Imagine for a minute what it feels like to get THE call…
“Hey, this is Coach Johnson from the University of So and So. I just watched you play. You were incredible! I’d love to set up some time to talk with you about coming on an official visit to our campus, meet the team and show you what we’re all about here. What do you think?”
This is the dream conversation my 17 year old, CJ, has going on in his head, I believe, on a daily basis. It’s a beautiful fantasy and I remember it well as a high schooler myself dreaming of playing college athletics.
It is the culmination of years of hard work, tears and sweat. Dreams of playing at the next level are places with very rarefied air.
There are days when everything goes your way, the bucket is five feet wide, and you can’t get winded running up and down the court. And then there are those other days, like last weekend, when my son’s team played in a Jordan Invitational and within the first 10 minutes of the game, the team was down 20, the boys all looked like they’d gladly sub out, and it felt like the clock really wasn’t ticking down.
After the game, I asked CJ, “What was going on out there?”
“I don’t know.” He said completely dejected and demoralized. "I was so focused externally on everything going on around the court before the game including the college coaches that I wanted to impress which made me think about how many points I needed to score, which caused me to essentially shut everything down. For the first time ever, I didn’t want to be out there. It scared me.”
What he was experiencing is what psychologists like to call the “fight or flight” response. It’s triggered when adrenaline rushes to our brains and we feel overwhelmed and then potentially go into shutdown.
We size up a situation IN OUR HEADS and decide whether we think we’re able to handle the stress. If we determine that we can, we’re off to the races. But if we think that perhaps we're outmatched, unprepared or outsized, we take the path of least resistance and flee to the nearest cave.
It’s incredibly painful to see our teens go through this experience. You watch everything they work for and feel like it could evaporate it an instant.
So what do you do?
You go back to the basics.
Here are my top three tips for crushing your 2018 year
(be it on the court, in the classroom, or in your personal life)
1) FOCUS on what you can control.
When you are distracted with anything that's outside of your direct control, you are losing energy and focus. I told CJ- “Be a racehorse. Put on the blinders. Whether a coach shows up or doesn’t, whether there’s a crowd or not, all of that is outside of your control. Put on the blinders and go to work on your game.”
2) Pick ONE thing you are going to do this next game. ONE. He chose rebounding. "I’m going to go out there and make offensive rebounds. I’m not going to worry about my shot, that will come, I’m going to be solely focused on crashing the boards. Oh, and I’m going to play a little bit pissed off. I’m too nice out there.” #getangry
3) Stay in the NOW. We spend 90% of our day reflecting on the past or dreaming about the future (see opening line), but when we stay IN THE MOMENT, it is when we open up the possibility for greatness. World renowned Hungarian psychologist, Mikaly Czikscentmihily, discovered the concept of flow.
FLOW comes when our skills plus our challenges are reaching an apex. Flow feels like we are completely involved in what we are doing. We are focused. There is a sense of ecstasy - of being outside of everyday reality. There is a great inner clarity, a knowing of what needs to be done and how well we are doing. There is a sense of serenity- no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I’ll have what she’s having! And here’s the really good news….. you can!
January is the wonderful “Yeah, let’s start over!", but awful because “It’s so daunting!", but wonderful because, “Yeah, we get to hit the “RESET” button!” month. So as your teen is thinking about what would feel REALLY good to be sitting in December 2018 and be saying, “YES! I did that,” think of three good, juicy, just outside of my comfort zone, goals with them… and then let’s talk about getting your teen and YOU into flow!
Much Love & Ridiculous, “Off the chain" success for 2018!
VIDEO: Here’s a fun strategy to use when helping your teen athlete set goals
(Click on the image below!)
P.S. Download my free tool to help your teen athlete set big goals!
TEEN ATHLETE BALANCE WHEEL