My Takeaways From the Kevin Slowey Interview

I wanted to try something different with the Kevin Slowey interview, and I hope it provided you with another point of view on the mental game.  The reaction from the people I've spoken with about the interview was pretty good, but I wanted to write about a few things that stood out to me as well.  Hopefully, this will enhance the great stuff Kevin had to say just a little bit.

Takeaway #1: Being Proactive vs Reactive- Kevin's Quote,"Early on, my mental plan was more reactive, but... my plan transformed to a proactive one, planning for situations rather than reacting once I found myself in the midst of them."

Sports are always going to favor proactive athletes and teams.  Teams and athletes who go out and play the way they want to play and force others to alter the way they do things are the ones who are tough to compete against.  The proactive athletes creates discomfort in the opponent.  This takes a lot of confidence in your abilities and preparation.

Also, Kevin's point of being proactive with mental plans is a HUGE message of the mental side of sports.  If you wait until you're really struggling to embrace concepts in sport psyc, you're really going against much of the purpose behind sport psyc.  The misconception is that sport psyc is designed to fix or change.  Although that can certainly be part of it, the real idea is enhancement.  It's taking what you have and making it even better.  It's improving performance and the sporting experience.  Be proactive with your mental game!

Takeaway #2: Sport Psyc or Mental Coach is a Tool- Kevin's Quote, "The goal should be for an athlete to see the sports psychologist as a useful tool that he/she can use to produce better and more consistent results."

This may be something I have to steal from Kevin in future presentations with teams.  We all want to do better, and the best are consistent.  Let's get rid of the idea that sport psych's  are only around for people who are having major problems.  They're there to help "produce better and more consistent results."

Takeaway #3: Maintain Perspective- Kevin's Quote, "Over the course of my career, the most impactful mental skill I have attempted to develop is the ability to maintain perspective.  With every pitch and every outing, cultivating the ability to be mindful of the situation, to keep perspective rather than let the moment overwhelm me."

Perspective is HUGE in sports and life.  It helps you from overvaluing any moment or performance.  What I mean is that pitches in the first inning or drives in the first quarter are really just as important as those that come in the ninth inning or fourth quarter.  A "good" or "bad" game is just that.  It's nothing more and nothing less.  The athletes who stand out as being called clutch, to me, all appear to have this perspective.  They're really clutch because they are good.  As everyone else feels the tension created by the moment, clutch athletes remain calm and confident in their abilities and preparation.  They're emotionally consistent.  Being mindful is about being present in that moment.  It's being absent of all of those annoying thoughts that have nothing to do with the performance right then and there.  It's much easier said than done, but it is is something we all can improve on.  It's "Win Now" in a nutshell.

*What I've discussed here is perspective within a specific game, but having a broader perspective on a career and life is probably even more important.  This is probably its own blog entry but is huge for creating a good environment for the sporting experience and for enjoying life.*

Takeaway #4: Routine- Kevin's Quote, "I think routine is necessary for any successful athlete.  That routine may be altered at times, but a true routine creates an atmosphere of comfort and preparation..."

I could not agree more with everything Kevin said about routine.  Successful athletes are consistent, and a major reason why is the confidence and comfort created through routine.  One of the goals we have for hitters at Blythewood is for every at-bat to be the same.  This mindset is created, in part, by making the at-bats the same through routine and preparation.  For me, creating "an atmosphere of comfort and preparation" for an individual cannot be forced.  It can be encouraged, and athletes can be assisted in creating routines.  Forcing every athlete to prepare exactly the same way or to have the same pre-pitch routine, to me, defeats this purpose and is empty sport psyc in my opinion.  Every person (and therefore every athlete) is different.  There is not a one size fits all approach to success so find what works for you in the days leading up to competition, the day of competition, and during competition.

Hopefully, my takeaways from the interview added a little bit for you.  For me, that is what any search for improvement is about.  It's not necessarily finding something that completely transforms your way of thinking.  It could be, but finding little concepts here and there, from different places and people, can be just as valuable and have just as big an impact through the creation of your own way of thinking.  Challenge yourself to look and grow.

As always, I appreciate any and all feedback you may have.  Please don't hesitate to get in touch with me @Coach_Ehrlich or ehrlichb1@gmail.com.  I did make the amateur mistake of putting my card as my Facebook picture and had to weather an attempted catfish attack last week so that lesson has been learned!

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