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He's Making a List and We Should, Too!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #74 - To watch or listen, click HERE.

We believe in Santa in our house and, boy, does that make Christmas fun!!

Our elf, Jimmy, has done a great job of keeping his eye out for the big guy. He even had Santa Zoom in last week to talk with our little believer who apparently is on the “good” list!

On a side note, my niece and nephew named their elf Creepy. I think they are on to something!

Santa isn’t the only one who can benefit from making lists, particularly during this crazy time as our young people continue to move slowly through what some are calling the COVID hangover!

I hear it from college faculty, high school teachers, employers, career coaches and sport coaches at all levels. Kids are struggling. Life is hard. Things that were normal practice don’t feel normal right now. We got out of the practice of managing the hustle and bustle of life and that makes our schedules seem overwhelming.

To add to all of this, our teams face the normal obstacles of sport, too!

One of the college basketball teams I work with has 6 healthy players. You read that right….6 players practicing and competing! (Remember this when you think you have problems).

As if this isn’t enough, two of them tested positive for COVID which sent them to quarantine…and a few others, too! They haven’t played since November 23rd. Believe it or not, even with just 6 healthy bodies, they were 3 and 2 and playing very well.

I met with them prior to their COVID shut down and they were feeling the pressures of having so few healthy teammates. Injured players were stressed. Healthy players were afraid to get injured. The list of stressors was long.


A few recent posts have been dedicated to pressure and how to balance it to help or performance. In one I mentioned following a practice used by Serena Williams and others that entails making lists of the things that cause us pressure. This helps us look at these things differently and allows us to figure out how we can better manage the pressure and take steps toward diffusing it!

I took this practice one step further with this team. We started our session by making a list of all the things that “suck” about being in a 20-day hiatus from games (they get to play tomorrow!!!).

The list included everything from other teams are gaining momentum and getting to play, to losing momentum to not being able to practice 5 on 5 to losing confidence.

All the things on the list were legit.

We then took some time to write down all the advantages to the 20-day layoff from games. This list ended up being longer than the “suck” list. It included things like the ability to scout opponents and taking the time to recover since a few of the healthy 6 were a little banged up.

After both lists were compiled, we went back through each item and talked about what we can and can’t control about it…and decided if it was something we should be focused on or not.

For the things that were out of our control, we talked about how what seemed to be a disadvantage could actually be an advantage. For instance, those teams that are worried about gaining momentum and playing are probably having issues, too. Since they are playing, there are unhappy campers on the bench (most likely), they may be adding losses to their record instead of wins and that could be affecting their confidence, too! (There are always two sides to a coin!)

For the things on the “advantages” list, we decided how we could take action to make us better with each item. The whole scouting thing is HUGE. Using our visualization tools we can scout, plan and watch ourselves against our opponents before we play them the next time. What a confidence boost this is! What an advantage to watch, play (in your head, of course) and replay your opponents before you ever step on a court.

There were many other things on this list that could be turned into practices, both mental and physical, that will help the team prepare as they get back on the court this month!

I did this same practice with a high school basketball team that is under pressure, like most high school kids. We made lists that included the things that “suck” about COVID, COVID restrictions and their experience through the pandemic.

We then made our “advantages” list. I’m not sure “advantages” is the correct descriptor, but our list included the good things that they experienced through this tough time. Several talked about reflecting on their own values and self-image. Others talked about gaining the ability to focus on important schoolwork along with the things that really matter.

To their surprise, the “advantage” list was longer than they expected.

In both cases, we aired out those things that are uncomfortable, stressful and pressure-filled. It allowed us to acknowledge and evaluate them.

Most importantly, it allowed us to put them in perspective.

In both cases, looking at the “advantages” reminded us that good things can come from the toughest things. Writing lists and seeing the length of the lists alone (that the good list can be longer than the suck list) is just one way to help us deal with the tough stuff and acknowledge and embrace the good.

This practice helped these teams continue to build and sharpen their mental tools drawing on the practice of gratitude, visualization, positive emotion and perspective-shifting.

All of these are essential to a positive mindset which directly influences or ability to perform.

Acknowledging, embracing and shifting our perspective changes the way we think about what we are facing. If we change the way we THINK, we change the way we FEEL which changes the way we ACT, this changes the way we PERFORM which changes our RESULTS!

It's not about sitting around and talking about our feelings. That's never been my thing.

But it is about how important our perspective is!

It is a simple performance funnel that looks like this…


In this case, we are making a list (two lists, really) and checking it twice.

We are going to find out what’s naughty and nice (and figure out how to use both to our advantage).

Then maybe we can be as excited to go out and chase our dreams as when we were kids and Santa Clause was coming to town (despite the obstacles in front of us)!

Have a great week!


P.S. Call now to get mental training on your spring calendar. Give me a call or text at 234–206–0946 or send me an email at to set up a team session!

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946



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