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Team Conditioning Systems:
Control, That's What it's all About

Thursday, July 8, 2004

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Physical Fitness Advisor

Let there be no misunderstanding I am a control freak. Ask any of my athletes or any of the coaches I have worked with, they will tell you the same thing. As you read this you may ask, “Graig isn’t that a bad thing”? My answer to that is, not in my world, or the worlds of people who truly understand the concept of control as it pertains to competition.

“I may win, I may lose, but I will never be defeated.”
- Emmit Smith

I am of the belief that there are four possible outcomes to any sporting competition, you can win, lose, tie, or get beat. When this concept is proposed to athletes who are working with me for the first time, more often than not they ask, “Isn’t losing and getting beat the same thing”? I thank them for asking and then I impart some knowledge. “Have you ever played in a game, and just played out of your mind, you know you are just lights out” I ask, I get a positive response, then I take it to the next level. Same scenario but this time your opponent plays just a little better than you, did you lose or did you get beat? That is the difference, as an athlete we’ve all been in games where we were totally in “the Zone” and sometimes we are playing people who not only are in “the Zone” it’s like they live there. You have done everything you could possible do and still do not win. On the flip side though, if you go out and stink the place up and don’t win that is what we call a losing.

Control your emotions or they will control you.

With all of this being said, let me get to the control issue. It is the objective of our strength staff to ensure that our athletes are ready to compete physically and mentally. We work to get the athletes to understand that the outcome of the game may not be within their control, but the one thing they can control day in and day out is there performance. Yes, the way you compete can be controlled. Practice, train, prepare and you should be able to perform at peak levels on a consistent basis. Once all of the preparation work is done, there is nothing left to do but go out and out perform your opponent.

The key factor in the management of performance, controlling performance, if you will is focus. Working or playing in the moment is a skill that is highly valued by athletes and coaches alike. The ability to block out crowd noise, fatigue, problems at home or school or whatever else can definitely take an athlete far. Athletes who can recover from setbacks in a positive way, or have learned to stop the negative talk that can go on in your head between plays are athletes who, more often than not play compete at levels that are more consistently near potential than athletes who have not yet quite learned how to do this. There are many books out on this subject, and one of the best that I have found is a book called “In Pursuit of Excellence” by Terry Orlick, PhD

At the risk of putting myself out of business, this is a book that should probably be in the library of a lot of coaches and athletes. Dr. Orlick helps with the creation of strategies that will help athletes succeed in the quest to compete at levels that will insure success. Success as we define does not always mean winning, it means playing your very best.

When you get to the point where you are the master of your emotions, when ever time you step on the field you have the knowledge that you are totally prepared and that there is no way you can lose, then my friend you too will then be a control freak.

Photos by Nancy L. Pope

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For previous Winning Ways, visit Graig's Archives

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