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What’s the deal with emotions in college tennis?

June 13, 2017

This post has been on my mind for awhile and I’m writing it for all of those young tennis players who aspire to play college tennis. I want you to be prepared for what you are going to experience, and at the same time, I want you to apply the actions and principles of mental… more »

Feeling Pressure? Get Excited!

May 25, 2017

As a competitor, it’s a near certainty that you get nervous from time to time, both before you play and during competition. Fear is the emotion that drives your nerves. Why is this? What are you afraid of? I was at the New England Academy of Tennis earlier this week and I asked the players… more »

The Mental Game at the end of the game

April 3, 2017

The other night, I happened to tune in to the University of Connecticut versus Mississippi State women’s basketball Final Four game during the 3rd quarter and was intrigued by how close the score was. UConn has been dominating the sport of women’s college basketball for some time, and a close game was a rarity for… more »

Episode 1: Jaime Gaard Chapman

March 6, 2017

For some time now, I have been wanting to try a podcast format for the blog and I finally did it.  For those of you who are fans of “The Tim Ferriss Show”, I modeled this podcast on his interview format so you’ll probably recognize that.  The idea of interviewing coaches and athletes, and finding out what… more »

Super Bowl Breakdown: Patriots vs Falcons

February 9, 2017

Hey, did you see that Super Bowl comeback by the Patriots? Pretty amazing, right? Personally, I found it intriguing because of the mental game and how each team handled the competitive pressure. There were a number of mental toughness concepts at play in this game so I wanted to break them down for you so… more »

Don’t React, Act!

January 25, 2017

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a couple of coaches and we were discussing the different types of focus (process goals) that an athlete should have for practice and for a game. One of the coaches has a friend who is a sport psychology professional at a large academy, and he told me that… more »

3 Reasons To Have A Positive Physical Response

December 16, 2016

It’s no secret that you need excellent focus to be a great competitor. The best athletes in the world do this well and while they may make it look simple, it isn’t easy to do for long periods of time. There are a lot of things going on that are competing for your attention, and… more »

Want a Confidence Boost? Use Your Voice!

November 15, 2016

We all know that Confidence is a key component of good performance and the notion that “confidence is a choice” should be obvious. However, many athletes choose not to be confident and therefore make the road to good performance more difficult. Knowing that Confidence and Mental Toughness is first driven by your actions – which… more »

Do You Know How to Play Badly Well?

November 3, 2016

“The worse you’re performing, the more you must work mentally and emotionally. The greatest and toughest art in golf is playing badly well. All the true greats have been masters at it.” — Jack Nicklaus Ah, I love this quote from all-time golf great, Jack Nicklaus. When I read the phrase “playing badly well”, I… more »

What to do when you’re not playing well

October 27, 2016

A short story from a practice match I played recently… The wind was in my face and I was getting ready to serve for the first time in the match. I don’t have a very big serve and even a little bit of wind against me can make it more ordinary than usual. My opponent… more »

The 3 Components of Mental Toughness

October 21, 2016

In recent days, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Mental Toughness and what it is and why we struggle with it. I have concluded that there are 3 high level components to Mental Toughness, and athletes need to be proficient in all 3 if they are to realize their best performances on a… more »

6 skills you need to be the best college athlete

August 27, 2016

This summer, Hayden Steward of St. Michael’s College in Vermont was an intern for PerformanceXtra.  As part of his internship, he wrote the following blog post to assist those athletes who are entering their first year of college sports, with some of the challenges they will inevitably face.  If you’d like to ask Hayden for… more »

4 Strategies For The Player Who Gets Tight

July 20, 2016

Have you ever felt tight or tense while competing? If you’re like most people, myself included, you have probably felt this way at some point in your competitive career. Sometimes it just happens under pressure and at other times, that tight and tense feeling is present from the beginning. Whatever the situation, it doesn’t feel… more »

10 Competitive Skills Observations from USTA NE Sectionals

July 1, 2016

I recently attended the New England Summer Sectionals tennis event at Yale University to support players from various academies as well as students of PerformanceXtra. Over the course of two days, I watched 20+ hours of tennis and I observed several things from a mental and competitive skills perspective. Each of the 10 items below are… more »

The Art of Unlearning

June 20, 2016

Would you be surprised to learn that a major part of the process of becoming excellent is unlearning? Sure, learning new techniques is important, but the unlearning process addresses the habits and beliefs that we have that limit our ability to reach true excellence. It is in this space that you can become truly elite…. more »

2 podcasts to make your mind and body stronger

June 12, 2016

I had a few hours of driving on my agenda over the weekend so I downloaded a couple of Tim Ferriss podcasts onto my phone to occupy my mind on something productive for the ride. I thoroughly enjoyed each episode and wanted to share with you. Both topics are important in the context of performance improvement so for those… more »

Are you a perfectionist?

June 3, 2016

In my work with athletes, I encounter a lot of perfectionists. I don’t know if this is more prevalent in today’s society than in the past, but it seems as if there is now a romantic ideal associated with being a perfectionist. Like it is a good thing. Like being a perfectionist is a badge… more »

Did you know competing is a skill?

May 4, 2016

If you are a tennis player who has ever had to come back from an injury, you realize that the hardest part is getting back to your level of play in a tournament or competitive environment.  After practicing for a while, your strokes may feel like they used to, but the first time you decide… more »

Video – Emotions in Sports: Good or Bad?

January 18, 2016

In today’s video blog, I discuss emotions in sports and their effect on performance.  Many coaches and athletes believe in the necessity of showing emotions while you compete, but does that actually help you to perform more consistently?  Watch the video for my take on this and learn why I agree with former UCLA men’s… more »

Video – Being coachable and your path to greatness

January 6, 2016

How coachable are you?  In today’s video, I discuss the importance of being coachable, the behaviors that demonstrate you are coachable, and some of the difficulties with choosing this path.  Achieving mastery of your sport isn’t easy and it requires some tough choices.  Put aside your fear and dare to be great! Also in this video,… more »

Video Blog – Taking Control in 2016!

January 1, 2016

On our journey to be great competitors, it is so important that we take control of our reactions and channel them into productive responses.  Today’s video is all about “The Warrior Mindset” (aka, The Great Competitor) and how we can apply that in 2016 so that we are in control. Let me know your thoughts… more »

10 Bits of Mental Toughness Wisdom for the Tennis Player

November 23, 2015

Even though the title of this post refers to tennis players, I believe any athlete can gain perspective from these ten points.  Apply them and reap the benefits. When your opponents make excuses for why they lost to you, take it as a compliment. You broke them mentally and now they’re desperate to protect their… more »

Do you want to win?

September 23, 2015

Do you like to win?  Of course you do, right?  Perhaps you think that’s a silly question for me to pose, but what if I told you that while most athletes say they want to win, their behavior often says something entirely different.  It says that mistakes and being perfect are more important to them… more »

Where Mental Toughness Lives

September 3, 2015

I recently finished reading George Mumford’s “The Mindful Athlete,” and it reminded me of the importance of committing to a meditation practice on a daily basis so that I can be at my best more often. One of the benefits of such practice that I have come to appreciate is the ability to suspend judgment… more »

“Be Quiet!!!” – Develop a Mindset to Deal with Noise

June 2, 2015

Ever find yourself wishing that someone would just be quiet while you’re performing? Recently, several people have asked me about how tennis players can deal more effectively with crowds or an unruly spectator so that performance is not affected in a negative way. In most sports, crowd noise tends to be less of a distraction… more »

4 reasons not to get angry when you compete

April 10, 2015

As a young tennis player, I had a bad temper. I didn’t like making mistakes. I didn’t like losing points. The root of my anger wasn’t a lack of emotional control, but rather because my thoughts were fixated on those mistakes and lost points, and that frustrated me greatly. If only I could be perfect… more »

3 Things To Do To Be A Better Fighter

March 23, 2015

When all else is going wrong in your performance, there is one facet of the mental game that can salvage the day: your fighting spirit. If you continue to fight for your best performance, even on your worst day, you still have a chance of succeeding in the end. The persistence and intensity that you… more »

Working on You Equals Success

February 16, 2015

Last week, this audio reminded me of the philosophy that you have to work on yourself first before you can achieve the results that you want. You have to grow into the person that can achieve greatness. As I listened to this message, I realized that the same thing is true in competition. While you are… more »

Video on the skill of self confidence

February 13, 2015

Question for you:  do you view self confidence as a quality you either have or not, or do you believe that it is a skill that can be developed?  In the video below, Dr. Ivan Joseph suggests that it is the latter and he gives some suggestions on how you as a coach or athlete… more »

What is your definition of success?

February 3, 2015

This past weekend, I spoke to a group of dressage instructors/trainers at an educational conference in CT, and my topic was “How to be a Positive Coach.” While I don’t have much “street cred” in the horse world, I do have a good bit of experience and knowledge on coaching styles in both sports and… more »

The New pX Online Mental Toughness Training Program is Here!

January 27, 2015

Brian here, with a big announcement! Back in October, I posted that I had created an Online Mental Toughness training program that is designed to help an athlete become a great competitor. Today, I would like to announce that the online program is now available via the PerformanceXtra website: Online pX Training System. I’m excited to… more »

Building Sportsmanship

January 12, 2015

If you watched the College Football Playoff game between Oregon and Florida State on New Year’s Day, you may have noticed that a large number of the players from FSU walked off the field at the end of the game without shaking hands and congratulating their opponents. The announcers observed this and commented on it…. more »

The 2 Types of Belief You Need to Be Mentally Tough

December 30, 2014

If I were to tell you that confidence and self-belief were major components of mental toughness, you’d probably say something like “yeah, no kidding!” And you’d be right to say that. It’s obvious that’s the case, but let’s dive a little deeper into self-belief because it may not be as obvious that there are two… more »

Be a Sports Leader!

December 23, 2014

Leadership is an important quality for many of us whether we are players, captains, coaches or managers. We want to be good leaders. But what does a good leader do? Is it all about winning or is there more to it than that? If you’re an aspiring leader, think about taking your leadership skills to… more »

Toughness and Reading

December 1, 2014

As my students and good friends know, I’m a big fan of reading daily as a habit. Every day, I read for at least 30 minutes, and I listen to an audio book for at least 30 minutes, usually while I’m driving. It’s a great way to stay engaged with your passion whether that’s sports,… more »

An Online Mental Toughness Training Program

October 2, 2014

For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a project to virtualize the mental toughness and competitive skills training program that I do with individual athletes, and I can now announce that it is complete! I’ve entitled it The Good Athlete to Great Competitor program and it consists of 12 modules with each… more »

Dealing With The Expectations Of Winning

July 28, 2014

“I should beat that guy.” “We should beat them.” The above are statements that we have all made in our lives as competitive athletes and in many cases, we were probably correct in our assessment of the match up. Of course there are games and matches in which we are the favorites and we should… more »

A New Primary Goal When You Compete

May 20, 2014

If you play a sport in which you or your team has a direct opponent that you are competing against (football, basketball, soccer, hockey, tennis, etc.), what is your primary goal when you start playing? Is it to win? Is it to execute your game plan or do your job? Is it to play well?… more »

Mental Focus Over Long Periods of Time

May 4, 2014

Recently, I asked the readers of this blog what challenges they were facing while competing and one of the most popular responses was the ability to focus for long periods of time and that’s what I would like to address in this post.

Three Things to Remember When You’re on Top of Your Game

March 3, 2014

Congratulations!  You’re having a great season.  You’re playing well, the victories are piling up and you’ve never felt better about your game.  And of course, you want this feeling to last for as long as possible.  In order to keep things going as they are, use the following 3 points as a guide for keeping… more »

3 Things to Do When You’re Trying to Impress Your Coach

February 14, 2014

It’s that time of the year in high school and college when practice for Spring sports is getting ready to start or has perhaps even just begun.  It can be a nerve wracking time for some.  There may be uncertainty as to whether you’ll play or where you might be in the lineup, and your… more »

What’s New with PerformanceXtra?

February 10, 2014

As many of you know, my work with athletes and teams through PerformanceXtra has been a part-time venture for the last couple of years, but as of January 2014 this has changed.  PerformanceXtra is now my sole focus and mission, and I’m excited for the challenge.  Originally, I started this business for two reasons: 1. … more »

4 Things to Consider When Facing a Superior Opponent

February 4, 2014

There are times in competition in which we face opponents who are better than we are.  They may have a better record than us or perhaps they have more achievements.  Regardless, that’s not nearly as important as how we react to the challenge of facing this opponent.  In this type of matchup, our mental attitude… more »

Choose to be in Control

January 30, 2014

In order to be successful in life and in sports, there are two important concepts to understand and adopt:  Choice and Control.  What we think and how we react is our choice.  What we choose to focus on should be things that are under our control.  There are times in life when these concepts get… more »

Isn’t Being Mentally Tough Hard? Yes!

January 27, 2014

Let’s face it – being mentally tough in competition is difficult and one of the reasons for that are the many apparent contradictions as to what to do and what to focus on in a given moment.  There are no black and white answers that tell you to focus on just this one thing or… more »

A Basic Framework for Winning in 4 Steps

January 22, 2014

  Have you ever seen the Marshmallow Test?  If not, check it out on YouTube as it’s quite humorous.  The object of the test is to gauge how well children can delay gratification in the presence of temptation.  It has been shown that those who can delay gratification are typically more successful in life than… more »

4 Steps to Succeeding in Critical Moments

January 19, 2014

There are moments or situations in all sports that are crucial to deciding the outcome.  In tennis, it might be a tie-breaker or a 10 point tie-breaker in lieu of a 3rd set.  In football, it’s the two minute drill.  Every sport has at least one, and to be the best competitor you can be,… more »

The 5 Parts of Your Competitive Self

December 1, 2013

All great competitors have a keen sense of what their body state should be during competition so that they perform at top level.  This means that they are in touch with how their muscles feel, what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, etc.  Their body state is in essence their body chemistry.  Competitive situations alter body… more »

9 Things To Put In Your Calendar To Drive Maximum Energy

August 18, 2013

Yesterday, while I was driving to play a practice match with a friend of mine, I was listening to the latest audio CD from Success Magazine (part of my motivational training plan) which had an interview with Jonathan Roche of Breakthrough Health & Wellness.  Jonathan’s path to wellness is inspiring and I recommend you visit his… more »

The 1 Book You Need To Read To Be A Better Competitor

August 11, 2013

Whenever I talk to people about mental toughness, I make sure that I explain the distinction between an athlete and a competitor because the difference is huge when it comes to being successful in sports and life.  Those who are solely athletes have great physical skills.  They’re fast, strong and physically gifted in their sport. … more »

Preparation and Success

July 30, 2013

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” -Alexander Graham Bell Are you prepared to compete today?  Have you done everything possible to get ready?  If you answer yes to these questions, then you should feel confident going into your competition, but if you’re like most of us, your preparation could use some improvement. … more »

The Success Formula at Work

June 23, 2013

A couple of months ago, I posted a formula for success that the best teams and athletes use on a consistent basis in all areas of their competitive careers: Success = Optimism * (Persistence + Resilience) Recently, it occurred to me that we’ve seen some great examples of this in both the NHL and NBA… more »

Mental Toughness and Respect

June 11, 2013

Several weeks ago, I was playing in a league tennis match and was paired against a player who has a reputation for on-court shenanigans and creating controversy.  When I realized who I was playing, I had a decision to make.  What should my approach to this player be?  Conventional wisdom tells us to be on-guard… more »

Mental Toughness and Being More Positive

May 25, 2013

One of the fundamental aspects of the PerformanceXtra program is to be more positive in competition, in your training and in your life in general as this has been proven to be a determinant for success.  To most people, that sounds fairly logical.  However, there is a lot of literature that misrepresents what being positive… more »

Success and Consistency

May 18, 2013

When you hear the word consistency, what images come to mind?  If you’re a tennis player, you’ll most likely imagine someone who never misses a shot.  In basketball, it might be a player with a high free throw percentage.  Whatever it is you imagine, it is only a very small part of what being consistent… more »

Mental Toughness and Playing to Win

May 8, 2013

Have you ever watched a game in which the team that was leading stopped playing to win in favor of protecting their lead?  And what often happens in this situation?  The team that is just protecting the lead ends up losing it.  In football, we see this phenomenon with the “prevent” defense.  In hockey and… more »

Mental Toughness and Encouragement

April 29, 2013

It’s amazing what a little encouragement can do for a competitor.  I was standing in the locker room talking to a fellow player after a grueling match in the National 45 and over Clay Court Tennis Championships in Ft. Lauderdale last week.  My body was exhausted.  My shoulder was screaming in pain.  And my next… more »

Mental Toughness – A Formula for Success

April 13, 2013

Want a formula for being a successful athlete?  Try this. Optimism * (Persistence + Resilience) = Success To understand this formula more completely, let’s define our terms starting with Persistence and Resilience as they are the base elements in the equation.  Persistence is the ability to sustain effort throughout a performance.  We often see this… more »

My Journey to Mental Toughness

April 6, 2013

When I was 6 years old, I failed advanced beginner swimming lessons, and thus my tennis career was born!  At that time, my family had a membership at a swim and tennis club and my sisters and I went there on a daily basis.  And as the name of the club implies, there were two… more »

What is Mental Toughness – Motivation

March 30, 2013

Why do you compete?  Why is your sport important to you? Your answers to these questions can be quite revealing in terms of your desire to succeed and achieve your goals, and whether or not you’re ready to do what it takes to reach your potential.  That’s why motivation is one of the key ingredients… more »

What is Mental Toughness – Confidence

March 23, 2013

A vitally important ingredient to mental toughness and performing your best is confidence.  I know that isn’t exactly a profound revelation, but where many athletes struggle is in developing confidence so that they can compete at a high level consistently.  We want to develop the kind of confidence that is unshakeable no matter the circumstances. … more »

What is Mental Toughness – Focused on Winning

March 16, 2013

There are a lot of thoughts that go through an athlete’s mind while competing.  Some are beneficial and others are not.  A credo that I like to use is that all of your energy, both mental and physical, should be in the direction of helping you win.  A great way to keep yourself on track is… more »

What is Mental Toughness – Positive Body Language

March 9, 2013

Want a quick pick-me-up while you’re competing?  Pay attention to your body language and make sure it’s positive, strong, confident, determined and shows that you’re willing to fight.  The connection between our minds and bodies is very strong, and negative behavior in one area almost always results in negativity in the other.  The good news… more »

What is Mental Toughness – Learning Through Pressure

March 3, 2013

I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan This quote from Michael Jordan is familiar to most and… more »

What is Mental Toughness – Coaching and the Zone

February 21, 2013

If you’re a sports fan, you have certainly witnessed a coach seemingly losing his mind on the sidelines.  He’s yelling at his players, he’s castigating officials, or he’s just throwing a tantrum.  Why do some coaches behave this way?  Does this behavior motivate players?  Does it help them play better?  Does it help them get… more »

What is Mental Toughness – A Quiet Mind

February 15, 2013

When athletes are in the “zone”, there are certain thoughts, emotions and physical indicators that are common to being in this state.  Examples are complete focus, low anxiety, high confidence, energetic, fun, and the feeling of being in complete control.  When I work with groups or teams on defining these characteristics of the zone, usually… more »

The Effort of the Indianapolis Colts

January 1, 2013

On paper, the Indianapolis Colts had nothing to play for this past Sunday versus the Houston Texans.  Win or lose, their seeding in the AFC would not change, and for some teams, that might have been a reason to rest the starters for the first round of the playoffs.  Not the Colts. This Indy team… more »

Six Seconds at a Time – Another Key to Mental Toughness

December 7, 2012

In sports, we hear phrases such as “one point at at time” or “one play at a time” so often that they become cliches and lose their meaning.  That’s unfortunate because the underlying message is valuable – focus for a short period of time, reset, and then focus for a short period of time again…. more »

Lions, Texans and an Angry Coach

November 23, 2012

During the Houston Texans vs. Detroit Lions football game on Thanksgiving Day, there was a controversial touchdown awarded to the Texans’ Justin Forsett after an 81 yard run.  Forsett’s elbow and knee appeared to be down on the play, but the officials never whistled the play dead, and to his credit, Forsett kept running.  In… more »

Mental Toughness Radio Interview

October 22, 2012

I recently gave an interview to Alexis Avila of Prepped & Polished LLC on his weekly radio show and the topic was mental toughness and how it applies to athletics and academics.  The interview is about 20 minutes long and the link appears below.  If you have any thoughts on my responses to his questions,… more »

Information vs. Transformation

August 29, 2012

One of the missions of a coach is to help athletes transform their games so that they become better players in the long term.  In order for this to happen, both coaches and students need to understand the difference between information and transformation.  Let’s use a very simple example to illustrate this. Imagine that you… more »

The Point of Competition

June 16, 2012

What is the point of competition?  Conventional wisdom tells us that winning is the end goal of competition, but I think that is debatable and possibly detrimental to performing one’s best.  In one of the cornerstone works of Positive Psychology, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states that the point of competition is to… more »

Talk on Mental Toughness

April 24, 2012

On March 27th, I was the guest speaker at the Wellesley Rotary Club in Wellesley, MA and I gave a talk on Mental Toughness – what I think it is and a bit on my own personal journey of discovery in this area.  Video of the speech appears below courtesy of Wellesley Media.  The video… more »