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Unlocking Your A-Game: The Power of Awareness, Attention, Attitude, and Actions
Becoming a top-tier athlete or coach requires more than just physical prowess or technical skills.
To truly unlock your A-Game, you also need to develop four key pillars that can propel your A-Game and consistently bring your performance to new heights. The four pillars are:
By understanding and implementing these pillars into your training and mindset, you'll elevate
your game and achieve unparalleled success. Here’s your A-Game plan:
Awareness: Know Yourself, Know Your Game, Know Your Setting
Awareness forms the foundation for any athlete or coach striving to reach their full potential. It involves understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. By honing yourself and situational awareness, you gain valuable insights which allow you to make informed decisions, optimize your training, and perform under pressure. Here are a few ways to train awareness:
- Assess Yourself: Regularly evaluate your performance, skills, and progress to identify
areas that require development. Seek feedback from coaches, teammates, and trusted
mentors to gain a comprehensive perspective on your strengths and weaknesses.
- Study the Game: In addition to self-assessment, immerse yourself in the study of your sport. Analyze successful athletes/coaches, tactics, and strategies to broaden your understanding. This knowledge will empower you to focus your training and make intelligent choices during critical moments in competition.
- Keep Current: During the competition, it’s easy to slip into what I call the thought trap. Why did I do that? What if I fail? How can this be happening? Bringing your A-Game - as a player or coach - is about staying aware of what’s happening right now and choosing the next best step.
Attention: Focus on What Matters
A vital aspect of maximizing your A-Game is channeling your attention effectively. In a world filled with distractions, the ability to maintain focus on the task at hand is like a superpower. Those who train their attention to focus on what they want - instead of focusing on what they don’t want - have more success bringing their A-Game. Here are a few ways to train attention:
- Paint Your A-Game Picture: What does it look and feel like when you are bringing your A-Game? Develop a clear picture of how you show up, how you deal with adversity, and how you perform your best under pressure.
- Attention Training: Practice concentration exercises to enhance your ability to block out distractions. Techniques such as visualization, mindfulness, and deep breathing can help you develop a laser-like focus during training and competition. Remember, attention is like a muscle, so the more you train it, the stronger it gets.
Attitude: Embrace an A-Game Mindset
Your attitude is a driving force that can significantly impact your performance, and cultivating an A-Game Mindset is an attitude that you can develop. No matter what happens externally, you can choose to respond with your A-Game Mindset. That might look like overcoming obstacles, maintaining resilience, and/or pushing through nerves and fear.
Here are a few ways to train attitude:
- Embrace Challenges: An A-Game Mindset sees challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. With this attitude, you begin to see everything as learning and you learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Surround Yourself with Positivity: It’s been said that you are like the five people you hang out with most, which is why it’s important to seek out supportive individuals who share your goals and ambitions. Surrounding yourself with a positive and uplifting community can boost your motivation, self-belief, and overall performance.
- Respond With Your Strength: Decide on what attitude works best for you and write it down where you can see it every day. No matter what happens each day, choose to respond with your strength - instead of reacting with your weakness.
Actions: Execution is Key
All the awareness, attention, and positive attitude in the world are meaningless without taking decisive action. Execution is where dreams turn into reality. This is the time to shift from information gathering to taking action! Believe it or not, this is something we have to train ourselves to do more consistently. Here’s how:
- Train with Purpose: Develop a well-structured training plan that targets specific areas of improvement. Consistently commit to your training regimen, pushing your boundaries and striving for excellence.
- Be a Great ACTor: With so many factors out of your control (thoughts, emotions, environment), it’s critical that you stay focused on how you ACT. You can think of it this way: 1. Accept reality, 2. Commit to your plan, 3. Try your best. Thinking and emotions are complex, which is why you need to train your behaviors. When you accept, commit, and try, you are building a powerful A-Game skill.
- Make Space: It’s possible to be nervous, doubt your plan, and/or fear failing and still bring your A-Game. Don’t waste your precious energy trying to fight negative emotions or challenging environments. Instead, just ACT. It’s amazing how much better you can perform by just leaning into the moment and letting it rip. Building your A-Game is a continuous journey that requires constant effort and commitment. By incorporating awareness, attention, attitude, and actions into your training, you can unlock your full potential and achieve extraordinary results. Remember, the path to greatness is not always easy, but with these pillars as your guide, you will be equipped to overcome challenges and embrace the pursuit of excellence.
But the final tip may be the most important. Here it is:
- Drop the Dash: The most underrated aspect of being able to consistently bring your A-Game is joy. Playing or coaching can be a grind, so if you are not enjoying the process, your motivation will disappear. That’s why it’s crucial to drop the dash. Dropping the dash shifts your perspective from deficiency (what you don’t have) to gratitude (what you have an opportunity to do). Shifting from the perfectionism associated with having to bring your A-Game to the pure joy of playing a game, you are able to enjoy the process of learning, improving, and using sports as a way to develop the skills that will serve you well in sports and in life