Much of what a Mental Skills Coach works on with an athlete is trying to get them to stay in the moment. Our thoughts tend to hang out in the past or project into the future. The only moment we have control over is the present – so I’m often trying to get athletes brains to just stay put! However, sometimes it can be beneficial to delve into the past. Back in April, I had the incredible opportunity to head out to a Cubs game on my birthday while I was traveling in Chicago. It was my first time to Wrigley Field and I was excited to catch a day game with some good friends of mine. What I didn’t realize at the time, was how awestruck I would be just sitting in the stadium.
As I sat in my seat looking out across the field, I could feel the energy of the stadium itself. I could feel the history that was there. I could imagine what it must have felt like to sit in that seat and watch a game during baseball’s golden years (before “the curse“!). Then I wondered what it would be like to actual play baseball at Wrigley Field. I wondered if the players on the field felt the same way I did the first time they stepped onto Wrigley Field.
So what could be gained from delving into history? Why study the past? Of course we study the past to learn from our experiences and try do to things better the next time around – but now we’re talking about something even greater. I’m talking about delving into the history of your sport. Finding out who paved the way, creating the opportunity for you to get out on the field or enter a race. Studying history in that way means that when you step onto Wrigley Field, you are a part of something bigger than yourself. It helps you understand the entire journey of your sport, giving you a greater connection and appreciation to your own opportunity to compete. It means when you show up to play, you don’t take it for granted and “play small”. You show your gratitude and honor that journey by being at your best.
So here is some homework for you athletes out there: go out and find out about the beginnings of your sport. Who were the major players involved? What have been the greatest moments? Biggest challenges? If you love your sport, take the time to understand the journey of that sport and what it took to allow you the opportunity to participate and play.
And here’s a bonus for you… YES, everyone at Wrigley Field was friendly, YES my friend Michelle made me wear Cubs gear, YES I did have a true Chicago hot dog (and totally loved it), and YES – I did get the new Big Slugger Nachos (about 5lbs of nachos served in a kids plastic helmet). I shared them with my friends and we still couldn’t finish them. Now go do your homework.