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  • Writer's pictureMark Cheney


Updated: May 29, 2020

How many times have you seen a great game undone by a rough finish? Lots of people like to talk about the importance of being a “closer.” I’m not denying the importance of closing out a game, but the opening minutes count equally. If being a closer is important, then so is being an “OPENER.”

First, you have to Own your game. Like golf legend Sam Snead said, “Dance with the one you brung.” Knowing your game and what you can do with it are crucial to a good performance. Pause. Just pause for a moment, and breathe deeply. Let your brain collect itself. Become aware of your thoughts and feelings. Enjoy the opportunity. You’re getting to play the sport you love at some terrific venues. It’s a chance to compete, to grow, and to learn. Nerves are normal. They are part of being human. Recognize and accept that what you are feeling isn’t a bad thing. Instead, it’s a sign that you’re switched on and excited by what’s about to happen. Embrace the challenge. Now is the time to test yourself. You wouldn’t be in this position if you hadn’t earned it. As Teddy Roosevelt said, you will never be one of “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Remember your why. Why do you play in the first place? What is it about the game? When you keep your why the focus, it’s easier to keep your focus on the process instead of the outcome.

O – Own your game.

P – Pause.

E – Enjoy the opportunity.

N – Nerves are normal.

E – Embrace the challenge.

R – Remember your why.

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