We Are All Natural Athletes

When was the last time you watched an athlete do something like this (watch from 1:40) and think “natural athlete”? I do. We all do. It’s a handy explanation for why we don’t throw everything to the side and find our limits, because let’s face it, you’re just not naturally talented.   But it’s unfair to the athlete to say that their talent is natural, that they were born with it. These athletes are made, through hard effort. They don’t

Why England Will Never Win The World Cup

One of the worst names I was ever called on the soccer pitch was a “head-the-ball”. The insult was delivered by a spotty, bean-pole left winger called ‘Spangles’ whose hardened North Side of Dublin football team were scoring on my team almost at will. I’d brought Spangles down hard after he’d twisted me around on his third trip towards goal and he was pissed. Being a head-the-ball meant that you were stupid, thick, useless and was spat out in contempt.

Does Stress Make You Better?

You get better because you adapt to stress. You lift weights that create microtears in your muscles and then they heal stronger than before. You sit, clueless and scared, in the driver seat of a car for the first time with your heart pounding out of your chest as you struggle to master the clutch, the stick shift and the narrowing road while tuning out the yammering of your dad’s instructions in your ear. One day, you get in the

Are You Better Than Matt Halliday?

Matt Halliday is better than you. Of course he is, you say, it’s because he’s gifted. He makes hitting a ball moving at 95 mph look easy. He has to be better than me.  I could never do that. You’re right, you can’t. But remember, hitting is a very specific skill. I’ll bet you could beat him at chess, Jeopardy or pretty much anything else you can think of.  Except for the one thing that he’s been constantly practicing since

How To Pick the Next John Elway

Imagine you own a pro sports team. Let’s make it specific: You own a team in the National Football League. You’re sitting in your plush office chair in your mahogany-detailed office a few weeks after the last game; the halls are quiet. You’re thinking one thing: Who should I add to my team to make sure we win next season? The Stakes are High There’s a lot at stake: a winning season makes it more attractive to free agents, allows

Are we close to a breakthrough for training the athletic brain?

I think we are circling around something significant in training athletic performance. It’s not a breakthrough physical training technique; it’s emerging from a number of stories and lectures on training the athletic brain. Jonah Lehrer discussed the possibility in his April ESPN the Magazine article. Jonah nails it, as he usually does, by labeling the Wonderlic test for NFL hopefuls as a “completely wrong” way of evaluating talent. He opens up the question: how SHOULD talent be evaluated? And developed?

It’s All About Control

Peak performance happens in the present when you are unburdened by your thinking side of your brain and the performance just flows out of you. Where we often get caught during our performance is thinking about things that we can control, and things we think we can control but can’t. Every performance has aspects of it that we cannot control: the opponent, the weather, the crowd, the referee’s judgement, that annoying red sweater that guy is wearing in Row 3.


I was watching my beloved Minnesota Vikings blow another chance to go to the Super Bowl last night. I found myself contorted, snarling and gasping as the game progressed and I was just sitting on my couch. I wondered how the players could possibly deal with the ups and downs of the game, they were so close to it in the intensity of the moment. But then, during one of the time outs I think, I turned off the sound

This is your brain. In The Zone

We’ve often heard that we use only 10% of our brain, which begs the question: what would happen if we used ALL our brain? What amazing things could we accomplish then? The brain is made up of areas that do very specific things: an area for processing visual images, an area for eye movement, an area for language, and so on. So when we’re doing a very specific thing, reading this blog, for example, we’re only using those specific parts