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Breaking Into Sports Takes Mental Preparation

“Ninety percent of this game is half mental” –  Yogi Berra

It’s been said that sports are 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. But most athletes spend nearly 100 percent of their time refining physical skills, and little to no time working to enhance their mental game.

The One Trait Shared By the All-Time Greats

However, when you examine the training techniques shared by the greatest athletes of our era—Michael Jordan, Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice, to name just a few—they all share one thing in common: mental preparation.

When you look at Emmitt’s 40-time, there’s no reason he should be the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Same with Hall of Famer, Jerry Rice. He shouldn’t be the NFL’s all-time leading receiver.

Neither player was slow, but they sure weren’t the fastest. Or the strongest. But they dominated the game in spite of those things because of how they prepared mentally. That’s what gave them the competitive advantage.

The Battle is Won in the Mind

Larry Bird, another all-time great, couldn’t jump and was slow for NBA standards, yet the battle was won in Bird’s mind before it even started. He would play an entire game in his head before he would step on the floor. Larry is now “Larry Legend,” not because of his physical prowess, but because of his mental preparation.

How You Can Win with Mental Preparation

As a college student or a career-changer looking to break into sports, your mental preparation will give you one of the biggest advantages over the competition. Just as physical skills can be enhanced with practice and repetition, so can mental skills. Olympic runner, Lynn Jennings sums it up like this: “Mental will needs exercise, just like muscles in the body.”

4-STEP MENTAL EXERCISE: (1) Grab a pen and a spiral notebook. Or, jump on a computer and open up a Word doc. (2) At the top of the page write, “How I Landed My First Job in Sports.” (3) Below that, write out a scenario about how you secured an interview with your favorite sports property. (4) Then, write out how the interview ended with you getting a job offer. This exercise will force you to think through the process, giving you clarity, confidence and the mental edge.

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