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SOLUTION # 7: Prepare Properly
If you want to make your own good luck, look towards your future athletic competitions as opportunities and bring to these opportunities exquisite preparation. When proper preparation and opportunity meet, the athlete will shine. The solution to developing one’s emotional muscle stems from copying one of the twins. I bet you already know which one it is. In case you are still unclear, let’s review a typical match day- starring our friend, Jarrod.
Spectacular Preparation Preceded Spectacular Performance
Jarrod, Evans younger brother by 9 minutes, is a very gifted athlete but a bit unevenly developed. Emotional aptitude is his most unnatural component and so far he’s not interested in improving it. Jarrod would sabotage his tournament performances before they even began. Of course, Jarrod believed that his poor starts weren’t his fault. They were just plain bad luck.
The night before an away event in Indianapolis, I called Jarrod to discuss the incoming storm and the news reports of the morning flood-like conditions. “Jarrod, let’s plan on leaving earlier tomorrow.” He replied “Nah… I want to sleep in…We’re good”. Fast-forward to the next morning. The plan was to meet in the hotel lobby for breakfast at 8:00 am. It is now 8:15 … 8:30 … and still no Jarrod. It turned out he decided to skip breakfast before his day packed full of 6 hours of intense National competition.
So, we began the hour drive to the site. Visibility through the windshield was about 20 yards due to the pelting storm. All we saw for an hour and forty-five minutes were break lights. This, along with him deciding not to put fuel in his gas tank caused unnecessary unspoken anxiety. An hour into the drive Jarrod said, “I’m so hungry”.
Thirty minutes away from the event I gently reminded him to begin his visualization routine. Leaving the “normal” teenage headspace behind and morphing into the character of a warrior. As I began to remind him again about the emotional benefits of pre-game visualization Jarrod talked over me saying, “I’m fine,” as he decided he didn’t need it and reached over from the passenger seat and turned up the rap station on the SUV’s stereo. Memorizing rap lyrics and tweeting friends were more important to him than the mental imagery of ensuring a peak performance in his upcoming match.
Arriving on site late meant that instead of casually enjoying a relaxed 45 minute warm up. Jarrod now had only 15 minutes to rush through his fundamentals. This brought about feelings of being under prepared which is a confidence killer. As the tournament director blew the whistle for the players to gather, I asked him if he remembered to prepare his equipment, drinks, ice, towels, etc. Jarrod said, “Oh, can you get me a water… And find me a towel?”
Preparing properly for battle doesn’t guarantee victories, but choosing to neglect proper preparation sabotages one’s chance of performing at peak potential.
Jarrod’s athleticism didn’t cause another loss. The loss was caused by his lack of emotional aptitude, as seen in his distorted thinking and behavioral patterns in preparing for his event. Needless to say, Jarrod’s game was off from the beginning. He never recovered and went down in flames.