Definition: Choices are alternatives regarding things, persons, or courses of action that may be regarded, selected, or preferred by an individual.

Symptom: Athletes make both conscious and subconscious choices every second they are on the field/court. Such choices are made off the field/court as well, and these can influence their very existence. The choices made on the field/court can determine the outcome of the game. Poor choices result in poor performance. As coaches, we are always teaching our students not only what choices to make but when to make them. One of the greatest things about sports is that the choices we make are not life or death decisions. To a great degree, sports isolate the player within a unique set of circumstances that can allow for change without judgment or life-altering situations. Of  course, from time to time, we see athletes that make choices that alter their lives for the worse. But, those circumstances are relatively few.

Choices that athletes make off the field/court take on a much more meaningful role in their lives, and in most cases, coaches have no idea what is happening in their students’ personal lives.  However, sometimes a coach is pulled into a student’s personal drama, putting him/her in an awkward position. Typically, a coach that observes or is informed about certain things regarding a student will recommend that student to other professionals more knowledgeable about the issue in an effort to help.

Solution: What choices do you have to make if you want to get better at a sport? You have to stretch, do specific exercises, endure the pain of exercise, practice, compete, be patient, create realistic goals, never quit, practice, control your anger and frustration, be a team player, watch and study other better players, learn to control your mental focus, and practice with all your heart and soul. Basically, you must commit yourself to becoming better every day. Sports save lives, create life-long relationships, mold both the emotional and physical aspects of one’s being, and keep us away from poor alternatives.

DR. G’S COMMENTS: What do you expect from yourself? What do you think is possible? What  “unbreakable” limits are you placing on yourself as an excuse for not going for it? Henry Ford was absolutely right. You can always do more than you think. You can always do better than your “best.” Limits and handicaps may be overcome. They are not a reason to whine. Our world is a never ending testimony of how in every “impossible” resides a “possible.”

DON’T THINK, JUST PLAY

To perform at your best, you have to put yourself on automatic, trust your skills and training, and let your performance happen. Thinking too much before and during your performance will only tend to gum up the works. Keep your focus away from your thoughts and on the game and exactly what you are doing. Thinking too much will distract you from the task at hand and slow you down in every way. Thinking about what you should do, have to do, better do, or what will happen if you don’t do it
is a big NO NO, performance-wise! Keep your head in the performance. When you notice that little voice in your head chattering away, tell it, “Thanks for sharing!” and immediately bring your focus back to what you’re doing. Don’t think, just react! Don’t think, just feel! Don’t think, just trust yourself!