Reading Time: 4 minutes

To separate yourself from the crowd, you must stand out in a sea of average. To stand out, do the opposite of average.

Getting better is hard. We all need help. Even the highest level professionals in the world have a coach. Use these tips and strategies to help yourself get better today.


Don’t Choke!

If you have ever competed at anything, you have heard or thought “don’t choke”.

But have you ever considered what choking is or why it happens?

Choking is not missing the game winning shot. That happens to the best around.

Choking is the failure to perform a process or task that you normally do automatically.

Choking happens when your mind turns against your body in a crucial situation. You choke when you fail to cope with the anxiety and stress in an important situation and your overthinking causes a catastrophic drop in your performance.

No one wants to choke. Here are three things you can do to be your best when your best is needed.

Trust Your Process

Important, high stress situations cause your heart to beat faster, your palms to sweat, and your muscles to tighten up. If you want to survive these situations without choking you must have a process to deal with the stress and move on without letting it take over their performance.

The worst thing you can do is speed things up in an attempt to get out of the situation in a hurry.

Instead of rushing when you feel the pressure go up, take a step back and slow things down. Focus on your routine and mechanics.

Your process got you to this point. It is time to trust it.

Don’t Turn One Mistake into Two

Choking often happens when your mind creates a scenario that doesn’t really exist. It is common for average performers to take a previous mistake and project those same results onto future actions.

Elite performers don’t think this way. You shouldn’t either!

Instead of wondering what will happen if you mess up again, put your energy into staying in the moment. Analyze your mistake, pick out the important information,  then flush it out of your mind and move on.

The most important step is the next step. What has already happened and what might happen later doesn’t matter. What matters is right here, right now!

Embrace the Butterflies

Performing at an elite level requires strong mental effort and concentration, but what happens when your conscious mind doesn’t trust your subconscious mind? You’ve got a problem. That’s what!

All performers have anxiety and doubt. If you don’t feel the pressure in important situations, you need to find something else to do.

Train yourself to embrace the butterflies in your stomach instead of fearing them. They are a sign this performance means something and you are ready to go.

Consistency Connection: All performers feel the pressure and anxiety that comes with an important situation. If you want to perform your best in these situations, embrace the butterflies, stay in the moment, and trust the process that got you there. This is your chance to prove you can handle it when it matters.


Exercise or Relax?

When you’re all spun up and your mind is going a thousand miles an hour, should you take a break and relax or go for a short jog?

If you’re like me you really hope the right answer is sit and relax. Unfortunately for us energy conservationists it’s not.

Research indicates a short burst of physical activity is much better for your brain. Moderate intensity activity improves your mood and helps you feel more energized than relaxing. This boost in energy and improved mood leads to better brain function.

Composure Connection: The next time you feel the urge to take a break and veg out for a little while, go for a short jog or hit the weight room instead. Getting about 15 minutes of moderate intensity activity will leave you in a better mood and with more energy.


Working the Process

If you have spent any time in the world of sports in the past ten years, you have heard a coach somewhere mention “process”.

Why are so many coaches obsessed with process? Because they believe it works

Unfortunately, like many things in life, “process” has been oversimplified.

It takes sacrifice and dedication. It takes commitment.

Not everyone who starts the process will finish, but those who do will be ready to succeed.

Texas Tech basketball coach Chris Beard explains his belief in process in this press conference (10:40 mark).

Here is a what he says in case you don’t have time to watch:

“Process. Get up, make sure you win today. Go to class. Sit on the first couple of rows. Take your hat off. Turn your cell phone off. Listen to the teacher. Take notes. Get in the training room. Take care of your body. Make sure you eat four to five meals like a champion. Stay away from the dollar menu. Go eat something that has some color in it. Tell the Coca-Cola “later” and drink water and milk. Get in the video room and watch it. Take hard coaching and be a man. Get to practice and get loose. Embrace the practice. Come back at night and get your shots up. Be a great teammate. Get in the weight room. It’s the process. It’s what you do.”

Getting to the top is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Working the process is not a sometimes deal. It is an all the time deal.

Consistency Connection: You can’t just work the process on the days you feel like it. If you want to succeed, you must do it all and do it right every day.

Quote of the Week:

“The most important attribute a player must have is mental toughness.” – Mia Hamm

Be excellent this week. Do the opposite of average!

Yancey Sanderson
Follow me on Twitter @YanceySanderson

Sign up for The Opposite Project to get more like this sent to your inbox each week.