There’s more to it then throwing the ball 90 miles an hour. It’s about your inside.
Five-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens
This blog is largely about how human desires and needs can create powerful forces in the world of sports. Its main issue is that many superstar athletes reach peak performance more often than their opponents and stay at the top longer during their careers because they provoke and then control their stress emotions as an additive to performance both over the short term and the long haul. Their competitive fires are in a slow, steady burn over the course of their careers and occasionally erupt in supernova performances.
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Many of their experiences in the so-called arousal zone of peak performance seem related to a need to defend their ego and self-esteem, resulting occasionally in a type of fight or flight’ on the playing field. Their insecurities often leave them with a strong need to prove themselves, driving them through years of rigorous training and career setbacks and sometimes triggering record performances. These insecurities and emotions often seem to come from a challenged, even dysfunctional, and yet resilient childhood and from a competitive sports system which fuels their competitive instincts.
Of course, talent has much to do with success, but, at the risk of oversimplifying a complex subject, they succeed because they turn their passions, and often their emotional and psychological needs and fears, into powerful fuels in two ways: Over the long-term, they are fueled by superior determination and drive or emotional drive; and during the short-term they trigger adrenalin, dopamine, endorphin, and other potent hormones for peak performances.
I am not a psychologist, although after more than 30 years of daily newspaper reporting as well as coaching and playing many amateur sports, I’ve been exposed to human behavior in heavy doses, especially to people dealing with stress. There are many brilliant thinkers who have devoted their lives to sports science and I am bringing together hundreds of top psychologists, sociologists, coaches, and players to help give insight to this complex subject.