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Sports Performance is all about Details– College Football Opening Week Demonstrated that Sports Performance is Focusing on the Small Details
Football is no different from any other sport that we enjoy playing and/or watching that comes down to– Ball security, Running, Passing, Blocking, Tackling, and Kicking. When it comes down to it, it is as Ray Lewis once stated- “Greatness is a lot of small things done well, stacked up on each other. Day after day. Workout after workout.” Consistency is essential for developing confidence in sports and in life.
I realize, especially at the start of the season, that some teams have difficulty getting into their rhythm and developing a consistent routine. These two components of rhythm and routine allow the athlete to develop their confidence in their performance. If sports teaches us anything about life, it is that conditions change, but the objective always remains the same, to finish and achieve the objective.
Florida State University and Louisiana State University Game
The Sunday night NCAA Football game between Florida State University (FSU) and Louisiana State University (LSU) highlighted the importance of what Ray Lewis was stating about Greatness and success. It is all about the small things, or details, done well every time, without exception, that help develop consistency and confidence in an athlete’s performance. It is all about following a well-developed procedure.
If you are always focused on the big play and game as a whole and not the process and procedures to perform, you will soon discover that you didn’t focus on the basic fundamentals that allow you to be successful. There were two muffed punt receptions by LSU that were fumbled that gave FSU great field position and momentum in this game. The other incident was when LSU went for the tie extra point field goal kick, with no time left, when the kick was blocked by FSU.
In my own personal opinion, I would have gone for the win with a two-point conversion.
There is One Thing We all should Take Away From Sports
What sports teaches us is to focus on the small details in our life and understand the importance of preparations, process, conditioning, establishing a rhythm, and a routine. Some may think a routine is boring and not exciting to develop, and by doing the same thing over-and-over again develops a routine. But routine is the very basic part of our natural instincts to tap into our subconscious mind.
If 80 percent of our performance is subconscious based, then we should find ways to develop the essential instincts that are needed. The only way to engage this huge potential of our subconscious mind is to stop thinking, and just focus by projecting on what pilots and naval aviators call Situational Awareness. Because when you are focusing, you are projecting your performance forward that directly engages the subconscious mind. You hear coaches always stress the term FOCUS-FOCUS to their athlete.
Our subconscious mind is where all our instinctive motor skills are based that determine our performance. That performance is determined by following a well-defined, sequential process that doesn’t deviate in any way from time-to-time. This projection-focused technique hardwires our performance directly into our subconscious mind, like being in THE ZONE.
Patterns, Process, and Procedure for Success
Even the most complex task is broken down into well-defined, sequential processes with sequential steps that are practiced over-and-over again. This IS NOT practiced until you can get them right; but until you can’t get them wrong, and that is instinctive performance.
Take, for example, the two muffed punt receptions by LSU that the receiver signaled for a fair catch. In both cases, the receiver made a basic fundamental mistake by using his forearms and body to field the punt, instead of using his hands. Any athlete needs to differentiate between intended performance and their instinctive performance. Because, one will show up on the field on game-day, while the other one won’t. We perform based on our instincts!
If your practice isn’t second nature to you as a habit based performance, your performance WILL NOT be based on your practiced sessions, that you did for days, weeks, and months. Your performance on the field on game-day will be based on your natural instincts that were developed over the years. Even golfer’s know this all too well about the difference between intention and instinctive performance, when they aren’t able to take their practice game to performance on the golf course. I’ve been there more times than would I like to mention.
What confirmed that the LSU punt receiver’s instincts were to catch the punt using his forearms and body was that he signaled for a fair catch, where he wasn’t concerned about contact or to taking evasive action to advance the ball. So his only task was to field the punt and not to advance the ball up field.
One essential part of any practice session is to create actual conditions to train and develop instincts in the athlete’s subconscious mind. This is a fundamental Rule No. 1 of the Subconscious mind- The subconscious mind does not and must not differentiate between practice and performance. Matter of fact, practice should be more realistic and intense than game-day is.
I don’t know of too many kickers and long snappers who would turn down the opportunity for reps under game-like conditions to develop their instinctive routine by using the practice squad to rush the kicker and to cover the punt return, with or without contact.
Using the practice squad to rush down the field with all the distractions and pressures will help develop the game-like condition for the punt receiver. You have to create game-like conditions in order for the subconscious mind to develop instinctive motor skills, instead of intentions. During the fair catch, the receiver is not even expecting contact from the defenders. So that wasn’t a distracting factor in Sunday night’s game for these two punt receptions.
Subconscious Rule No. 9- Dominance
Adrenaline will cause the subconscious mind to kick-in an athlete’s instincts, because of Rule No. 9 of the Subconscious Mind- The subconscious mind always prevails in conflicts with the conscious mind. The receiver’s intentions might have been to field the punt with his hands; but his instinctive reaction was to use his forearms and body. This was a basic fundamental mistake.
The athlete can train their subconscious mind by focusing and projecting, or in this case, looking the punt into the hands of the punt receiver. Because projection will create a natural response during an actual game-day based on routine procedures.
Here are four (4) components that must be in place to create a predictable, natural instinctive response in sports:
- Develop Natural and Repetitive Routine tasks continually.
- Practice and perform under actual conditions that must exist in both.
- Rely on a high degree of: focus, relaxation, confidence (or trust your training), and muscle memory.
- Focus to allow the Subconscious mind to project to create being IN THE ZONE.
In aviation, they refer to this as developing Situational Awareness, where pilots and naval aviators are trained based on three criteria:
Perception– Use one’s senses to develop a routine and instincts to perform in a familiar environment, or conditions, as in training (trust your training).
Comprehension– Having a complete understanding and application of fundamental principles and instincts without inconsistencies, disruptions, or gaps in the process.
Projection– The ability to mentally visualize and focus on an outcome of a procedure prior to execution. This allows an individual to focus on a process and avoids cognitive overload, or thinking.
Remember the quote by Maverick (Tom Cruise) in both TOP GUN Movies- You can’t think up there, if you do, you are dead.
Projection is covered in Subconscious Rule No. 5- What you expect tends to be realized.
Below, I have listed all 10 Subconscious Rules that help an athlete to practice and perform at the highest level possible and avoid slumps:
1. The subconscious mind does not and must not differentiate between visualizations (practice) and real situations (performance).
2. The subconscious mind has no concept of time.
3. The Quicker and longer the subconscious mind believes and proves something, the harder it will be to alter this belief in any way.
4. Every thought causes a physical reaction. The subconscious mind can’t distinguish between a positive or negative thought.
5. What you expect tends to be realized.
6. Finding proof of your beliefs strengthens them.
7. The subconscious mind always prevails in conflicts with the conscious mind.
8. An idea, once accepted, will remain firmly in place until it is replaced by another.
9. The greater the conscious effort reduces the subconscious intuitive response.
10. Suggestions and beliefs can be used to “program” the subconscious mind.
In my book that is in KINDLE listed below, I have written a book that contains my Grandfather’s Sports Psychology called The Yellowstone Papers: