The Key Mindset Hack I Used When I Had One Hour To Save My Career…

In Mental Toughness
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A new coach had taken over my college basketball program. 

This was good in one way; the previous coach had benched me for part of the previous season, so now I had a fresh slate. 

It was bad in a way though: new coaches taking over losing college programs (which we were) tend to “clean house,” removing many incumbents to inject some fresh blood into the program.  

The new coach made it clear early on that he was prepared to cut every incumbent player if necessary. No one had a guaranteed spot, he said. 

And we believed him. 

Correction: I believed him. 

Some of my prior-season teammates played as if they didn’t need to earn their spot all over again.They paid for this error in judgement with their basketball careers when they were indeed, cut. 

Four times more people tried out for the hoops team that year than had tried out the year before. Every male on campus thought he had a chance. 

This all made me slightly nervous. I was an incumbent, which worked against me. 

I also knew, however, that I was better than all the scrubs who’d stumbled into the gym hoping to draw a winning college basketball lottery ticket that they hadn’t earned with actual skill. 

That motivated me to prove a point. 

I missed the first day of tryouts, as I had an evening class. I came into the gym after my class and watched, though, which was good for me: I got to size up the competition and mentally prepare for the next day’s mission. 

For the second day of tryouts, I knew two things. 

1) My reputation —from playing the prior season, from dominating pickup games — meant absolutely nothing. 

2) I needed the coach to understand that I had a set of skills that no one else in the gym had. I needed to position myself as a Category Of One, which meant the coach would have no choice but to keep me on the roster. 

If the coach could bring in a new guy who’s skill set replicated mine, what did he need me for? He’d kill two birds with one stone: getting rid of someone from the previous regime, and know that he wasn’t losing anything skill-wise. 

My job was to make that equation impossible. 

My job was to make that equation impossible.  Click To Tweet

Early in the session, the coach paired a bunch of us off in twos. 

Then he instructed us to play simple games of one-on-one. 

The matchups were exactly as I’d expected: new player versus incumbent player. The new coach was looking for a simple pretext — the new guy beat you one-on-one! — to get rid of any of the returnees quickly. 

I respected it. 

Coach matched me up with a kid who’s physical makeup was similar to mine. 

We were both about 6’3”. 

Around 180 pounds. 

Long and lanky. 

Athletic. 

The difference was, this new kid — a freshman — was the ONLY player that the new coach had been able to recruit to campus upon getting the job. 

In other words: this kid I was matched up with was the only player in the gym who was guaranteed a roster spot. 

And his playing style, apparently, mirrored mine (it didn’t really, but the coach thought so). In my mind: this kid is my replacement

The coach positioned himself to watch this particular one-on-one game intently. This was his prized / only recruit matched up with the only returnee who the coach hadn’t seen play yet (since I’d missed Day One of practice). 

It was exactly what the new coach wanted. 

What he didn’t know: it was exactly what I wanted, too. 

I destroyed that kid. 

It was exactly what the new coach wanted. What he didn’t know: it was exactly what I wanted, too. I destroyed that kid.  Click To Tweet

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying it because that’s what happened. And I’m gonna tell you WHY it happened in a moment. 

The game didn’t last too long. I scored on the freshman five times in five tries; he scored zero times. 

The new coach saw the whole thing. Ours was the only matchup he’d been watching. The only reason the game ended at five was because the coach ended the “drill” after my fifth score; he knew his freshman was overmatched. 

Those five points kept me on the basketball team for my junior year. 

(I didn’t stay on the team for long, but still.)

***

I hadn’t gone into that tryout/practice session with a plan of what moves to do. I didn’t even know that the one-on-one drill was going to happen. 

I knew only one thing: I needed to be a player whose skills weren’t replicated by anyone else at tryouts. 

The skills were already in place. I didn’t have to remind myself to jump or dribble or to do moves. All I needed was the focus that would activate those skills to their highest level. 

The skills were already in place. I didn’t have to remind myself to jump or dribble or to do moves. All I needed was the focus that would activate those skills to their highest level.  Click To Tweet

Getting clear on who I need to BE on the court, what to DO was easy: let my skills take over. 

This is the same thing you do when you perform at your best: no thinking at all about what to do. When your energy and focus are right, the skills already know what to do. Your conscious thinking only gets in the way. 

The more consistently you can lock into your desired BEING, the less you’ll even need to think about what you’re DOING. 

When you can get even the BEING on autopilot, you enter what we call “The Zone.” 

The more consistently you can lock into your desired BEING, the less you’ll even need to think about what you’re DOING. When you can get even the BEING on autopilot, you enter what we call “The Zone.”  Click To Tweet

The Zone isn’t a way of thinking. It’s a level of focus that eliminates thinking. 

When have you been in “The Zone” and performed great — and you didn’t even need to think about what you were doing? Reply and let me know — I read all responses. 

By the way, The Mental Workbook will help you strategize your being, from which the necessary actions will flow. 

Get The Mental Workbook here: http://WorkOnMyGame.com/Workbook

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