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Beating the Odds

Three Powerful Words

“If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.” — William James

A childhood game can instantly improve your chances of reaching your goals.

Melissa Johnson writes about it in Saturday’s New York Times, recalling Harvard’s epic upset of Stanford in the 1998 NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Johnson profiles Kathy Delaney-Smith, who coached Harvard with a three-word mantra: Act as if.

Delaney-Smith instilled belief in her players by telling them to ACT a certain way even if they didn’t FEEL a certain way.

It’s a technique well-known and appreciated by sports psychologists.

“Act like the thing you want to become, and you will become the way you act,” says Dr. Rob Gilbert.

When we were children, we all played the game of pretend, but gave it up in favor of more practical pursuits. Who knew that “pretend,” when done correctly, could be among the most practical — and powerful — of skills?

“Your actions create your attitudes, your movements create your moods, and your motions create your emotions,” says Gilbert.

So “acting as if” can help you in every phase of your game, from acquiring skills to preparing for games.

Coach Tully’s Extra Point: Williams James was a pioneering American psychologist. His profile can be found here.


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