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Beating the Odds

How to Win Any Tournament

Do you suppose that, between now and the NCAA tournament, the athletes will get any faster? Taller? Stronger? No, they’re as fast, as tall and as strong as they are going to be for the next three weeks.

If they’re going to make any improvement at all, it must be in their mental game. Here are two specific qualities that will help any team win. That includes basketball teams, businesses, families, any team at all.

First, the ability to enjoy the ride. If you’re a basketball player and you can’t enjoy the tournament, what’s the use? Why even be there if you can’t have fun?

Too many players and teams look like they’re going through the Sahara without water. They don’t smile. Their shoulders sag. The whole thing looks more like a burden than a game.

It’s OK to be nervous and to care. Just don’t care so much that it isn’t fun. If you must, reframe the game. In your mind, view it as an opportunity, not s a competition. Great surfers seek big waves. Great climbers want the biggest mountains. Stand outside yourself for a moment and see the situation you are in. You’re in a tournament being watched by people all over the country. Enjoy it!

Second, the ability to forgive. Make sure that you can forgive mistakes in those around you. If a teammate makes a mistake, they already know it. You don’t have to rub it in. They don’t need you muttering under your breath or rolling your eyes. They need your encouragement.

When players feel they are free to be less than perfect, they can take chances. They can play without fear and tension. They can go for it. And teams that go for it often get there!

This forgiveness does not extend to failure to prepare or to lack of focus. We don’t ever want to condone that. But when it comes to honest mistakes, those that are made with the best of intentions, treat others as you would wish to be treated.

So if you want your team to do well, enjoy the ride and forgive mistakes. Your will notice the difference!

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” go here.


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