Blog 15.4

It is with a heavy heart that we post our blog today. Ken Ravizza passed away last night. He was our teacher, mentor, and most of all friend. Ken’s lessons transcend beyond baseball and even beyond sport, which makes sharing how the mental game impacts life fitting to share in our final post of this two-book series.

The past 2 months, we have shared Ravizza and Hanson’s wisdom regarding peak performance in baseball.  The authors have spent their entire careers helping athletes achieve success on the field, and more importantly, off the field.  They emphasize that the exact same principles used to hone your athletic performance can lead to a more meaningful life in all areas.  They suggest that focusing on 1) what is under your control, 2) your “team,” and 3) your learning, as critical principles to apply in ALL areas of life. 

As a graduate student studying under Ken Ravizza, I had the opportunity to learn from him every day for two years. While we learned about the mental game of sport and performance, just as often, Ken taught us about the mental game of life. As a graduate assistant in Ken’s undergrad Sport Philosophy class, he would often take attendance by asking students to share “one good thing that happened to them in the past 24 hours.” Students would share small things like “I got a good night of sleep” or “someone held the door for me walking in to class”, but sometimes students would share something deeply personal that moved them or all of us to tears. Ken taught us all to stop and smell the roses as life is hard and stressful, and we often focus on what is wrong instead of what is right. I still use Ken’s “one good thing” exercise daily and share it with as many performers as are willing to listen.

The pursuit of excellence takes sacrifice and discipline. Nobody ever made it to the top of their game without having to forgo short-term pleasure for long-term gains.  However, your pursuit of excellence should never be at the expense of your well-being.  The quality of your life is very dependent on the quality of your relationships.  It’s OK to love sport, but don’t let your passion for sport distract you from making meaningful relationships.  You MUST invest in relationships to have a well-rounded life.
In this section of the book, Ravizza and Hanson have so many quotable quotes, we won’t do them justice without listing them.  They seem even more relevant today as we mourn the loss of a legend:

“Courage is feeling fear but taking action anyway.  The Heads-Up Player is courageous.  He doesn’t give in to feelings of doubt, fear, or even boredom.”
“A strength overplayed becomes a weakness.  When you try to be perfect, you get in your own way.”
“The more you focus on being a team player, the greater you’ll become as an individual player.”
“Competing in life means giving 100% of what you’ve got right now to be your best self in this moment.”
And our personal favorite quote…..
“Don’t use your phone as a pacifier and disappear into your own world.”

UpsideDown Performance Quick Tip included with email subscription. Subscribe here!