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Beating the Odds

Aesop, Hockey, and You

Years ago, Aesop warned about the dangers of getting complacent.

He told the story of the hare and the tortoise, in which the hare raced out to a big lead over the plodding tortoise, decided to take a nap, and woke up just in time to see the tortoise cross the finish line first.

Aesop never knew how right he was! It turns out that science backs up the story. When you feel danger, as in a close competition, your body undergoes physical changes to help you fight.

That’s why the hare lost. With a big lead, he no longer perceived any danger, so his body chemistry went back to normal.

This hear’s Stanley Cup hockey playoffs have shown a vivid example. So far, in the early stages of the tournament, 10 teams have surrendered a two-goal lead. Just last night, the Dallas Stars owned a two-goal lead with only three minutes left in the game. The Anaheim Duck scored two goals to tie the score in regulation, then won in overtime.

Hockey people will tell you that a two-goal lead is harder to defend than a one-goal lead.

That’s because when a team takes a two-goal lead, the sense of danger is lessened.

What does this mean for you?

Sport psychologists tell their clients to stay in the moment. There is no past or future, only the play that is happening right now. Do not think about past failures or future hopes.

This is not easy to do. People tend to slip into the past or the future. It is difficult to stay in the present, but it is possible.

When you feel your mind going to the past or future, pull your thoughts back into the present. Do not think about the score or the odds. That’s what the hare did. That’s what 10 hockey teams have done so far this spring.

Don’t let it happen to you.

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Thank you for visiting Total Game Plan. While you’re here, you can find many other articles to help you reach your potential.

Do you want to do your best when it means the most? Of course you do, and “Think Better, Win More!: How Sport Psychology Can Make you a Champion” will help.

How to Survive Your Sports Season” is an invaluable resource to help you with the highs and lows of practice and competition.

To improve at anything, check out “The Improvement Factor: How Champions Turn Practice into Success.”

Need some motivation? Everyone needs it now and then. Open any page of “Thank God You’re Lazy! The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back” for a story or a quote to lift your spirits.

Are you a sports coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.


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