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Creating Breakthrough Moments And Level Up Challenges

Updated: Jan 5

With the start of each new sports season, there is excitement that builds toward that season opening game.  This includes preseason training, getting back into the grind, reconnecting with teammates and coaches, and most of all, getting a fresh start.  

To start the season off on the right foot, take a moment to reflect. Let’s focus your awareness on breakthrough moments. Breakthrough moments are those moments that helped you to overcome challenges, to work your way out of a performance plateau, and/or to acquire a new skill. 

Breakthroughs take time and dedication. To build toward a breakthrough you have to start by identifying what consciously and unconsciously holds you back from performing your best:

a. Are you focused on your future and what you want or need to accomplish by the end of the season?

b. Are you aware of how your emotions derail your performance in high pressure situations? 

c. Are you aware of how others expectations impact your ability to perform and motivate each day?

d. Do you have daily process goals that help you achieve your performance and outcome goals?

Take time to reflect on these questions and journal them. To move forward, you have to first know what’s limiting you.


Putting Thoughts Into Action

"Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea.  It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it who makes a difference. "

-Nolan Bushnell

Coming up with an idea is the first step to creating change. The challenge is to take that idea and physically act on it.  For athletes, this can be acquiring a new skill or trying to replicate a past performance.

Putting Ideas In Action:

i. If you have an idea write it down. 

ii. Create the blueprint by imagining the details needed to carry out your idea. 

iii. Put your ideas into action.  The only way you will know if that idea is good, is to try it out.

Experience is:

a. Ideas are just thoughts until you physically put them into action. You won’t fully understand the possibilities and outcomes until you do it.

b. Learn from your experiences.  Figure out what went well, what was challenging, and what absolutely flopped. You can choose to accept the flops as emotional scars, where you flood your brain with self defeating thoughts like feeling embarrassed and fear of re-experiencing that type of failure.

On the other hand, that flop can also be seen objectively.  You can look at it as a chance to learn and as a step toward future success.  If you can’t accept the flop, you won’t fully enjoy the success either.

Why? If you don’t expect and accept failure as part of the process, you won’t strive for success. You will only strive to be good enough.

c. Reflect, understand what made your idea successful or unsuccessful.  In the end, the more you put your ideas into action, the more knowledge you gain from the experience. The more knowledge you gain, the more vivid your ideas and imagination will become!


Level Up Challenge

Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them all the time. Winning is a habit. 

-Vince Lombardi 

This famous Lombardi quote is a reminder that success is a habit, and success is a state of mind. It’s easy to get stuck critiquing what we can’t do and what limits us. This type of self talk is also a habit. It takes effort, repetition, and motivation to be willing to get uncomfortable, if we want to challenge ourselves to want to improve each day. 

Level Up Challenge: pick a skill to work on for a week, be it physical, technical, tactical, or mental. Break it down by listing all the small details that you need in order to perform that skill, be it chip shots to the green in golf or 1v1s to shots on goal in soccer.  This process will help you to manage pre-game jitters and lack of confidence before competition. 

From that list, identify the little things you need to improve and the things you already do well.  Knowing your strengths and weaknesses helps you focus on knowing what you are good at and what you need to work on. It’s at the foundation for goal setting and confidence building. 

Now, think of this one week like obtaining a level up in a video game. Practice the small skills till it starts to feel comfortable, and remember to focus on the little details that help you to perform that skill the right way.  Putting in the quality time and repetition allows you to obtain that video game like level up. 

Acquiring that skill may go unnoticed by coaches and teammates, so remember to highlight and celebrate your successes.  Then, figure out what you need to continue to work on the next week to obtain that next video game like level up!

Have fun with your LEVEL UP challenge!  In doing so, you will start to learn how to practice smarter rather than just practicing harder. 

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