(Athletes) Creating a Michael Jordan-like mentality

 This entry was posted on Thursday, March 14th, 2019 at 5:41 pm

The greatest athlete I have ever seen was Michael Jordan. As a kid we were limited to the number of channels that we had on the TV, compared to today. One of the channels was WGN out of Chicago, which played every Bulls game. Because of this, I had an incredibly rich experience of watching the greatest basketball player that ever played. More than that, I might’ve seen the greatest mental fortitude of any athlete ever (subjective debate).

So, what made Michael so great? Many people will debate the fact that Michael Jordan was the greatest ever because of he thought differently and performed differently. Hard to argue with that view, but I would counter that with the thought, “maybe people like Michael don’t necessarily think differently, they simply don’t think as much.” Now here me out.

In my experience working with athletes, the great ones simply don’t think. What do I mean by this? I mean, it’s the absence of thought(s). It’s the absence of those sneaky toxic core beliefs, those sneaky toxic emotions, the absence of the self-doubt. Those Michael Jordan types go to the gym/practice because they love to practice, they love to go to the gym. Its not a chore, it’s a duty. A deeply held discipline that pushes through the burden of practice to see the benefit (a “must-do” mentality).

There are so many young people out there that have been gifted with God-given physical talent. So, what is the difference between them and those that maximize that talent?


For example, I was gifted with above average physical abilities, but my mindset for true competition was lacking. My mental belief going into competition came from a place of insecurity for true mano y mano combat of two equally talented bodies. For elite athletes, they don’t look through the lens of “I’m not as good as other people, and I’m not as good as these other guys.” If you carry the burden of a weak mental mindset as an athlete, you will carry that with you all the time, a sense of not being good enough or not being adequate.

How do I create a more effective mindset within competition?

1) Be aggressive within competition – I don’t mean that athletes should try to injure their opponents, instead, how do I create an assertive mindset in which I am being proactive and strong (i.e. driving to the hoop, hitting the hole, ripping the shot, exploding through the finish, etc.). It is this aggressive mindset that helps push through mediocre performances to extraordinary performances.

2) Create calm within chaos – A calm mindset allows for clarity, absence of chaos, and realistic expectations. I picture standing in the middle of a tornado. Hel is breaking loose all around, yet the center is calm. The goal being to settle the mind and relax, until the time to let loose.

3) Clarity of the job at hand – A clear mind is relaxed, not cluttered, focused on the challenge ahead and the expectation is crystal clear. The athletes who have developed a healthy clear mindset are utilizing the coaches/teammates to guide their clarity (not the BS of everything else in our lives).

In the end, its still about having fun. No kid has ever started playing sports because they thought it would lead to a college scholarship and fame. Kids start playing sports because it is fun for them. If you have lost sight of the fun, then all else becomes secondary.


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