MicroSummary: “Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence” is Gary Mack’s testamentary reminder to all the athletes out there that your mental attitude influences your success on the field just as much as your physical condition. It’s a book filled with anecdotes and practical bits of advice, which try to teach you how to make your goals SMART and why your mental toughness depends on 7 C’s.
An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence
Have you ever wondered what is that special ingredient which makes one college talent a superstar and another a draft bust?
Noted sports psychologist Gary Mack gives his view in “Mind Gym,” co-written with David Casstevens.
And, as usually, we have the best summary.
Who Should Read “Mind Gym”? And Why?
Most of the books whose target audience consists mainly of athletes focus on body exercises. This one takes you to a special form of a mind gym. And it convincingly argues that you cannot excel at anything unless you develop both your body and your brain.
Sportspeople – whether experienced or novices – will find “Mind Gym” exceptionally interesting. Others may find it merely motivating. But, let’s face it – that’s not a bad thing as well.
About Gary Mack and David Casstevens
Gary Mack was considered to be one of the best and most respected American sports psychologists. During his short, but illustrious career, he worked closely with athletes as exceptional as Alex Rodriguez, and franchises such as the Phoenix Suns, the Seattle Mariners, and the Chicago Cubs.
“Mind Gym Summary”
You know that old Latin phrase: “a healthy mind in a healthy body”?
Well, as many other things around, it’s taken out of context and somewhat misunderstood. Healthy body doesn’t get you a healthy mind in itself. It doesn’t work the other way around as well.
You need to focus simultaneously and equally on both. Because, after all, your brain is a muscle too and it can be flexed as well!
In fact, that’s the first lesson you’re going to learn in Gary Mack’s “Mind Gym”. And he has an experiment to prove it.
It involves three groups of college basketball players. The first one was asked to shoot free throws an hour a day for three months. The second wasn’t allowed to – they just had to visualize making baskets for the exact same time. Finally, the third group did half an hour of both: shooting and visualizing shooting free throws.
By now, you’ve probably deduced the outcome of the experiment: the third group fared far better. Conclusion: visualization is as important as practice. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to train your brain to take notice of the goals your body is able to subsequently achieve.
But, if visualization helps improve your free throw shooting percentage, doesn’t it also affect your self-image as well?
Of course it does!
Take, for example, former NBA player Nick Anderson. He was a 70% free throw shooter, until four key free throw misses made him doubt his ability to shoot well. And his career took a downward spiral from there.
It was the same player as before those free throws – with the same capabilities and routines. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the same confidence. Instead of seeing himself as a great shooter, he saw himself as an average free throw shooter. So, he turned into one.
Luckily, you can turn that ship around!
Instead of visualizing a loser – imagine yourself as a winner. And all of your body will start working toward it!
However, you’ll have to help it, by setting reasonable goals. On second thought – reasonable is only a part of it. Try setting SMART goals.
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. It’s just another way to tell your brain to tell your body that success is a marathon – not a sprint.
Your body will want to set a new world record the moment you start practicing for this marathon. Of course, at face value, that’s an unrealistic and unachievable goal. So, your brain must be the one to give your body a check of saneness:
“Hey, wait a minute, body! Let’s break this down. Let’s start by running two miles a day and build that up. Trust me: we’ll get to 26 in few months. But, let’s not burn out in the meantime. Let’s plan this out.”
It’s this kind of mental discipline you’re going to need if you want to achieve greatness. In the opinion of Gary Mack, it comes in the form of a seven C’s – and you’ll need to develop each of them separately.
Firstly, competitiveness. Whether it’s sports or business, it’s definitely not an area where you need to practice humility. Michael Jordan may have been the best basketball player in history. Well, he was also the most competitive! Sensing the common denominator here?
Then, courage. Of course, you can’t be a gladiator if you’re not brave enough. Beating the best means being brave enough to challenge them.
Which takes us to the third component of your mental toughness: confidence. Not believing in your abilities means not being able to fully use your potential. And being confident – means making a step more.
Reasonably, you shouldn’t go overboard! You should exert both control and composure – and constantly improve your emotional intelligence.
Greatness is all about consistency. You can’t give up the moment something goes against you. In fact, not feeling sorry for oneself is the first rule in the books of the mentally strong.
Finally, commitment. That’s the thing that helps you move forward and push the limits. It’s what will ultimately earn you that breakthrough!
Key Lessons from “Mind Gym”
1. May Your Goals Always Be SMART
2. Learn The 7 C’s of Mental Toughness
3. And Don’t Forget the 3 L’s of Successful Life
May Your Goals Always Be SMART
In order to achieve success, you must always set SMART goals. Yes, smart would be a good adjective in itself as well, but it’s actually an acronym. And it stands for five adjectives: smart, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Now, that’s how setting goals works!
Learn The 7 C’s of Mental Toughness
You can’t expect an NFL starter from a guy who hasn’t gone to the gym! But, you can’t expect an MVP from someone who isn’t mentally tough. And just like your body, you can train your mental toughness as well. It’s a hard work and it involves exercising these 7 aspects of your character: competitiveness, courage, confidence, control, composure, consistency, and commitment.
And Don’t Forget the 3 L’s of Successful Life
However, being a successful athlete isn’t an isolated affair. In fact, it has a lot to do with what being a successful person means as well. Harvard researchers have developed their own variant of the happiness formula: love + learning + labor.
And it’s a triangle!
In other words, you’ll never labor enough to learn what you need if you don’t love what you do in the first place!
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“Mind Gym” QuotesCompetitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course: the space between your ears. (via Bobby Jones) Click To Tweet Ninety percent of the game is half mental. (via Yogi Berra) Click To Tweet Nothing stands between us and success but our will to win. Click To Tweet The probability of achieving the outcome you want increases when you let go of the need to have it. Click To Tweet Only climbers get to the top. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
Let’s have a quick look at the accolades. Our edition of “Mind Gym” has a foreword by Alex Rodriguez, Mr. A-Rod himself. Speaking of home runs, that’s exactly how Ken Griffey Jr. – another one in the coveted 600 club – describes this book. And NBA great Jason Kidd claims that he has gotten a lot out of this book.
We’ll just repeat the second part of Kidd’s statement to voice our opinion about “Mind Gym”: “Gary has important lessons to teach, and you’ll find the exercises fun and beneficial.”