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Play Like You Have Something to Prove

Published: 2021-08-07
Play Like You Have Something to Prove
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When you Google Play Like You Have Something to Prove the first page is replete with links to Tiger Woods, Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, and other super performers.

These sports galaxy shiners take events, people, or even places and attach significance to them as motivators

Matthew Caldaroni, founder of performance consultancy Molliteum defines those motivators as triggers. 

“Triggers,” he says “are often indelible memories we access to incite intensity in our performances.” 

“Applying a trigger”, Caldaroni coaches, “occurs on gameday, but well before you put on your game face and surely before you apply focus just before competition begins.”

He adds, “when the trigger accompanies focus throughout play the likelihood of peak performance increases exponentially.”

Hear Matt Caldaroni tell it his way here:



The science Caldaroni references appear in Psychology of Sport and Exercise and can be accessed here.

And in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise published study by University of Padua Italian researchers Claudio Robazza and Laura Bortoli here are excerpts that support Matt Caldaroni's trigger training:

  • "Specifically, findings indicated that good performance was associated with a more facilitative and less debilitative perception of anxiety than poor performance and that elite athletes interpreted their anxiety symptoms as being more facilitative than those of non-elite performers."
  • “Athletes who perceived anxiety as facilitative (facilitators) reported greater facilitative affective experiences than those who experienced anxiety as debilitative (debilitators)”
  • “Finally, self-confidence is conceived of as one’s belief of being able to successfully perform a desired behaviour.”

So, what do you have to prove?

  • Short players can rebound?
  • Mothers make great sprinters?
  • Bullies are cowards?                                                                                                     

Perhaps your trigger is personal:

  • A deceased parent
  • A trash-talking opponent
  • Your child

Life is full of triggers, good and less than. 

Matt Caldaroni says “triggers are what separates average from peak performers and those who try and those who do.”

His triggering is facilitative management of tension and anxiety by attaching significance on purpose to events or people and mirrors many of the salient points made by the researchers.

No matter the level of play most athletes have something to prove with their trigger—if only to themselves—and often to make an indelible impression or even redemption.

Ever wonder what triggered Jackie Robinson?  Billy Jean King? Tommy John? Moe Norman?  Lindsay Vonn?