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Coaching Tips

The First Step in Improving

If you’re looking for a way to raise your game — no matter what that game is — get a hold of “Winning the Big One,” a video by former LSU baseball coach Skip Bertman.

You’ll find plenty of great information on how winners think. In particular, Bertman says that winning the big one is the daily, relentless attempt to improve.

It’s a lot easier than it sounds. Getting better every day requires great discipline and mental toughness. And most of all, it requires a crucial bit of information, namely, exactly what part of your game needs to get better.

Peak performance expert Dave Cross says that the first step in improving is a realistic view of where you are, on a scale of one to 10. “No one is a zero,” he says, trying to nudge his student/athletes toward a realistic assessment. “And no one in this room is a 10. If you were a 10, you wouldn’t be in this room. You’d be at the Olympic Training Center (and you’d still be trying to improve).”

People have a hard time looking at themselves in an objective way. Take the New York Mets, who are looking more and more like the worst team in big-league baseball. R.A. Dickey, one of their pitchers, addressed this Wednesday night after the team lost still another game.

“We have to find a way to be honest with ourselves about what kind of team we are,” Dickey said. “We can’t just keep telling ourselves, ‘Oh, we’re a better team than this.’ We may not be. And we’ve got to be honest about that, and identify what we’re doing wrong, and do it better. That’s the only way you have any real growth.”

Dickey is right. You can either take a good look at yourself, or you can choose to believe in the Easter Bunny.

Be part of the former group, because most people will choose the latter. Said Renaissance poet Fulke Greville, “No man was ever so much deceived by another as by himself.”

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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,” click here.


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