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Your Personal Best - Crushing the Opponent or Crushing Yourself?

In performance sports, student-athletes all know what having or maintaining an edge means, shutting-out or shutting-down their opponent, sitting-on a lead, beating them to a pulp, pounding it out, squeezing in a run, annihilation, extinguishing a lead, scorch 'em, blister 'em, rip 'em, derail 'em, cross 'em off, finish them off, trash-talk, obliterate, or rub-them-out, jam the line, make 'em choke, swarm, ram, pack-it-in, elbow them and get in their way, throw them the heater, erase 'em off the planet, squash 'em, and or crush their spirit. Sick!

Yet no student-athlete wants to be on the other end of this competitive, mind-body, performance scenario.

But they are, because it's part-of-the-game.

The game you ask? Yes, the game on-field and on-court. It’s out there: Timed. Scripted. Calculated. Coached. Supervised. With a Play-Book. A Score Board. Practiced - Over and Over. Cool. Rewarding. An Opportunity.

But that's not the game we're talking about here. The game we're talking about doesn't have a playbook, the structure, the coaches, the scoreboard or the painted lines. No, the game we're referring to here is a game you play by feel, with imaginary boundaries.

We call it The Game of Life.

No student-athlete really wants to consciously crush, derail, elbow, get in the way, or annihilate their own dreams. And certainly nobody wants to be around anybody or anyone who desires to squash that dream. You know, dream squashers - these are the people who tell you that you can’t, won’t, that it'll never happen, give it up, that you're too small, not fast enough and so on. And we get it, that you get it... that their energy and their desires are not your energy or your dreams. That it would serve you best that they be avoided, ignored and tuned out.

However, student-athletes that open up in their journey to this deeper, wiser, more valuable part of the game must be aware of a different kind of squasher, a new kind of competitor: Themselves.

Yes, that’s right: the ultimate personal best starts with the student-athlete who takes responsibility to be fully aware of what they are thinking, what they are feeling, what they are saying, and what they are doing, in all moments, so they don’t crush or squash themselves, their chances or their dreams.

Here are ten important questions to ask yourself if you are a student-athlete:

1. How much do my grades matter?

Grades matter - because great grades ultimately show that you have intelligence, creativity, focus, consistency, and self-worth among other things. You most likely won’t be viewed as a liability on or off the field or on the team because you have a certain self-starting, self-motivation drive about you that coaches and teachers recognize due to the fact that you have committed to your studies and created great grades.

Grades matter, have value, and meaning with respect to additional scholarship money. Take a sport like baseball, for example, and understand the few scholarships offered are divided up. This can mean school programs and coaches need to make difficult decisions, including no scholarship money. Say a school costs $30,000 to attend, you received a small athletic scholarship. You need tuition money. Well that often could come in the form of an academic scholarship from the school directly. For example, you could have a high SAT and great GPA and reduce your tuition to your parents, yourself, and your family by tens of thousands just by that alone. Grades matter a lot, have value, and meaning. This could also mean fewer student loans.

If you are settling for a B or C now and are capable of an A or B, creating a way to do your best now not only shows, but will have value. Grades also matter because participating in college athletics is like having a job in addition to going to school - where the academic workload could be very high. It’s important to have athletes who can balance this workload. Grades all go back to self-worth. If you value yourself, you'll value your grades.

2. Am I paying attention to my intangibles?

Along the way, you see and hear potential student-athletes say and do things that sometimes make your skin crawl. Often today, it is in social media, in the stands of a home game, or just conduct we witness ourselves or someone tells us about. It could be the throwing of a helmet, a swear-word launched, arguing with a ref, a rude social media post or most often the irresponsible treatment of another human being.

  • How exactly are you treating yourself?

  • How exactly are you treating others?

  • How exactly is your behavior conducive to being your very best?

  • Are you conducting yourself like a pro that is respected?

Your intangibles aren’t things that can be measured by how fast you run, how fast you pitch, how many yards you rushed for or the number of points scored. Your intangibles are measured in how people speak about you and how you have filled up their heart, mind and soul with your presence. Your intangibles are often measured by how you make someone else feel and your responsibility to others. Your intangibles are measured in whether or not a coach feels you are a true asset or liability beyond your athletic abilities. Again, when we value ourselves, we value others and the opportunities presented. For more information on The 5 Intangibles:

3. Am I going to play? What are my priorities? Do my skills, intelligence, and maturity realistically match the school?

Through our travels this past year, we’ve learned to ask a few additional questions after someone says they are committed, especially if they are boasting about it and you can tell when parents and kids are boasting. When we hear, “I’m committed to XYZ Super School and Program,” We will often respond, “Congratulations. How did you pick that school? Did you receive an academic scholarship too?” We ask because we care about the complete student-athlete.

Committed to a tryout is not the same as a roster spot and you may find yourself quickly at a school you dreamed of playing your sport at, but instead going to school there and not be on the team. We've seen it happen at least 10 times to the point where we are adding this reality check so others be aware of it. Someone said, “Well, we thought for sure he would make the team and he didn’t.”

Don’t squash yourself. The level of the sport might not be right for your skills, the position might be filled, you might still be recovering from an injury, etc… There are a lot of reasons.

Coach Robert Cagle of National Scouting Reports agrees, "Many athletes think they will just "walk on" at the school if the coaches do not offer a scholarship to them. Parents and athletes, do not buy into that myth. People also must know the difference between a "preferred walk on" and a "walk on." Are you ready? A preferred walk on at least knows the college coaches "prefers" the athlete pay their own tuition. That is a joke shared by those of us in the recruiting business. Honestly, a walk on is a walk on. There is no difference and must keep in mind that if the coach really wanted the athlete, thee Coaches would have made scholarship money available to them. They would have offered you instead of someone else if the coach really wanted you. That is just the simple truth."

Often the most common block is the biggest squasher of them all: You aren’t at that level. There are certain times and speeds, height requirements and things that athletes need to compete at all levels. You might be aiming for the MLB and missed the minor leagues entirely. Be realistic with your skill level and find a spot where you are going to play. Sitting on the bench and being at a school you didn’t want to be at is different than playing and getting a great education.

Coach Robert Cagle cautions, "Parents and athletes must also avoid the dreaded disease commonly know as "D1-itis". Over the years I have seen hundreds and hundreds of athletes playing careers almost die because of this dreaded disease. The symptoms are severe. The parents think that their child can play at the D1 level. These parents put added pressure on their child. The athlete doesn't truly understand his or her true skillset. These athletes begin talking big about playing at the D1 level and NOT looking realistically at their own abilities. As a result of the athletes disease of "D1-itis", the scholarship opportunities at the schools at which he or she could have played get offered to other athletes. Before long, college coaches recognize the kids with the "D1-itis " and simply do not attempt to recruit them. Thus, the dreaded recruiting disease, D1-itis, kills the dream."

Think about this. You might be great in your state, but have a different scenario when positioned nationally, so it’s important to understand that it’s a very competitive environment out there and to not sacrifice your future just to brag and sit on the bench or brag you were committed and wind up with no athlete behind your student-_____. Also consider injury. If you are injured, are you at the school where you want to be going to school to learn?

4. What is my recruiting budget?

One season of a travel sport can equal the average scholarship and remember at a D3 level there are no scholarships offered for athletics. Add in a few camps, showcases, flights, hotel rooms, lessons, and more and you could have paid for a year of college or at least some of it. Keep this in mind and understand recruiting has turned into a huge business and to use your money wisely and strategically and to surround yourself with those who have your best interests in mind.

Coach Robert Cagle adds, " Most kids are playing sports in high school and in travel ball or clubs for a purpose. They are hoping to play in college. Parents must understand that college coaches aren't showing up at tournaments and showcases to find kids. These college coaches are there to SEE THE KIDS THEY ALREADY KNOW. Not only is this a fact, but the kids that are truly being recruited are talking and communicating with these Coaches. The athletes who are being recruited know the coaches are there to see them. You are either being recruited or not. It is not a mysterious process. Having a professional SCOUT give a family an evaluation of their athlete is IMPERATIVE. National Scouting Report is the world's oldest and most respected scouting and recruiting organization. NSR can get your child recruited. It's a big deal to be a selected NSR athlete."

5. Is this for show?

Just about every single thing in the world is better than misbehaved athletes and/or their parents. Don’t be this person. A student-athlete or parent of a student-athlete reading this knows this person or can tell you about a few of them they have encountered along the way. Often, they get left behind, un-recruited or are in the position of only trying out because a coach can spot the character issue and are trying to determine if the person is coachable or not. Karma comes around…

6. What happens to me after athletics?

There is a point in every athlete’s life where the athlete no longer plays the sport in the manner in which they once did. It’s a fact. If you put all your eggs into the athletic basket and less effort in the school or career one, at some point you are going to have an issue or even a crisis. Go back and read this entire blog and understand even the pro-athletes have this issue and not every pro-athlete has made millions. Think, move and make decisions with the future always in mind as a student-athlete. The biggest challenge for a pro-athlete is 'what are they going to do post-career' and the biggest challenge for student-athletes can be what to do when they realize they aren't going pro. Pick a major and think about the jobs you like.

7. What is my behavior like?

Is your behavior the same with or without coaches, parents and teachers around?

On teams there can be those who smoke, drink, get bad grades, cheat in school, are rude to other teammates and students in school, obnoxiously behaved and yet sometimes the coach has absolutely no idea this person behaves this way. As a student-athlete, at all levels, there comes a time to get your behavior in line with your values, goals, and beliefs to the point where your coach serves to fine-tune you to be your absolute best player and doesn’t have to be distracted with baby-sitting you.

If you don’t have a value, goal or belief system, it’s time to develop one, even if it differs from those around you. Being your best is about your authentic, highest, best self, assisting yourself to create a vision that is uniquely yours and to implement and practice that vision and to empower yourself to live that vision - where each moment in your life matters and being healthy and balanced in all ways - mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially.

Take responsibility for every aspect of yourself.

8. Am I a great friend and teammate?

Friend and team chemistry wins. You have everything to gain being a great friend and teammate. You've got everything to lose otherwise. Choose kindness, help someone else be their best and be a teammate who is accepting and supportive in both directions. The only person you really ever compete with is yourself. Championships are won as a team.

9. What’s my social media like?

Your social media speaks volumes about you. Coaches are looking at it, friends and parents look at, prospective employers look at it and it’s always out-there once posted. Consider these three things before you post: It is necessary? Does it better me and the world around me? It is kind, true and accurate or cringe-worthy, divisive and cause controversy? Side with not posting over posting anything that can be misconstrued. It’s not worth it. This goes for all social media formats including those you think are deleted.

10. Do I live with purpose and give back to the community?

Having a solid social conscious is important especially as a student-athlete. People of all types look to athletes of all types as role models and as those who go the extra distance and put in the extra effort to excel. Think about your role in the community, how you give back and how you will give back to any new community that surrounds you at school. This means with or without your teammates, parents and coaches.

Remember, you are responsible for everything you think, feel, say, and do. Always and in all ways. Being your best is about connecting to your authentic, highest, best self, and creating a vision that is uniquely yours. This means implementing and practicing that vision as a student-athlete - empowering yourself to live that vision - where each moment in your life matters whether on the field or court or in the classroom.

About Gary Kobat

Olympic "Mentalist", Integrative Life & Performance Coach, World Class Athlete, and Nutritionist Gary Kobat, is The World Class authority on Mind, Body, Spirit, and Sport.

Gary is on a heart-felt mission to inspire millions of people to reveal their vibrational highest best self: mentally, physically, and spiritually. The author, international speaker, and Integrative Performance Coach mixes ancient wisdom with cutting-edge trends in human performance to focus his teachings and practice on the importance of self-love and self-worth.

Gary's client list is a who's who in film, business, and sport. For the past two decades he has quietly assisted the spiritually, health, wellness, and longevity of Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, Mariska Hargitay, Will Ferrell, Miles Teller, Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield, and countless other Hollywood Influentials.

Gary is the feature film and actor consultant on the most challenging Hollywood film projects that require mental, emotional, and physical transformation.

Gary is a world-class cyclist, marathon runner and former baseball player.

About Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is a mom of four sons, best-selling Hay House author of PERCOLATE, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur and a recognized leader in personal development and optimal mindset strategies. For more than 20 years, she's been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, athletes and people from all walks of life how to illuminate their light within and help them reach their highest, best potential.

As an expert in mentoring people to market their strengths and achieve brand excellence, Elizabeth is ranked in the Top 40 Social CEOs on Twitter. In 2016, as one of Oxford Said Business School's top and favorite CEO's on Twitter, Elizabeth was interviewed and featured in their study by Tong WU.

As the founder of The Best Ever You Network, she created a brand with more than a million followers in social media and 2 million radio downloads, and is on a mission to inspire you, to raise awareness and to promote greater excellence within each of us and in the world.

Elizabeth graduated with honors a year early from high school and college. Elizabeth attended the University of Iowa and was an honors graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Elizabeth and her husband of 18 years, Peter R. Guarino, Esq., have four sons and live in Maine.

Elizabeth is a tap dancer and former gymnast and cheerleader.


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