I was going to continue some thoughts about the turmoil within us as an addition to my last post. I'll get to that next time. I was struggling with what I wanted to write. The gist of it is that we average 65,000 thought per day and 80 percent of those thoughts are negative. As soon as I find my 20 percent I'll finish the post.
This of course has me staring at my walls. On either side of my computer screen are pictures of sorts of two of my role models. I realize that this in and of itself is no big deal, but it did get me thinking about origins and imagination as it relates to sports and sport psychology. On my right is a baseball card of Sandy Koufax. He was my childhood idol. When I was 9 I recall being mad at my parents for allowing me to be right-handed. There are plenty of reasons of course for my reverence for Koufax. He was the best of that era. This of course pleased my otherwise anti sport mother who thought of him as a nice kid from what she had heard.
I have a funny story about Koufax and not me, but my mother. My mother came home one day from work. She was secretary to the president of a large discount retail store in California called White Front. She said she met this very nice boy at the store and he gave her this toy to give to me. Now I was about ten at the time and was thinking I had outgrown toys. It was a Sandy Koufax Pitching Game. You threw Styrofoam balls at these plastic points on a sort of dartboard. On the box it was signed to Mike from Sandy Koufax. I was speechless. My mother said he had told her to bring me over, but she didn't think it was a big deal. I didn't talk to her for a week. I did however believe in my heart every time I picked up a baseball that I was Sandy. It was my summer of baseball and it couldn't have been better as not only did the Dodgers with the World Series, but I pitched in almost every game. In my mind's eye, I was Koufax and pitched like him that whole year. There was nothing I wanted more than to play professional baseball.
On the left of my computer is a picture of Albert Einstein. My parents seemed to insist that I spend my time doing more than playing baseballand other sports. I got reallyintrigued with him through one of my Jr. High teachers. He said he liked the way I thought about things, so I should understand Einstein. Had no idea what the teacher meant, but I did what I was told. I was intrigued withhim to be sure, though I was still more interested in being an athlete than a scientist of any sort. What I did recognize is that Einstein was into thought problems. He explored the Universe with his mind. It wasn't E=MC2that caughtmy attention, but the quote "Imagination is more important than knowledge". It is that quote that is up on my wall. Albert (as he is known in my office) influenced me greatly. My son has a degree in physics and math. Perhaps my interest in Albert influenced him as well.
My third role model was Wilt Chamberlain. OK, forget about the number 3000 for a minute if you can.As a basketball player (I gave up baseball soon after Koufax retired), I wanted to be Wilt. I saw him as cool. He was big and bad. He was tough on the court, yet smart enough to stay out of foul trouble. He could score at will and I wanted to be like him. So how did it turn out? I could dunk (not bad for a 6 foot Jewish kid). I could defend big tall players. And I could do a finger roll. I averaged 20 points a game my senior year. There was one problem though. I practiced being big, bad and to take people into the paint. Couldn't dribble to save my life, which of course was a large problem as I went to take my game to the next level.
For all of us and that certainly includes hockey players finding the right role model is very important. I'm not at this moment talking about that I think people should adopt role models like their parents or professional people they admire, I am talking about sport specific role models that fit the player's style of game, their body type and temperament. Find the player you want to emulate but make sure you can assume their role. If you are a defensemen, but want to be Gretzky I hope you are not 6'4" with great power, but slow wheels. Young players can emulate anyone, but don't do what I did with Wilt. Use your understanding of the game to make your role model fit who you the hockey player would like to become. If you are that big defensemen, but want to skate like the great one, then find the best skating big player out there.
So I see two very real types of role models. The one you emulate as a player and the one you want to be like as a person. They can be very different. This is one way you can distinguish between role model types. It is great when the two come together, but it is ok when they don't. Just be smart enough to be able to separate great atheism from poor behavior.
Where Imagery comes in
So there are three stories. The very short end to this post is simple. When we were children we used our imaginations to do everything. We used it to play as toddlers and as would be athletes. Somewhere along the way our natural ability to use our imagination got taken away from many of us. It is a key component to success in everything. Sports and virtually everything else we do in life. If I can leave every athlete I meet with something it would be to remember when you believed you were Koufax (insert current star here). Play like you did then and see how fast your game accelerates. We can control our world very simply and play out of our minds.
Mike can be found athttp://themental-game.com/services/Check out Sport Psychology Consultants and learn more about Mike's book The Athlete within You.