I attended a small college in the Northern Florida and during my junior year I was interested in trying out for the basketball team. The first time I scrimmaged with the team I was horrible.
This was due to the fact that I was anxious and there were mental barriers I was trying to work through. In fact, these mental barriers led me to one of the worse try-outs of my life.
I dribbled the ball off of my leg. Missed easy shots and made terrible passes. I even air-balled a few free throws. After such a terrible debut I decided not to continue trying out because I felt like a failure.
As a matter a fact when I was leaving the gym I overheard one of the guys say, “That dude was sorry as hell…I hope he don’t come back.”
I was crushed. I felt depressed, unmotivated, and doubted my ability. I was trapped by a mental barrier.
As much as I tried to hype myself up I had to admit that I stunk-up the court. I just did not seem to measure up to the other players trying out for the team.
Most of the guys already had scholarships. As I recall there were two full scholarships available and one for the traveling squad.
When I went back to my dorm that night I reflected on my performance. I analyzed some of the mistakes I made. I thought about my approach to the game and how I allowed the trash talking to impede my progress.
I made the decision that would I go back and try again only this time I would do things differently. Instead of getting there early for needless chit-chat with guys who really did not care for me I chose to warm-up at a local park.
By the time I got to the gym, scrimmages were taking place and I was warmed-up and ready to go. I played with reckless abandonment, I was fearless.
I missed some shots, but my hustle and intuitive play led me to making steals and rebounds over my opponents. At the end of the scrimmage the guys that did not think I belonged on the court looked at me in a different way…I had gained their respect.
I continued playing in this manner and over the next few days the coach came to me and said,
“Baker, you played well…you overcame a bad start and now you have made a name for yourself…I think I can use you on the traveling squad.”
I broke the barrier and was allowed a place on the team. In hindsight, I recognize a few things that I did to overcome my problematic performance and now I would like to share this with you.
The Formula for Athletic Success
One of the great things I love about the field of psychology and mental health is the ability to help people make changes, adjustments, and improve their lives. I am especially thrilled to assist athletes, in particular those who may have lost focused, made some mistakes, or may be dealing with mental health challenges to get back on task.
That being said, here is a five step process to assist any athlete to improve their performance. To make it easy to remember the letters are E-T-F-B-C. The E is Event, the T is for Thoughts, F is for Feelings, B is for Behavior and the C is for Consequences.
Every athletic performance rather good or bad can be categorized as an event. Events are always the trigger point to emotional challenges or the lack thereof. One of the principles I teach is Events=O+O+O.
The first O is Opportunity. Whenever you have a chance to perform that is your Opportunity. Albeit, pop warner, high school, college, or professional when you get a chance to play sports that is your chance to shine.
The second O is Options. Every Opportunity you have to perform leads to Options. If you are in high school and seeking a college scholarship to wrestle or play tennis those are Options you are seeking.
Seizing those Options can lead to your dreams of becoming a professional athlete or getting that college scholarship. The opposite is also true.
Failure to take advantage of Options reduces your Opportunities and leads to you playing the “What If Game,” and/or living with regrets because you were not prepared to move forward.
Last, but not least is the third O which is Obstacles. No matter how nice, kind, sportsman’s like, and upbeat you are. Obstacle come along with Opportunities and Options.
Obstacle can take the form of fatigue, problematic teammates, and lack of support or mental illness. Whatever the case you can be better prepared both mentally and physically if you factor in Obstacles as a part of your planning.
This is the first principle to breaking mental barriers. In the next blog we will explore how to use a new level of Thinking to diminish barriers that hinder your athletic performance. Book a session or ask a question to learn more about improving your athletic performance.