Many athletes want to be perfect. They want every shot to go in, every pitch to be a hit, every serve to be an ace. Letting go of being perfect is difficult for them to do. They think it means failure, they think it means a slippery slope of eventually being mediocre.
Sure we want our athletes to be driven, they didn’t get to play at a high level by being indifferent about their performance. However, once they learn how to motivate themselves and have a strong work ethic, the irony is that the more they hold on to being perfect, the worse they play. They start thinking (moving into the conscious brain which is WAY too slow to react in a game), they start TRYING to play well, trying to be perfect.
This type of reaction ends up being a disaster more times than not. So, if it doesn’t work why do they do it? Somewhere along the line we almost all learn that thinking constantly helps us to improve in everything. We want to solve the problem. And solve it fast. But it doesn’t work!
For example, has it every helped you to ruminate about a missed shot? If you strike out, does thinking about it over and over until your next at bat make you perform better? When you mess up a presentation or an interview, does it help to lose sleep over it and replay it in your mind all night long? Of course not. We have to reteach our athletes how to react to imperfection because its going to happen-they are going to make a mistake.
Once again, this isn’t to say that we should let everything go like it doesn’t matter. That’s ridiculous. We still need some tools in order to improve our play. Which is why we critique our play, not criticize it. We DO look at what we can do better. We DO strive to improve. And we DO work to make adjustments, but there is a time and place for them. That time and place is NEVER in the middle of a game. We have to learn to let go and move on to the present play in order to perform at our best.