The UPS and DOWNS of Sports (Must read for athletes)
We don’t love to talk about the “downs”, but they are the best part of sports. Here’s why...
The ups build the ego
The downs build the character
Isn’t it odd how the ups don’t last very long.
You think they are going to, but they never do. We are not wired to cling to the feelings of our victories.
Oddly enough, the ups are rarely ever as good as you thought they were going to be when you initially were so obsessed with achieving them.
Enjoy them when they come. Success DOES leave clues, so repeat things that worked.
But remember, at any given point in your life cycle of sports, there is usually a “down” following the “ups”.
THE SECRET: The way you handle the UP tells me how you will handle the DOWN. If you let the up get you too “up”, the roller coaster of your emotions and confidence will come crashing down when the “down” comes.
If you want to know how the best of the best maintain their composure, master their emotions, and experience consistent confidence and success, keep reading.
Athlete, if you have recently faced an injury, been cut from a team, lost your starting position, were humiliated by a coach, or flunked a test, I encourage you to HONOR IT.
Honor that struggle. To honor something means to treat it with respect.
Your athletic setback IS a set-up for a comeback, if you look at it through the right lens. Think back to when you were learning to ride a bike...
I love the downs...now. I honor them, but I did not used to. They have taught me so much more than the ups. Like when I made a really poor decision in college as a freshman, got in trouble with the Dean, cost the entire basketball team a miserable conditioning session at 5 am on a Saturday morning, and had to face the entire team and apologize for my stupidity. That one DOWN has stuck with me and has helped many student-athletes to whom I have told that story.
I am human, so naturally I want UPS more than downs. But I do not fear the downs anymore. When they come, I LOOK up. I wonder how God will use this one to benefit my future or someone else’s.
Here is how the best athletes, the best PEOPLE in the world handle the ups and downs:
They Act “MEDIUM”
Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, taught me the concept of acting medium. I now have passed it on to all of my mindset coaching students and we discuss it a couple times a year with our athletes at PFP during motivational messages. It’s amazing the lightbulbs that go off.
It was a concept he used to produce a Super Bowl winning team and more importantly, champion caliber people. He found that most athletes have trouble controlling their emotions.
What goes up must come down. When something goes down, it takes a lot of energy to get back up. Acting Medium is the best way to maintain consistent, peak performance. If your athlete(s) struggles with consistent results, I can guarantee you they have inconsistent feelings and emotions.
Acting Medium Exercise for Athletes
During practice, how are my emotions? Do I get super pumped up when I score at practice? Do I get super angry when I make a mistake at practice? Write about my emotions at practice below.
During games, how do I act when things go wrong? When I make a mistake? Ref makes a terrible call? My teammates are slacking? Coach pulls me out? I get a penalty unfairly?
How do I WANT to act from here moving forward? Why?
Use this exercise to bring self-awareness to their performance. Share how you have failed in the past. Vulnerability is one of the best teachers. The Acting Medium exercise can be used for school, sports, or anything else that causes their emotions to roller coaster.
I recommend that you take a moment to think about the ups and downs in your life. Reflect on the good that came from the downs.
And remember...as the leader, the parent, or the coach, that the way you respond to the ups and downs of sport and life will often be the determining factor for how your athlete will respond.
Your friend and coach,