Feeling stuck and disappointed might be the best thing that ever happens to you

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I got an email from a player named Mike last week that basically said “I’m soooo frustrated that I’m thinking of quitting bball. I feel like no matter how much I train I just never improve that much. Help!”

Here’s the response I wrote to Mike. It’s worth reading because the feelings that Mike is expressing are something we all go through at some point in our career and something we need to learn how to manage.

 

Hey Mike

Thanks for the email and being honest with your feelings. I can definitely relate to what you’re going through because I felt stuck many times throughout my development as a player as well.

IT’S COMPLETELY NATURAL

The first thing I can tell you is that having self doubt is completely normal. All of your friends, even the ones that seem to be constantly improving and full of confidence on the outside, have doubts on the inside and have their own moments where it feels like nothing is working. It’s part of being human. As great as he is, I can guarantee you that Lebron James has had times in his career where he got down on himself…because he is human.

CONTROL YOUR FOCUS

The real issue isn’t whether or not you have moments of self doubt, but how you deal with these feelings.

Although the feelings may come up on their own, you get to choose whether or not to focus on them. You can take your mind somewhere completely different (like your birthday that’s coming up or what you ate for lunch or whatever) if you choose. In fact, learning this kind of mind control is huge in sports and, with practice, will allow you to focus on positive outcomes (scoring the next hoop) instead of dwelling on the negative (the last 2 shots you missed).

USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

However, don’t be too quick to dismiss these feelings because they can SERVE A PURPOSE too. These negative thoughts may be popping up so that you re-evaluate whether your current training is working.

Human beings are funny creatures. We often NEED stress and internal conflict before we take an honest look at ourselves. It’s rare that someone who feels great about everything can look critically at what he/she is doing. We usually need negative emotions to get us to this place, so use them.
HONEST EVALUATION

Be honest with yourself. Is what you’re doing really working? Are you stuck temporarily and just need to work through it? Do you just need to put in a little more time and effort doing the same things you’re already doing?

Perhaps you need to have a bigger shake up in your routine. What was important in the PAST for you to focus on, may not be your number one priority NOW. Let me give you an example from my game.

CLEAR PRIORITY

I was a skinny kid coming out of high school. I was 6’6″ and weighed about 185 pounds. All of a sudden I was playing against university players who were 20-50 pounds heavier and much stronger than me. I needed to catch up and the weight room became a huge priority for me.

I worked my butt off. Although my body never responded with massive gains, I got a lot stronger and gained 30 pounds. I lifted hard and often. It became part of my routine and my identity.

PLATEAU

However, after a couple of years in the weight room, I stopped getting stronger and bigger. No matter what I tried, I was stuck. It’s like my body had a set point and I had reached it. I was frustrated and disappointed with myself.

Even worse, my game seemed to have plateaued as well. The rapid improvement I had right of high school had dramatically slowed down.

Luckily, I chose not to dwell on these negative feelings. Instead I thought, is it possible that spending all this time lifting weights, which was once SO important for me, is no longer the BEST use of my time?

It wasn’t easy to do this. For years I had made myself feel guilty every day I didn’t lift weights. Now I had to question this belief.

It was hard, but that was the best thing I ever did. If I didn’t re-examine my training priorities, I wouldn’t be half the player I am today.

I was strong but slow. Not slow getting up and down the court or staying with someone on defence, but slow executing the fundamental skills…releasing my jump shot, passing in the post, pulling up off the dribble, etc. No amount of time in the weight room could fix this.

My feelings of being STUCK and FRUSTRATED actually had a purpose. They were a signal that I HAD to change what I was doing, what I was focussing on.

At the time they were an unwelcome signal. Today I recognize these feelings as the spark that propelled me forward, that helped me understand the importance of split seconds.  I am thankful for them.

Take a look at what your feelings of frustration are telling you and make the changes you need.