Dr. Robert Heller’s Mind Body Newsletter
“Strategies for Improved Performance in Sports and in Life”
Athleticism, Talent and Mental Toughness Win at the SONY Tennis Tournament
No surprises this year: Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and the Bryan brothers; all winners this tournament with their lethal combinations of skill, experience, physical and mental strengths. Most athletes, even world class, don’t train hard enough or smart enough mentally and emotionally to develop the winning edge in tough matches. Remember, it is not practice that makes perfect, but Perfect Practice that makes Perfect. Include mental skills training in whatever you do and you will improve your chances for success.
Three Types of Thinking
This month, I worked with athletes from golf, tennis and baseball. What they all had in common was an excess of negative thinking and a deficit in positive and self-instructional thinking. Negative thinking, “I stink, I can’t believe I missed that,” “What’s wrong with me,” etc., just leads to getting further down on yourself and becoming more helpless and less focused. Positive thinking provides energy with a “can do “ attitude. “It’s OK. I can play better, come back and win this game.” Self-instructional thinking provides “focus”. “Keep your eye on the ball. He likes to serve to your backhand so look to run around it and pound the forehand cross court.”
Changing your thinking can change your mindset, mood and performance. Practice it both on and off the playing field and see results with the positive change of how you feel and behave.
Last month I attended an interesting program by Dr. Jared Pingleton, the author of “Making Magnificent Marriages”. The author brings 37 years of marriage counseling to the table as a licensed psychologist and priest. The product of a divorced family himself, he has been married for 27 years and raised four boys in the process. The book is written from a heavy conservative Christian perspective and many references and quotes from the bible are interspersed with psychological research and activities geared to improve a marriage such as caring, commitment and communication.
A proponent of pre-marital counseling, a requirement for couples getting married from his congregation, Dr. Pingleton quotes that studies indicate those who complete pre-marital counseling are 80% less likely to get divorced. However, there is no distinction made among those who remain married as to the level of satisfaction within those marriages or if they stay together for various reasons but are far from happy or satisfied. (The current divorce rate in the US is about 50%. )
CEO’s Secret to Decision-Making: Total Silence
This was the title of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal which chronicles the transformation of a wealthy successful but type A personality to one who embraces yoga meditation, periodic retreats at a monastery and a vegetarian diet. According to the article, “Throughout his company’s growth, Mr. Keledjian made time to run, take spin class and kick box. I was burning calories and releasing endorphins but none of those activities brought me inner peace.” Can you say “Namaste”?
I admit I have not yet jumped on the “meditation” bandwagon although I do practice yoga regularly and teach/practice forms of deep breathing throughout the day. I also eat a plant-based diet about 80% of the time.
Heading to New Mexico next month to explore some of the Indian culture and perhaps visit the famous Ghost Ranch, a retreat near Taos. I think it’s great to plan time to get away from our normal routine and expose ourselves to different cultures and experiences.
In May, I will be presenting a talk on “Public Speaking” to the members of the Florida Division of the United States Professional Tennis Teachers Association. Public speaking is a vital skill in improving confidence and performing well in school and in many jobs and careers. My previous talk on this topic to Palm Beach Psychological association was very well received, so off I go to Port St. Lucie to carry on!
Until next month,
Dr. Robert Heller
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