Posts

MESSAGE #1655 DO YOU THINK ABOUT WALKING?

IMG_0721

I recently read a promo by a mental performance coach…he said, “Do you think about walking or talking?…No. the mental game is the same way” (I agree).

He then went on to say that he has the best “routines and techniques” to keep your mind clear during competition…

Interesting. Then how come we don’t need “routines and techniques” while walking and talking?

Think about the last time you had a peak performance. Were you using routines and techniques, or were you “just” playing?

I already know the answer.

In my opinion, when we perform at our best, we are “just” doing it and in the moment. So why then, when we are not playing well would we use “routines and techniques” to take us out of the moment?

One of my favorite things to do is to interview gold medalists, world champions, national champions, professional athletes, and performers on their best performances. They never say they “thought” themselves to victory. They always say they were “just” doing it and as a result, they had little thought, performed with freedom and ease…and kicked butt.

Can you remember the last time you “thought” about walking? If you can, you probably stumbled…

Ed Tseng
Mental Performance Coach
Pro of the Year USTA/NJD 2005
Best-Selling Author and Keynote Speaker

For a free 10-minute consultation on peak performance in athletics, academics, business and life, email ed@edtseng.com or call 609.558.1077.

MESSAGE #1646 THE ZONE

Everyone wants to perform in the zone, or in flow, but to nearly everyone, it is an “X-factor” because it is elusive, a mystery and people don’t know HOW to be in the zone consistently.

To me, the zone is our natural state. It is a state of no thought (at least we don’t realize we are thinking) and a clear mind. Or as my friend, Garret Kramer calls it, “Stillpower,” which is also the name of his great book. It’s the opposite of “will power” i.e., trying, grinding or pushing through. The zone is a state of ease and freedom and a place where we have access to all of our instincts, wisdom and well-being.

Now let’s talk about what the zone is not, or in other words, a losing streak or slump.

I was once talking to a top baseball prospect in the clubhouse before a game and he confided in me that earlier that season he was in a big slump. During that slump, he tried fixing his grip. He tried fixing his stance. And he tried fixing his swing.

Nothing worked.

Then one day, he just said to himself, “You know what? Screw it.” He stopped “trying” to fix his game.

Well, that same night he broke out of his slump.

He went back to just playing, instead of fighting the slump or trying to fix things.

When we take a step back and let our minds naturally clear, we have access to everything we need. And we have access to our natural state…the zone.

Thanks for reading.

For a free 10-minute consultation, email: ed@edtseng.com.

MESSAGE #1645 ANDY’S DREAMING

I just read an interesting article on Yahoo! Sports by Martin Rogers about how Andy Murray is having “bizarre dreams” and is thinking about seeking a sport psychologist to work with. You can read the article HERE.

While reading the article, I had many insights about how Andy is heading down the wrong road, and actually wrote to Mr. Rogers. Here’s what I said…

Hi Martin, I am a mental performance coach and I just read your interesting article regarding Andy Murray and his “bizarre dreams.” I thought you might find my two cents (five cents) interesting.

#1 Murray is taking his dreams too seriously. Dreams are not reality, they are merely random thoughts when you are sleeping and if you don’t take them seriously, they have no power over you. Do people take guns and wear bullet-proof vests to watch action movies?!? Of course not, because they know it’s not real. Neither are dreams. The problem is, feelings actually “feel” like reality, but when people don’t see that it’s just coming from their own made up thinking, they start heading down the wrong road and try to change the situation.


#2 In your article, Murray said, “I’m staying in a quieter hotel than usual this time and trying to make sure I don’t spend too much time around the courts.” This is a red flag to me because a quieter hotel and being around the courts has nothing to do with an athlete’s state of mind. Focusing on external factors is an outside-in approach and that hurts performance and mental resilience. The mental game is internal, or an inside-out understanding so trying to change external factors is like trying to make the tail wag the dog…it doesn’t work.


#3 It worries me that Andy’s mother and Ivan Lendl are taking Andy’s dreams seriously as well. And talking to a sport psychologist will not help because sport psychologists use an outside-in approach, which include techniques, rituals and routines that lead athletes in the wrong direction. These techniques will only create more thinking in Murray’s head and as all athletes and coaches know, increased thinking during competition equates to decreased performance. The zone, or flow is a state of no thought, so it makes no sense to me why someone would want to consciously increase the amount of thought. Yogi Berra said, “You can’t think and hit at the same time; a full mind is an empty bat.” A full mind is also an empty racquet.


#4 Murray is on “an emotional rollercoaster at the time when he should be resting.” Athletes (and all humans) will be on emotional roller coasters during the course of their day, but as long as they understand that this is normal and it’s going to happen, they don’t have to take them so seriously. As a by-product, the roller coaster ride doesn’t last as long. Pete Sampras has admitted to constantly being on an emotional roller coaster during a match, but the difference is in Sampras’ relationship to his emotions. When asked, how he still was able to perform despite the fluctuations in feelings, Sampras responded, “I know that it’s just part of being a tennis player and those feelings don’t concern me.” Same situation, different thoughts about the situation.


#5 You wrote, “If the dreams threaten to turn from an amusing talking point and into a problem, the coach will be certain to take swift action.” It seems to me they are already turning into a problem if they are considering getting help. I would bet that whoever Murray decides to work with will use techniques, routines and/or rituals to try to “fix” Murray’s mental game. Well, guess what? He’s not broken! Nobody is. But sometimes we get in our own way but don’t realize it’s coming from us. It would be as if I made a scary face in the mirror and actually got scared. If people can truly understand how their minds work, they will be able to consistently perform at a high level. Unfortunately, this understanding is the only thing that will help Andy take his game to the next level and help him get over his “bizarre dreams.”


“The only thing to fear is fear itself.” -FDR


I’d love to hear your thoughts.

MESSAGE #1641 TOP 5 WAYS TO PLAY IN THE ZONE ALMOST INSTANTLY

In the Yankee Stadium bleachers with Jeff Nelson, a 4-time World Series Champion

I recently spent some time with the former Yankee great, Jeff Nelson at Yankee Stadium. We were at an event for Cystic Fibrosis and participated in the famous roll call with bleacher creature, Bald Vinny, Yankee writer, Jon Lane, and my friend Fred Weiland, among others.

What did I learn from “Nellie”?

1. He was always confident.
2. He was always nervous.
3. He treated both feelings the same way.

Nelson said that he was always confident, but there are so many factors in sports so you never know what’s going to happen. He also said that being nervous is normal. And he didn’t think too much about either one. That leads me to my Top 5 Ways to Play in the Zone Almost Instantly.

1. Understand that feelings (both positive and negative) are random.
2. Understand that feelings (both positive and negative) are neutral.
3. Understand that feelings come and go.
4. Understand that feelings come from your own thoughts.
5. Understand that if you don’t take your thoughts and feelings so seriously, you will play in the zone more consistently.

Notice my Top 5 has no technique, routine or ritual? There’s no how-to. All you need is UNDERSTANDING. The reason why is because when you are in a slump and you look to a technique, it will not work. It will just begin to make you think more. And when you think more, you perform less. The zone is a state of no thought (at least you don’t realize you are thinking), so why would you do the opposite when things are not going your way?

I don’t know either.

Let me end with a quote from another famous Yankee…

“You can’t think and hit at the same time. A full mind is an empty bat.”
—Yogi Berra

MESSAGE #1633 IT’S NATIONAL PROCRASTINATION WEEK!

Well, it’s National Procrastination Week, and I’m all for it.

In fact, I want you to make EVERY week, Procrastination Week. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to procrastinate practicing, paying your bills, cleaning your house or any of that sort of thing.

Actually, there’s only one thing that I want you to procrastinate.

I want you to procrastinate procrastination.

Put off putting things off.

Do you know the five words why most people fail?

I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT.

Feelings are just feelings, you don’t have to act on every one of them. The most successful people in the world do what they need to do, when they need to do it, whether they feel like it or not.

Don’t train yourself to be lazy or hold back.

Train yourself to give a full effort.

I have lazy feelings all the time, but I rarely have lazy actions.

The other day I was working with a young gymnast and she said to me, “When I walked into the gym today, I felt very tired, but then I just acted like I had high energy and then I became energized!”

Effort was a choice for this young gymnast, and effort is a choice for you.

So as everyone else is celebrating National Procrastination Week, I challenge you to procrastinate procrastination. And when next week rolls around and everyone else is playing catch-up, you will be hitting the ground with your feet running.

Ed Tseng
Mental Conditioning Coach
Pro of the Year USTA 2005
Author of “Game. Set. Life.”
ed@edtseng.com
609.558.1077

MESSAGE #1632 LEAP YEAR

Well, it’s February 29th on this Leap Year, so I feel it only appropriate to tell you one of my favorite riddles…

Three frogs were sitting on a log.
Two frogs decided to leap off.
How many frogs were left?

Answer: Three. Just because the two frogs DECIDED to leap off, doesn’t mean that they actually did.

Just because YOU decide to eat healthier, practice more, or quit smoking, doesn’t mean you actually will.

Can you? Absolutely.

Will you? That’s up to you.

How about this for a Leap Year’s Resolution: Don’t be a frog.

MESSAGE #1631 THE SECRET TO JEREMY LIN’S SUCCESS

By now, nearly everyone on the planet has heard about Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks and “Lin-sanity.” If for some reason, you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, let me recap for you.

After getting cut from the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and nearly the New York Knicks, Jeremy Lin came off the bench for the Knicks on February 4th and scored 25 points against the New Jersey Nets. He then scored 28 points versus the Utah Jazz, 23 points over the Washington Wizards, 38 points over Kobe Bryant (34 points) and the Los Angeles Lakers and 20 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was named Player of the Week and the floundering Knicks went undefeated with Lin in the starting lineup. And the sports world exploded. What makes the Asian-American Harvard grad from California so special?

Here are my top five keys to Jeremy Lin’s success:

1. He’s a team player. In a league dominated by superstar players who often are like a one-man show, Lin does what most great athletes do…he makes the rest of the team better.

2. He is isn’t affected by external factors. With all the hype and media attention he is getting, Lin still seems down-to-earth and composed regardless of what is going on around him.

3. He goes all-out. One of Jeremy Lin’s goals for every game is to give a full effort. Gandhi said, “Full effort is full victory.”

4. He has faith. In post-game interviews, Lin often thanks God for all that has happened to him. Whether you are religious or spiritual, having faith helps you trust your abilities and focus on the process, not the outcome.

5. He has fun. You can see by how he plays the game that Jeremy Lin loves what he does. Hard work and passion go a long way.

Here are a couple of my favorite Jeremy Lin quotes:

“I’m not playing for other people; if I start thinking in those terms I would put too much pressure on myself. I play basketball because that is what I love to do.”

“I’m not playing to prove anything to anybody.”

How far will Jeremy Lin go in his basketball career? Nobody knows, but one thing is for sure. If he stays healthy and keeps living by these principles, the sky is the limit.