Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Razor Thin: The Difference Between Winning and Losing

My book, Razor Thin:  The Difference Between Winning and Losing, is finished.

This book is about excellence. Winners and champions are fascinating. Whether you are an athlete, a performance artist, or an ambitious businessman, this book is written for you. It is about the hard work and tenacity involved in winning and achieving greatness. Attaining success is difficult, few are able to achieve it, and fewer still are able to sustain it. This book looks at the greatest athletes and teams of our time and identifies the critical factors in their success. Many books discuss the personality factors involved in success, this book identifies the specific behaviors that make a champion.

Read it and enjoy. I think you will find it useful as well as entertaining.

Thanks to all my readers, past, current and future.

Click on the title above or here to get the book: Razor Thin: The Difference Between Winning and Losing.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Darwin Barney, Shift in Mentality and Preparation Pay Off

"A lot of it was positioning around the bag along with positioning pre-pitch.   It all goes together.  Along with that, it was just putting in the hours and accepting the mentality of trying to be perfect every day." 
--Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs second baseman, talking about his improvement as a fielder.

Barney, 26,  is in his second full season as a Cub.  With only one fielding error in 112 games, he is widely considered to be the best defensive second baseman in major league baseball.  He made the switch from shortstop to second base only two years ago.  He is four years older that the Cubs' current shortstop, Starlin Castro, a rising star in his own right.  Without the switch, Barney would be playing behind Castro.  This way, both young stars can start.  Along with their first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, 23, this young Cubs' infield trio has the makings of a great combination.  

Barney last made an error on April 17, 2012 against the Miami Marlins.  With the help of Cubs' infield coach Pat Listach, a former American League rookie of the year (1992), Barney has improved greatly. Barney and Listach study hours of game film to determine hitters' tendencies and help Barney expand his range through thorough pre-game planning and in-game anticipation.

Are you working on your fundamentals this hard every day?

Excerpt from "At Second, at Least, Cubs Are a Force", Benjamin Hoffman column Keeping Score, nytimes.com (8/19/2012).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Building Good Chemistry: 2012 Team USA (Basketball)

Yes, they are the best basketball players in the world and they proved it.  But, as it played out, Team USA developed teamwork.  When they had to take on roles: scoring, defense, rebounding, passing etc., they found a way.  When they had to respond to pressure they responded as a team.  

"They really like one another," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said during training camp. "You can see it."

"The chemistry is good," LeBron James said. "It's great, honestly."

Remember, one of the reasons that the gap between America and the rest of the basketball world closed over the past 30 years was because everyone else sent together teams of grownups who had been playing together since they were teenagers, while the U.S. cobbled together squads, gave them a couple of weeks and tried to make the best of it.  International teams beat Team USA individuals.

Since, Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski took over the program, the emphasis has been on teamwork and chemistry.

"When we're going overseas, we're playing against teams that have been together for a while," Kobe Bryant said. "So you have to have that chemistry and understanding of where you're going to be offensively, but especially defensively, knowing where guys are."

Team USA won the gold and teamwork is why.

To watch the Gold Medal game vs. Spain, click on:  http://www.nbcolympics.com/news-blogs/basketball/u-s-men-take-gold-from-spain-again.html?chrcontext=team-usa

Excerpts ESPN.go.com (07/13/2012).

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Michael Phelps Legacy: Changing the Sport of Swimming

“I wanted to change the sport and take it to another level.  

"It's kind of weird looking at this and seeing 'Greatest Olympian of All Time.' I finished my career the way I wanted to. It think that pretty cool."

--Michael Phelps, after collecting his 22nd Olympic medal and 18th gold as member of the USA men's 4x100 meter medley relay team. at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Missy Franklin, 17, who competed in seven swimming events in London, the most ever by a female Olympic swimmer, attributes her drive and ambition to Phelps, who made such a championship training regimen seem not only feasible but fun.

“He has done a world of difference for swimming,” Franklin said. “He has really brought swimming onto the scene and gotten so many more people involved. Just what he’s done is incredible, and he’s kind of made people rethink the impossible — rethink what they can do and how they can push themselves.”

She added: “I don’t think his shoes will ever be filled. I think his footsteps are huge. Hopefully, I can make little paths next to his.”

Le Clos, 20, said he watched Phelps win six golds and two bronzes at the Athens Olympics and was inspired to become a champion swimmer. It was not a coincidence that Le Clos swam six events in London, including the same four individual ones as Phelps. After watching Phelps win a record eight golds in Beijing, Le Clos added more events to his program to be like Mike. On Tuesday, he pulled off a monumental upset when he handed Phelps his first major international defeat in 10 years in the 200-meter butterfly.

“That’s why I was so emotional afterwards,” Le Clos said. “He was the reason I swam the butterfly. It’s not a joke. If you think about it, it’s kind of crazy.” He added: “That’s why I swim the 200 freestyle, both the I.M.’s. I don’t swim it for any other reason than just because Michael does.”

Phelps got choked up when he heard that he was Le Clos’s hero and role model, Bob Bowman, Phelps' long-time coach said. “It means Michael’s done what he wanted to do: affect the sport of swimming,” Bowman added.

Among those he turned back in the butterfly final was Milorad Cavic of Serbia, who nearly outtouched him in 2008. “I cannot be compared to Michael Phelps,” Cavic said. “I’m a one-trick pony. He does it all."

Excerpts from nytimes.com (08/04/2012). Crouse, Karen. "With One Last Gold, Phelps Caps Career That Inspired a Generation."

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Texas Tech Running Back Has No Time for Mental Weakness

“I don’t have time to be mentally weak.  It’s my last year. Mentally I feel like I’m fine. It’s just a matter of getting the knee back to 100 percent.”

--Eric Stephens, senior Texas Tech running back, who dislocated his left knee and suffered a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament last season.

Stephens suffered the severe knee injury 10 months ago during a loss to Texas A&M. The subsequent swelling was so severe he wasn’t able to have surgery until late November. Ever since, all of Stephens’ energies have been focused on being ready for the start of his senior season.

“I’m about 95 percent right now,” Stephens said. “I’m not going to lie and say I’m 100 percent, but I’ll definitely be ready when the season starts.”

Tech coach Tommy Tuberville plans to have Stephens avoid any contact until near the end of preseason camp.  However challenging, Stephens will eventually have to clear the mental hurdle of cutting hard and taking hits to the knee.

Excerpt from lubbockonline.com (08/05/2012) at:  http://lubbockonline.com/sports-red-raiders-football/2012-08-05/stephens-i-dont-have-time-be-mentally-weak.  Article by Nick Cosmider, Lubbock Avalanche Journal, "Stephens:  I Don't Have Time to be Mentally Weak."

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Usain Bolt: Peak Performance Case Study (2008)

Usain Bolt: The Fastest Man on Earth

"I didn't know I was going to run so fast, but I came out to be a champion, and I was. I just tried to stay relaxed. I'm always relaxing. That's the way to go so fast: relax and just focus.
"I came out to make myself proud, and I did just that. I didn't know I was going to run so fast. But I came out to be a champion, and I was. I didn't come here to worry about the record, I was already the world-record holder."
--Usain Bolt, new 100-meter Olympic sprint champion and world record holder at 9.69 seconds.
Bolt could have run much faster than his 9.69 seconds if he had run through the finish line, but he sliced 0.03 seconds off his world record anyway. He celebrated 20 meters early, throwing out his arms and thumping his chest.
"He's the best. There's no stopping him. He could have been faster."
--Asafa Powell, former world-record holder and fellow Jamaican.
"It's not even close. It's everybody catching upwith Usain Bolt. He's a legend in his own right. The guy's a phenomenal athlete. He's a freak of nature. He's like Jordan and LeBron, in a league of his own."
--Darvis Patton, U.S.A. Olympic sprinter who finished eighth in the 100 meters.
“What Bolt has done, he’s made history. He added spirit to the sport. He danced for us in the introduction. He danced for us at the end. He put on a show. To me, I feel like, him and athletics is like Michael Phelps and swimming. He raised the bar for us in athletics.”
--Shawn Crawford, USA silver medal winner in the 200 meters.
Lightning Strikes Twice
Usain Bolt, already the Olympic champion and world record-holder in the 100 meters, ran the 200 meters in 19.30 seconds, breaking the world record by two-hundredths of a second. Bolt broke the world record of 19.32 seconds, set by the American Michael Johnson at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Bolt is the first to win gold in both the 100- and 200-meter events since Carl Lewis in 1984.
“I didn’t think I’d see under .30 in my lifetime. He’s a freak of nature."
--Renaldo Nehemiah, former Olympic gold medalist in the 100 hurdles.
“It was the most impressive athletic performance I have ever seen in my life.”
--Michael Johnson.
Excerpts from the New York Times 8/20/2008.