Friday, February 24, 2012

LeBron James Having MVP Season

In a win over the streaking New York Knicks in Miami, Le Bron James of the Miami Heat, chipped in 20 points and nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 9 rebounds and 8 assists. James also had five steals.

"He was just so locked in," Joel Anthony, Miami Heat center said of James. "He set the tone."

James played 41 minutes,but his 37-minute average this season is more than two minutes fewer than he averaged last year. He has made the most of his time on the court: a career 48 percent shooter, he is making 55 percent of his shots and averaging 8.1 rebounds - 1 above his career mark.

"He's playing the best basketball I've ever seen him play," Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat forward said, adding, "He's the M.V.P."
Excerpt from (February 24, 2012).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Happy 49th Birthday, Your Airness!

"Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I'd close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it, and that usually got me going again."
--Michael Jordan, talking about his intense drive and determination, originating from early disappointment and adversity.
Early in his career, Michael Jordan played basketball at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. Ironically, Jordan was cut from the varsity team as a sophomore. Instead of giving up after failing to make the team, Jordan used it to spur himself to greater achievements, practicing hour after hour on the court.

Be on the lookout for my book: "Razor Thin: The Difference between Winning and Losing," coming soon. 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants' Head Coach, Stresses Mental Toughness

“Mental toughness, resiliency, resolve. We keep playing, we keep fighting, and we’re highly competitive. We do have great trust in each other, great belief that we can finish, and that if we keep playing one play at a time as hard as we can go that we will find a way to win.

“I will tell you this: from the earliest part of camp moving forward, particularly what we went through seemingly every week, we would have an injury that would be, under normal circumstances, devastating, I think what would happen there is that the players fed off of me and I fed off the players.

“We never changed our objective. We never changed our goal. We never changed our attitude about what had to be accomplished and what we had to do. This is a great statement to our players as well as to our mental toughness. That’s what you have to rely on.

“Somehow, someway, you have got to answer these questions. The next guy has to come along, step up, play well and give you a chance to win. That’s exactly what we did. That’s exactly the approach we took. 

“Because of their mental toughness, because they hung in there, because they continued to believe, because we continued to be in the hunt for the NFC East title, that was always there for us.”

"We’re about team, we’re not about individuals. We’re certainly very cognizant of some of the superior individuals that we have on our team, thank goodness, but it is the team that provides us with our strength, and our ability to perform under pressure, whether it is good or bad, and that’s the way we think.”

Excerpt from (02.06.2012)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Quiet Leadership: Eli Manning and Giants are Ready for the Super Bowl

“We got an excellent message from Eli.  It was very well-needed. For players like myself who have been to a Super Bowl, it is still great to hear someone speak with that kind of leadership. And you know, Eli doesn't say much. When he says it, he means it and you know it is coming from the heart." 
--Antrel Rolle, New York Giants’ safety, discussing a speech given by Eli Manning as they prepare for their Super Bowl rematch with the New England Patriots.   

Eli Manning’s Quiet Leadership"There's a lot of pressure coming into a season on a team like this and if you walked in and are working with a veteran quarterback, and you make a mistake and he's ripping you apart, putting you down or making it obvious on the field that it's your fault, then that would make a tough situation even worse.
"Eli doesn't approach it that way. I know that when me and Victor came in, we didn't know everything and we still don't. But when we made a mistake, ran the wrong route, he always took the time to help us. That's what good leaders do. They realize the team's not just made of vets. You have to be willing to accept other people's mistakes and Eli is great with that, one of the best.
"I don't know how he was before. But maybe because he didn't always get that when he started out he understands how important it is. Again, that's just Eli - hard worker, commander, leader."
-- Jake Ballard, the second-year tight end.
"Instead of jumping on receivers when they make mistakes, Eli is more likely to pull them aside on the sideline, explain what they had discussed in practice and tell them what he's expecting from them," said former Giants quarterback and current ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck. "When you have a guy who doesn't have a confrontational approach to dealing with things, that's a better way of handling things. One of the reasons he and Kevin Gilbride [Giants’ offensive coordinator] get along so well is because Eli is the way he is. Kevin can be pretty fiery."
"Eli told everybody at the beginning of the season that he's a leader," Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty said. "And he's proven that with his performance."
"I think a leader is someone who motivates someone to achieve a goal or change their actions or improve their actions, and Eli has that ability," Barden said. "Now, he's not the kind of guy who's going to get in your face or ride you and yell at you. He displays his displeasure or his emotion as anyone else does, but he goes about it in a way so that it doesn't negatively affect the game."
-- Ramses Barden, Giants’ third-year receiver, discussing Manning’s statement about his elite status as an NFL quarterback.
Elite Status as Quarterback
"That's been obvious to me, since I've been here and you want that kind of attitude out of your quarterback. Now he's had the opportunity to prove it beyond a doubt, putting up numbers that are beyond what people expected from him," said Barden. 
Solid Stability
"It's his strength," "You're not dealing with a roller-coaster guy here, you know? These are all young receivers and I know how confident they all are talking to him, trying to tell him what they see," said Sean Ryan, the Giants' second-year receivers coach.
"…But after being with him for a while, it's his consistency not only as a quarterback but as a person that you know you can count on,” Barden said.
At the outset of Manning's fourth season that Tiki Barber introduced himself as a network commentator by calling Manning's leadership skills comical. Months later, Manning led the Giants past the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. Process is all about patience.
"He's all right, he's as tough as they come,"
--Hakeem Nicks, wide-receiver.   
Intelligence and Preparation
"He has functional intelligence. He can sit in a film room and break down route combinations, pass protections, defensive fronts, and he can do it all in about three seconds. Coaches like to get into the habit of running tape over and over so players understand what you're trying to do. Eli doesn't need that. We get excited about fast-twitch athletes, guys who are really explosive physically. He's what you call a fast-twitch thinker."
--Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who coached Manning at Ole Miss.
"For us it's no surprise our offense goes how Eli directs it," Giants left tackle David Diehl said. "His understanding and grasp of our offense, his knowledge of things, the way that he's able to recognize blitzes or coverages or different things. When he is watching film, he notices things that the [defensive] line is doing. Not many quarterbacks pay attention."
A season ago, he was berated by Giants fans for not showing enough emotions on the sidelines during a difficult 10-6 season. Now, it is considered remarkable how he never looks rattled especially during the playoffs. Manning boasts an all-time playoff mark of 6-3.
"I think it is his mentality. It is his approach. Nobody sees what he does behind the scenes. He is a studier and a pounder. He is looking for every little advantage that he can get. He is just trying to be the best he can be to help this team win," head coach Tom Coughlin said.
"If we could all just remember that and use that. He loves playing against the best competition, but it is just all about doing the best for his team."
"I think we are always confident going into games. Guys understand the way to win football games against good teams. Our defense is playing great with pressure and turnovers," Manning said. "Our offense for the most part is protecting the ball and playing smart football. When we have a chance to make a big play we are making them."
Excerpts from (2/4/2012) (01/20/2012) and (01/16/2012; 2/2/2012).

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies Use Mental Conditioning Techniques to Take 3-1 Lead In NLCS Series

“A lot of teams say they play all 27 outs, but I’ve never seen a team actually do it as well as we do, I mean, there’s really no score in the ninth inning we don’t feel we can come back from.”

--Brad Lidge, Phillies relief pitcher, who struck out the only two batters he faced in the ninth inning and earned the win — his first of 2009.


The Philadephia Phillies are one win from advancing to their second consecutive World Series after edging the Dodgers, 5-4, at Citizens Bank Park with a ninth-inning rally. Down 4-3 to the Dodgers, Jimmy Rollins delivered the game-winning hit, a two-out, two-run double off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton.

“It’s one of those situations where I wasn’t afraid,” Rollins said. “I’ve faced him a number of times before.”

In three of their six postseason victories, the Phillies have scored the winning runs in the ninth inning. During the regular season, the Phillies led the National League with 43 come from behind victories.


“Like I said before, we play the whole game,” Manager Charlie Manuel said. “We play 27 outs, we think we can win.”


Perhaps no player utilizes mental conditioning techniques as effectively as the Phillies' Ryan Howard. In preparation for his turn at bat, Howard begins his mental routine. He sits on the Phillies’ bench with bat in hand, head bowed, eyes closed. For these few seconds, Howard is in a quasi-meditative state. He is letting go of his last at-bat, putting it out of his mind. He is channeling positive, upbeat thoughts.

Howard is visualizing results and getting them. No one has driven in more runs this major league postseason than Howard. He set a major league record Sunday by driving in a run for the seventh consecutive game in one postseason. After a home run in his first at-bat in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Monday night to extend that streak, he had 14 runs batted in this postseason, more than he had in 17 playoff games the past two years. After Monday’s 5-4 victory for the Phillies, Howard was batting .379 with seven runs scored and two homers in eight postseason games.

“He goes to his quiet place,” the Phillies’ hitting coach, Milt Thompson, said. “When he’s there, he’s ready to hit.”

Thompson said Howard had been using visualization techniques all season, as a way to focus on the present, to enjoy the moment. When players see him meditating on the bench, they know not to interrupt.

“I’ve noticed it,” Manager Charlie Manuel, who is an advocate of positive thinking, said. “I haven’t talked to him about it because it’s something I think — that’s his own thing.”

Howard is in a zone, but it is simply the continuation of his impressive regular season, in which he had 45 home runs, with 141 runs batted in.


“I think it’s more just the experience that I’ve gained from last year to this year, just the entire feel of the playoffs and just kind of taking a step back and looking at last year, at what kind of happened last year,” Howard said. “I just kind of gathered that experience of just being more relaxed, going up there and being loose and having fun playing the game.”

“For some reason, I just went up there and just started seeing more pitches,” Howard said. “Just told myself to relax and try and see as many pitches as I can and just wait for a mistake.”


“You never know with our guys,” Lidge said. “They’re capable of some amazing things.”

The Phillies are one win away from consecutive trips to the World Series.

Excerpts from the New York Times (October 20, 2009).

For more on mental conditioning, click on The Handbook of Peak Performance.