
blowing in the wind? Young children giggling? An alarm clock
going off? the sound of a basketball going through the net?
the fans cheering?
Olfactory Images or Smells: Can you smell burning
leaves? the scents in the air at the beach? your favorite
meal being cooked?
Gustatory Images, or Tastes: Can you taste lemon juice?
a jalapeno pepper? Tooth paste? your favorite ice cream?
the zesty spice of success?
Sensory Image, Texture and Touch: Can you recreate
the sensation of scritching behind your cat's ears? being
wrapped in a warm blanket? jumping into a swimming pool
on a hot day? the grip of the baseball bat? the feel of the
laces on a football?
Kinesthetic Images, or Physical Sensations and
Movements: Can you feel the sensation and movement of
being hugged? feeling chilly? carrying something heavy?
jumping off a low wall? playing your sport?
Put all of these types of sensations into your sports
visualizations, and see yourself successfully achieving
your goals.
Remember, though, that your ability to visualize is not
the key factor in getting significant results.
What matters most is your intention, the power
behind the image.
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe
impossible things."
"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the
Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half
an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many
as six impossible things before breakfast."
- Lewis Carroll
The only way to make something real is through
action. 53
A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step...and then
you take another step,
and then another....
Let me tell you a story about Fred and George. I took a
flight across the country and, in the airport, I met an old
college friend of mine, who turned out to be the pilot of my
flight. After we got underway, off the runway and leveled off
on our route, he had the stewardess come back to invite me
to join him in the cockpit. I sat behind him. He turned
around when the co-pilot left, and we started to chat. I was
apparently a little agitated, because he asked me "What's
wrong?", and I said "No one is flying this plane....".
"Oh", he said, "Fred's flying."
"Fred?", I said, "Where's
"You're sitting on him", he replied. "Fred is an autopilot; he
talks to George."
"George? Who's George?"
"George is the computerized navigation system. Actually,
it's a marvelous parallel for life and the way our minds work.
You see, Fred is like your subconscious brain; he can take
orders wonderfully, and he is very good at doing certain
things, but he's quite unable to know where he is, so George
has to tell him. George is like your conscious brain. It goes
like this. At the beginning of the journey, the computer is
told where we want to go. We want to go to San Diego,
which is about 3,000 miles to the west/southwest, so we
program the computer for that location and when we want
to get there, and the computer plots a precise course. We
roar off down the runway, and climb up into the sky, and set
the throttle for 600 miles per hour. George knows what time
it is, where we are, and where we want to be, and so he
does his calculations and tells Fred what changes to make.
He tells Fred to turn two degrees to the right. And Fred
answers "Ok, George", and does it. And then Fred recalculates, and says "Fred, you turned too far; turn one
degree to the left. And Fred answers "Ok, George", and
does it. But Fred turns the nose down a little, and George
says "Fred, come up two degrees", and Fred answers "Ok,
George", and does it. And a headwind comes up, and so
George re-calculates, and says "Fred, speed up 10 miles an
hour", and Fred answers "Ok, George", and
does it.
“Now, the amazing thing about all of this is that, for 98% of
the time, we are off-course; we're traveling in the wrong
direction, or going too slow, or too fast, or at the wrong
altitude. But Fred and George keep talking with each other,
and five hours later, 3,000 miles away, we put this 20,000ton aircraft down within three feet of our anticipated
destination.” And life is like that….
If you spend too much time fretting about how you are
going to get there, or the fact that you are likely to be offcourse a lot of the time, you'll never get off the runway.
And, once airborne, you can't exactly stop right there for a
while to think about whether this is the right course, or the
right altitude, or the right speed. You just have to go. And
you have to get your conscious brain and your subconscious
brain to work together to get you there."
Create Your Own Engine of Success
One of the essential truths underlying the effective use of
your mind is that you can give it a roadmap of where you
want it to take you. If you provide this roadmap creatively,
with energy, care and thought, your mind will take your
body and spirit where you tell it you want to go.
The simplest way to do this is to find pictures that depict a
place very much like the place where (or how) you want to
be. Find an appropriate picture or image and hang it up in
your bedroom, locker, or somewhere where you will see it on
a daily basis. Use a bulletin board or collage technique to
collect the things that will remind you of where you want to
be. Use quotes if they work for you.
Place a list of your current goals there. Keep reminders of
how you want to approach your practice, your event, your
game... the mental attitudes, disciplines and emotional
qualities that work for you.
Keep a journal and/or a log of your experience. Practice and
experiment with the techniques you are taught, and keep
notes as to what works, what doesn't, where you need more
effort or practice, what you're revised goal is, etc. Refer
back to this material over time; throw out what doesn't work
for you, and keep using or practicing whatever it is that
produces consistent and positive results.
Create your very own private Hall of Masters. Use
pictures, quotes, articles, clippings and your own notes
about people you admire, the characteristic you admire, and
some thoughts about how you can acquire that
characteristic. Have imaginary conversations with these
Visualize yourself in that place you want to go.
Visualize yourself succeeding.
Visualize yourself performing successfully.
Use tape recordings, music and video that will support you
in your endeavor.
Create a vivid and detailed mental map for your mind of
where you want to go, and how you are going to get there.
Get creative about how you program your mind with images
and messages. And don't forget that you'll need to change
and update all of this as you make progress.
A task is not done well if not approached well.
The challenge is this:
to find out what beliefs allow us to realize our personal
to discover what behaviors work on our behalf, and which
ones don't.
Action and the "As If" Principle
You can create success from the inside out with
affirmations and visualizations.
You can create success from the outside in when you act
with positive expectation.
Simply put, what you do affects what you think
about yourself.
As you change what your mind sees and what your mind
hears, you change the way you act. Ask yourself this
question: If you were to accomplish your goal or realize
your dream, how would you act, talk and dress? Check
your language, posture and attitudes. When you change
the way you act, simply, dramatically and consistently,
your mind is forced to change its perception of you.
To achieve your goal, live into it. Act as if you were
already there. Act like you know it will happen. Act as
if it is already happening. Act calmly, with positive
[This is sometimes expressed as fake it until you
make it.]
A story from the Old Testament of the Bible provides an
illustration. In the middle of a drought, without a rain
cloud in sight, a prophet [a leader?] told his people to
dig ditches in order to catch rainwater. In essence, what
he said was this: Act as though the result you desire
will occur.
Ask for what you want. Every time you ask or seek, you
are acting on the belief that you will get it. When you act
into your goals, you demonstrate to your subconscious
mind that you are serious about attaining them -- and
that you expect you will. Dare to take immediate action
toward the results you seek.
It is easier to act your way into a new kind of
than it is to think yourself into a new way of
--William James
Go dig your own ditches. Trust that if you are clear in
your intention, positive in your expectation, and willing
to persevere, the rain will come; the results you seek
will manifest.
Remember too, as John Dewey said:
"Action is always specific, concrete, individual,
The essence of talent
is not so much the presence of certain qualities
but rather the absence
of mental, physical and emotional obstructions. 57
[You can learn to get out of your own way.]
Navigating Your Journey
Change is all around us, whether we choose to change
or not. If you have nothing else, you always have
the ability to make a choice. Look for information
and data that will orient you. Find maps for the journey
ahead. If you choose to undertake a journey of personal
growth, you'll want to race out ahead, but the journey
will go more smoothly and assuredly if you slow down
and do the preparatory groundwork first. Remember,
the first phase of any process involves conviction
and commitment.
As you get out there, you may feel vulnerable, irritable,
anxious. You may experience doubt, panic, delusion,
inflation and deflation, flushes of success and ruts of
boredom. Hold steady and keep going. The second
phase of the process is about courage and effort.
After you've been underway in your journey of change,
you'll start to feel a sense of new skills and new
knowledge. You'll want to flex your new capabilities on
even bigger projects, in larger arenas, against bigger
challenges. At this point, it's important to practice,
practice, practice. Be careful about getting caught up in
a premature and false sense of competence. The third
phase is about honesty, humility and rededication.
Return to the basics, to the beginning. Become a
rookie all over again, and take the journey anew. It
will be different this time because you are different, you
have a new level of awareness and skill, and because
the playing field will be different, there will be new
opponents and new obstacles. Look for the information
that will orient you. Find a map for the journey ahead.
With a few exceptions, the level of competition at
the top is dead even. 59
The winners have little advantage in strength,
technique or training;
the difference comes in psychology. The winners
are better able to achieve
a state of psychic balance that allows them to
consistently perform at their best.
In the language of auto racing, they get all their
power down onto the road.
If you are thinking of going on to the next level,
you had better prepare for it now.
You had better start putting your mind to it. When you
get there, everyone's an all-star; the kid competing for
the same position was the best in his school. In college,
the opponent lining up opposite you was probably his
league's MVP, and maybe a high school All-American.
Two of the older players on your team are All-Region,
and expect you to play like one.., soon.
If you make the team at your next level, you will find
awesome talent, competitive drive and high levels of
confidence all around you. If you are playing at the very
highest levels, your opponent may be someone with
experience in national and international competition. If
you are thinking of going on and playing sports at the
next level, you had better prepare for it now.... You had
better start putting your mind to it.
By learning...
how to establish goals, and how to adjust your goals;
how to make expectations (yours and others) work for you,
not against you;
how to be committed, avoiding obsessive involvement and
its accompanying frustration, and yet still leave room for
other important elements of your life;
how and why attitude is so very critical to the quality of
your life, your experience and your success;
how to develop the correct attitudes, and how to develop a
form of confidence that works for you without moving you
into the self-destructive arena of arrogance;
how to believe in yourself;
how to have fun at everything you do;
how to motivate yourself and others;
what visualization is, why it works, and how to do it;
how to prepare yourself;
how to concentrate, and how to improve awareness and
how to maintain mental discipline, how to relax, and how
to stay relaxed while engaged in mental and physically
intense activities;
how to enroll others into your goals, and how to motivate
people around you to help you achieve your goals;
how to coach yourself (and others) by learning to ask the
right questions;
how to find yourself "in the zone", with increasing
These skills will help you in athletics, but also in learning, in your
relationships, and in the world of work and careers. They will
help you as an artist (even if you do not yet see yourself as one)
as you pursue the everyday enjoyment of life. They will help
you improve the quality of your life and of those around you,
bringing you many rewards.
There are no ordinary moments.
The Five Cups of Learning
Five different types of cup symbolize five different kinds
of students.
The first cup is upside down; no matter how much
learning is poured, nothing gets in the cup. This is the
student who pays no attention, whose eyes are glazed
while they read, who cannot remember what was
The second cup is right-side up, but there is a hole in
the bottom. The student takes in what is being
presented, but forgets it, does not digest it, or apply it.
The third cup is right-side up, but the inside is dirty.
When the clear water of instruction is poured in, the dirt
makes it cloudy. The student distorts what is taught,
interpreting and editing it to reflect preconceived ideas
or opinions. Nothing new is actually learned.
The fourth cup is already full of water. There can be no
new learning because this student already knows it all.
The fifth cup is right-side up, has no holes, is clean, and
is empty. This student is open to new things, practices
what has been taught, looks for ways to apply the
learning, comes back to describe results and growth,
and is thirsty for more.
No matter how good the instruction is… it is only as
useful as the student's interest and effort in learning.
Pay Attention !!!
From toddlerhood on, soon after we begin to
comprehend language, we are told to pay attention.
Although no one feels it necessary to explain what this
means, we gradually learn [ incorrectly ] that it means
being still and focusing on only one thing.
Should our focus wander, we call it getting distracted.
However, when we are distracted, we are merely paying
attention to something else. Being distracted means
otherwise attracted. Students who do poorly are told to
pay attention, focus or concentrate with the
understanding that, if only they did, they would learn
the intended lesson. What "paying attention" actually
means is not examined. We just assume that if we
could fix our mind on the subject and not let it wander,
all would be well.
We asked several high school teachers what they meant
when they asked their students to pay attention, focus
or concentrate on something. We asked whether they
meant that the students should "hold the picture still" in
their mind, or did they mean that the students should
"vary the picture" in their minds? Teachers
overwhelmingly chose the first alternative. The students
gave the same answer.
But researchers in perception tell us that when we focus
intently on a single image, it actually fades from view.
Not only it is nearly impossible to maintain attention by
holding an image still, it is also extremely fatiguing.
One example or parallel for this involves vigilance, when
we must maintain attention against potential danger.
Conversely, paying attention to things we enjoy
may be energizing and thus possible to sustain for
longer periods of time.
Successful concentration occurs when the target
of our attention varies, when we notice different
or interesting things about it.
We can enhance our ability to pay attention
effectively when we purposefully introduce a
change in context or perspective
that will lead us to notice something new and
Every seat is the best seat in the house.
Is excellence possible with a disengaged heart?
How We Learn
We can skillfully manage our lifelong learning in a
sustainable pattern in three ways: by instruction, by
experience, and by uncovering what we don't know.
The basic dynamic of instruction is that someone who
"knows" tells or shows someone who "doesn't know",
and the not-knower tries to learn it -- which usually
means to repeat it on demand. This dynamic applies in
classes, personal interaction, books and the other media
of instruction. In many circumstances, this is efficient
and effective. However, it also has its limitations. It
tends toward exchange on the surface of things,
requires that the learner apply tremendous energy to
turn the lesson into real understanding, and requires the
learner to want to learn.
We trust people with experience. Learning in the
artistic disciplines, apprenticeships and the school of
hard knocks relies heavily on this approach. The root of
the words "experience" and "experiment" are the same.
An expert is good at experiencing a particular situation.
What we don't know includes most everything.
Uncovering what we don't know is the most powerful
learning; it goes deep and resonates for a long time.
This critical but often overlooked approach to learning
plays havoc with learning systems and institutions. It
cannot be programmed; the best we can do is prepare
and provoke.
Of the three ways of learning, instruction is the easiest
to manage, the most orderly.
Experience is the most powerful place to enter the
three, with the greatest pull toward personal
involvement. Uncovering what we don't know leads
to the greatest change and forward movement.
The best learning does not emphasize one approach
over the others but slips fluidly among all three.
Yearning is essential to all real learning. Most
instructional systems do not develop a hunger to learn;
in fact, they seem diabolically designed to squelch the
idiosyncratic love of learning. Yearning does evolve to
some degree incidentally through interaction with
parents, teachers and through hodgepodge experience.
But to develop a sustaining lifelong passion for
learning we must become our own learning
coaches, because institutions rarely provide them.
What nurtures a natural desire to learn?
Hands-on engagement in an effort to create or
accomplish something worthwhile.
I knew a man who grabbed a cat by the tail and
learned 40% more about cats than the man who
-- Mark Twain 66
Whatever you want to achieve, think it, see it, feel it and
do it. 67
How Are You Intelligent?
In his book Frames of Mind, Howard Gardner proposed
the existence of seven separate human intelligences.
Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and
written language, the ability to learn languages, and the
capacity to use language to accommodate certain goals.
Lawyers, speakers, writers and poets are among the
people with high linguistic intelligence.
Logical-mathematical intelligence involves the
capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out
mathematical operations, and investigate issues
scientifically. Linguistic and logical-mathematical
intelligence are highly valued in schools; most tests are
designed to evaluate abilities in these fields.
Musical intelligence entails skill in the appreciation,
performance and composition of musical patterns.
There is some parallel to linguistic and mathematical
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of
using one's whole body (or key parts of it) to solve
problems or fashion products. Obviously, dancers,
actors and athletes have this intelligence in their
foreground. However, it is also important for
craftspersons, surgeons, bench-top scientists, mechanics
and other technically-oriented professionals.
Spatial intelligence features the potential to recognize
and manipulate the patterns of wide space (those used,
for example, by navigators and pilots) as well as the
patterns of more confined areas (such as those of
importance to sculptors, surgeons, chess players,
graphic artists and architects). The wide-ranging ways
in which spatial intelligence is deployed in different
cultures clearly show how a biopsychological capability
can be harnessed.
Interpersonal intelligence denotes a capacity to
understand the intentions, motivations and desires of
other people and, consequently, to work effectively with
others. Salespeople, teachers, clinicians, religious
leaders, political leaders and actors all need acute
interpersonal intelligence.
Intrapersonal intelligence is the capacity to understand
oneself, to have an effective working model of oneself -including one's own desires, fears and capacities -- and
to use such information effectively in regulating one's
own life.
Later, Gardner added three more: naturalist
intelligence (such as in dealing with flora, fauna,
ecology, etc.), spiritual intelligence (the conscious
recognition of interconnectedness) and existential
intelligence (the search for meaning and purpose).
Each of us have a unique mix of these many ways
of being intelligent.
The brain of each human is unique.
Some minds are wired to create symphonies and
sonnets, while others are fitted out to build bridges,
highways and computers; design airplanes and road
systems; drive trucks and taxicabs; or seek cures for
breast cancer and hypertension. The growth of our
society and the progress of the world are dependent on
our commitment to fostering in our children, and in each
other, the coexistence and mutual respect of these many
different kinds of minds.
It's taken for granted in adult society that we cannot all
be generalists skilled in every area of learning and
mastery. Nevertheless, we apply tremendous pressure
on our children to be good at everything. Every day
they are expected to shine in math, reading, writing,
speaking, spelling, memorization, comprehension,
music, artistic expression, problem solving, socialization,
following verbal directions, and athletics. Few if any
children can master all of these "trades".
And none of us adults can.
In one way or another, all minds have their
specialties, and their frailties.
Imaginative play 70 (which frequently springs from
boredom) is an important component of intellectual and
emotional development. It weaves together logic,
aesthetics, narrative fiction, autobiography, emotions
and elements of the real world. When we imagine, we
integrate all our intelligences to create unique stories
Finding Your Passion
What puts the biggest grin on your face? What puts the
spring in your step? What puts a song in your heart?
What puts the sparkle in your eyes? What do you get
the biggest kick out of doing, even if you're not great at
it? Whatever it is, do these things often. Weave them
flexibly into your life.
Every single little dose of self-affirmative passion
produces positive changes in cardiac rhythms, brain
waves, your immune system and your hormonal
balance. Pursuing your passion is the antidote to stress
and can be a self-renewing call to capability. Move your
passions closer to the center of your life and your work.
Want to read more about it? See:
The Pursuit of Happiness, D.G. Myers, Morrow, 1992.
The Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal, R. E.
Thayer, Oxford Univ. Press, 1989.
The Origin of Everyday Moods, R.E. Thayer, Oxford
University Press, 1997.
Genius is childhood recaptured. -- Rene Dubos
As you read these words, 72 your brain is monitoring
the light, heat, cold, sounds and smells around you. It
monitors the functioning of all of your organs, and every
touch and pressure on your body. It knows who and
what is in the room with you. It knows where every
muscle in your body is, and which ones are lengthened,
which ones are relaxed, and which ones are contracted.
It constantly makes muscle adjustments to keep your
body, and especially your eyes, aligned to the page,
moving the muscles of your eyes to track across the
page, and to adjust for distance and light. It visually
takes in the words on the page, integrates them with
specific remembered images, sounds and movements in
your life to better understand each word and meaning in
your special context so that you may evaluate the
importance of the text, judge its validity, and consider
the ways you might implement its concepts, suggestions
and ideas. Magical, isn't it?
Skill Acquisition and the Learning Process
Learning theorists describe three progressive
learning stages or phases.
In the cognitive phase, the athlete attempts to
"picture" or visualize the performance of newlyintroduced skills or techniques. Athletes will often tell
their coaches "I don't see what you mean" after skills
are described to them. A variety of teaching techniques
are available. The most common is demonstration by a
coach, but these may also include demonstration by
another highly-skilled athlete (followed by mimicking),
or the use of visual or written materials.
In the practice phase, the athlete moves toward
fixation of the skill to higher levels of maximum
efficiency through trial and error. Early on, rapid
improvement is made. Progressively less and less
change is necessary as the optimum level is approached.
Feedback from the coach is important during this phase,
when athletes are also developing their own ability to
monitor themselves and to detect their own errors.
During this phase, coach and athlete should monitor and
eliminate any fatigue, frustration and boredom which
hinder learning and lead to incorrect learning. It is
important to insure proper attitude, behavior and selfdiscipline to ensure consistent development and results.
In the autonomic stage of learning, skills have become
practiced so much that they have become habits,
reflecting the fruits of consciousness and diligence.
Motor responses become automatically triggered.
Athletes have three learning modes, used alone or in
combination, through which they process information
relative to the acquisition of motor skills and tasks;
these are sight, sound and feel, or visual, auditory
and kinesthetic. Some athletes learn best by watching
and imitating movement patterns displayed by highlyskilled performers. Others assimilate skills better when
they are explained and described to them verbally.
Others perform newly-acquired skills best after physical
experience of their movement patterns.
No proficiency in practical performance of
movement or technique
is possible without continuous, programmed
practice. 74
The learning curve for skills
always involves
excitement, discouragement, dismay, misery and,
eventually, mastery. 75
On Understanding
Understanding something in just one way is a
rather fragile approach.
Marvin Minsky (author of The Society of Mind,
Touchstone, New York, 1985) has said that we need at
least two different ways of experiencing something in
order to really understand it. Each different way of
thinking, studying and experiencing something
strengthens and deepens each of the other ways.
Understanding something in several different
ways produces an overall understanding that is
richer, and of a different nature, than any one way
of understanding.
Understanding versus Realization
Said the teacher: You may understand many things, but
may not realize them.
Understanding is one-dimensional. It is the
comprehension of the intellect. It leads to knowledge.
Realization, on the other hand, is three-dimensional. It
is the simultaneous comprehension of the `whole-body'
-- the head, the heart and the physical instincts. It
comes only from clear experience.
Said the student: What does that mean? I'm not with
Answered the teacher: Do you remember when you first
learned to drive? As a passenger, you watched someone
as they drove the car and explained what they were
doing. But when you finally got behind the wheel
yourself, you gradually came to acquire and perform the
skills and understanding that driving requires.
On Knowledge, Spirit and Action
Use whatever knowledge you have, but also see its
limitations. Knowledge alone does not suffice; it has no
heart. No amount of knowledge will nourish or sustain
your spirit; it can never bring you ultimate happiness or
peace. Life requires more than just knowledge; it
requires intense feeling and constant energy.
Life demands right action if knowledge is to come alive.
A player has to pass through three stages: 79
unconsciously incompetent… consciously
competent… and unconsciously competent.
Learning is experience. Everything else is just
information. 80
Curiosity is the best toy in the store.
The best learning involves no formal arrangements
whatever; 82 the world itself is school enough.
Enrolling in the Greatest University on Earth
If learning is so critical to success, where and
when is it going to take place?
The demands of modern life allow few hours and limited
dollars for training and learning.
I want to recommend a university that takes very little
extra time and no extra money.
It is, in my opinion, the best university ever created. It
is highly interactive and has incredible 3-D graphics and
a sound track too. It is the source of your most valuable
knowledge, skill and personal development. Best of all,
it is perfectly designed to teach you exactly what you
need to learn. You've been enrolled in this university
since you were born. It is your life and the experience
you derive from it. To create a similar university of such
magnitude and complexity would be a daunting and
unimaginably expensive undertaking. Think of what it
takes to arrange for all of the events and their props.
Consider the variations of all of the consequences
resulting from your individual choices. Reflect on what it
takes to arrange for all of the other participants you
interact with, the creation of a situation in which a
hundred different people would have a hundred different
While this university is free, there is a requirement for
admission into this individually-customized group of
colleges, with its perfectly-tailored schedule of courses.
In order to learn most effectively and thoroughly, it
requires that you be interested in being a student. And
you have to be humble. And you have to pay attention
to the teacher -- experience itself. If you pay these
entry fees, the ball and the racket will teach you how to
play tennis, the customer will teach you how to sell, the
employee will teach you how to manage, the follower
will teach you how to lead, and every task will teach us
how to optimize work.
This university of experience has an open-door policy.
You can enter, and leave, whenever you choose. When
you enter and pay attention, the learning process
begins. You'll start from your present understanding and
move at your own pace. But if you get wrapped up in
the drama and trauma of your work and forget that you
are a student, the seminar will go on without you. It will
wait patiently for your return, always granting you the
freedom of choice, to be conscious or not, to pay
attention or not. And the variety of available courses is
virtually unlimited.
There are many reasons to attend this special university.
The desire to learn is as fundamental to our being as the
desire to survive and the desire to enjoy. We are
changed by the way in which we work. We develop
qualities as well as skills. Intellectual, emotional,
creative and intuitive capacities are developed through
our experiences. Determination, courage, commitment,
empathy, imagination and a host of communications
skills are built. We may not see this learning happen if
we focus only on performance but, looking back, we can
tell that it has occurred.
The purpose of education is to open your spirit. 84
The entire universe is a huge open book, full of
miraculous things, and that is where true learning must
be sought. In that spirit, take responsibility, train hard,
develop yourselves, bloom in this world, and bear fruit.
The young learner must move. That's what keeps
him alive, awake, alert. 85
During movement, all the senses are in operation
-- visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic -- all telling
us “ the world is really here, now ”.
The Content and Quality of Our Life
The nervous system has definite limits on how much
information it can process at any given time. There are
just so many "events" that can appear in consciousness
and be recognized and handled appropriately before
they begin to crowd each other out.
Walking across a room while chewing gum is not too
difficult..., but, in fact, not much more than that can be
done concurrently. Thoughts have to follow each other,
or they get jumbled. While we are thinking about a
problem we cannot truly experience either happiness or
sadness. We cannot run, sing and balance the
checkbook simultaneously, because each of these
activities exhausts most of our capacity for attention.
We are on the verge of understanding scientifically how
the human brain processes information. How much
information can our central nervous system handle
It seems we can manage at most seven bits of
information (such as differentiated sounds or visual
stimuli, or recognizable nuances of emotion or thought)
at any one time.
The shortest time it takes to distinguish between
one set of bits and another is about 1/8th of a second. It
is possible, then, to process not more than 126 bits of
information per second, or 7,560 per minute, or half a
million per hour.
In 16 waking hours each day, this amounts to
about 185 million bits of information over a
lifetime of 70 years.
It is out of this total that everything in our life must
come -- every thought, memory, feeling or action.
The information we allow into our consciousness
therefore becomes extremely important; it is, in fact,
what determines the content and quality of our life.
The Power of the Experience of Understanding
There is a fundamental dimension to learning that has
been under-emphasized and often ignored: the
motivational power of the experience of understanding
that results in subjective pleasure or satisfaction.
Understanding takes a person through the process
from contextually being part of the problem to
being part of the solution.
Understanding means that new knowledge is
incorporated into the self in such a way that it can be
readily applied to a new situation, and the process of
personal comprehension feels good when it is
Another term for this form of learning is insight. The
smile of pleasure and the relaxation associated with an
“aha!” or "oh yeah, I get it" moment is the signal of
satisfaction of understanding.
Understanding that something is basically true and right
and solid about yourself, about someone you love, or
about the world you live in also feels good. This feeling
of pleasure helps us recognize the powerful desire that
drives intelligent behavior, a desire that seeks the
pleasure of competence and mastery.
I believe that this same process of challenge, followed
by understanding and a feeling of pleasure, applies to
spiritual intelligence. The pleasure that drives spiritual
intelligence is described in many forms, often in the
sense of oneness with other human beings or all of living
creation, or of connection to a larger whole, to a greater
and transcendent consciousness.
You are the most important coach you will ever have.
Your future and success depend on many things,
but mostly they depend on you. You have the
responsibility to shape your life. You are the
person who pushes yourself forward or holds
yourself back. Applying the skills and techniques
of mental training will not create talent, but they
will help you release it. 89
Those who want milk should not sit themselves
down on a stool
in the middle of the field and hope that the cow
will back up to them.
-Albert Hubert
A sporting event is never complete in the moment
in which it takes place. Much of its rewards come
afterward, when the participant thinks back on
what was accomplished. The flow of sport extends
to the feeling of having created flow through hard
work. 90
True victory is the victory over self.
On Learning
Something happens to a child when learning is replaced
by schooling. Children can't not learn. If they lose their
appetite for learning, it's because somebody,
orsomething, has turned a natural joyous, life-sustaining
activity into a form of drudgery, a theater of the absurd,
or -- worse -- a chamber of abuse.
Let us, like the ancient doctors, vow first to do no harm,
and promise to resist measures that deprive children of
their natural enthusiasm and exuberance as learners,
their impulse to ask questions, to figure things out, to
wonder, to express, to investigate, to construct, to
imagine. Children are naturally passionate learners.
A profound negative shift in the child's attitude toward
learning can show up as the result of distractions,
boredom, pressure for grades and scores, a distaste for
learning by book and lecture (vs. a taste for learning by
doing), a lack of inner motivation (or learning to please
elders), perfectionism and an obsession with the
competition for grades, lack of challenge, poor academic
self-image, cultural hostility, being bullied by adults,
negative peer pressure or ostracism, language
difficulties or family-based social problems.
I believe that passionate learning is mostly a
function of relationships. Teachers [and coaches?]
say they must spend so much time trying to keep
students "on track" with the lesson plan [or the practice
plan] they have "no time to waste on nonessentials".
But when kids feel unconnected, unappreciated,
unmotivated, and unknown, their attention span
decreases, their conduct deteriorates, and their teachers
have to spend more time haranguing them to do their
work. Human learning has, for eons, been largely a
social and interactional activity. Relationships among and
between teachers, students, family and community
members have great power to affect the child's pride,
persistence and learning performance.
Sport's Exploration of Human Limits
The demands our games make on us take on many
forms; each sport has its own set of ideals.
Mountaineering and race car driving, for example,
require very different sets of capacities. Each stretches
its participants in a special way and aligns them with
particular dimensions of experience.
In no other field of human activity other than sport is
there such a proliferation of specialized physiques. As
athletics have developed in the modern world, they
have required an ever greater variety of skills and
bodily structure to support them - - whether it is the
muscular frame of a three-hundred pound defensive
tackle, the elastic joints of a gymnast, the prodigious
cardiopulmonary system of a marathon runner, or the
steady hand of an archer.
What are the ideals for your sport?….
the position you play in that sport?
your vision for your future?
Music and the Mind
During the 1980’s and the 1990’s, scientific journals
around the world began publishing studies proving:
• that music literally alters the structure of the
developing brain of the fetus;
• that infants recognize and prefer music first heard
in their mother's wombs;
• that IQ scores increase among young children who
receive regular music instruction;
• that a single half-hour of music therapy improves
children's immune function; and
• that music relieves stress, encourages social
interaction, stimulates language development, and
improves motor skills among young children.
Can music make us more intelligent? Certainly it can
increase the number of neuronal connections in our
brain, thereby stimulating verbal skills. It can teach
good study habits, aid in efforts to read and to
comprehend mathematical concepts, and help us
memorize facts with ease. But intelligence is not
measured only by our ability to read, write, memorize
and work with numbers.
Our success in working with community, in
remembering visually and aurally,
in moving in creating and interacting with grace
and sensitivity, in expressing emotion and
relieving stress, and in listening to and trusting
our own "inner voice" are equally important -- and
all are enhanced by listening to and making music.
True, many influences contribute to the molding of a life,
and music is only one of them. But unlike our genetic
inheritance, which is fixed, our musical inheritance is
expandable. We can turn up the volume and make it as
positive a force as we wish.
Music shapes and stimulates the mind, body and
Our emotional and mental bodies need as much
exercise as our physical body. 95
Poetry, music, drama, prayer and love are
essential to the game too.
There is no end to it once you begin to take your
game seriously.
Be Here Now
Be at your fullest level. Inhale deeply. Experience
every sense. Explore any emotion that presents itself
and let it be there, and then let it go. Enjoy whatever it
is you are doing fully.
Here is where you should be… in other words, wherever
you are. Do not be mentally somewhere else; you
cannot be there now, and you will miss what is
happening here.
Now is when you should be attentive. You cannot hope
to come back and capture what is going on now at a
later date. Don't waste your time looking forward to
something that may never happen, or looking back at
the past because that will not happen again the same
way. When you get to that point or place you were
looking forward to, that is the time to experience it fully.
When you look back, you need not look back wistfully,
longingly, if you were fully alive & experienced it then.
In other words, to get vibrancy, impact and
fulfillment, do whatever it is that you are doing
whenever you are doing it with immediacy, with
intensity and with immersion.
Optimal Experience
We have all experienced times when, instead of being
buffeted by anonymous forces, we feel in command of
our actions, masters of our own fate. On the rare
occasions when it happens, we get a deep sense of
enjoyment that is long cherished and that becomes a
landmark in memory for what life should be like.
This is what we mean by optimal experience. It is what
the sailor holding a tight course feels when the wind
whips through her hair, when the boat lunges through
the waves like a colt -- sails, hull, wind and sea
humming a harmony that vibrates in the sailor's veins.
It is what a painter feels when the colors on the canvas
begin to set up a magnetic tension with each other, and
a new thing, a living form, takes shape in front of the
astonished creator. Or it is the feeling that a father has
when his child for the first time responds to his smile.
Such events do not occur only when the external events
are favorable, however; people who have survived
concentration camps or who have lived through nearfatal physical danger often recall that, in the midst of
the ordeal, they experienced extraordinarily rich
epiphanies in response to such simple events as hearing
the song of a bird in the forest, completing a hard task,
or sharing a crust of bread with a friend. Contrary to
what we usually believe, moments like these, the best
moments of our lives, are not the passive, receptive,
relaxing times – although such experiences can also be
enjoyable if we worked hard to attain them. The best
moments usually occur after a person's body or
mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort
to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.
Optimal experience is thus something we made happen.
For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the
last block on a tower he has built, higher than any he
has built so far. For the swimmer, it could be trying to
beat her own record. For a violinist, it is mastering an
intricate musical passage. For each person, there are
thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand
Write a short paragraph or more about your
optimal experiences.
Disappearance of Self in Action
Some years ago I learned to sail small boats in the
Charles River Basin. One Sunday afternoon, on a
minimalist boat called a Laser, I experienced a satori, a
moment of revelation that dissolved the boundary
between self & surroundings. The line in my left
hand controlled the sail, and it felt as if I held the wind
in my hand, of which the sail surface was only an
extension. My right hand held the rudder, plunged
underwater, where I could feel the water so intimately
that the rudder might have been my palm. I simply
became a pivot linking wind and water; my task was to
sense these two elements and mediate between them.
No thinking was needed -- in fact, thinking would have
hindered me. Suddenly "I" vanished and instead there
was a unified field of water, wind and a translator in
their conversation; what is more, this translator was
conscious and hence could steer. The rest of the day was
That was the afternoon I learned to sail, and also
discovered something about steering. To steer does not
mean to impose your will on your surroundings, but
rather being so fully in touch with the proximate forces
that, almost without effort, you enlist them in your
chosen course. On the best days, there may be only a
trifling difference between steering and being steered,
perhaps no more than an inner conviction about where
to go.
Athletes recognize "the zone" as a special place where
their performance is exceptional, consistent, automatic
and flowing. When they are "in the zone", there are no
parts..., only one whole experience, where nothing else
exists except performance. The ability to enter the
zone, and stay in it, can be learned. 99
Athletes need to understand that their ability to find and
maintain their states of absorption and flow is not
just something that happens once in a blue moon, or the
seemingly coincidental result that occurs when planets
align just right.
Athletes can invite flow to occur by preparing for greater
challenges, removing distractions and learning to focus
on their skills. Though even the greatest
athletes cannot achieve it at will, it is an ability that can
be nurtured. 100
One of the favored techniques used in learning
something is called "fading", 101 or the gradual,
programmed withdrawal of behavioral cues.
For example, if a student wishes to memorize
something, he first reads it through. Then, with each
successive reading, he "erases" a few words until, at the
end, all he needs is an acronym or a title or some other
trigger to set off the behavior.
Control Follows Awareness
"What's this "touchy-feely" stuff have to do with
winning?” 103
Laurie Fabian was hired to develop a life-skills program
in the context of professional sports for the Carlton Club,
one of the premiere Australian Rules Football clubs.
Founded in 1864, the club's logo has always been "Mens
Sana in Corpore Sano", a Latin phrase that means "a
sound mind in a sound body". Having won sixteen
national titles, Mr. Fabian's boss assured him that,
indeed, his mission had everything to do with creating a
culture that produced and supported winning on the
field. The program operates under the belief that an
athlete's balance in life enables a higher level of
performance over a longer period of time. Its
approach operates under the principles of athlete
empowerment and the development of a leadership
cluster that moves toward the existence of a team that
coaches itself and that, by sharing the program with the
community around it, it strengthen its ties with its
community. The Carlton Club works together with the
Australian Institute of Sport, which is moving away from
the past approach of reactive intervention to proactive
self-development with its athletes, representing
attitudes and beliefs among counselors, coaches,
teachers and others that the athlete, through
supportive education and empowering relationships over
a period of time, can develop the strengths and
resources necessary to evolve their own solutions
in areas of both personal growth and performance
One who has mastered the art of living
simply pursues his vision of excellence at
whatever he does,
leaving others to decide whether he is working or
-- James Michener
What you believe you can do will determine your
experience more than your actual abilities. 105
If you bring forth what is within you,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
- - attributed to Jesus in the Gnostic Gospel
According to Thomas
Can you warm your hands by simply willing it? 106
Most people can, by coaxing their blood vessels to open.
Prove this to yourself by taping a thermometer to a
fingertip. With 5 to 10 minutes of focusing on the notion
of warming, you can probably raise your skin
temperature by at least five degrees. This is not magic.
This is a proven scientific principle called biofeedback.
When you sit and focus on your breath during
meditation, you are doing much the same thing. You
are triggering the relaxation response. Your blood
vessels relax and open, bringing oxygen, energy,
hormones and removing carbon dioxide and other
waste. You can exercise more control over your nervous
system, hormonal system and muscular system. These
systems run adequately on autopilot when they need to,
but you can influence them with the power and intention
of your mind. Meditation has been proven in over 500
medical studies to have significant health benefits.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Practice
Before each training session or practice, ask yourself
three types of questions:
1. What am I going to do today? What are my physical
training and/or skill refinement goals for today's
2. How am I going to approach what I'm going to do
today? What attitudes will I bring to the process
(intensity, positiveness, concentration, etc.)?
3. What am I going to do today to improve my mental
capabilities? What are my mind/body training goals?
One of the biggest obstacles to excellence is not in
deciding where you want to end up, but in specifying
what you are going to do today to get there.
Don't sacrifice the use and development of proper
technique in order to achieve faster results.
Any benefit will be short in duration
and will create even bigger problems in the future. 108
There are no shortcuts that don't come with a high
price. 109
As you practice your game, begin to move away from
being focused on results by developing your own unique
scoring system. 110
Instead of constantly keeping track of points, assists,
RBI's, field goals, or recalculating batting averages, free
throw shooting percentages, or some other form of
statistic, give yourself points for certain attitudes
and behaviors.
Develop a scoring system that reflects the way you
practice, the ways in which you approach and execute a
given athletic task or maneuver, the way you adopt to
circumstances, the way you react to outcomes, the way
you read situations and people, and so on.
Reinforce the positive changes you want by
acknowledging your improvements
and successes. Create a small list of the important
attributes or qualities that you are developing, and
recognize and reward their growth and development
during practice and competition. Add an extra column
for new awareness, focus points, transitions, and the
things your coach wants you to work on.
With this approach, your sense of dignity,
accomplishment and enjoyment will grow, and the
results will drop into place when the time is right.
The five cornerstones of physical development
for any sport that involves movement:
1) vision 2) balance 3) flexibility 4) speed
5) power
Handling Criticism and Feedback Effectively
Often when we get specific constructive feedback from a
coach, teacher, boss, friend or parent, we get defensive. We
may interpret what is said as evidence that we are
inadequate, incapable or bad. We may feel guilty or
embarrassed. We might have negative emotional feelings
about the person who has given us this feedback; perhaps,
we think, their intention is to make us look foolish. Or we
think that "They don't know what they're talking about." So
we react emotionally, which blocks the message: we miss
the opportunity to gain something of value.
When we get specific constructive feedback, we need to take
a moment to cool down, to reduce our emotional
temperature, to become more detached and step outside of
ourselves and the situation by pretending that we are an
observer watching ourselves and our coach/teacher/critic.
Detaching ourselves emotionally in this way is not easy at
first; we have geared up and engaged our emotions in order
to participate. Especially in sports, but even in other
endeavors, we bring much of ourselves to the attempt. In
sports, we are at a high level of physical intensity. We have
a lot invested emotionally in taking part, in proving or
improving our abilities, in accomplishing difficult things. So,
while we pause for a moment to cool down and detach
ourselves, we can respectfully and calmly ask some
questions (immediately or later). The answers will allow you
to see the situation more clearly, and provide you with
useful information. They may help defuse the
confrontational nature of the situation, and will show your
coach/critic/teacher that you are interested in accepting and
using the feedback.
Ask them for an explanation, a more detailed description, or
a demonstration. Ask them to help you design a cue, or a
memory device, or a trigger that will help you do better next
time. Ask them to describe how it will feel, or look like,
when you do it right; ask them to give you a sensory or
kinesthetic clue. Ask them to show you a drill or an exercise
you can work on. Ask them for an opportunity to do it better.
As the last step, ask them to explain what you are doing
right. Then thank them for their support, advice, and
The word competition comes from 2 Latin words,
con petire, which mean "to search together".
The best way to find out how good your skills are
is to match them against the skills of another
person, or to merge and blend them with those of
your teammates against a mutually-perceived
objective. The purpose of competition is not to
beat someone else, but instead to search out the
best in yourself. 113
The finest gift that you give your opponent
is to create the greatest challenge you can muster.
This expression of high regard allows him or her to
play at the highest possible level. Expect the same
in return. 114
Challenge & the Delicious Uncertainty of Sports
Sport provides ample opportunity to free ourselves for
short periods to enjoy pleasure and excitement not
readily available elsewhere in society. In sport, we can
live out our quest for excitement, personal control, or
risk by deliberately accepting challenges that we then
attempt to meet.
The continual process of seeking out and meeting
challenges that are within our capacity is the heart of
human motivation. Finding challenges that are difficult
but potentially within control can provide our own
personal arena of "delicious uncertainty", and create
personal meaning. Sport can provide opportunities for
experience leading to enlightenment and self-discovery,
and a quest for self-fulfillment. Experience becomes the
goal. The experience may lead to improved
performance, personal satisfaction and greater
awareness, or it simply may be interesting in its own
Answering life's challenges in our own way is what
provides personal meaning for each of us. Meaning flows
most readily when we are striving towards some worthy
goal. We can experience meaning by committing
ourselves to certain goals or values, by experiencing
someone or something of value to us, by creating
something, or by choosing to do something for others,
with others, or by ourselves that we deem to be
Sport can provide a sense of purpose and continuous
challenge. It offers numerous opportunities for personal
growth, and for stretching the limits of our potential.
Personal excellence is a contest within yourself, to
draw on the natural reserves within your own mind and
body, to develop your capabilities to the utmost. The
true challenge lies in personal growth, in enjoying the
pursuit of your goals, and in living your life.
The Fine Balance Between Challenge and Skill
Whenever I take my hunting dog Hussar for a walk, he
likes to play a simple game -- a version of escape and
pursuit-- running circles around me at top speed, with
his tongue hanging out and his eyes warily watching
every move I made, daring him to catch me.
Occasionally I would take a lunge, and if I was lucky I
could just touch him. Whenever I was tired, or moved
half-heartedly, Hussar would run in much tighter circles,
making it relatively easy for me to catch him. On the
other hand, if I was in good shape and willing to extend
myself, he would enlarge the diameter of his circle. In
this way, the difficulty of the game was kept constant.
With an uncanny sense for the fine balance between
challenge and skill, he made sure the game would yield
the maximum enjoyment for both of us.
To enjoy a sport, one doesn't have to win, or even
do it well. 117
Many enduring memories of physical activity may refer
to disastrous moments when the athlete first understood
something important about his or her strengths and
limitations, or gained a new appreciation for the
elements of the sport
Athletics isn't about swimming, or running, or playing a
sport; it's about muscle and nerve endings, it's about
physiology, it's about certain extra-ordinary kinds of
concentration. Primitive societies know there is
considerable power in rhythmic, repetitive physical action -as in nonstop dancing -- to affect the mood, if not to move
the consciousness into mysterious regions. After 20 minutes
or more steady and rhythmic physical activity, the world
begins to dissolve. Physical work does produce a restful
effect. That kind of energy expenditure produces its own
tranquilizing hormones. It is a particular and pretty good
definition of recreation. It is how you can re-create yourself.
Creating Challenge for Yourself: The Pathway to
Flow 119
People who are good at finding new opportunities for
action in whatever they do, and who are prepared to put
themselves on the line, are more able to set the stage
for flow to occur than those who simply follow routine,
play it safe, and refrain from stretching their skills and
pushing themselves into unknown territory. Challenge is
the guide on the road to flow. By understanding and
embracing the opportunities in whatever activities you
participate in, you will more likely find that state of
being that represents increasing enjoyment and success.
Learning how to create challenge in whatever you do is
important to continued development in anything you do,
will increase your enjoyment level (even in seemingly
dull activities), and will enhance the quality of your
Our Capacity to See and Hear
Sports, the martial arts, acting and dance can be
enjoyable disciplines, physical activities through which
you can explore almost unlimited capacities for physical
and mental unity. However, almost any information that
flows through one's nervous system can lend itself to
rich and varied flow experiences. Our capacity to see,
for example, is used by most of us at a very low level.
We use it at various distances to keep us informed of
who is doing what, to avoid stepping on the cat, to find
our car keys. Occasionally, we stop to "feast our eyes"
when a particularly gorgeous sight appears, but we do
not systematically cultivate the potential of our vision.
Exploring the visual arts and the enjoyable experience of
watching nature are flow-producing activities that can
work in conjunction with the development of one's
mental capacities through focused attention. Similarly,
exploring the many realms of listening, and making
music, can produce flow experiences, can enable
improved mental capacity, and can enable an improved
link between the rhythms of athletics and the rhythms of
the mind.
Sports are widely practiced nowadays, and they are
good for physical exercise. In Aikido, too, we train the
body but also use the body as a vehicle to train the
mind, calm the spirit, and find goodness and beauty,
dimensions that sports lack. Training in Aikido fosters
valor, sincerity, fidelity, magnanimity, and beauty, as well
as making the body strong and healthy. Train not to
learn how to win; train to learn to emerge
victorious in any situation. 120
The last of the human freedoms, in any given set of
circumstances, is to choose one's attitude. 121
Success = Ability x Preparation x Effort x Will
In a competitive environment, only a few will win the
contest, but success is available to everyone. Success is
not determined by how well one does against another,
but rather is measured only against oneself. Success
can be understood as a product of four essential factors,
each amplifying the other, none capable of standing
alone. Everyone has ability. Some have great cognitive
abilities, while others have musical or artistic abilities.
Others may have great motor or athletic activities.
While we each have varying degrees of ability in certain
areas, few if any have great abilities in all areas. Having
a lot of ability, sometimes called talent, can enhance a
person's opportunities to achieve, but it does not
guarantee the attainment of success; it is how one
develops and uses one's talent that will determine the
level of success that is achieved. Thus, the need for
preparation is clear. Being able to use one's ability most
effectively and efficiently occurs only after the
committed investment of oneself in planned and
purposeful preparation. Practice leads to the
development of natural ability into greater levels of
capability. This may be reflected in greater speed and
strength, more coordinated skill and movement,
acquired knowledge, more insightful understanding or a
mutually enhancing blend of both physical and mental
application. But having ability, and working hard, will
not insure either winning or success. The mental and
physical capabilities, and the knowledge and insight,
must be brought forth through extensive and wellapplied effort in the competitive arena. Surely it is clear
that lesser amounts of preparation and effort will
diminish the odds for achievement, and that better
practice and proficient exertion will improve those odds.
But, even with possession of talent, having worked
diligently and persistently, and having given as much of
one's self as possible, there is still one ingredient
missing: one's own will. At "crunch time", when the
outcome of the contest was up for grabs, those who
brought their talent to be tested on the field of
competition, who worked hard for weeks and months
and even years, who exerted all of their physical
strength, who exhausted all of their mental intensity,
who summoned, again and again, the last drops of their
inner mental and physical reserve, those are the ones
who succeeded.
Who won? It does not matter.
The only true winners were those who had put all
of themselves on the line, who had made the great
effort, who had nothing left to give.
"What made Tiger Woods great?"
Five icons of coaching answer the question.
Angelo Dundee: "For a young guy to be that cool, that
steady, is amazing. You can see how fluid he is
physically. Mentally, he's unshakable..., situations do not
overwhelm him. He doesn't blow his stack; he
evaluates, and then takes care of the situation. I love
the way he carries himself. He does this thing that I try
to get my fighters to do -- he smiles. Reminds me of
Muhammad Ali, the way he carries himself. Muhammad
was a pied piper. Tiger's a pied piper."
Don Shula: "He has made himself better by making
himself stronger; that's what impresses me the most.
He's willing to work harder than his competitors. Add
that to his natural ability and you've got a combination
that's hard to beat. I try to get people to be aware of
the positive things around them, and one of the most
positive in our world is Tiger Woods -- his work habits,
the way he influences young people, and the way he
handles himself."
Red Auerbach: "Tiger's main attribute is his
dedication. He has blocked out everything except what
he has to do."
Tom Tellez: "Tiger knows what he is doing
biomechanically, and not many athletes really do. Carl
Lewis was that way when I coached him. Most know
what feels right when they're going good, but when
they're not going good, they don't know what's gone
wrong. If you want to be consistent at a sport, you have
to understand technique, the things that Isaac Newton
taught us, in detail. Carl understood technique and
could make a change from one race to another, from one
jump to another, under extreme pressure. Tiger is like
that as well. He can duplicate under pressure what he
does in practice."
John Wooden: "Tiger's work habits and focus are
exceptional. Work habits develop the fundamentals that
are so necessary, and his focus allows him to put other
things out of his mind so that he can concentrate on the
job at hand. I was astounded when he stopped his
swing at the top on the 15th tee in the 2001 Masters.
He has everything in the physical area, but his
advantage is above the shoulders, where all the great
ones excel."
See also the book Think Like Tiger: An Analysis of
Tiger Woods' Mental Game, by John Indrisano, G. P.
Putnam and Sons, New York, 2002. The mental skills of
Tiger Woods are based on Zen Buddhist meditation,
staying in the present, maintaining a balanced calmness
with intense focusing/intention capability, and
autosuggestion through hypnosis.]
[Ed.: What happened to Tiger? Injury and change to his
spinal cord, which demanded that he re-focus and repurpose and re-learn everything.]
An Ideal Performance State 124 exists for every
athlete. It is simply the optimal mix of physiological and
mental characteristics for performing at your particular
You are most likely to experience your own Ideal
Performance State when you feel confident,
relaxed and calm, energized with positive emotion,
challenged, focused and alert, automatic and
instinctive, and ready for fun and enjoyment.
The essence of toughness in sports is knowing how to
turn your IPS on.
Some emotions are empowering and free your talent
and skill; others effectively lock your potential out.
Empowering emotions are those associated with
challenge, drive, confidence, determination, positive
fight, energy, spirit, persistence and fun.
Disempowering emotions are those associated with
feelings of fatigue, helplessness, insecurity, low energy,
weakness, fear and confusion.
The reason emotion is so important is its connection to
your level of arousal. If your body were a computer,
emotions would be the operating system that connects
your software with your hardware. Emotions are body
talk carried by our body's chemical messengers,
biochemical events in the brain that can lead to a
cascade of powerful changes in the body. These
changes either move you closer to, or further away
from, your IPS. Fear moves you away, confidence brings
you closer; temper and rage jerk you away; fun and
enjoyment bring you back.
What you think and visualize, how you act, when
and what you eat, the quantity and quality of your
sleep and rest, and especially your level of fitness,
all have profound effects on your emotional state
at any given time.
Mental toughness in sports is a physical entity. The
body is physical; talent and skill are physical; emotions,
thought and visualization are electrochemical events and
thus physical.
Changes in your brain's chemistry, whether through
blood sugar levels, the degree of dehydration, the
amount of adrenalin, or the concentrations of brain
hormones, can profoundly influence coordination and
balance, concentration, and muscle-response accuracy.
Abe Lincoln was once asked how he would
approach the problem
if he were given six hours to chop down a great
oak tree.
He said that he would spend the first four hours
sharpening his axe. 125
Preparation: The Reinforcement of Learning
If an athlete has become aware of the fact that there is
something to be learned in everything he hears or sees,
he is one step away from being a model athlete. He can
take that step by putting his awareness into action in a
regular, routine, regimented, repetitious way. By
developing consistent behavior, a key to confidence
and maximum performance, the best players put
their learning into form through diligent, conscientious
and effective practice routines. The driving force is a
mental one, built of desire and discipline. The desire to
learn (intellectual) joins with the discipline to work
effectively (psychological). The body then makes it a
The process can be difficult, demanding, timeconsuming and arduous. It tends to be very boring if
one is not paying attention. But when you discover
some fascinating new little element, when you have
already invested something of yourself, when you
understand the interactions among goals, awareness,
attention, dedication and commitment, then the process
becomes enjoyable.
Larry Bird was not a perfect physical specimen but,
before and after practices and games, he worked alone.
He had a consistent pattern: one day he focused on foul
shots and shots from the left side of the court; on
another day, he'd concentrate on off-balance fall-away
jumpers and three-point shots. Over and over - - with
consistent intensity.
Raymond Berry had limited physical talents as a
Baltimore Colts receiver, but he spent 2-3 nights each
week going over game films. He measured precisely
how to run each pass route. He observed how he placed
his hands to catch the ball. He logged the quality of the
spiral on passes in different weather conditions. He
found 88 ways to avoid a defender to catch a pass, and
practiced them all. He strengthened his hands. He
practiced catching off-target passes. He laundered his
own uniform to make sure it fit properly. He used
different contact lenses for different conditions. He did
whatever he could to make himself better.
Roberto Clemente checked the conditions in the
outfield before every game... the thickness and amount
of moisture in the grass, the changing wind direction
and speed, the lighting, the contours of the outfield
walls. He became aware of these factors, and then he
factored them into his preparation through the actions
he took in pre-game practice.
NFL coaches burn gallons of "midnight oil" reviewing
game films in preparation for their next opponent. It is
said that if Joe Paterno, the heralded head coach of the
Penn. State football team, is given two weeks to develop
a game plan, his team is nearly invincible.
Preparation is like the pre-flight check for airplane pilots.
Preparation in athletics is an act of control -controlling behavior and environment, in order to be
ready to attain a goal. Preparation includes:
Time: Every athlete creates his own schedule before
and after practices and games, between practices and
games. That time can be filled with comfortable,
consistent, purposeful behavior that supports the
practice experience, the competitive performance and
the attainment of goals.
Sleeping: A reliable schedule of sleep is important for
physical and mental rest. Also, awakening consistently
at the same time will allow consistency for the
remainder of the countdown prior to competition.
Eating: Eating or snacking before competition is
generally unwise. Completing your meals the same
number of hours before games on a regular basis taps
into the physiological reality of your body and enables a
consistent approach to normal
cycles and rhythms.
Traveling: Arrive a little early, whenever possible. Late
arrivals mean rushed pre-practice and pre-game
routines and higher levels of anxiety.
Dress/Equipment: When and how you check &
prepare equipment, and put on your uniform, are major
opportunities for mental preparation.
Location: Find a place that is convenient and sensible
for getting emotionally, physically and mentally ready for
practice and competition. This may be in front of your
locker, behind the bench, or any place that gives you the
factors of quiet, space, freedom of movement, etc. that
work for you. You may have several places for different
components of preparation like warm-ups, personal
strategy review, calming, focus, etc. Find something in,
or bring something to, that location that will serve you
as a trigger for that function.
Socializing versus Isolation: Each athlete comes to
know when and if she needs the company of others or a
time to draw inward. It's a matter of individual
preference. The athlete who allows others to interfere
with his readying process loses control of the process
and himself.
Consistent preparation leads to consistent
behavior, an improved sense of purpose, and
consistent performance. It lessens the interference
of confused, irrational, self-conscious or fearful thinking.
The best athletes know that they are ready; they have
prepared themselves with dedication, purpose and
The keys to preparation are clarity, commitment
and composure. 127
Clarity is having a vivid image of both your target and
the path to it.
Commitment is freeing yourself from second-guessing,
doubt or hesitation.
Composure is being calm and focused, poised and at
"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." -- former
UCLA coach John Wooden
Today, I have readied myself in large ways over the past
months, but have also prepared for the small details
that arise on race day (like clothing, equipment, food,
timetable and transportation). Handing the small details
in advance means that they do not compete for my
attention on the day of competition. With fewer things
to think about, it becomes easier to focus on the race.
Like meditation, preparation empties the mind, and
improves my internal signal-to-noise ratio. We quiet the
body by first extinguishing mental brushfires. An actor
learns his role "cold": the spoken lines, the cues, the
stage blocking. Solid preparation frees energy for
emotional expression. It allows the actor to focus on
the other actors, to relate and respond to them. With
the focus off of self, spontaneity arises. The wellprepared oarsman puts his or her attention where it
matters, not on self, but on boat, course and water, in
order to better relate and respond to them.
Ideally, a ritual of preparation should be wellestablished 129
in minor competition so that each item of the
countdown is recognized
and triggers a further boost to confirm the
approaching demand,
to get yourself mentally in order.
One at a Time
Barry Rosen, the former Merrimack College baseball
coach, talks about winning the game by winning each
inning, one at a time. He thinks in terms of:
a) improving each practice, one at a time;
b) having a successful at-bat one pitch at a time;
c) holding the other team scoreless one out at a time;
d) winning each inning one at a time; and
e) building a season one win at a time.
Break your game and tasks down into increments and
smaller parts. *
Once each step is done, make a mental note of
what went right and what went wrong, put it
behind you, re-focus, make the necessary
adjustments, and go on.
* For an example, check out the baseball players' selfassessments developed by Dorfman and Kuehl. They
are in the Appendix.
Optimal Readiness
Being in great physical shape gives a mental as well as a
physical edge to performance. Knowing you have put in
the hard work and trained well increases the chances of
performing physically at optimal levels. It also
generates confidence which facilitates flow. Getting to
the point of optimal physical readiness involves having
done the training, being in good physical shape, being
well-hydrated, having followed an appropriate diet,
being rested, and having tapered or peaked for the
performance. In order to do well, you have to know that
you deserve to do well. Pay attention to the
interconnection between the physical and mental
components of your readiness and how they influence
each other.
Long-Term Preparation
Any obstruction you have met, or will meet in the future,
is the true result of insufficient or improper preparation.
Preparation is the foremost key to success. If you want
to build a house, you first create a strong foundation.
Every step that follows is important, but without a
strong foundation, the structure is weak and will not
last. Skills are the visible part of the upper structures of
your athletic house. Physical talent makes up the
foundation of the house. Mental and emotional talent is
the ground on which the house and foundation stand.
Without preparation, you run the risk of developing bad
habits or behavior that attempts to compensate for
failing to master the basics and fundamentals. The best
athletes regularly go back to basics and strengthen their
foundation; it cures slumps and plateaus. Going straight
to physical skills without learning how to learn, without
building a foundation based on mental discipline and
emotional balance, may produce short-term results and
will not produce long-term development or success.
Athletes who have developed strength but ignored the
need for suppleness will tend to compensate for their
lack of flexibility with more strength. This will appear to
work temporarily, but the resulting imbalance will, at
some point, obstruct or hinder further development, or
lead to injury. In the early years, coaches emphasize
this preparation, focusing on these fundamentals. It may
be boring, but extensive rewards will show up two, three
and five years later.
The hasty, random, up-and-down learning curve of most
athletes creates rapid improvement at first, but as skills
become more intense, difficult and complex, and as the
quality of the competitors improves dramatically,
weaknesses based on poor fundamental development
begin to show up, decreasing motivation, suggesting
that the athlete's potential has been achieved, and
making other pursuits more appealing.
A slow and steady emphasis on preparation, foundationbuilding, and the fundamentals is boring, difficult and
seemingly without immediate result. But gradually and
surely, the learning curve will move upward, accelerating
at a rapid, consistent and almost effortless pace.
On Your Quest
One of the most basic activities of the learner is to
question. A question can merely reflect idle curiosity, but
a QUEST is something one pursues in earnest. In our
lives, we are likely to entertain millions of questions, but
pursue only a few quests. A quest is also an acronym
for five different kinds of learning goals, each of which
expands one's capabilities in a different way.
Learning to develop and access a specific quality, or
personal attribute, will expand your possibilities. What
qualities do you bring to your quest, and which ones
would you like to bring?
What is it about your athletic experience would you like
to have a better grasp of? Improved understanding of
teammates, competition, mission, the dynamics of your
"sport", its tactics and strategies, teamwork and
leadership skills will help you realize your quest.
Know-how and skill can be technical or non-technical.
What expertise can you hone that will enable a higher
level of performance? What skills can be learned from
experience? Which ones require book or classroom
learning? What skills are already well-developed? What
skills from other arenas or fields of endeavor will be
helpful in tackling a wider variety of tasks or
Strategic Thinking is the ability to step back and
distinguish between the forest and the trees. How clear
are your priorities? Are your current activities in line
with your long-term objectives?
All work is done in time and related to it. The best
efforts and strategies have failed because of an inability
to come to terms with this fact. The most valuable
learning and development will take place from your
interaction with your experience. Most people say "I just
don't have the time to learn during my hectic day." But
learning from experience is done at the same time as
having the experience and requires only a little extra
time for reflection about what you observed during the
experience. Your progress can be better assured, and
even accelerated, with the use of specific mental tools.
Inspiration and spontaneity must be given their place
if any game is to be mastered and enjoyed. 133
Whatever activity you choose to stimulate and develop
body, mind and soul,
joy must be at the heart of it. When joy comes first,
focused concentration and rigorous effort will follow. 134
Intensity coupled with commitment is magnetic.
Wynton Marsalis On Our Search for Excellence
At a place like Juilliard, it's like the New York Yankees or
something...: we maintain a very high level of
expectation in order to give the very best
that we have to offer the world….
Places like Juilliard are very important because we can
reach a situation where things of intelligence, refinement
and culture can be considered elite, and things that are
crass and ignorant can be considered to be real and of
the people. When we begin to have the mass of the
populace believing that they should strive for something
that is not worth striving for, then tremendous amounts
of energy goes into the worthless and the maintenance
of that which is worthless.
It's a battle we all fight, even within ourselves. We
have to actively pursue knowledge. It's out there for
you, and you gotta go out and get it. You gotta
want it, and you gotta keep wanting it. Don't go
for the easy solutions; work through it. Go inside
yourself; that's going to help you find your own
sound. Speak from what you know and who you
Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla.
You don't quit when you're tired -- you quit when
the gorilla is tired.
-- Robert Strauss
Research has shown that music has a powerful effect
not only on mood but also on perception and
attitude. What we retain from a particular experience
can depend on the tone of voice used or on what music
was playing in the background. Words are better
remembered as being positive if bright, light music is
playing and words are considered to be negative when
accompanied by slower, heavier sound. Experienced
moviegoers know that the mood of the music that
happens to be playing affects what people feel at the
moment and what they recall later. Music is not just
what what's on our radio, in our CD library or what
someone else decides we need to hear. It is a key to
our minds, bodies and hearts.
The Manifestation Formula
There is an eight step process or formula through which
you can make your thoughts become concrete reality.
And it’s a cycle you’ll keep repeating….
The Vision
The Focus
The Desire
The Commitment
The Plan
The Execution
The Feedback
The Evaluation
Perseverance is a great element of success. 138
If you knock long enough and loud enough,
you are sure to wake somebody up.
-- Henry Longfellow
Reduce your focus to the lowest common
denominator: 139
the action reduced to its simplest terms, the
moment, the task at hand.
Find Yourself a Spotter
If you have ever engaged in serious weight-lifting, you
know what a spotter is. That's the person who stands
behind the bench, ready to help in the event
the weight-lifter can't get the weight back to the bar.
Whether you're a weight-lifter trying to reach your
personal best, a cheerleader doing a scary new routine,
or a gymnast trying a complicated new move, a spotter
is essential, or else you risk serious physical harm to
When you are seeking to find your limits and set
personal bests in any sport or any other endeavor, you
need to find yourself a spotter. This could be a coach, a
friend, an older athlete, a parent or a mentor.
But the spotter will only act as a support. The spotter is
not there to do the job. The spotter's job is to help you
feel secure enough to go towards your limits.
Talking to someone else who is really listening seems to
give us the courage to move toward our intuition. So
does remembering someone who believed in us, or
believes in us, or a time when we fully trusted
ourselves. In the presence of someone who appears to
be on our side, our self-doubt is weakened, and our
trust in ourselves can emerge. A good caddie helps a
player develop confidence in the club choice the player
wanted to make all along. 141
Identifications (how one sees oneself) are etched
into the subconscious.
At the core of each identification is a subjective
Beliefs generate attitudes.
Attitudes generate feelings.
Feelings generate thoughts.
Thoughts generate action.
Our experience is related to our beliefs.
Competitive Greatness
Bill Walton says "Competitive greatness [is] the
capstone of The Pyramid.” What pyramid? "John
Wooden's Pyramid", says Walton. ( http://
Competitive greatness means to "Do your best when the
best is required."
Find The Key
Few people in this world know what their real strength
Many see only the part of their power that floats like the
visible segment of an iceberg and forget the vastly
greater part sunk beneath the surface of the water.
Perhaps such people are satisfied with themselves as
they are; perhaps, on the contrary, they are pessimistic
about their own abilities.
We might deride the person who inherits a fortune from
parents, locks the money in a safe, forgets the key and,
making no attempt to use his own resources, complains
of no money and borrows from others. Surely he should
find the key and make free use of the fortune that he
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, 145 a
quickening that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time, this
expression is unique. But if you block it, it will never
exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The
world will not have it. It is not your business to
determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it
compares with other expressions. It is your business to
keep it yours, clearly and directly... to keep the channel
Ki power is the physical manifestation of a
Energy [i.e., chi or ki ] is a confusing term. 146 It is not
nervous tension and it is not phony wishing. It is subtle
and powerful and circulates continuously in one's
mental/physical self. It is open, free-moving,
unburdened, basically undefinable. It is life-force
unforced, which then becomes forceful and powerful.
The power that comes from the energy of chi or ki is not
brute force; it is the essence of the vastness of your
identification with the universal energy. Since energy is
a continuous source of being alive, we must learn to be
with it, and to release it when necessary, and to
regenerate it.
All things are created with three basic tools:
Understanding, Ability and Will.
There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
-- Albert Einstein
Everything is gestation and bringing forth. To let each
impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion
wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the
unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own intelligence,
and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of
a new clarity; that alone is living the artist's life. Being an
artist means not reckoning and counting, but ripening like
the tree which does not force its sap, and stands confident in
the storms of spring without the fear that after them may
come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the
patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them,
so unconcernedly still and wide.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke
You cannot force a moment to be something it’s not.
You cannot force yourself to be who you are not,
but you can be who you are fully….
The bliss of our life is in its moments
if we can allow them to be as they are….
The revelation about revelation is that sometimes it finds
you when you least expect it. 151
Starhawk, in Listening to the Land, Derrick Jensen, Context Books, NY 2002.
Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment.
Heart of the Mind: Engaging Your Inner Power to Change with Neuro-Linguistic Programming,
Connirae Andreas, Ph.D. and Steve Andreas, MA, Real People Press, Moab, UT 1989.
Music, The Brain and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination.
Quoted by Peter May, Boston Globe, 10/4/98.
The Elements of Effort: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running, John Jerome, Breakaway
Books, New York 1997.
On the Sweet Spot: Stalking the Effortless Present, Dr. Richard Keefe, Simon and Schuster, New
York 2003.
Boston Sunday Globe, May 28, 2000, p. E1.
See the journal Nature 4/20/00, as reported in the Boston Globe, 4/21/00.
Liars, Lovers and Heroes: What the New Brain Science Reveals About How We Become Who
We Are, Steven R. Quartz, Ph.D. and Terrence J. Sejnowski, Ph.D., HarperCollins/Wm. Morrow,
New York 2002.
From the Introduction and notes to the book The Emerging Mind, ed. by Karen Nesbitt
Shanor, Ph.D., Renaissance Books, Los Angeles, CA 1999.
The book by Chip Brown noted in the bibliography called Afterwards, You're a Genius notes that
research directly: Schlitz, M. and Braude, W., "Distant Intentionality and Healing: Assessing the
Evidence", in Alternative Therapies 3,6 (November 1997).
From the Introduction and notes to the book The Emerging Mind, ed. by Karen Nesbitt Shanor,
Ph.D., Renaissance Books, Los Angeles, CA 1999.
Afterwards, You're a Genius also notes a summary of the work of the PEAR lab in Margins of
Reality: The Role of Consciousness in the Physical World, Robert G. Jahn and Brenda Dunne,
Harcourt Brace Jovanivich, New York, 1979.
Willis Harman, in The Emerging Mind.
God and the Evolving Universe: The Next Step in Personal Evolution, by James Redfield,
Michael Murphy and Sylvia Timbers, Tarcher/Putnam, New York 2002.
From an essay by Lewis Thomas, "On Embryology", in The Elements of Effort:
Reflections on the Art and Science of Running, John Jerome, Breakaway Books, New York 1997.
On the Sweet Spot: Stalking the Effortless Present.
Mind Over Water: Lessons on Life from the Art of Rowing, Craig Lambert, Houghton Mifflin,
New York 1998.
"The Brain and Consciousness", by Karen Nesbitt Shanor, Ph.D., in The Emerging Mind.
Peter Drucker, in Create Your Own Future: How To Master the 12 Critical Factors of Unlimited
Success, Brian Tracy, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ 2002.
Don Peters, M.A., M.S. (Sports Psychology), Academic Counselor, Center for Student Athlete
Services, California State University at Long Beach, "Pursuing Victory With Honor", at Enhancing
Life Through Sport, the 18th Annual Conference on Counseling Athletes, June 14-17,2001,
sponsored by the Springfield College Department of Psychology.
Beyond Training: How Athletes Enhance Performance Legally and Illegally, Melvin Williams,
Ph.D., Leisure Press, Champaign, IL 1989.
Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All In Your Head, Carla Hannaford, Ph.D., Great Ocean
Publishers, Arlington, VA 1995.
Seven Times Smarter: 50 Activities, Games and Projects to Develop the Seven Intelligences of
Your Child, Laurel Schmidt, Three Rivers Press, New York 2001.
Create Your Own Future.
Golf in The Kingdom, Michael Murphy, Penguin/Arkana, New York 1972.
The research is found in M.S. Albion, Making a Life, Making a Living, Warner Books, 2000 as
noted in The Other 90%: How To Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership & Life,
Robert K. Cooper, Random House/Crown, New York 2001.
The Elements of Effort: Reflections on the Art and Science of Running.
"Boston Works", Boston Sunday Globe, February 24, 2002.
The Ultimate Athlete: Revisioning Sports, Physical Education and The Body.
Penn. State University web site on sports psychology.
Deep Play.
What Remains To Be Discovered: Mapping the Secrets of the Universe, the Origins of Life, and
the Future of the Human Race, John Maddox, Martin Kessler Books/The Free Press, New York
1998. [The author was the editor for 30 years of the pre-eminent science magazine Nature.]
Seven Times Smarter.
The Intuitive Way: A Guide to Living From Inner Wisdom.
From The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language and Human Culture, by neurologist
Frank Wilson (Pantheon, New York, 1998), in One Kid at a Time: Big Lessons from a Small
School, Eliot Levine, Teachers College Press, Columbia University, New York, 2002.
The Everyday Work of Art: How Artistic Experience Can Transform Your Life.
The Inner Athlete: Realizing Your Fullest Potential.
How To Be, Do, or Have Anything: A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment.
The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei, George Leonard, Penguin/Plume
From the Institute of Athletic Motivation, as noted in Everything You Need to Know About
College Sports Recruiting: A Guide for Players and Parents, Jim Walsh with Richard Trubo,
Andrews and McMeel, Kansas City 1997.
The Inner Game of Golf.
Ki in Daily Life.
The Anatomy of Change: East/West Approaches to Body/Mind Therapy.
The Student Athlete's Handbook: The Complete Guide for Success.
In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets.
The Elements of Effort.
The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei.
The Sweet Spot in Time.
How To Be, Do, or Have Anything: A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment.
"The Gift of the Arts", by Zephryn Conte, in Schools With Spirit: Nurturing The Inner Lives of
Children and Teachers.
Your Mind: The Owner's Manual.
From an Actualizations seminar. See also the book Psycho-Cybernetics.
The Mental ABC's of Pitching: A Handbook for Performance Enhancement.
In Search of Excellence.
How To Be, Do, or Have Anything.
The Inner Athlete: Realizing Your Fullest Potential.
The Intuitive Way: A Guide to Living From Inner Wisdom.
The Sweet Spot in Time.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman, H. J. Kramer Inc., Tiburon, CA 1984.
Zen Golf: Mastering The Mental Game, Joseph Parent, Ph.D., Doubleday, New York 2002.
The Power of Mindful Learning, Ellen J. Langer, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA 1997.
The Art of Possibility.
Getting Employees to Fall in Love With Your Company, Jim Harris, Ph.D., AMACOM, New York
The Everyday Work of Art.
12 Secrets of Happiness At Work: Finding Fulfillment. Reaping Rewards.
In Pursuit of Excellence: How to Win in Sport and Life Through Mental Training.
Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century.
A Mind at a Time: America's Top Expert Shows How Every Child Can Succeed, Mel Levine,
M.D., Simon and Schuster, New York 2002.
Seven Times Smarter.
The Other 90%: How To Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership & Life, Robert K.
Cooper, Random House/Crown, New York 2001.
Smart Moves.
Fitts, Oxendine and Robb are the researchers and learning theorists noted in this excerpt from
Coaching Mental Excellence.
Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere.
Walking in This World: The Practical Art of Creativity, Julia Cameron, Tarcher/Putnam, Los
Angeles, CA 2002.
Mitchell Resnick, Turtles, Termites and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel
Microworlds, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1999, in Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains,
Cities and Software.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, Dr. Bob Rotella (with Bob Cullen), Simon & Schuster, NY 1995.
Albert Einstein, in Smart Moves.
Seven Times Smarter.
Mastery: The Keys To Success and Long-Term Fulfillment.
The Inner Game of Work.
The Art of Peace, by Morihei Ueshiba, translated and edited by John Stevens, Shambhala
Classics, Boston, 2002.
Education and Ecstasy, George Leonard, Delacorte Press, New York 1968.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Thinking with Your Soul: Spiritual Intelligence and Why It Matters.
The Mental Keys to Hitting: A Handbook of Strategies for Performance Enhancement.
Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence.
Flow in Sports.
In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets.
The Passionate Learner: How Teachers and Parents Can Help Children Reclaim the Joy of
Discovery, David Fried, Beacon Press, Boston 2001.
In the Zone: Transcendent Experiences in Sports.
The Mozart Effect for Children: Awakening Your Child's Mind. Health and Creativity with Music,
Don Campbell, HarperCollins, New York 2000.
Golf in The Kingdom.
Be Here Now, Baba Ram Dass (Richard Alpert).
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Mind Over Water: Lessons on Life from the Art of Rowing.
The Achievement Zone: 8 Skills for Winning All the Time from the Playing Field to the
Flow in Sports.
Education and Ecstasy.
In Search of the Warrior Spirit.
from Enhancing Life Through Sport, the 18th Annual Conference on Counseling Athletes,
June 14-17, 2001, sponsored by the Springfield College Dept. of Psychology.
The Little Book of Coaching.
Flow in Sports.
The One-Minute Meditator: Relieving Stress and Finding Meaning in Everyday Life.
Psyching for Sport: Mental Training for Athletes.
Coaching Fastpitch Softball Successfully.
The Achievement Zone.
Golf in The Kingdom.
Everything You Need to Know About College Sports Recruiting.
How To Be, Do, or Have Anything: A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment.
Flow in Sports.
The Way of Aikido.
“In Pursuit of Excellence: How to Win in Sport and Life Through Mental Training” (audiotape).
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Flow in Sports.
Staying With It: On Becoming an Athlete.
Flow in Sports.
The Art of Peace.
The Mental ABC's of Pitching, by Harvey Dorfman, Diamond Communications,
South Bend, IN 2000.
Coaching Mental Excellence.
Sports Illustrated (4/23/01, pg. G16).
See Toughness Training for Life, James E. Loehr, Ed.D., Plume/Penguin, New York 1993, and
The New Toughness Training for Sports: Mental, Emotional and Physical Conditioning from One of
the World's Premier Sports Psychologists, James E. Loehr, Ed.D., Dutton Books, New York 1994.
The Inner Athlete: Realizing Your Fullest Potential.
The Mental Game of Baseball.
Zen Golf: Mastering The Mental Game.
Mind Over Water: Lessons on Life from the Art of Rowing.
Guy Ogden, former international runner and sports injury treatment specialist in London, in
Competitive Fire.
Flow in Sports.
The Inner Athlete: Realizing Your Fullest Potential.
The Inner Game of Work.
Golf in The Kingdom.
The Mozart Effect for Children.
“Juilliard”, an American Masters production on PBS.
The Mozart Effect for Children.
How To Be, Do or Have Anything: A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment.
The Mental ABC's of Pitching: A Handbook for Performance Enhancement.
The Breakthrough Factor: Creating a Life of Value for Success & Happiness.
On the Sweet Spot: Stalking the Effortless Present.
Your Mind: The Owner's Manual.
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe, April 26, 2002.
Ki in Daily Life, Koichi Tohei, Ki No Kenkyukai H.Q., Tokyo 2001.
Martha Graham, quoted by Agnes DeMille in Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham,
noted in The Art of Possibility.
Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain: The Essence of Tai Ji.
The New Revelations: A Conversation with God, Neale Donald Walsch, Atria Books, New York
The Intuitive Way: A Guide to Living From Inner Wisdom.
Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less.
On the Sweet Spot: Stalking the Effortless Present.
Afterwards, You're a Genius: Faith. Medicine & the Metaphysics of Healing.