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Beating the Odds

The Mental Skill That Decided the Super Bowl

Depending on whom you were rooting for:
Either the Falcons pulled a choke for the ages or
New England showed the focus of a wolf looking at a lamb chop.
Either way, the mental game — and a very specific skill — decided Super Bowl LI. This very specific skill divides winners from losers. It’s simple, but never easy. If you can use this skill, you own the key to excellence in sports and life.
What is this magic formula?
It’s the ability to stay in the moment. It’s the ability to let go of mistakes and to avoid getting ahead of yourself. It’s about consistency: never getting too high or too low.
Aesop wrote about it centuries ago in “The Tortoise and the Hare.” As you probably recall, the fleet-footed hare and the plodding tortoise decide to race. Not surprisingly, the hare sprints out to big lead. He stops to rest and falls asleep. Meanwhile, the tortoise keeps putting one foot in front of the other. When the hare finally wakes up, he races to the finish line. But the tortoise has already passed it.
Sound familiar?
Atlanta raced out to a big lead. It would be human nature for the Falcons to start looking ahead to that Lombardi Trophy. Instead, the Patriots kept in the game, going play by play. At the end, the tortoise won.
Do pro athletes really talk about this stuff? You bet they do! I was a sports writer for 12 years, and I can assure you that staying the moment and keeping a consistent approach were the things that they talked about the most!
Sports writers don’t like to hear it. They prefer more colorful quotes, something like Joe Namath’s famous guarantee that the New Jets would win Super Bowl III. But guarantees don’t win games. Staying in the moment and avoiding highs and low do.
Branch Rickey, the best mind in baseball history, referred to winning and losing as “the two imposters.”
I am trying to teach my 13-year-old volleyball players to pay no attention to the score and instead focus on the next ball. It’s easy to say, tough to do. But it wins.

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Thank you for visiting Total Game Plan. If your team, group or business needs a motivational speaker, please email coachtully @ totalgameplan.com. Here are some other resources for your success:

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