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  • Writer's pictureMark Cheney

Would you lean on this table?

Just about every performer I know wants to get better. And most of them want to move to the next level. Whether it’s, making a high school team, playing a showcase, earning a college scholarship or even playing professionally, players want to take the next step.

So how does it happen? When I ask that question, most people give me a vague, “You have to be good,” or “You have to beat other people.” Those answers bring to mind the words French aviator and writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” So what’s your plan?

Let’s think about it this way. If a table represents your performance, there are four legs that hold it up. Leg 1 represents your technical skills, your sport abilities. Leg 2 is the physical – your speed, flexibility, mobility, stability, and strength. While some of these factors will improve simply by virtue of growing up, great players work hard to make this an advantage. Leg 3 is the tactical – game management, decision making, and preparation. It reflects the knowledge and strategy needed to attack the opposition. Finally, Leg 4 is the mental game. The mental game includes the skills (e.g. goal setting, self-talk, breathing, mental rehearsal, and concentration) and attributes (confidence, consistency, attitude, and grit) necessary to be great. As you reach the highest levels of competition, it is the mental game that separates great players from good players. Everyone is a great athlete; the difference is the mind.

Let’s say you give less attention to one of the legs or you allow one to get worn down. It ends up being a little shorter than others, and now you have a wobbly table. Let’s say you neglect one of the legs completely. Your table will still stand, but as soon as someone leans on the corner with the missing leg, everything goes sliding off.

Back to your plan. Are you working on all four legs? Do you have someone who can help you with each one? Keep working on your technical, physical, tactical, and mental skills, and you’ll find yourself ready to move up to the next level.

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