Care-Think-Try

Coaches are always looking for the secret to a teams success, and I, alomg with others, have developed long laundry lists of qualities and attributes that we want the team to strive to develop. I`ve tried to simplify that long list to the lowest common denominators. If players truly CARE about their teammates, THINK about their actions and TRY their best, the team will grow into a unit, and begin to be the best that they can be - on and off the court.

CARE. When teams begin to work together and go thru the everyday effort they develop a certain comraderie that forces them to truly CARE about their teammates. When that happens, they will do everything that they can not to let their teammates down. Everyone must accept teammates and coaches as they are and mold themselves into whatever is necessary to make US successful. As a group remember the goodness required to enjoy each other and have fun while participating in this great game. In our off-the-court lives, it means contributing our time to others, to good and worthwhile causes, and to the welfare of our families and our loved ones.

THINK. Players and coaches must strive to have knowledge of the system and the fundamentals of the game of basketball, inside and out. Strive for individual improvement on a daily basis and work to reach the team goals by executing the prepared game plan without fail. Pay special attention to time and score situations and understand the objectives of each. THINK about the risk and reward involved in each decision, both on and off the court. Follow all of the laws, rules and regulations as students, employees, and citizens while striving to achieve a rewarding life plan.

TRY. Just try. Your very best. Every time! Be competitors without equal. Players and coaches, should strive to make sure that no one prepares more thoroughly or works more diligently to become successful. Display the self-discipline necessary to prepare and succeed at the highest attainable level. Give a supreme daily effort, in all areas of life, towards being the best student, employee, and citizen possible.

Success in the game of basketball may be the first step to findiing an avenue for social mobility. In the process of achieving athletic success, acknowledge that the world outside the gymnasium is where true success and fulfillment can be found. The basketball court will merely be a laboratory to prepare for the game of life
.
Honor the Game

I love the game of basketball, and I hope you do too. Basketball has a long history and is the most played sport in the world. A lot of great things happen on the basketball court. I feel that it is an honor to be involved in the sport. That's why I want to talk to you about Honoring the Game. Now, I am sure many of you have had parents or coaches talk to you about sportsmanship, or what it means to be a "good sport." What does it mean to you to be a good sport? (Answers may include "play fair," "don't cheat" etc.) Sportsmanship is important, but in order to get the most out of this basketball season, I want you to honor the game. We say that Honoring the Game goes to the ROOTS of the matter: R-O-O-T-S. Each letter in ROOTS stands for an important part of basketball that we must respect. The R stands for Rules. The first O is for Opponents. The next O is for Officials. T is for Teammates, and the S is for Self.

R is for Rules
The rules of basketball are what allow us to keep the game fair. Respect for the rules is important, even when it's possible to break them without getting caught. I want you to play by the rules, even if you think you won't get caught if you break them. Breaking the rules dishonors the game, even if it means that we win.

O is for Opponents
Without opponents, we could have no game. A good opponent makes us do our best. Sometimes your opponents are friends of yours. I want you to respect your opponents, and remember they are out there to have fun just like us. I want you to try your hardest to win, not because you hate your opponent, but because you want to play your best. I promise that I will try to show respect for opposing coaches and teams, and I expect you to do the same.

O if for Officials
It is very important to respect officials. Often, this can be the most difficult part of Honoring the Game, so we need to remember to keep it as a focus when we play. Officials have been selected and trained to enforce rules, and they have a very hard job. Without the officials the game would be unsafe and unfair. Officials are not perfect (just like coaches, athletes and parents!) and sometimes make mistakes. However, there is no excuse for treating officials with disrespect when they make errors. I want you to show respect for officials, even when you disagree with the call. I promise to try to do the same thing.

T is for Teammates
A big part of basketball is the team. Being with your teammates should be fun. Later in life you will often be part of a team, and it is important to learn to work together. I hope you feel a commitment to each other as teammates and that you will agree to always play as hard as you can in practice and in games. Please encourage and support each other on and off the playing field.

S is for Self
Some people only Honor the Game when their opponents do, but I want us to Honor the Game no matter what the other team or its fans do. I want us to be the kind of team that Honors the Game even when others do not because we set our own personal standards. And we live up to them no matter what. We have respect for ourselves and would never do anything to dishonor the game.

So what do we mean when we say that Honoring the Game goes to the ROOTS of the matter? Respect for : Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self. If you do these five things, you are Honoring the Game. You and your teammates will get the most out of our season, and you will join the great tradition that is soccer. Now let's Honor the Game starting right now at this practice, especially when we scrimmage.
from the Positive Coaching Alliance at http://www.positivecoach.org

Redefining "Winner"

Basketball is a great game. It's a lot of fun to play, and it's also a way that we learn important lessons that can help us later in life. I know that I learned a lot from playing competitive sports when I was your age.

I want to tell you about a goal I have for the team and for each of you individually this season. It's called "Act like a winner to be a winner."

There are two kinds of winners. What is one kind of winner? What does "winner" mean to you? (Answer likely to be something like "The one who has the most points at the end of the game.")

One kind of winner is the team that has the most points at the end of the game. And we want to be that kind of winner. We want to work as hard as we can to win as many games as we can.

There is another kind of winner though that is just as important. That is a winner in life.

We want to learn from this season how to be a winner in everything we do, not just baseball.

To be a winner we need to start acting like a winner. And a winner is someone who is working for mastery of whatever activity he or she is doing. So in baseball we want to work toward mastery to be the best basketball player and team we can be. And we want to learn how to achieve mastery at anything we want to be good at.

To help understand the way that we achieve mastery, we use the example of a tree that we call the Tree of Mastery. If you climb the Tree of Mastery you will be successful.

We say that the Tree of Mastery is an ELM tree because there are three things you need to do to climb the Tree of Mastery:

E is for Effort. We want to give our best effort every time we come out on the field. I am more concerned that we try our hardest than I am if we win. We could win against a weak team without giving it our best effort, and that doesn't really mean anything.

On the other hand we could play a team that was stronger than we are and try our very hardest and lose. I would be proud of us in that case because we were acting like a winner by trying our hardest even though the other team ended up winning the game.

So the first part of the ELM tree is E for Effort.

L is for Learning. We want to continue learning and improving every week in practice and every time we play a game. If we continue to learn, we will get better, and that is more important than whether or not we are better than some other team.

We could be better than another team without learning and improving if that team is a weak team. And we could be weaker than another team but be learning a lot and getting better all the time. It's more important to me that we learn and improve than it is to beat a team that isn't very good. And it's more important that we learn and improve even if we lose to a team that is stronger than we are.

So the second part of the ELM tree is L for Learning.

M is for Mistakes. Most people think it's bad to make a mistake. But mistakes are part of the learning process. You can't learn something as complicated as baseball if you are afraid to make a mistake. And people that are afraid to make a mistake often don't even try very hard.

I want you to know that it is okay to make a mistake on this team. We want to learn from our mistakes and not let them discourage us or keep us from working hard. So, is it okay to make a mistake on this team?

Yes, it is. And the third part of the ELM tree is M for it's okay to make a Mistake.

Acting like a winner involves three things. It means:

Giving your best effort every time,

Continuing to learn and improve, and

Not letting mistakes (or fear of making a mistake) stop you.

If you do these three things, you are acting like a winner, and you will be a winner in life as well as basketball.
from the Positive Coaching Alliance at http://www.positivecoach.org

Fill the Emotional Tank
Wouldn't you love to hear a coach say this.

"Have you ever heard of the home court advantage? How often do you think a team wins on its home court? It turns out that a team wins at home a lot more than when they are away. One reason for this is the emotional support of the fans. It tends to lift our emotions and make us play better.

We want to be able to play our best all of the time. To play our best we have to keep our "Emotional Tanks" full. What is an emotional tank? Well, it is like a gas tank in a car. When it is full, we run well, but when it is empty, we can't go very far.

Why is it important that we keep each other's tanks full? If our emotional tank is empty, we become negative, and we give up easier. If our tanks are full, however, we are optimistic and are able to handle difficult situations. As the coach, I will do my best to help fill your emotional tanks. To have a really great season, I need your help.

Think about when you miss a free throw. What would someone say to make you feel worse?"Nice job (sarcastically)," "You stink!" See, that was easy. We call that draining the emotional tank. When you criticize or insult your teammates, you make them feel worse. That's why we call it draining the emotional tank. I will try not to drain your emotional tank, but sometimes I will have to correct you to help you learn the game. I will try to do this in a way that keeps your emotional tank full.

What would someone say to make you feel better after you missed a shot. ("Get the next one," "Shake it off!") We call that filling the emotional tank. Here are some ways to fill the emotional tank:
Tell your teammate when you see him do something well, or when you see him giving his maximum effort, even if he does not make the play.

Tell him when you see him improving. This will make him want to continue trying hard to improve even more.

Listen to your teammates. If your teammate has an idea he wants to share, you can fill his tank by listening to what he has to say. No one wants to be ignored.
I promise to do all of these things. Also, I want you to do tank-filling activities with each other.

Here is a great way that you can help me. It is called the Buddy System. Once in a while at practice, I'll ask you to pair up with a buddy. It might be a different buddy every time. I want you to look for the things that your buddy is doing well. Remember, though, you have to be truthful, or else it won't mean anything. Also, try to tell your buddies exactly what they did right. If your buddy makes a nice pass, say "Good pass! Way to bounce it in to the low post."

Do you think it is important to say more positives than negatives? How many more positives should you say? I am going to try to shoot for five positives for every negative. I don't want you to worry about the exact number of positives you say, just remember, be as positive as you can.

So, right now, pair up with someone else, and he will be your buddy for today's practice. Later in the practice, I am going to have each one of you report back to the team on what your buddy said to you to fill your tank.

This season is going to be an especially great season if we support each other and keep our emotional tanks full. With full emotional tanks, we will be off to the races, and there is no limit to what we can accomplish."
from the Positive Coaching Alliance at http://www.positivecoach.org

What is a Champion?
A Champion's Creed...

Champions get up one more time than they have been knocked down.

Champions give their all no matter the score.

Champions do what is right even when it hurts.

Champions know winning is not necessarily measured by the final score.

Champions take a stand for what is right, even when they stand alone.

Champions see every challenge as an opportunity.

Champions make those around them better.

Champions do the right thing even when no one is watching.

Champions dedicate themselves to prepare for success.

Champions put the success of others above individual achievement.

Champions understand winning is not the only thing.

Champions live by a higher personal standard.

Champions stand firm when others around them fall.

Champions live what they speak and speak what they live.

Champions lay down their own desires for the benefit of others.

Champions willingly accept responsibility, and graciously deflect honor.

Champions never sacrifice what is best for something good.

Champions may fail...but they never quit.
Pressure
by Coach Doug Reese
"Sure I'm nervous every time I'm out there. Even when I was a kid, I felt the pressure. There is pressure everytime you are in there. That's the of the game - pressure." - Tony Esposito, NHL Hall of Fame Goaltender, Chicago Blackhawks
Very few athletes can comprehend what it is like to play professional sports. The pressure can be intense and gut wrenching to say the least. Roger Maris of the 1961 New York Yankees knew the cost of fame, fortune, failure and pressure better than most.
In the summer of '61 Maris chased a baseball record that put the pressure of the entire sports world upon his shoulders. His pursuit? To become the major league single season home run champion by surpassing the legendary Babe Ruth's 1927 record of 60 home runs.
Once thought to be unbreakable, Ruth's record was under siege in the summer of 1961. The quality of major league pitching had been diluted by expansion that year, while eight or more games had been added to the traditional 154 game season. The Babe's record was a prime target to fall.
Maris was a quiet, farm boy who grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. He had spent the first seven years of his career in smaller baseball markets of Cleveland and Kansas City. A newcomer to New York, Maris was immediately uneasy and restless in his new big city surroundings. And Maris was viewed with suspicion because he wasn't a "true" Yankee.
As spring turned to summer that year, Maris was knocking the cover off the ball. Soon the overzealous media began projecting the possibility of breaking Ruth's record. With each home run came more and more questions.
"Can you break Ruth's record?" "How does it feel that you will probably surpass the great Babe Ruth?" "If you break the record, do you feel that puts you in the same company with the Babe?" Maris had a very difficult time responding to the media and all the questions. "How do I know? I don't want to be Babe Ruth," he blurted out on several occasions.
As summer wore on, Maris continued to hit home runs at an alarming rate. As the pressure increased, Maris' hair began to fall out in clumps. His pre-game ritual consisted of smoking cigarette after cigarette, while drinking gallons of black coffee. All the while, he spoke to virtually no one. Maris paced the locker room. "If I sat in front of my locker, my stomach turned to knots," he said.
The reporters of New York hounded him... "if the record is to be broken, it should be done by someone with greater baseball stature and greater color and public appeal... Maris is colorless... He is not more than a good big-league player... He is average in the field and often surly... There just isn't anything deeply heroic about the man."
On September 26th, the 158th game of the season, Maris tied the Babe's record. Maris went without a home run in the next three games. In the final game of the season, in his second at bat, in the fourth inning against Boston's Tracy Stallard, Maris lifted a 2-0 fastball at the knees into the right field bleachers. He had done it! The single season home run record was his.
Because the baseball season was eight games longer for the first time, then baseball commissioner Ford Frick decided to place an asterisk beside Maris' name in the record books. Thus, Ruth's record was semi-persevered.
Athletic Principle
"The only pressure I'm under is the pressure I've put on myself." - Mark Messier, Stanley Cup Champion, New York Rangers
What seems like a long drawn out story, the season of 1961 for Roger Maris, was a perfect example of paying a price and competing under pressure. The pressure of the legend of Babe Ruth, the media, the commissioner, and the fans of New York all paid a heavy toll on Roger Maris. When Maris should have been on the top of the world for his accomplishments, he was miserable and empty.
Former Yankee great, "Mr. October," Reggie Jackson summed it up perfectly, "I have so much respect for the man. For the mental part almost more than the physical. I mean, can you imagine what it's like to hit 61 home runs in a season? In New York?"
Pressure - it is a way of life in athletics. Pressure abounds... pressure to win, the pressure to make the team, the pressure to keep your position and ranking, the pressure of criticism and fame.
Basically there are two types of pressure that an athlete will face. The first type of pressure is the kind which you have control over. This type of pressure is usually the pressure that comes because you have failed to train and properly prepare. It shows up when you are out of shape - whether it be your cardiovascular system, your flexibility, your strength, your weight, or your mental state of mind. It is not being in the optimal combative state.
This type of pressure also shows up in your preparation for competition. This usually happens going into a battle without a plan or without a strategy. It is going into a tough competition without doing your homework on your opponent. All of this type of pressure is totally avoidable. The real problem is that you created this mess by not being disciplined to detail.
Another type of pressure is the kind that is unavoidable. It is beyond the realm of your control. This kind of pressure usually comes from outside sources. It is the pressure to live up to someone else's expectations. This is the kind of pressure you must learn to face, because there is nothing you can do to prevent it.
The most important issue to consider as an athlete and as a coach about pressure is how are you going to deal with it. It is there. It just won't go away. You can't run, you can't hide, you can't pretend it is not there; you must face it. Basketball Hall of Fame and NCAA National Championship Coach, John Wooden said this:
"If you are trying to live up to the expectations put on you by the media, parents, fans, your employer, or whatever else there may be, it's going to affect you adversely because it brings On worry and anxiety. I think that is the tendency of people who choke under pressure. They're thinking about living up to the expectations of everybody else instead of just doing their job the best they can."
When you step on the field of competition, you step on a field covered with "landmines" of pressure. At every step, at every turn is the possibility of a pressure explosion. As Roger Maris found out, expect it... it comes with the territory!
Life Principle
"Because of the demands on a goalie are mostly mental, it means that for the goalie the biggest enemy is himself. Not a puck, not an opponent, not a quirk of size or style. Him. The stress and anxiety he feels when he plays, the fear of failing, the fear of being embarrassed, the fear of being physically hurt, all the symptoms of his position, in constant ebb and flow, but never disappearing. The successful goalie understands these neuroses, accepts them, and puts them under control." - Ken Dryden
In his 17 year major league career, Kirk Gibson batted .268, stole 284 bases, scored 985 runs, recorded 870 RBIs, clouted 255 home runs, and compiled a .976 fielding average. Despite winning the MVP in 1988 and batting third on two World Series Championship teams, Gibson is remembered most for one of the most dramatic events in post-season history.
Hobbled by injuries, Gibson sat out the first game of the World Series against the Oakland A's.
Twenty-four hours before the opening game of the Series, Gibson couldn't so much as jog in his living room. He tried to swing the day before the Series began and couldn't. He was so beat up and certain he couldn't play that he didn't even arrive at Dodger Stadium in time to be introduced with the rest of the players and coaches during the pre-game ceremonies.
The Dodgers were trailing the A's 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a runner on first. Gibson, who couldn't start because of a badly injured knee, came up to pinch hit against Dennis Eckersley, Oakland's All-Star closer. Gibson worked Eckersley from 0-2, to a full count.
Here are the exact words from Jack Buck who called the game for CBS radio:
"Gibson... swings! And a fly ball to deep right field! This is gonna be a home run! Unbelievable! A home run for Gibson! And the Dodgers have won the game, 5-4! I don't believe what I just saw!... I don't believe what I just saw!"
Kirk Gibson triumphantly circled the bases, pumping his fists all the way around the diamond.
"It's depressing and demoralizing that you can't be out there. That's what you live for, To play in those situations... So all through the game, while I'm icing, I'm working on It. Then here's the bottom of the eighth, then the top of the ninth. I'm sitting there in the trainer's room in my shorts, and something in my head says, 'It's time to get dressed.'"- Kirk Gibson
Kirk Gibson thrived on pressure. It was the pressure packed situations where Gibson could relax and just perform. Nothing bothered him. The bottom line was Kirk Gibson was a competitor, and pressure just fueled his fire.
Pressure or stressful situations can be your foe. Too little stress and you will be under-aroused, and not be fully motivated to perform. Too much stress and you will be over-aroused, and may panic, tighten up, thereby harming your performance. Either way, too hot or too cold, your performance will suffer.
Pressure really comes from you! Now that may sound strange, but it is true. Pressure and stress can come in many different forms; lack of time, grades in school, money, parents, boyfriend/girlfriend, injuries, trying to make the team, etc. Sports psychologists tell us that some individuals are bothered by certain things, while others have no problems whatsoever in the same situation.
The bottom line is nothing in particular causes stress. The pressure, the stress is caused by how you perceive the situation, the idea, the requirement, or the expectation. It comes down to how you interpret the event or circumstance.
It is important to realize that any pressure you do feel is caused by how you are looking at the situation. It is coming from your picture of how things should be, and what you think needs to be. By placing such values on an idea you begin to produce pressure, tension, stress, anxiety, and fear. No one can compete in their Ideal Performance State with that load on their back!
If you find the pressure is building you can take the following steps:
Understand that you are making the stress.
Step back and identify what you are stressing over.
Look for the solution to the specific problem (what can I do about it!).
Get to work on the solution.
If there is not an immediate solution, let it go...
Refocus on an idea or thought that will help you.
Just by understanding that you are in control, you are a step closer to actually being in control. You have the power so use it!
When an athlete is worried about the possibility of a poor performance, they call the feelings they are experiencing "nervousness." When the same athlete is in a positive frame of mind concerning a competition, they call the feeling, "excitement."
You control the process! A simple trick is to "reframe" or rename the stress. Instead of focusing on the "butterflies" in your stomach as nervousness, call it instead EXCITEMENT. Be excited that you can compete. Be excited that this is the opportunity you have been training for. Be excited that this just may be your best performance ever.
Capture the attitude of Kirk Gibson, "That's what you live for, to play in those situations..." Love the moment!
http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Sportsmanship
by Coach Doug Reese
"If character is what you do when no one is watching, then perhaps sportsmanship is that conduct with everybody watching." - Bob Ley, ESPN

In the 2003 NCAA I National Wrestling Championships in Kansas City, two collegiate wrestlers battled for All-American honors in the second round of the championship bracket. From the University of Iowa was undefeated Steve Mocco, the top-ranked heavyweight wrestler in the nation. From intrastate rival Iowa State was Scott Coleman.
Coleman was being manhandled by Mocco during the match. Mocco attempted to turn Coleman by using a bar-arm and pinning Coleman's head between his knees while working on forcing Coleman to go to his back.
In his excitement and his aggressive style of wrestling, Mocco elevated the arm of Coleman too high and away from the body. The referee stopped the match and penalized Mocco for an illegal hold. Coleman remained on the mat in pain, barely able to lift his right arm.
According to the rules of wrestling, had Coleman informed the referee he could not continue, the undefeated Mocco would have been disqualified, ending the hope of a national title.
Instead, Iowa State coach Bobby Douglas, who wasn't even initially even coaching in his athlete's corner rushed onto the mat and instructed Coleman to return to the mat...for at least one more second...before retiring because of an injury default.
That one second was the difference between a national championship which Mocco eventually earned, and a painful nightmare for Iowa State's Scott Coleman. It also served as a quick reminder to Steve Mocco and many others in the Kemper Arena that day that true sportsmanship is measured by more than championships.
"I felt like I was going into shock," said Mocco. "I was put in a position that I could have been put out of the tournament. The Iowa State coaches have all my respect and I owe them a lot. They represented their team with class and were warriors."
According to Coach Bobby Douglas, "We did the right thing. I don't think that would have been good for the sport. It wasn't that he was deliberately trying to hurt him. He got hurt because of position. If you get in that position and don't go over, you will get hurt."
Athletic Principle
"One man practicing good sportsmanship is far better than 50 others preaching it." - Knute Rockne
In perception and practice, sportsmanship is defined as those qualities which are characterized by generosity and genuine concern for others:
Play fair, take loss or defeat without complaint, or victory without gloating
Treat others as you wish to be treated Respect others and one's self
Impose self-control, be courteous, and gracefully accept results of one's actions
Display ethical behavior by being good (character) and doing right (action)
Be a good citizen
"Sportsmanship is defined in the dictionary as, "a person who can take a loss or defeat without complaint, or victory without gloating, and who treats his opponents with fairness, generosity, courtesy."
Sportsmanship is a learned skill. Our nature is to seek victory and put ourselves first no matter what the situation. It takes direction, coaching, and understanding in how to conduct yourself (whether in victory or defeat); being moral, being mature, being a person of character, or just simply being the person to walk away from controversy, a potential fight, a cheap shot, or trash talk.
Sportsmanship is always thinking of the consequences before you talk or act. What you say and do as an athlete does affect others. Think about it!
Sportsmanship is a character quality. The time to build character is now! Just as the building that stands the test of time must have a strong foundation, so must you. If you don't build that foundation, you will have a hard time reaching your goals. If you are able to reach them without character, the satisfaction you feel will be fleeting. Consider for a moment the story of Ben Johnson of the Canadian Olympic team:
In the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, Ben Johnson of Canada won the 100 meter dash, setting a new Olympic and World Record in the process. Carl Lewis of the United States came in second place claiming the Silver medal. After the race, the Olympic officials found that Johnson had an illegal substance in his body - anabolic steroids.
Ben Johnson ran the Olympic race illegally. He was stripped of his Gold medal, of his Olympic and World Record, and of the respect of his peers. Eventually Ben Johnson was banned from the sport for life!
Even though Ben Johnson ran faster than all of the other runners, he failed to live up to the sportsmanship of the Olympic ideals. Ben Johnson took a crooked path and he was found out - he lost much: records, awards, endorsements, prestige, glory and honor, and his integrity!
Sportsmanship is simply an athlete or a coach who behaves fairly, honestly, and generously in the heat of battle. It is playing and competing within the rules of the game. It is training and competing with honesty and integrity in everything you do.
Now, you may not be Ben Johnson, and you may not be going for the Olympic Gold medal, but you can still compromise your integrity and flirt with the gray areas of sportsmanship:
In football, sportsmanship is not holding, tripping, or leg whipping to take your opponent out of the play.
In wrestling, sportsmanship is making weight without the use of diuretics, saunas and plastic suits.
In basketball, sportsmanship is keeping your tongue under control, not talking trash up and down the floor.
In hockey, sportsmanship is keeping emotions in check, not high sticking, slashing and tripping, or holding an opponent.
In baseball, sportsmanship is not throwing high and inside at a batter to leave a message.
Start building a solid foundation now! Do it with character, do it with integrity, do it with class, and do it as a true sportsman!
Life Principle
"Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can't tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way." - Jim Courier, Professional Tennis Champion
Some people define good sportsmanship as the "Golden Rule" of sports - in other words, treating the people that you play with and against as you'd like to be treated yourself. You can demonstrate good sportsmanship when you show respect for yourself, your teammates, and your opponents, for the coaches on both sides, and for the referees, judges, and other officials. Good sportsmanship take maturity and courage; when you work really hard at a sport, it's not easy to admit that you made a bad play or that someone has more skill than you do.
People who have developed the skill of good sportsmanship usually find that the positive attitude they've learned on the field carries over into other areas of their lives. At school, for example, they're able to appreciate the contributions made by their classmates and they know how to work as part of a team to complete a project. They may enjoy more success at work as well, because good sports are respectful of others, including costumers and co-workers.
It can be just as hard to be a good sport when you've won a game as when you've lost one. You've probably seen athletes who take their own successes too seriously. They celebrate a goal with a prolonged victory dance or constantly brag about their abilities. After a while, you get tired of hearing them talk about how great they are.
Individuals who possess the character of sportsmanship, on the other hand, are gracious and generous winners. They can acknowledge their victories without humiliating their opponents. They are quietly proud of their success, letting their victories speak for themselves. Even if they win by a landslide, they still find ways to compliment their opponents.
When it comes to losing, people who are good sports congratulate the winner promptly and willingly. They accept the game's outcome without complaint and without excuses, even if they suspect that the referee made some questionable calls. They understand that in sports - as in life - you may not always win, but you can learn something from losing. In fact you learn more from defeat than you will ever learn from victory.
Although it's great to be champion, it's even better to have enjoyed the process of trying to reach the top. Good sports know how to play fair and how to have fun while they are doing it.
So what does it take to demonstrate good sportsmanship in real-life situations? Here are some examples of things that you can do:
Learn as much as you can about your sport. Play by its rules. Show up for practice, work hard, and realize that if you're on a team, everyone deserves a chance to play.
Talk politely and act courteously towards everyone before, during, and after games and events. That includes your teammates, your opponents, your coaches and theirs, the officials presiding over the game, and even the spectators (who can sometimes be loud with their opinions).
Stay cool. Even if others are losing their tempers, it doesn't mean you have to. Remind yourself that no matter how hard you have practiced and played, it is, after all, just a game.
Avoid settling disputes with violence. If you're in a difficult situation or someone's threatening you, seek help immediately from your coach or an official.
Cheer your teammates on with positive statements - and avoid trash talking the other team. Acknowledge and applaud good plays, even when someone on the other team makes them.
When officials make a call, accept it gracefully even if it goes against you. Remember that referees may not be right every time - but they're people who are doing their best, just as you are.
Whether you win or lose, congratulate your opponents on a game well played.
Irina Karavaeva, a gymnast from Russia gave the international sports community a gift with an example of sportsmanship which all sportsmen around the world would do well to take note. After noticing that the judges in the World Gymnastic Championships in Denmark made a mistake in her favor, she handed the Gold medal over to second place finisher Ana Dogonadze of Germany.
This is the first time such an occurrence has happened in the sport of gymnastics. Irina Karavaeva noticed that the judges had made a mistake which attributed the Gold medal to her, and even though she is the eight-time world trampoline champion, Olympic champion and European champion, she decided to hand the medal to the second-place German gymnast.
"I am very sorry that the error was committed by the judges at the World Championships in Denmark. I feel it is necessary to correct the mistake, and I have decided to give the medal to my friend Ana Dogonadze of Germany as a sign of my friendship, and as a sign of fair play.
Fair play - sportsmanship was clearly shown by the actions of the Russian gymnast. This is a shining example of a young lady who performs at the highest level and yet does it with a pure attitude and with the true spirit of sport.
It is not easy to do what Irina Karavaeva did! It takes a person of character, class, and integrity.
Irina Karavaeva is to be congratulated and honored for valuing the sport more than the medal. We who love sports should take notice. Here is a role model for sportsmanship that we should never forget!
http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Handling Defeat      
by Coach Doug Reese, TTNL Sports Network   
      
It is a fact of life in coaching that you are not going to win them all. What you do need to learn is not only how to handle defeat, but how to turn defeat into a positive learning experience for your athletes. It starts with your post-competition comments to the team and your actions.   
Once the game is over, it is over. As a coach you need to understand this as well as your athletes. Losing hurts. But to take a loss as an athlete, then get beat up again by the words of the coach following the game, penetrates deeper and lasts much longer.
As a coach, you need to learn to handle the stress of defeat, how to cool off, stay calm, control your emotions, collect your thoughts, and look for the positives.

Everyone is disappointed following a loss. In the locker room following the competition is not the time for a play-by-play analysis of technical mistakes, and mental errors committed in the contest, or to give a challenge of the teams' character. It is a time to be brief, and to be calm. It is a time to focus on the future.

As a coach in this difficult situation, you need to come into the locker room with a clear idea of what you want to convey to the team. Words spoken in anger can set the stage for future failure, but words aptly spoken can sow the seeds for future victory.

A few points to consider before you address the team:

Be brief. No one is looking forward to a long-winded speech. Let your team know that defeat is temporary. In most cases there is a tomorrow.
Don't focus on the blame for the defeat. If you have to express your disappointment, do it in general terms. Don't get personal and name names.
Before you analyses the defeat with the team, sleep on it. Now is not the time. You need time to clearly analyses what happened. Don't speak about it until you are sure.
Be positive. Find something positive to say. Build them up again. Even after a loss there are positive things that can be expressed. Just a tap on the back can go a long way for an athlete who is hurting.
Remember much of coaching and teaching is modeling. How we respond to disappointment and failure whether good or bad is being taught and modeled to your athletes.  Every post-competition meeting is a teachable moment, a lasting impression. In life there are many struggles, disappointments and failures. How we teach our athletes to handle defeat on the field will be directly proportionate on how they respond in life. How they respond will be largely dependent on how you do it. Be positive - leave a lasting legacy to your team.


Injuries and Setbacks
by Coach Doug Reese
"Accept challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory." - Vince Lombardi
Greg LeMond was the first great cyclist that the United States produced. LeMond won a Gold, Silver, and a Bronze medal in the Junior World Championship time trials in 1978. Then LeMond went on to claim Senior World titles in 1979, and again in 1983. In 1986, LeMond won the world's greatest bike race, the Tour de France, a 2,486 mile race, becoming the first American racer to win the title.
Greg LeMond had everything going for him. Fame, fortune, and a bright future seemed assured. Then on April 27, 1987, while turkey hunting, LeMond was accidentally shot by a blast from a shotgun. The explosion from the shell put holes in LeMond's back, his legs, his hands, and broke two of his ribs. Everyone associated with LeMond, from his competitors to his team manager thought he was through as a world class cyclist.
Against all odds, Greg LeMond came back! Not just to compete, but to win! LeMond went on to win both the Senior World Championships and the Tour de France in both 1989, and again in 1990.
LeMond's comeback earned him the ABC Wide World of Sports "Athlete of the Year," Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year," as well as a trip to the White House to meet the President of the United States.
Athletic Principle
"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." - M. Kathleen Casey
You hope it never happens to you, but it does. You have sustained an injury and you will be out of practice and competition for a while. As an athlete, your number one concern is getting back to full strength as soon as possible so that you can return to training and competition. Injuries just don't create physical damage, but psychological damage as well. The injury can affect your thoughts, your emotions, your attitudes and your self-image.
Following an injury, all athletes have the tendency to respond with a wide array of emotions such as denial, anger, and depression regarding the unfairness of the injury. Although this is typically a natural reaction, you really need to move beyond these feelings and take some positive steps that will help you cope with the setback.
Approach the Injury as a Challenge
As a competitive athlete, you continually face the challenges that you and your coach must attempt to overcome. The same is true with injuries. Rather than viewing the injury as a crisis that must be endured, it should be seen as a challenge that you and your athletic trainer will strive to conquer. The injury can be viewed as yet another test of your desire and determination.
Accept Responsibility
The injury happened to you - not your coach, your trainer, your teammates, or your parents. It is up to you to assume the responsibility for your rehabilitation. People are there to help you, but the bottom line is that the hard work is up to you. You need to ask yourself, "What do I need to do to get back in the game?"
By taking responsibility and accepting the task at hand, you are putting yourself closer to the goal.
Ask Questions about Your Injury
Not knowing what to expect regarding your injury can cause unnecessary fear and anxiety. It is important to ask your doctor or athletic trainer questions such as:
Exactly what type of injury do I have?
How long can I expect to be out of practice and competition?
What is the purpose of the treatments I am receiving?
What should I expect during the rehabilitation?
Are there parts of practice, conditioning, and strength training that I can still participate in that won't aggravate my injury?
By understanding the injury and knowing what to expect during the rehabilitation process, you will feel less anxiety and a greater sense of peace. Also, if you know in advance that there will be ups and downs in your rehab, you will be able to deal with these situations when they occur.
"Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do." - John Wooden
Maintain a Positive Attitude
As a competitive athlete you have learned to be committed to the sport, how to maintain a positive focus, and how to concentrate on your strengths and abilities. The same holds true for overcoming setbacks.
To enhance the rehab process, you need to be committed to overcoming your injury by showing up for your treatments, working hard, and listening and doing what your doctor and/or athletic trainer tells you to do. You also need to monitor what you are thinking and saying to yourself regarding the injury and the rehab process.
Your self-talk is important. Are your thoughts negative and self-defeating? To get the most out of your daily rehab, you need to work hard and maintain a positive attitude. Remain focused on what you need to do.
Seek Social Support
A very common response after an injury is for the athlete to isolate themselves from teammates, coaches, and friends because they feel these relationships have changed now that they are not "part of the team." It is very important to maintain the relationship and try to keep things as they were prior to the injury.
Your teammates and coaches can be a real source of strength when you become frustrated. They are there to listen when you need to vent some anger, or can offer advice or encouragement during the rehab process. Just knowing you don't have to face the injury alone can also be a tremendous comfort. So, go to practice; remain around the locker room and the weight room. Be visible by being an active member of the team.
Identify Goals and Strategies
In athletics, you need to have goals to be successful. Goal setting helps you know what you need to do in developing a plan to move in the right direction.
In rehabilitation of your injury, it also helps to set goals. By setting goals related to your recovery, you will have something to focus on each day in making your comeback. This will help keep you motivated. By monitoring your goals you will also be able to notice small improvements in the rehab of your injury. You will feel more confident that you are getting better and improving.
Remember to work closely with your trainer. It will help to work with them to set realistic goals that are in line with each stage of your rehab. Most athletes have a tendency to try to speed-up the recovery by doing too much too soon.
Other Support Services
Use your mental skills. Mental skills will also aid in your ability to rehab the injury. Skills such as relaxation, imagery and positive self-talk have been found to be rather effective in the recovery process.
Physical training specialists are available to design workout programs to maintain your cardiovascular conditioning level and your sports skill level during your rehab. Also, modified strength training and exercise programs can be designed based upon your specific injury. Make use of these support services as they are available to assist you in your recovery.
Life Principle
"The size of your heart - how much determination you have is what matters. If you work hard enough at whatever you do, you'll be able to accomplish it." - Erica Routt
Sometimes it seems like the only big news that ever comes out of the sports world is negative. Every now and then, however, an inspirational story emerges out of the realm of athletics that remind us what sports are really all about.
Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, reminded us when he threw a no-hitter against the Indians on September 3, 1993.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong reminded us on July 26, 1999 - just three years after doctors gave him a 50-50 chance to live - by winning the first of his five consecutive Tour de France titles. And although many people are unaware of the date's importance, the most recent such reminder occurred on September 18, 2003.
That's when Neil Parry, a member of San Jose State's punt-return team, played 30 of the most heroic seconds in college football history.
With 13:45 left in the game versus Nevada, the crowd began to chant, "Parry! Parry!" as he sprinted onto the field.
Now let's flash back to Parry's freshman season.
On October 14, 2000, in a game versus the University of Texas-El Paso, Neil Parry suffered an injury on a special teams play in the third quarter of the game.
Parry was running downfield, covering a kickoff when a teammate was knocked down and rolled into Parry's leg.
Parry heard the bones snap - the fibula and tibia breaking the skin - but his first thought was that the Spartans had a chance to play in a bowl game and he would miss it.
As he lay on the field at Spartan Stadium, bleeding from a compound fractures on his lower leg, Neil Parry vowed he would play football again.
But in the following weeks what Parry lost was more than just the opportunity to finish the season. Soon after Parry broke the leg he developed a life-threatening infection. Surgeons were forced to amputate his leg three inches below the knee less than two weeks later.
Parry's return to the football field had been 23 months in the making. It began the day after the amputation as Parry sat in the hospital with his father, a surgical nurse, and watched a football game on television. It was then that Neil Parry decided he would be back on the field.
"The next day after the operation I asked my Dad if he thought I could run again. He said yes. So I said, "Why not play football again?'" said Parry.
In the next two years, Parry endured 20 surgeries and was fitted for 15 different prosthetic legs.
I"I had the desire then, and I still have the desire now even after my setback," said Parry. "Going through all of this has taught me a lot about life. I could have given up. But I didn't because I love football."
By August 2001, 10 months after the injury, Parry was back at practice, participating in fall workouts. Parry had hoped to play in 2001, but when that went awry he set his sights on the 2002 home opener against, coincidentally, Texas-El Paso.
That's when the hurdles changed to red tape. His insurance carrier, Mutual of Omaha, threatened to cancel its lifetime coverage for Parry's prostheses. When that problem cleared - Mutual of Omaha reconsidered its position - Parry's leg acted up again. Then another operation was needed.
"After 25 surgeries and just problem after problem, everything kept going the wrong way," Parry said. "A few times it was just like, "Man, is this really what I want to do? Is this going to happen?" But this last summer everything just started going well and one thing led to another."
Parry began practicing in full pads for the first time since the injury in the fall of 2003. He finally convinced Coach Fitz Hill that he was ready.
"He's earned the right," Hill said. "Nobody's given him anything."
"I want to finish what I started," Parry said. Neil Parry did just that.
The story of Neil Parry is a story of comeback, not a setback. It is a story of determination, heart, and grit. It is a story of no matter what happens to you, you are bigger than any circumstance. It is a story of a real champion!
http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Integrity
by Coach Doug Reese
"The integrity of the game is everything." - Peter Ueberroth, Former MLB Commissioner
Competition is defined as a struggle, a rivalry, a contest for some prize, honor, or advantage. There are a number of ways to give yourself an advantage, or an edge on the athletic field - one is by out working your opponent; being in great physical shape, being as strong as possible, and by being technically sharp. There are other methods to gain an edge over the competition such as developing tactics and strategies, strong mental skills, and self-confidence in your abilities. Competition is not just playing a game any more; it has now evolved into a technical science.
Yet, there are still athletes who look for an edge in all of the wrong places - and will sacrifice their integrity in the process.
The beloved Chicago Cub slugger Sammy Sosa was caught with a corked bat in a game during the 2003 baseball season - a clear violation of the rules. Why would anyone cork a bat? To gain an advantage - a hitter with the density of a heavier bat while maintaining the speed of a lighter bat has in fact a weapon that will propel the ball faster, and farther.
Unfortunately baseball has a history of cheating. Pitchers throw spitballs, scuff balls with thumbtacks, or rub them with sandpaper. One Yankee player admitted to putting "super balls" inside his bat. There was the Black Sox scandal to "throw" the World Series in 1919, and teams have been known to steal signs with cameras from the outfield bleachers or scoreboards. Yes, the American past time is looking more like corporate America all the time.
One former big leaguer, now in the front office of a major league team said, "All the players are looking for an edge. It's the same now as when I played. It is all about getting an edge, which is why guys use things like steroids, amphetamines, or corked bats."
In a post-game news conference, Sosa immediately began the task of regaining favor with the fans, in hopes of reclaiming his tarnished image. "I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I just picked the wrong bat," Sosa said.
As for even why Sammy Sosa even had a bat that was corked, he said, "Just to put on a show for the fans (in batting practice). I like to make people happy."
It is easy to see why Sosa might have resorted to cheating. Sosa was struggling at the plate. He was failing to play up to his potential and his average, RBIs, and home run totals were behind his normal production. It is not a huge leap in logic to believe Sosa could, or would stretch the rules to improve his struggling performance.
Whether Sosa's actions were an accident or cold-hearted cheating - he compromised his integrity. Now everybody looks at the smiling, fun-loving Sammy Sosa in a different light.
Questions abound in the minds of players, fans, and sportswriters - how many of Sosa's 292 home runs in the last five seasons were hit with a corked bat? How many were the result of a steroid juiced body?
We can believe Sammy, forgive him, or just rest on the facts that he was caught red-handed in a game on camera!
For many the doubts will never go away. Sammy's integrity is gone forever.
Athletic Principle
"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters." - Alan Simpson
Integrity is defined simply as, "moral uprightness; honesty." There are many good and solid reasons why one should live an honest life, much of what we read in the newspaper and hear on ESPN Sports Center is really about athletes who lack integrity and moral uprightness which affects their life on and off the field.
Many can argue and make the case for the need of integrity in sports today, but in fact integrity is actually a shield of protection which guards those who walk in honesty and truth. The athlete who embraces integrity can walk securely. Those athletes will not be the topic of scandals, rumors, and gossip. But the athletes who decides to cut corners, the ones who takes the crooked path will not only be found out, but will pay a price for his lack of integrity. Consider for a moment the life of Lyle Alzado:
Lyle Alzado was a man's man. He was tough, talented, and physical. In the 1970s and into the mid-1980s, Alzado proved himself as a premier threat in the National Football League.
Alzado played for the Denver Broncos, the Cleveland Browns, and the Los Angles Raiders. He was a true defensive standout who was versatile; he could play both defensive end and tackle, and he could pass rush with the very best in the game. In fact, Alzado was recognized by his peers as one of the best, being named to the NFL All-Pro team.
Alzado was known for his quickness, speed and strength, not to mention his fierce intensity. Alzado once ran a 4.75 forty-yard dash when his playing weight was over 300 pounds. This coupled with his tremendous strength made him a force in the National Football League.
In 1984, Alzado made it to the top when his team the Los Angles Raiders won the Super Bowl. Alzado owned a restaurant in West Hollywood and had embarked on a career as a movie actor, playing roles in nine motion pictures. Alzado's life and his future career looked awful bright. Then in 1992, Alzado announced to the world that he had brain cancer.
"I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969, and I never stopped," he admitted during his pain-racked final days. "We're not born to be 300 pounds, or jump 30 feet. All the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. Now look at me. My hair's gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one ever dies this way."
Many times we see what appears to be a short cut, a quicker route, and we leave the straight path, for a crooked one. The crooked path may look enticing, look easy, and much faster than the one we were on, but this perceived shortcut will be filled with obstacles that entangle us and knock us down to our knees.
We must at all costs remain on the straight path. We must make wise decisions. If we are unsure what to do when we come to the crossroads of life, we then must seek out wise counsel from parents, coaches, or teammates.
Staying on the straight path and staying free of obstacles requires commitment, perseverance, discipline, and a strong reminder that in life or sport - there are no shortcuts!
Life Principle
"If you say you are a man of character, then you do the right thing on purpose - not by accident." - Herman Edwards, Head Coach, New York Jets
The value of integrity is greater than any amount of speed, strength, or skill you could develop. Here is a number of reasons why you should strive to develop integrity into your character:
Trust - to be successful in sport and in life requires a reputation for honesty. When people trust you the doors open to greater opportunity.
Less Stress - people who tell the truth have less concern, less stress, and feel better about themselves.
Pride - you have pride when you do the right thing. You have pride when you pay a price, work hard, and sacrifice. Pride is a result of diligent effort, not shortcuts.
Relationships - are the jewels of our lives. Some would argue that relationships ARE our lives. Breeches in trust can be the death blow of friendships When trust is gone, there is no foundation upon to build. Relationships lacking in trust will be hollow and shallow..
The right thing to do is seldom the easy thing to do - but it is well worth the effort.
"As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we've been given." - Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gold Medalist, Gymnastics
There was a story of a young athlete who attended a university in the southeastern United States. He was on the football team as the starting wide receiver. The athlete was continually striving to shape and mold his own character by doing the right thing. It was his hope and desire to do the right thing no matter what the cost.
A cross-state rival came into town that season for the homecoming game. During the closing minutes of a very tight and exciting game, the wide receiver ran his pass route across the goal line and into the end zone. The quarterback rolled out to the right hash marks and drilled a pass that was low and off target. The receiver slide and reached out at shoe top level to pull the ball into his chest. The referee in the corner of the end zone raised his arms and signaled a touchdown! But the receiver knew otherwise, he had trapped the ball. He hadn't caught the pass at all, his body all but blocked the view of the referee.
The stadium crowd was cheering wildly for the hero of the game. The receiver got up tossed the ball to the referee and said, "Ref, wait a minute"...
He jogged over to the official and shook his head, "I trapped it." The official wiped out the touchdown, and the home team lost the game by four points.
The receiver stood there alone, not only against his teammates that said, "What does it matter, man?" but also against a stadium full of people.
The receiver said, "I can't take the credit. I did not catch it."
This athlete showed his true character - he played fair, by the rules, and stood strong and alone for the truth. He showed sportsmanship - for that is what integrity is.
Not everyone will honor integrity as noted in the above story. It is a sad statement when the prevailing attitude of the day is to "win at all costs" and "whatever it takes." Today I hope that you did in and respond to a higher standard of conduct. It is our charge to compete with sportsmanship, true to the rules, honestly, fully seasoned with class and integrity. That is the true ideal of what sport is really about.
http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Dealing With Adversity

The Carrot, Egg, and the Coffee Bean 
Submitted by James Miller, Ferris State University  
 
A certain daughter complained to her father about her life and how things have been so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and she wanted to give up.
She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that just as one problem was solved another arose.
 
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen, filled three pots with water and placed the fire on high. Soon the three pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the other he placed eggs, and in the last he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil without saying a word.
The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently wondered what he was trying to do. She had problems, and he was making this strange concoction!

In a half and hour he walked over to the oven and turned down the fire. He pulled the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled out the eggs and placed them in a bowl. Then he ladled out the coffee and placed it in a third bowl. Turning to her he asked, "Darling what do you see?"

Smartly, she replied, "Carrots, eggs, and coffee." He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Her face frowned from the strength of the coffee. Humbly she asked, "What does it mean Father?"

He explained. "Each of them faced the same adversity, 212 degrees of boiling water. However each reacted differently."

"The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after going through the boiling water, it softened and became weak."

"The egg was fragile. A thing outer shell protected a liquid center. But after sitting through the boiling water, it's inside became hardened."

"The coffee beans are unique however. After they were in the boiling water, it became stronger and richer."

"Which are you? he asked his daughter.

When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Are you the carrot that seems hard, but with the smallest amount of pain, adversity, or heat you wilt and become soft with no strength?

Are you the egg, which starts off with a malleable heart and fluid spirit? But after a death, a breakup, a divorce, a layoff you become hardened and stiff. Your shell looks the same, but you are so bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and heart, internally.

Or are you like the coffee bean?

The bean does not get its peak flavor and robust until it reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water gets the hottest, it just tastes better. When things are the worst, you get better. When people talk the most, your praises increase. When the hour is the darkest, trials are the greatest, your worship elevates to another level. How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP

A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule 'braying' - or - whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened...and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

(switch to the mule's perspective) Initially, the old mule was hysterical! "You're doing what! BURYING ME!" But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back...a thought struck him, in the way that only mules can be struck one would imagine. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back...HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! This he did, blow after blow. "Shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP! You're right! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him...all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

A Vision for Future Success!   
by Spencer Wood   
      
Mental imagery for winning team confidence...performed the right way!
This is the first of a two part series on dynamic confidence building through the power of imagery and word suggestion.

The Ultimate Mental Skills and Toughness Training System for Athletes - Made Easy.
Mental imagery or 'visualization' is nothing new in sports, particularly basketball. Many years ago, a famous experiment was conducted by a sports psychologist who took a number of individuals and had them shoot free throws, one after the other. The psychologist discovered that if the person in front made a mistake and missed the shot, then there was a higher probability that the person following would end up making the same mistake. The opposite was true if the person in front made the basket. Chances were better that the person following would also hit the shot. The effect was even greater when a 'poor' foul shooter watched a large number of consecutive shots performed by a 'great' foul shooter.
What was happening here? The power of the person behind seeing a positive or negative image caused by the person in front was having a profound affect on performance. A scientific rational for why this was occurring was provided by a Russian scientist called Alexander Romen. Romen theorized that when we see an image, be it real or imagined, our muscles actually receive the same electrical impulses or signals from the nervous system to perform the same skill. Using electromyograms, a machine to measure the electrical impulses that occur in muscle prior to actual movement, Romen then proved his theory.

This is powerful information indeed.

But again, the importance of players seeing images of themselves in their own mind, performing certain skills or making perfect plays is not necessarily a new thing for many coaches and athletes. However, many coaches and athletes are not aware that these 'seeing' or 'imagery' skills, which are commonly referred to as 'visualization' skills are most effective when the following five steps are followed.

1. First Relax.

Great visualization mimics game conditions, and game conditions can lead to body tension. When players find themselves imagining an image that creates some muscle tension and negatively affects breathing patterns, they need to bring their tension, breathing and overall composure levels back to normal before they continue. Players often play how they practice, and practicing in a state of constant nervous body tension leads to game time performance in a state of uncomfortable nervous body tension.

2. See from the 'inside out.'

Players need to spend 75% of their visualization time looking from the 'inside out,' and 25% looking from the 'outside in.' What does this mean? Seeing an image from the inside out vs. the outside in, is the difference between watching racing cars on TV (such as NASCAR) with one camera showing images of the race from inside one of the cars (inside out view) and another camera showing images of the race from the stands or bleachers (outside in).

When we visualize we want to spend 75% of our time with an inside out view as if the camera is showing images being recorded from the 'lens' of our own eyes, vs. an outside in view which would be as if we were in the stands watching ourselves play. In the midst of real competition, the view we have of our surroundings is obviously through the lens of our own eyes (inside out view), so this is the view we want to spend the majority of our time visualizing.

3. 'Feel' the vision

We need to use all five physical senses as we visualize: Eyes, Ears, Touch, Taste, Smell. Recreate competition conditions as accurately as possible. Recreate the smell of the court, track, pool, ice, field, or whatever athletic arena you are in. In the midst of the competition imagine the feelings of perspiration, of elevated body temperatures. Recreate all of the sounds. Recreate all of the colors. Feel all that you are doing in addition to seeing it. This is very important and is a skill that gets better with practice.

The more realistic you make the image, the more positive the results. Again remember, the more realistic the image, the more likely you will experience some mild tension as your body recreates competition conditions. When this occurs, hit the 'pause button' on your image screen, take the time to fully relax and compose yourself, and then continue.

4. Know what to do with the 'wrong' image

Sometimes, the wrong image will pop into our heads. Your athletes may imagine themselves missing the wide open lay-up, or the last second shot. If this occurs, tell your athletes not to worry! Seeing the wrong image happens from time to time. Just tell your players to imagine hitting the 'pause button' on their mental screen, and like a giant dry erase board, wipe the image off of the screen and replace it with a perfect image. Do this as many times as is necessary. Remember to tell your players that it's their image in their mind, and they have ultimate control of the creation of these images.

During the course of an imagery session, it can be useful to actually imagine a mistake occurring. Obviously, visualizing mistakes is something we do not want to spend much of our time doing, but its okay to purposefully create a mistake now and then so we can practice visualizing bouncing back from our error. This can be important because real competition is never mistake free.

You can play a great game and still make mistakes, the great athletes often do. Following the mistake, the key is how quickly you regain Peak Performance Composure, refocus with Peak Performance Concentration and maintain the same great Peak Performance Confidence. Great athletes are able to do this and visualization can really help this process.

5. Enjoy the Process

Tell your athletes to fully experience the joy of the images they are creating. Ask your athletes when was the last time they went 8-for-8 from the 3pt line, or drop-stepped to swish 11 straight jumphooks in competition in one game? They need to enjoy themselves and make it fun. By all means, as they are visualizing, they do need to work on certain skills that they want to improve on, practice certain team plays that you have designed, work on their clutch composure, concentration and confidence; but they also need to be reminded to have some fun and enjoy 'feeling' the perfection and power of their images.

When is the best time to visualize?

Usually we are most relaxed right before we go to sleep or right after we wake up. These times are perfect for taking 10-20 minutes for visualization. But in truth we can practice visualizing anytime, as long as we follow the five steps that are outlined. Research has proven that 20 minutes of imagery a day, performed for 4 straight weeks can dramatically improve skills, increase accuracy, reduce errors, and build winning confidence. Visualization helps players to create various experiences as if they have 'already been there.' Your team may visualize certain skills that you will be using during your next practice or game or certain pre-designed plays. Remember to encourage your players to really project themselves into that actual place or event, to follow each of the


Eight Attitudes of A Champion   
      
Eight important characteristics that you need to be a champion...   
C = Calm Under Pressure

Frees you to focus on the quality of your performance rather than worry about the possible consequences.

H = Hard Worker

Promotes athletic progress since your skills are only fully developed when you continuously give your best effort.

A = Assertive

Unleashes your potential by giving you a positive approach as you meet challenges head on.

M = Modest Team Player

Frees you to be yourself without feeling the pressure of expectations from other people.

P = Prepared

Gives you confidence to be at your best, and to deal with all the circumstances.

I = Integrity

Helps you become a team leader both in and out of your sport involvement.

O = Optimistic

Positive attitude produce positive actions, and consistent positive actions produce athletic improvement.

N = Never Give Up

Keeps your focus sharp on what you set out to accomplish. Helps you get the best results.

The Spark of Passion
by Coach Doug Reese
Have you ever seen an athlete with passion for their sport? They are the first one to practice and the last one to leave. They eat, drink, sleep, think, and talk about their sport almost continually. They plan out each day from beginning to end with training as their foremost commitment. They live a life of sacrifice putting their education and careers on hold while they pursue their dream with relentless intensity. Their friends and even some members of their family think they are obsessed and crazy. Most don't understand them at all.
Many Olympic athletes and many more who never make it to that level train and compete simply for the indescribable passion that they possess. They don't do it for the big contract, the endorsements, or the title or medal - those are just the rewards earned for pursuing the passion. They go to practice each day, training with an emotion that is deeply stirring, it is a driving force in their lives. They are energized beyond comprehension possessing an unflagging pursuit of something that cannot be measured, bought or sold. A former Olympic champion recently commented that he put in well over 16,000 hours of training into his Gold medal performance. That was 16,000 hours of passion - not work. Work can be dull, boring, monotonous. Passion flows with energy even at the point of exhaustion.
One person with passion is greater than the passive forces of ninety-nine who have only an interest. Henri Frederic Ameil once said, "Without passion man is a mere latent force and a possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth it spark." God has put inside every person the potential to be passionate. If you have a passion - it is a gift from God! Too many people have "only an interest." Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength," (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NLV).
Everyone loves something. We are shaped, molded, and motivated by what we love. It is our passion! Ignore what you are passionate about and you ignore one of the greatest potentials that God has put inside of you. Nothing significant was ever achieved without passion. Jesus was a passionate man. He died for us because He loved us passionately.
Most winners are just ex-losers who got passionate. The greatest loss in the world is the persons who have lost their enthusiasm, their passion. Driven by passionate conviction you can do anything you want with your life. I believe that with all my heart.
What generates passion and zeal in you is a clue to your destiny... what you love is a clue to something you contain. Fulfilling God's plan for your life is either a passion or it is nothing. We are told to, "Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve GOD, your God, with everything you have in you," (Deuteronomy 10:12 THE MESSAGE). Passion is what changes the world. Passion is what wins the battle. Passion is what it takes to be victorious. Strike the iron, cast the spark of your passion and light up the world.
http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright (c) 2001-2005 TTNL Sports Network
Character
by Coach Doug Reese

"Sports do not build character. They reveal it." - Heywood Hale Brown
 
As head football coach of the then World Champion Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry made many decisions concerning "America's Team." The Cowboys reached the playoffs year after year, not only because of their innovation, coaching, but also because of the quality of their athletic personnel. When it came to drafting rookies, signing free agents, and forming the team, character qualities of the individual team members was a key element for success according to Coach Landry.
"You know, for the Cowboy's, when we draft men for our team, we look for five things, and the first is character," noted Landry.

When asked, "What if you find a terrific athlete who lacks character?"

Landry's responded, "That's easy. We don't draft him. I have noticed that there's never been an exception. When any one of our men gets involved with drugs, their character leaves. They are finished. It's just a matter of time."

For NFL Hall of Fame coach, Tom Landry, character was the most important component that each athlete must possess to play for the Dallas Cowboys to be successful. Character was the number one thing he looked for in his athletes. Why?

"Character is the most important determinant of a person's success, achievement and ability to handle adversity," noted Coach Landry.

Athletic Principle

"Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, those who cheer today will curse tomorrow; only character endures."- Horace Greeley

We hear so many people talk about character and its importance, so actually what is it? Character is defined as "the aggregate (the rock) of features and traits that form the individual nature of a person... moral or ethical qualities... qualities of honesty... courage... integrity... reputation. A person once said that, "Character is what we are when nobody is looking."

Branch Rickey, the owner and manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers once said, "I always looked for what I called the 'red thread' of discipline, confidence, courage, and commitment in a man's life. I look for it in every rookie."

If we were to poll coaches and ask them about what character qualities would be necessary for athletes to be successful, we would most likely hear response like this:

Reliable
Determination
Committed
Concentration
Trustworthy
Perseverance
Self-Sacrificing
Self-Controlled
Disciplined
Confident
Dedication
Team Player
If an athlete had these qualities, most coaches would jump for joy, for they would have the makings of a champion. Too many athletic careers are lost because of a lack of character. Pride gets in the way, short cuts are taken, compromise is made, and discipline disappears. Character is lost and a downward spiral begins that tragically short-circuits the potential that was once there.

"How a man plays a game shows something of his character, how he loses shows it all." - Unknown

A long list of athletes could be mentioned here who threw away great athletic potential because of a lack of character. Drugs, gambling, alcohol, poor choices in friends all can cost an athlete to fall from greatness. Read the current sport pages and see for yourself... drunk driving, sexual assaults, gambling debts, and even murder... it is happening today in sports by athletes who lack character!

Life Principles

"You should care more about your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are. Your reputation is only what people think about you." - John Wooden

Daryl Strawberry had a gift for playing baseball. A Los Angles native with a ripped 6'6" physique and a sweet swing that kept pitchers up at night, Strawberry was the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year, and he helped lead the New York Mets to a World Series title in 1986. Strawberry was on track to a Hall of Fame career, but along the way Strawberry developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

The addiction grew out of control, and Daryl Strawberry was suspended from Major League Baseball. Not only did Strawberry find himself being arrested, but he also had to deal with treatment, counseling, probation, and finally jail.

Daryl Strawberry's life and baseball career took a downward spiral. Somehow the opportunity to use his gift of baseball wasn't important to Daryl. Over time, his poor decisions, hanging with the wrong group of friends, allowed what would have been a record-breaking career to die.

Daryl really made some poor decisions. But, many of us also make similar decisions without realizing it. It is really easy to waste an amazing gift. The gift of athletic ability. The gift of academic ability. The gift of friends. The gift of speed, or strength, or whatever God has blessed you with. These gifts may not sound that dramatic, but one day at a time, making the wrong decisions, you can find these giftsthese God intended blessings to be gone.

We all have done it. We make one little decision to sleep in late, to blow off a practice or a workout, to have a few beers, to eat one more piece of pizza - then suddenly we realize that we are not in the place we were once before. Each poor decision has taken us closer to the valley, rather than to the summit where we desire to be. Each poor decision snowballs into bigger mistakes. Soon we find out life, our life is out of control in a downward turn, lost without any viewable able character.

It is so easy to take an amazing gift and waste it.

It is said that life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends upon what you are made of. What are you made of? Take a good close look. Do some critical evaluations on the decisions you make, and the people and friends who influence you. Be determined to be a person of character!
http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Who's Your Daddy?
by Coach Doug Reese
Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez looked like a beaten man, not just the losing pitcher of a decision in a baseball game. This was not the same man who won three Cy Young Awards as the best pitcher in the league, or the Most Valuable Player in the All-Star Game, or the man who came out of the bull pen in the 1999 playoffs with a tear in his shoulder to no-hit the Cleveland Indians for six innings, or the man who as won 182 games on his way to the Hall of Fame, or the man who claims to own the inside of the plate with his high and tight fastball... was this the same Pedro?

In frustration of losing another game to the New York Yankees in September, Pedro told the media, "I hope they... disappear and never come back. I would rather like to face any other team right now. What can I say? I tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy. I can't find a way to beat them at this point."

Losing hurts any real competitor. But that off-the-cuff, heat-of-the-moment comment would not be quickly forgotten.

In game two of the American League Championship Series hosted by New York, 55,000 fans were quite vocal in reminding Pedro, "Who's Your Daddy?" with a chant that continued louder and louder on with every pitch he threw. Many in attendance were wearing "Who's Your Daddy" t-shirts that had a baby pacifier with a Boston "B" emblem on it.
 
    
 
At one point, when the crowd was the loudest, Pedro stepped off the pitching rubber looked up and pointing straight up to the dark sky above Yankee Stadium, in his own way acknowledging to the 55,000 hostel fans who his real Daddy is...

Sometimes we all need to be reminded who our Daddy really is.
 
A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with guest. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn't come over here."
But sure enough, the man did come over to their table.

"Where you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice.

"Oklahoma," they replied.

"Great to have you here in Tennessee," the stranger said. "What do you do for a living?"

"I teach at a seminary," the man replied.

"Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I've got a really great story for you." And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple.

The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great... just what I need, another preacher story!"

The man started, "See that mountain over there (pointing out the window of the restaurant)? Not far from the base of that mountain there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, 'Hey boy, Who's your daddy?'

"Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or at the drug store, people would ask the same question, 'Who's your daddy?' He would hide at recess and at lunch time from the other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so much.

"When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. The boy would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?' But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.

"Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, who's your daddy?'

"The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, 'Who's your daddy?'

"This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared boy...

"Wait a minute!' he said. 'I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.'

"With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, 'Boy you've got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.' With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long while and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him 'Who's your Daddy?' he'd just tell them, 'I'm a Child of God.'"

The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn't that a great story?"

The professor responded that it was a great story! As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I would probably never would have amounted to anything." And he walked away.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked her, "Do you know who that man was who just left that was sitting at our table?"

The waitress grinned and said, "Of course. Everybody knows him. That's Ben Hooper. He's the former governor of Tennessee!"

There is someone in your life today that needs a reminder that they're one of God's children. Let them know who their Daddy is!

OUR TEAM          
Our team is very uncommon. Although it has never won a national or world championship, it is the most successful team of all time. Our team's consistency and longevity are unmatched - 2000 years and counting. The team's overall wealth and membership are beyond calculation. Every player is a stockholder, and the team has the same management and coaching staff since its inception. Though the team has suffered setbacks and occasionally stumbles, the team never has been, and never will be beaten.
It is not like any other team you've ever known. The power and authority at its disposal can shake the foundations of the earth, yet it never intimidates or overpowers its foes. Rather, the strength of the team is in its meekness, its brilliance in its humility. Players are required to be totally committed to a rigorous policy of moral purity, obedience, loyality, and sacrifical love.
Our Coach
Do you know about our coach? He is a proven leader. In His playing days, He was the all-time champ. He knows what it takes to win. He is a brilliant and patient teacher.
Coach is never in a hurry, but He is always on time. He makes sure His players know their individual roles and takes great pains to see that they all have opportunities to meet their potential. The team delights on Coach's presence, and it is inspired by His unselfish nature and spotless character. Many players on the team are so devoted to Coach that they gave their lives defending His honor.
Our coach handcrafted the team with a single-minded vision, handpicking each player, expending every resource, and sparing no expense in the recruiting process. He is intimately aware of each player's strengths, weaknesses, and flaws. He wrote their names on His roster and assigned each a spot on the squad before there was even a team.
Coach is both our guiding mentor and loving father. Intimately aware of our greatest failures and grandest dreams, Coach works tirelessly to train, cheer, and whip us into shape so we can serve the team effectively.
Like no other team, our spot on the roster doesn't depend on performance. Because He loves me for who I am, Coach wants to keep working with me until I get it right. He bought my rights for the highest price - much more than I was worth - then signed me to the richest contract in history. The duration of my contract goes way beyond "lifetime." It keeps earning interest into eternity. No matter how badly I blow it, no matter how undeserving I am, He never shops me around, discards, or trades me for a higher draft pick. Why? Because He drafted me not just to support the team, but to become part of His extended family. One day He will invite me to come live in His mansion.
Our Playbook
Do you know about our Playbook? It is unlike any other playbook. It is flawless; it holds the keys to wisdom and illustrates the perfect play for any situation. More than that, it is a personal strategy for a life of significance, which Coach knows is every player's dream. Coach penned each word as a blueprint for what He calls "abundant life:" what it means to be a real player, how to treat the other team members, the importance of trusting in the wisdom and play calling of our Coach.
Most importantly shows how to be in a tight, healthy relationship with Him. Our Playbook lays out the plan for the game of life, not just for easy victories. When the game's on the line, the team trusts in the Playbook. Each player is taught that if they execute its game plan, victory is guaranteed.
The Game Plan
Coach doesn't give us His game plan, then turn us loose. He doesn't just bark orders from the sidelines. He leads us on to the field, helps us call the play, then throws the first block. He knows what to do in every situation. His game plan is simple - it never deviates from the Playbook.
No one just rides the bench in His game plan; every player is an active participant. We all get to carry the ball. We are always excited, on the alert, knowing that at any moment He might call our number. By simply playing the game, all players discover gifts and talents they've never known.
The Opposition
The opposing team has a fast offense. It is free-spirited, reckless, over-confident. Its style of play forces each player to compete feverishly for a spot on the lineup. Performance is everything; built-in incentives force each player to vie for individual glory rather than for the team's success. There was a time when we all played on this team.
The opposing coach is clever, ingenious, deceptive. He, too, is a skilled motivator. He has coaxed some of our best friends and loved ones into lifetime contracts. They can't see that he's not committed to their well-being, but is secretly motivated by deep hatred. He doesn't love his players, could care less about their dreams, and, most of all, doesn't want them to even hear about the love of our Coach. A pathological liar, he twists the truth, pointing his team down a dead-end path of pleasure-seeking and self-gratification, knowing they will ultimately lose the game. In the end, players for the opposing team will know they poured out their peak performance on a counterfeit promise. The worst part is they will realize that they have forfeited the staggering joy and privilege of playing for our Coach.
Rules and Tools of the Game
Coach demands obedience to a fair set of rules and, as such, invests heavily in our education. Faith, repentance, confession and obedience are our disciplines; they are the mighty engine behind our Coach's powerful offense. Our uniform is truth, righteousness, peace, joy and purity. When worn properly, and when exercised with radical faith according to our Coach's matchless counsel, our tools and uniform serve as impenetrable armor on the battlefield.
Coach firmly advises us to communicate with Him every hour of every day. For this He has installed an audible system called "prayer" that permits us to call the right play every time. When we use this audible system properly - fixing our eyes on Him, focusing on His voice alone, trusting in His perfect plan - our precision is exact, our execution is flawless.
It is no suprise that our best players are the ones who spend the most time with Coach and who play the game completely sold out to Him. They love the sound of His voice; they delight in asking Him questions; they find strength in His example. When the game is on the line, those who trust Him most strike fear in the hearts of the opposition.
His Love for Me
The most incredible thing about Coach is that He loved each of us before we loved Him. He proved His love by paying history's highest price to include each of us on the team. Knowing we could never understand or earn His gift on our own - and even while we were still fiercely loyal to the opposition - He removed His coach's hat and took the field on our behalf, as a player.
Coach knew that by offering Himself as our substitute at a key point in the game, He would gain the victory, win back our rights, and release us from our one-sided contracts. In return, Coach asks for nothing but our total love and trust in His hard-won stewardship over our lives.
We love our Coach. He keeps encouraging us. He expects perfection, but is easy to please. We have all dropped the ball, committed personal fouls, and even helped the other team score, but He never changes. He keeps sending us back into the game, enlisting us to do our best. He keeps telling us all that, no matter what, He still loves us. I believe Him. He is our best Friend.
Victory is Assured
We have only one team, but many squads competing around the world. Our sole mission is to share the good news about playing for our Coach. We taste our sweetest victories when members of the other team rip up their contracts and join us.
One day we will all be on the same field, celebrating a triumphant reunion with our conquering Coach. It excites me to think of carrying Him off the field after all the years He has carried us.

http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Total Release Performance
by Wes Neal
How would you like to win all the time in your athletic performance?
You can, by understanding and applying what winning really involves. This article explains the common definations of winning and losing and shows how they can actually hinder your athletic performance. A new perspective on winning and losing will be explained that, when applied, can improve your athletic performance immediately.
Common Definition of Winning and Losing
The most widely accepted definition of winning is to defeat your opponent. It naturally follows, then, that the common definition of losing is to be defeated by your opponent. These definitions have been ingrained in us from childhood. In the following three hypothetical situations you will see how these common definitions of winning and losing can hinder your athletic performance.
Situation No. 1
You are a volleyball player training for an opponent who has not been having a good season. Your team has been enjoying a very successful season with many victories and few defeats. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that you are the better team. How would you train for the upcoming competition against your weaker opponent?
I would train just as determined and disciplined as I would if we were going up against the conference champion.
I would be a little less disciplined for the game.
You know you can lay off the whole week and still beat your opponent. If your definition of winning is to "defeat your opponent," and that's all you are preparing to do, the chances are great you won't be very disciplined in training for this competition. Your athletic ability is developed by maximizing your training sessions, not by letting up when the competition isn't a threat!
Situation No. 2
Imagine yourself as a wrestler who is well behind in a match against a stronger opponent. He not only is stronger than you, but he has superior technique and speed. You are behind 15 to 3 with two minutes remaining. What would your attitude be in this situation?
I would still be going all out towards defeating him.
I would have lost some of my desire to go on.
Proverbs 23:7 gives us some good insight as to what your actions would be if you were mentally letting up; "For as a man thinks within himself, so he is." This means that what you have on your mind will eventually surface in your actions. If you have slackened your mental intensity, your physical actions will show it. You are capable of releasing more of yourself, but you don't because you have no hope of defeating your opponent. Athletic ability is improved only when that ability is exercised. Again, the common definition of winning has allowed the circumstances to dictate how much of your ability will be exercised.
Situation No. 3
You are a baseball player coming to bat against a well known pitcher who is regarded as the best in the league. He knows that he's good and he confidently glares at you as you step toward the plate. You aren't the best hitter in the league. In fact, you aren't even the best on your team. You've had poor results against him in the past, and you are presently in a batting slump. What would be your attitude as you face him?
I would be confident I would get a hit.
I would be wondering if I would even see the ball.
Nervousness usually causes a loss of timing, rhythm and coordination. It's the confident athlete who consistently produces the best. The common definition of winning tells you that you must get a hit off of him. It causes you to focus on the pitcher rather than on the execution of your skills.
The Bible gives us God's perspective on winning and losing. It is different from the world's interpretation of them. As you make His perspective yours, you will be free to always do the best you are capable of doing, regardless of the circumstances.
God's Perspective on Winning and Losing
Winning is the total release of all that you are toward becoming like Jesus Christ in each situation.
Losing is not releasing your entire self toward becoming like Jesus Christ in each situation.
What a difference this is from the long ingrained definition of winning and losing! When you have God's perspective on winning and losing, circumstances will not control your athletic performance!
Two Building Blocks for God's Perspective on Winning
Building Block No. 1
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men." (Colossians 3:23)
The word "whatever" includes everything you do in your athletic performance whether it is running, throwing, jumping, etc. The world "heartily" means you do it by totally releasing all of your abilities toward the task at hand. It involves much more that just your strength. For instance, if you were a golfer ready to stroke a two foot putt, you would be leaving your mental abilities behind if you pulled back your putter and drove the ball with all your strength!
"Heartily" refers to all your mental and physical abilities as well as your emotional energies. If you are a baseball player and hit away with the bunt sign on, you would not be totally releasing youself even if you did get a hit. Obedience, strength, reflex action, concentration, speed, strategy, enthusiasm, etc. are all wrapped up in the world "heartily."
If we were to stop at this point it would sound pretty much like the philosophy, "Just give it all you've got and you're a winner." But we're not going to stop here, because God doesn't. That is not what Colossians 3:23 says. It is not just a matter of "giving it all you've got." It's doing it "as for the Lord rather than for men." Jesus Christ is to be your only audience! We so oftern perform for other people - fans, coaches, scouts, TV cameras, etc. We want their approval.
When the stands are filled with people, or a certain person is there, most athletes can really give of themselves. It all depends on how much the recognition of others means to them. But what happens when only a few people come to see the competition? What happens if that certain person isn't there? Some enthusiasm is gone, isn't it? We are oriented toward a human audience to the point that it can stifle our athletic performance if the crowd is not large enough, or if that certain person isn't there.
Picture Jesus Christ as the only one in the stands. That's how God wants you to perform! He wants you to picture Jesus Christ as your only audience! What a trill it would be to perform only for Him! Colossians 3:23 says that whatever you're doing in your athletic performance you're to do it with the total release of all your mental and physical abilities, as well as all of your emotional energies, with Jesus Christ as your only audience!
Building Block No. 2
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." (Colossians 3:17).
Here again, we have the phrase "whatever you do." Again it includes everything you do in your role as an athlete. How are you to do it? Do it all "in the name of the Lord Jesus." This phrase means you are to totally represent Jesus by saying and doing only those things He would say or do in that situation. It means you are to have His attitude in everything you do in your athletic performance! You can see how important it is to know Him. Without knowing Jesus, you cannot consistently have His attitude.
Here is an athletic paraphrase: "Conduct yourself in word and action the same way Jesus Christ would conduct Himself (Colossians 3:17). Do whatever you do with the total release of your mental and physical abilities, as well as your emotional energies, towards performing like Jesus. Have in mind that He is your only audience" (Colossians 3:23-24).
Winning Amplified
To evaluate whether or not you are totally releasing everything you had, athletes will tend to compare your present performance with those of the past, or expectations of the future. Don't let that sway you!
What you have will vary from time to time due to sickness, injuries, rest, etc. Your responsibility in working out, or in competition is to give all that you have, at a given moment, not what you don't have! The apostle Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 8:12:
"If you are really eager to give, then it isn't important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you have not."
You can have a 10.5 clocking in the 100 meters to your credit and then run only a 10.9, but still be a winner from God's viewpoint. On the other hand, you can be a loser even if you statistically better your best performance and won the world championship in the process. Winning from God's perspective depends entirely on how much of yourself you released to perform like Jesus. This means that you perform with the same attitudes and actions He would have in your situation. If you give a total release of yourself toward becoming like Jesus in your athletic performance you will never look on a defeat from an opponent as a loss. It is a learning and developing situation in which more of your potential can be brought to the surface.
Remember, from the world's viewpoint, when Jesus hung dead on the cross, it looked as though He had been defeated and was a loser. Yet, His crucifixion provided a setting for the greatest event in history to take place. On the third day, He defeated death and was raised from the sealed and guarded tomb. His resurrection from the dead demonstrated His power available to us enabling us to live above our circumstances!
EDITOR'S NOTE: For seven years Wes served on the athletic staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, International. He traveled on the first Christian weightlifting team, with Athletes in Action, then headed up the field staff working with coaches across America.
In 1975 he founded the Institute for Athletic Perfection, and later Champions of Excellence, an organization that develops biblically-based resources for coaches and athletes. He is considered the pioneer in developing resources that relate the Bible to improving athletic performance.
Wes has consulted with hundreds of coaches and athletes throughout America, and is a featured speaker at athletic conferences. He and his wife live in Branson, Missouri, where they raised their two daughters.

http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Journey of Dreams
by Wes Neal
God has designed a Journey of Dreams for every Christian, and one in particular for you.
In Proverbs 13:12, God tells us that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy."
Hey, are you ready for a life of joy - of real fulfillment? A life in which your dreams really do come true....

Biblical Truths
Let's quickly look at four Biblical truths about your Journey of Dreams, as well as three daily disciplines. Now, here's the bottom line. If you ponder each truth, and put into practice each discipline, God will enable you to live out your dreams!
Truth #1 - God has planned different dreams (or works) for you to undertake that will impact the lives of others (Ephesians 2:10).
Truth #2 - God wants you to pursue each dream in partnership with Jesus Christ, whose Spirit lives in each of his followers (Romans 8:9). Jesus said, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Truth #3 - The purpose of each dream, using your abilities (Matthew 25:14-30), your desires (Psalms 37:4), and your life-experiences (Romans 8:28-29) is to touch other people with God's love (John 15:12).
Truth #4 - God will impress upon you each dream. You simply need to ask him what it might be (Jeremiah 33:3), then wait for his answer (Psalm 37:5-7). His dream for you might be connected to your job, your sport, a ministry of your church, an outreach into the community, or even a bike ride across America for a noble cause. Ask God to help you clearly see the reality of your dream, not what presently is, but what can be.
There is no limit to the dreams God has for you!

Three Journey Disciplines
1. Start you day with God. Since each dream is God-inspired, as well as God-driven, your top priority must be to spend time with God each morning before you start your activities. During this time, read at least one chapter in the Bible. As you read, ponder each passage and ask God how it applies to your life. Along with other chapters, I personally like to read a chapter out of Proverbs corresponding to the date of the month. Since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, it works out well to do this every month.
After reading in the Bible, make specific requests of God for your dream, for concerns on your mind, and for the well-being of others. If you are one in mind with Jesus, and your requests are those Jesus would make, God will grant them to you (John 15:7-8).
2. Talk with Jesus throughout the day. Continually talking with him (2 Corinthians 10:5) will keep you alert to his leadership as you pursue each dream. Talk with him about whatever is on your mind - what you are seeing, hearing, thinking or feeling. Jesus normally will talk to you through insights and impressions he gives consistent with truths from the Bible.
3. Look expectantly throughout the day for God's answers to your requests (Psalm 5:3). God will often use people and circumstances to grant them. That can take time; however, God is the master of timing. He fits everything together at just the right moment (Romans 8:28). Stay alert and you will see God at work!
Well, are you ready to dream big? Are you ready to dare great things that can only be accomplished if God is in them? Are you ready to live out the Journey of Dreams God has just for you?

http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Really Tough
by Doug Reese
When it comes to sport, I respect and admire the really tough. I love their uncompromising determination, how they endure the strain, how they remain strong and resilient, and how they overcome hardship while focusing on their task. One thing is for sure - they are mentally strong, and they can not be easily broken, weakened, or defeated. That is real toughness.

It is no mystery that the act of competing in pain creates legends. Here are some of my favorite legendary memories of the real tough.

Kirk Gibson of the Los Angles Dodgers. Gibby came to the stadium late, and was receiving therapy on his bum leg while Game 1 of the 1988 World Series was taking place. In the 9th inning Gibson got dressed and came out of the club house limping to bang out a pinch-hit home run to give the Dodgers a one-to-none game lead.

Ronnie Lott of the San Francisco 49ers. Lott chose to have the tip of his left pinky finger cut off rather than undergoing surgery that would have sidelined him for a number of games during the 1986 season. Lott was more focused on winning and helping his team, than for his own personal welfare.

Willis Reed of the New York Knicks. Prior to Game 7, in the 1970 NBA Finals, Reed, the captain and main force on the Knicks team, was sidelined with an injury that threatened his team's chances to win the NBA Championship. In the first four games of the Finals against the formidable Los Angeles Lakers, Reed had scored 37, 29, 38 and 23 points, respectively, while averaging 15 rebounds. In the fourth quarter of Game 5 he sustained a deep thigh injury. The Knicks managed to survive that encounter but were demolished by the Lakers in Game 6. Reed was not expected to play in Game 7, but he limped onto the court minutes before the tip off. The crowd went wild, and his teammates' confidence returned with a vengeance. Reed somehow managed to out jump Wilt Chamberlain on the opening tip, then scored the game's first basket on a shot from the top of the key. He then scored the second New York basket from 20 feet out. He did not score again, but he didn't have to; he had already inspired the Knicks to seize the championship 113-99.

Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars. Hull tore an MCL in Game 3 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, but told everyone he had a groin injury. Hull then proceeded to play through the next three games ultimately scoring the game winning goals for the Stars.

Rulon Gardner of the U.S. Greco-Roman Wrestling Team. Gardner lost a toe to frostbite after spending a night lost in the wilderness while snowmobiling. Prior to the 2004 National Championship, Gardner was in a motorcycle accident that left him banged up and less than 100 percent. Then Gardner dislocated his wrist while playing a pickup basketball game that required pins to be inserted to hold the bones of his wrist together. Gardner basically had to wrestle with one arm, yet overcame to win the title. A few weeks later Gardner went on to win the U.S. Olympic Trials defeating a former world champion, then went off to Athens to win his second Olympic medal.

There is nothing like toughness when it's needed to overcome the most challenging of circumstances.

In the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto had severely injured his knee during the floor exercises. As the team competition continued, it became clear that the team gold medal would be decided on the rings. Hobbling to the rings, Fujimoto was hoisted up to grab the rings where he performed a near-flawless routine. Fujimoto went into a triple somersault twist dismount. His face scrunched in pain as he stuck the landing without moving an inch - even though he landed on his broken right knee cap. It was an incredible display of toughness that earned the Japanese team the gold medal. When Fujimoto was later interviewed about his extraordinary feat, he said, "Yes, the pain shot through me like a knife. It brought tears to my eyes. But now I have a gold medal and the pain is gone."

{Rock-climbing may be considered a sport.You may have heard the story of Aron Ralston. . I apologize if the following might sound graphic, but in a nutshell  he was mountain climbing and an 800lb. boulder slipped to trap his right hand. In an ordeal that lasted 5 days, he tried to chisel his way out with a cheap pocket knife, and after failing eventually he videotaped his goodbyes, his cremation request, carved his epitath on the boulder, and went to sleep. He woke up with a surge of energy and then systematically:  1. moved around to create enough torque to break the radius in his right forearm 2. change his position to create the force necessary to break his ulna 3. applied a tourniquet 4. slowly was able to cut thru the flesh and amputate his own right forearm with the dull pocketknife AND THEN 5. crawled thru the canyon 6. rapelled 60 feet down the cliff 7. hiked thru the desert until he was found.--Coach Lok}

There is a time in sport and life where you got to be tough. Weakness and fear translates into defeat. It is toughness, courage, faith, and action that guides you to the finish line - a champion.

Too many people believe that if you are a Christian you are a sissy. I have heard it said from the dark streets of Panama City, Panama to a gymnasium in Nalchik, Russia that Christianity is for weak people. That it is a crutch. That it makes you lose your toughness and intensity. I strongly disagree! I can be tougher and more intense because of what my Savior did for me!

Jesus was the ultimate competitor. He was the toughest ever! He endured the Roman scourge, a brutal whipping that would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.

The cruel Roman soldiers had circled His bloody body like vultures, and moved in to pick at the remains. Mocking, jeering, abusing - it's as if each soldier was trying to top the other's joke. Each took his turn spitting on Jesus...cursing His name.... slapping and jabbing Him with a stick...punching His chest with their fists (Mark 15:16-20).

All that was offered this King was spit, swearing, and punches. And yet, Jesus bore it all with silent, patient dignity (1 Peter 2:23).

Then Jesus went to the cross. Crucifixion was a barbaric form of capital punishment that originated in Persia. Criminals were fastened to vertical beams of wood by iron spikes and hung above the earth to die from exposure, exhaustion, or suffocation. Death was painfully slow and publicly humiliating (Luke 23:13-46).

Excruciating pain stabbed Jesus' body as He hung on unbending nails. The pain in his wrists was beyond bearing, and muscle cramps knotted his forearms, upper arms and his shoulders. His pectoral muscles at the side of his chest were momentarily paralyzed. This induced an involuntary panic; he found that while he could draw air into his lungs, he was powerless to exhale.

Jesus could have kept Himself from this torturous death. He could have chosen not to have gone His Father's way. Jesus could have saved Himself from the cross by denying He was God. Then his prosecutors would have dropped the case against him and the crucifixion would have never occurred. At any point Jesus could have quit. Yet, He was totally giving Himself and all He had toward God's purpose in this situation.

Jesus totally gave Himself to save you at this time. He gave up His life as a ransom for yours. Even to the point of death, Jesus did not quit. He was a champion, winning an everlasting victory for you! That is really tough!

Now isn't it time that you got really tough and took a stand for Him?

http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

THE Playbook
Whether you have personal questions about love, guilt, loneliness, success, and direction, or profound questions about God, the future, and the meaning of life, the Bible - "God's Playbook" has answers. Consider these analogies. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me."
Jeremiah 29:11-13
The Bible is a light.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalms 119:105). "The unfolding of your words give light." (Psalms 119:130). A light illuminates the way, provides direction, and allows us to see. The Bible sheds light on human nature, God's plan for the world, and the right paths to take.
The Bible is a mirror.
"Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." (James 1:23-24). Through this book, God reveals what we are like and what we need to change. It is a mirror that reflects the inside - our personalities and souls - not just the outside.
The Bible is food.
"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (1 Peter 2:2-3). Much of the Bible is direct, simple, immediately applicable to life. "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:14). In an age that craves easy directions and instant solutions, the Bible challenges our minds and hearts, helping us grow in character, love, integrity, insight, and in courage.
The Bible is a shield.
"You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word." (Psalms 119:114). God's truths, recorded in His Word, shield us from attacks on self-concept, emotions, and faith. Against doubt, guilt, fear, insecurity, and inferiority, the Bible offers protection.
The Bible is a sword.
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12). "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:17). Lies surround us and permeate every aspect of society, lies about ourselves, the world, life and how to find happiness, meaning, and purpose. The most effective weapon against lies is truth, and God's Word is truth.
The Bible is a rock foundation.
"I (Jesus speaking) will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built." (Luke 6:47-48). To resist life's storms (illness, injury, grief, separation, loss, reversal), we need a place to stand. God's truth can be our solid foundation.
The Bible is a counselor.
"You guide me with your counsel." (Psalm 73:24). There is nothing quite so helpful and comforting as the advice of a friend, especially if that friend is also knowledgeable and wise. Think of the Bible as a trusted counselor, providing understanding, insight, and answers.
The Bible can and will make a tremendous difference in your life, if you will read it, believe it, and apply it.
"One reason why I think a great deal about Jesus is because he never pointed out the weaknesses and never dealt on their failures and short-comings. He always thought of the dream that God had for their lives."
Bob Richardson - 2x Olympic Gold Medalist, Pole Vault
"Faith is so important, but you don't know what faith is until it has been tested by fire. My faith has been tested. The last impression I would give is I'm some kind of superhuman. But my driving force was the strength and peace and comfort I received through Christ."
Dave Dravkey, San Deigo Padres (after losing his pitching arm to cancer)

http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network

Questions and Answers 
 
Life is filled with good questions. Here are some that you might have wondered about?
See what the Bible, God's Word says about them.
 
1. What is the meaning to life?
After experimenting and analyzing life, Solomon, known as the wisest man who ever lived, wrote: "Here is my final conclusion: fear God and obey his commandments, for this is the entire duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Jesus said: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10).

2. Why is human life valuable?

Human beings have God's stamp of approval: "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air; over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:26-27).

3. Why don't people get along?

"What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn't it because there is a whole army of evil desires within you? You want what you don't have, so you kill to get it. You long for what others have, and can't afford it, so you start a fight to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don't have what you want is that you don't ask God for it. And even when you do ask you don't get it because your whole aim is wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure." (James 4:1-3).

4. Why is the world in such a mess?

The great theologian and missionary Paul answered this question: "Yes, they knew about him all right, but they wouldn't admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after awhile they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. (Romans 1:21-22).

5. How can I get the wisdom I need?

Solomon said go to the Source: "For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." (Proverbs 2:6).

And James who agreed wrote: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5).

6. How can I resist temptation?

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Corinthians 10:13). Look out for God's way and take it.

7. What is real love?

Here is Paul's classic definition of love: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And now these three remains: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

John, know as the "apostle of love" adds: "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16).

8. How can I get along with others?

In a letter to the church in Philippi, Paul wrote: "Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing." (Philippians 2:3-4).

9. Where can I turn when I am lonely?

King David knew times of desperate loneliness, but he knew that, "The Lord is fair in everything he does, and full of kindness. He is close to all who call on him sincerely." (Psalm 145:17-18).

10. What can I do about guilt?

"Come, let's talk this over! says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!" (Isaiah 1:18).

"But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. [and it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.] (1 John 1:9).

http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network
The Edge
by Coach Doug Reese
Competition is defined as a struggle, a rivalry, a contest for some prize, honor, or advantage. There are a number of ways to give yourself an advantage, or an edge on the athletic field - one is by out working your opponent; being in great physical shape, being as strong as possible, and being technically sharp. There are other methods to gain an edge over the competition such as developing tactics and strategies, strong mental skills, and self-confidence in your abilities. Competition is not just playing a game any more; it had evolved into a technical science. Yet, there are still athletes who look for an edge in all the wrong places...
Not too long ago the beloved Chicago Cub slugger Sammy Sosa was caught with a corked bat in during a game - a clear violation of the rules. Why would anyone cork a bat? To gain an advantage - a hitter with the density of a heavier bat while maintaining the speed of a lighter bat has in fact a weapon that will propel the ball faster, and farther.
Unfortunately baseball has a history cheating. Pitchers throw spitballs, scuff balls with thumbtacks, or rub them with sandpaper. One Yankee player admitted to putting "super balls" inside his bat. There was the Black Sox scandal to "throw" the World Series in 1919, and teams have been known to steal signs with cameras from the outfield bleachers or scoreboards. Yes, the American past time is looking more like corporate America all the time.
One former big leaguer, now in the front office of a major league team said this week, "All players are looking for an edge. It's the same way now as when I played. It is all about getting an edge, which is why guys use things like steroids, amphetamines, or corked bats."
It is too bad that for so long we have overlooked that greatest edge of all. What is it you ask? It is a personal relationship with the Master Coach, Jesus Christ.
The Bible gives us God's perspective on winning and losing. It is different from the world's interpretation of them. As you make God's perspective yours, you will be free to always do the best you are capable of doing, regardless of the circumstances.
Paul gave us this winning training tip, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." (Colossians 3:17).
The phrase "whatever you do" includes everything you do in your role as an athlete, or as a coach. How are you to do it? You do it all "in the name of the Lord Jesus." This phrase means you are to totally represent Jesus by saying and doing only those things He would say or do in that situation. It is living and competing with a "What Would Jesus Do" attitude. It means you are to have His attitude in everything you do in your athletic performance
You can see how important it is to know Him. Without knowing Jesus, you cannot consistently have His attitude or know His game plan. To gain the real edge, you need to be a student of the Playbook, the Bible. It is filled with tactics and strategies to give you an lasting advantage. It is filled with motivational advice. It is filled with truth that you can count on. As you study the Playbook and get to know the Master Coach in a personal way, you will be free to play, not perform. The pressure to please the world is off. Now you will be able to play for an audience of One. You can step up to the plate full of peace and confidence, using your talents to their fullest.
Looking for an edge? Look to Him.

http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright © 2000-2004, TTNL Sports Network
DEVOTIONS
Developing a Winner's Heart
Bible Verse:
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
Teaching Guide:
Does anyone know how to have a winner's heart? (Let players respond.) Who would like to know the secret to developing a winner's heart? (Let players respond.) The secret to developing a winner's heart is to trust completely in the Lord. Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Trusting in the Lord and not depending on your own understanding develops a winner's heart. By trusting in the Lord, we can be developing character, self-esteem, and salvation. Let me ask you a tough question.
Who created the heavens and the earth? (Let players respond.) That's right, God created it. The Bible tells us that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created everything that exists. Do you understand how He did this? I don't. It's far too complicated for us to understand. Only God completely understands that. Since He understands a lot more than we do, we need to do our best to trust Him.
We will spend time this season working on developing a winner's heart. Just as a basketball player works hard to develop a jump shot or a better dribble, we need to work hard to develop a winner's heart. This takes constant practice. So, who wants to have a winner's heart? I know I do! I hope you do. Let's pray.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
Developing a winner's heart is a simple concept that is required of us to have a full and abundant life in Christ. A winner's heart is learning how to love God, serve others, and know your worth in Jesus Christ. A big part of that is found in Proverbs 3:5. It basically says to trust in God, not in yourself. Trusting yourself over God is a vain attempt to understand what is best for you. It's hard to overlook our own impulses and desires, but only God knows what's truly best for us. Are you trusting Him with every area of your life?

Don't Stop Believin'!
Bible Verse:
"And Jesus said to him, 'If you can? All things are possible to him who believes.'" Mark 9:23
Teacher's Guide:
Who can tell me what the word "faith" means? (Let players respond.) Faith means believing without seeing. Do you think it's hard to have faith? (Let players respond.) It is difficult to believe things without seeing them with your own eyes. Did you know that you use faith everyday? Every time you turn on a light at your house, do you have faith that the light will come on? Of course you do! Can you see or understand exactly why that happens? Can you see the electricity that powers our televisions and runs our radios? No, but we depend on that electricity and believe that the electricity will come through for us, even though we can't see it or explain it. What about when you take a breath? Can you see the oxygen in the air we breathe? Although we can't see the oxygen in the air, we have faith that it's in there and we experience the results.
That is called faith. With that kind of faith in God, He tells us that all things are possible. No job is too large for Him. All He asks is that we believe. We must believe that He can do it and He will.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
It's easy to say that we believe in God, but are we making decisions on a daily basis that show faith in His power and glory? Are we tithing money to our church even though we don't know where the money is going to come from? Are we spending our days worrying over small things as if God isn't big enough to solve our problems? Are we spending time with people that don't know Christ, assured that God will give us the words to say when we have an opportunity to witness? Are we saying we believe that all things are possible or are we living as if all things are possible? This week ask God to stretch you and show you areas where you can trust Him more. Then just sit back and be in awe of His power.

A New Focus
Bible Verse:
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18
Teaching Guide:
Review the Scripture learning verse with your team. Everyone take a deep breath. What just went into your nose and mouth? That's right, it was "air". Did you see the air going into your mouth and nose? You can feel the air and even see how it inflates your lungs, but you cannot see the air itself. Air is invisible, you cannot see it. What are some other things you cannot see but you know are there? (Wind; you can feel the wind and even see how it blows the leaves on trees, but you cannot see the wind itself.) This week's Bible verse teaches us that we should fix our eyes on what we cannot see. Have you ever looked into a camera or a telescope and everything looked blurry? It was blurry because the camera or telescope was out of focus. In order to see clearly, you have to adjust it so everything will look clear. The same is true with this week's Bible verse. To "fix your eyes on something" is to focus your attention on it so you can see it clearly. Let's work on that this week. Close in prayer.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
Do you get upset at the referees in your league? Do you get frustrated at parents and the kids? All these feelings are natural because we are human. The question is how do you react when things aren't going your way? Fix your eyes on the eternal example Jesus set for us, not on the natural human response. You and your kids will benefit when you set the example on and off the court.

Forgiving Others
Bible Verse:
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 6:14
Teaching Guide:
How many of you have had a friend, parent, or sibling hurt your feelings or make you angry? (Let players respond.) What should you do when this happens? (Let players respond.) It is sometimes really easy to let someone hurt us, and to stay angry. That's called holding a grudge. How many of you have ever held a grudge? (Let players respond.) I know I have. I think we all have. If we don't forgive others when they hurt us, that can keep God from forgiving us. We all need forgiveness, don't we?
This season let's work extra hard to be forgiving no matter what. Let's ask God to give us the strength to forgive the people who hurt us. It will make that person happy, us happy, and especially God happy.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? Are you holding a grudge that you can't seem to let go? Bitterness is a disease that eats at us, not the person we're angry at. Many times that person doesn't even know. Allow God to work in you to help you forgive that person. You'll be surprised at how much better you'll feel when you let go.

Encourage Others
Bible Verse:
"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another." 1 Thessalonians 5:11a
Teaching Guide:
How many of you like it when I tell you that you played a good game? (Let players respond.) We all like it when others encourage us or build us up, don't we? What does it mean to build someone up? (Let players respond.) Why do you think it is important to God that we encourage other people? The correct answer to that question is that God wants us to show His love to everyone. He wants us to learn to be like Jesus, and Jesus spent His life here on earth encouraging people around Him. This season, look for ways to build up your teammates, classmates, family, and even kids you don't know. Every time you do, God will be very proud of you and so will I.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
Are you spending time encouraging your players, coworkers, children, and spouse? We all need to be intentional in this area. Sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of our days and we miss opportunities to encourage those around us who need it. Spend some time praying that God will present you chances to love those around you with your words and actions

Show Kindness
Bible Verse:
"Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." Luke 6:31
Teaching Guide:
How many of you want your teammates and me to treat you fairly? (Let players respond.) How many of you want to be included as a part of this team? (Let players respond.) How many of you like to feel important? (Let players respond.) We all want to be treated this way, even me. And God tells us that this is the way to treat others, because it is the way we want to be treated. Is this always easy for us to do? (Let players respond.) No, it's not, but it is possible because that is the way God loves us. You know, I love for us to win and to build our skills as athletes, but even more than that, I love to see us treating each other kindly, fairly, and with unselfish hearts. Let's work together to treat others like we want to be treated, no matter what.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
How are you doing in this area? Are you holding on to any bitterness, resentment, or unforgiveness? Is it causing you to treat someone in a way that is unpleasing to God? It is sometimes hard to remember that God calls us to love the unlovely and undeserving, because that's what He does for us. Pray that God will show you who you need to love this week and then let God's Spirit work in you to put that into action.

Pure Shooter
Bible Verse:
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
Teaching Guide:
How many of you have seen bottled water? (Let players respond.) What do you think the difference is between bottled water and water out of your faucet? (Let players respond.) Well, the experts tell us that bottled water is pure water. They say it tastes better because it doesn't have any extra stuff like minerals or iron that sometimes our faucet water can have. In the same way, when our hearts are pure, our hearts are more pleasing to God. We can keep our hearts pure by making sure we spend time with God and that we do and say things that please Him. Also, we need to ask for forgiveness when we let sin in our hearts. Then be sure to thank God that He loves us so much that He can make our hearts like new again.
This season, let's all keep a close check on our hearts. We know God does.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
Are you working on keeping a pure heart? It is so easy to develop habits that can sometimes callous our hearts and make us less sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading. Let's constantly ask the Holy Spirit to search us and point out those things in our lives that are keeping us from a pure and blameless heart. Christ will honor our efforts to strive for purity.

You Can Do It!
Bible Verse:
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
Teaching Guide:
Review the weekly Bible verse. What comes to mind when you think of the word "strength"? (Weight lifters, athletes, etc.) This week's Bible verse tells us that God will help strengthen us when we ask Him. That doesn't mean that He will give us the strength to pick up a car or a refrigerator. The strength God gives is different. When you become a Christian, God begins to work inside of you. He gives you strength in many ways.
For example, sometimes bad things happen to us that make us sad. We get sick, our best friend moves away, or we make a bad grade in school. Even though these things make us feel sad, we can ask God to strengthen and help us get through these hard times. What are some other ways that God can give you strength? ( to help others, tell the truth, through family and friends, etc.) Remember, you are special to God and He wants you to know how important you are to Him. That is why when you trust in Him, He will strengthen and help you. Close in prayer.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
Have you heard yourself saying, "I can't teach these kids!" or "I'll never be able to do that!" This week's verse is not just for the children around you. It is also for you. You have already made the decision to coach Upward. This week, keep looking upward when you doubt you can do something. Ask for help and God will give it to you.

Follow Rules
Bible Verse:
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Ephesians 6:1
Teaching Guide:
Clean up your room! Hang up your clothes! Make your bed! Do your mom and dad tell you to do these things? It can be a little annoying sometimes, can't it? God wants us to obey our parents all the time, even when we don't like what they are asking us to do.
The first step in obeying God is doing what our parents tell us. Once we have started the habit of being obedient, God can trust us to follow His directions. God wants to know that we will do what He asks us to do. Many of the characters in the Bible had to learn to obey God before He could use them.
This season let's work on obeying our parents. God will be glad to know you are preparing yourself to be used by Him.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
How obedient are you? This week as you prepare for the above lesson, focus on being obedient to the leaders in your life. God is allowing you to work with these children every week. It should be a personal challenge to lead by example and by your spoken word.

Be Honorable
Bible Verse:
"For we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." 2 Corinthians 8:21
Teaching Guide:
Who do you consider an honest person? (Let players respond) Why is that person honest? (Let players respond) The people you think are honest are easier to be friends with, aren't they? It is easier for God to trust us when we are honest. An honorable person is honest even when no one is looking. Each one of you should be honest at home, school, and church.
It is important to be honest because God is looking for boys and girls He can count on to share the message of Jesus. When we are honest, God is more likely to use us for great and wonderful things. Honesty is a habit you and I can develop. The more honest you are day-to-day, the easier it is when the situation becomes more difficult. Let's begin today by being the most honest people at our homes, schools, and churches. God will be pleased.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
How honest are you on a day-to-day basis? Do you tell "little white lies" when it is obvious no one will ever find out? God sees your heart even when no one else can. Dishonesty even in the smallest form is still a sin. The little eyes and ears around you at each practice and game are seeing and hearing constantly. You are a role model to the players of your league. What are you modeling? If you are a parent to one of the players, this is even more important.

Developing A Champion's Heart
Bible Verse:
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
Teaching Guide:
How many of you remember Proverbs 3:5? (Let players respond) Let's review.
Review verse.
This season we've been working on developing a winner's heart. A winner's heart is made up of three important things: salvation, character and self-esteem. A winner's heart is learning how to love God (salvation), serve others (character), and know your worth in Jesus Christ (self-esteem). Can we do this on our own power? (Let players respond.) We can't do this on our own. Proverbs 3:5 tells us the secret to developing a winner's heart. Can anyone tell me what it is? (Let players respond.) That's right! We need to trust the Lord! As this season is coming to an end, let's not forget about what we've learned. You are all very special and God loves each of you very much. Each one of you is a winner! A CHAMPION! Let's pray and thank God for all He has done and will continue to do in our lives.
Coach's Personal Preparation:
Does Proverbs 3:5 challenge you? Are you trusting in the Lord in every area of your life; finances, family issues, your career? It's not easy to trust in the Lord with every area of our lives but it's necessary to receive the full blessings that the Lord has in store for us. Take a few minutes and ask God to help you trust Him completely in all areas of your life.

The Plan of Salvation
Bible Verse:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

1. GIVE YOUR BEST EFFORT.
Good basketball players do the best they can on every play. But even these players fall short of being perfect. Michael Jordan, who is possibly the greatest player of all time, missed almost 100 free throws in one season. Even with our best effort, we do wrong things and think wrong things. The Bible calls this "SIN" falling short of being perfect. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23
2. EXEMPLIFY YOUR BEST SPORTSMANSHIP.
Ballplayers demonstrate sportsmanship in basketball by taking responsibility for their mistakes, like raising their hands when they commit a foul. We have to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and admit we have done things that are not pleasing to God. As a result, these wrong things separate us from God. The Bible tells us that God cannot and will not have any part of sin or allow it in His heaven.
Before we were even born, God loved us so much that He provided a way to get rid of our sin and keep us. God sent His only Son to earth to die on a cross for our sins. Jesus paid the price for our sins! "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
3. PLAY OFFENSE.
In order to win a game, players must take the ball and move toward the goal to try to score. We must believe that Jesus died on the cross for us, ASK God to forgive our sins, and ASK Jesus to come into our lives. "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." Romans 10:9-10
4. PLAY DEFENSE.
As players learn the game, they learn that when the other team takes over the ball, good players must turn and go in the opposite direction to keep the other team away from the goal. We must REPENT. Because Jesus loved us enough to die for our sins, we want to REPENT, to turn away from our sin and go in the opposite direction. When Jesus takes control of your life, you will want to go in the direction He is going. "Repent then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Acts 3:19
5. W.W.J.D.
To be Christlike means to act the way Jesus would in every situation, on and off the court. Your Christlikeness will be seen on the basketball court, in school, and in other places. Being an encourager is one way in which you can show your Christlikeness. The "S" on the White Star reminds us that we must START LIVING for Jesus every day, letting everyone know that we have moved from acting like Christ to living for Christ. The Bible promises us that Christ will never leave us, and that one day when we die, we will be with Him in heaven. "Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge before My father in heaven." Matthew 10:32.
Give players an opportunity to ask questions when you finish the presentation of the Gospel.
Ask your players: "You know Jesus would like to be your personal Savior. He would like to give you eternal life so that you could live forever with Him. Would you like to ask Jesus to come into your life and be your Savior?"
Ask them to bow their heads and close their eyes. Read this prayer a phrase at a time so they have time to repeat. "Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I need a Savior. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I repent from my sins and ask that You please forgive me. Come into my life and help me to follow You. I love you, Jesus. Thank you for loving me first. Amen."
While everyone still has his eyes closed, ask if anyone prayed that prayer. Encourage the ones who did to tell someoneyou, their parents, another coach, their pastor.
Tell them that you will be available to answer any questions they might have.
If you know of players who made a decision, be sure to follow up. Give them a call in a day or two to see how if they have any questions and to tell them that you have been praying for them.

Winning Strategy
Movie: Miracle
1. The Big Idea: Jesus did not pick the "obvious" people.
Topics: Chosen Teamwork Appearance Calling
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:20-31 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
2. The Big Idea: Discipline is the key to victory.
Topics: Discipline Unity Pride Perfection
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Ephesians 4:11-16
3. The Big Idea: If you think sin will beat you -- it will.
Topics: Sin Discipleship Perseverance Work
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 1 John 3:4-8
Scripture: Ephesians 6:11-17
Application: Jesus did not die to equip a team of losers, He came to make us victorious. What it takes to win is a change of strategy to match our change in allegiance. Instead of waiting for sin's attack, we must press forward with the Kingdom -- to take the battle to the enemy. We must practice daily -- but what we must practice is righteousness, and be trained in it. We must put on the armor of God and wade into the fight. We have a sword for a reason, to attack.
Book of Ephesians
Chapter 6 : 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Unified and Disciplined Team
Movie: Radio
1. The Big Idea: The secret to success in every endeavor is teamwork and discipline.
Topics: Body of Christ Discipline Correction Teamwork
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15
2. The Big Idea: Simple gestures can change lives.
Topics: Hospitality Kindness Ministry
Scripture: Matthew 10:42-0 Hebrews 13:1-3
3. The Big Idea: It's never the wrong time to make something right.
Topics: Restitution Repentance Good works Omission
Scripture: Galatians 6:9-10 Matthew 21:28-31
Book of 1 Corinthians
Chapter 1 -:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Application: The secret to success in every endeavor is teamwork and discipline. When each individual on a team is committed to doing his or her part well and with consistency, then win or lose, the team is working as it should. But when one person fails to perform, a good team does not let that person go. Instead, it disciplines the offending person until they can be reintegrated into the body.
The church operates on much the same principle. We are all given gifts and ministries. All are, in their own ways, important to the success of the mission. When someone goes astray, God disciplines that person in love with the goal of getting them back to their place because they are needed to perform their function in the body.

Perseverence
Movie: Step Into Liquid
1. The Big Idea: Humanity's destiny to subdue the earth.
Topics: Nature Courage Garden of Eden Purpose
Scripture: Genesis 1:28-28 Psalms 8:4-8
2. The Big Idea: Perseverance is just getting up and doing it again.
Topics: Ambition Discipline Perseverance Spiritual Warfare
Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:6-10 Proverbs 13:4-4
3. The Big Idea: Are you a peacemaker?
Topics: Peace Fellowship Reconciliation Enemies
Scripture:
Book of 2 Peter
Chapter 1 : 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
Application: Dale Webster is a model of perseverance. He set for himself a physical goal and has doggedly pursued it, without fail, for years. Many people put tremendous effort into seemingly trivial things, but often ignore the weightier issues of life. Still, they put to shame those of us who are undisciplined altogether.

Paul explains that discipling the body is of little profit, but that spiritual discipline is of great profit. Why? Because physical exercise only profits us here, but spiritual discipline benefits us now and in eternity. Perhaps Dale's surfing is an example of faithfulness in a small thing, but we should strive to be faithful and diligent both in the little things as well as in the weightier matters of the soul.

Make Perfection Your Goal
Movie: Remember the Titans
1. The Big Idea: God's standard: perfection.
Topics: Perfection Change Transformation Training
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 James 1:2-4
2. The Big Idea: The attitude of a group reflects its leadership.
Topics: Leadership Follow Accountability Servant
Scripture: Luke 22:24-27 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10
3. The Big Idea: Remembering the past can help us change the future.
Topics: Death Hate Example Teacher
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 1 John 3:15-19
Book of James
Chapter 1 : 2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Application: It is no wonder that sports are a metaphor for the Christian life. God does not want to make us better; He wants to make us perfect. Achieving that is a lifetime goal of molding us into the image of His Son, and seeing us work together in the Body of Christ. It takes discipline, hard work, an undoing of past behaviors, and a commitment to a new way of thinking and acting. We do what we practice. That is how God transforms us into new creatures in Christ.


THE ULTIMATE COMPETITOR
When sports fans get together sometimes they argue who they feel is the greatest of all competitors. A number of publications and media outlets published their list of the Top 100 Athletes of the Century this past year. Many people were outraged that their favorite sports hero was not mentioned, or did not rank as high as they thought they should be. Many of us define a true competitor as a champion. One who is strong and mighty. One who overcomes adversity, always prevails and claims victory. History is filled with them. But there is only one Ultimate Competitor. His name is Jesus Christ.
Not My Will, But Yours
At approximately 11:00 pm one evening, Jesus and his eleven men (the disciples) walked to one of their favorite spots on the base of the Mount of Olives, known as the Garden of Gethsemane. At the garden entrance, Jesus left his eight men, then took three others with him as they walked to the center of the garden. After a few minutes Jesus left them, then going a little bit further, Jesus fell to the ground in complete agony. It was in the cool of the evening, yet Jesus was sweating as it poured off his body. As Jesus lay on the ground, He yelled out, "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).
Jesus used the word "cup" to refer to this particular portion of His life. He was saying He did not want to go through with the crucifixion if there could be another way to accomplish His father's purpose.
There is nothing wrong with the desire to quit. Every athlete has within themselves that desire when the going gets extremely tough. The natural tendency is to quit. How you handle that desire determines if you are a winner from God's standpoint.
Jesus said, "Not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). Jesus gave up his own desires to follow the desire of His father, even to the point of death! This is the mark of a true competitor, a true champion.
The Scourging
A very brutal scene soon followed for Jesus in the form of the Roman scorge. Jesus' actions revealed yet again His characteristics of an Ultimate Competitor.
After Jesus' final trial before Pilate, the Roman governor had Jesus scourged (Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:15) - a very cruel act that was completely unnessary. Unlike the Jewish scourging, in which the victim could not receive more than forty lashes (Deuteronomy 25:1-3), Roman law was not so humane.
A lictor, trained in the ghoulish art of tortue, administered the scourging with an instrument called a flagellum. This has a round, wooden handle that had strips of leather attached to it. Into the ends of these strips were sewn pieces of bone or small iron chains. The lictor had no limits to the lashes he could deliver, and no part of the body was off-limits. (1)
Jesus was stripped and then tied to a low stone column. In vivid detail modern day medical doctors have recreated this gruesome event. As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim's back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss well have determined how long a victim would survive on the cross...(2)
The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a pre-shock state.
The Robe
Jesus' suffering was far from over. The cruel soldiers, who had circled around His bloody body like vultures, now moved in to pick at the remains.
"But first they took him into the armory and called out the entire contingent. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him..." (Matthew 27:27-28) This was not a long, flowing robe. The Greek term chlamus indicates a short cloak worn over the shoulders. Standing there, naked from the waist down, Jesus became the object of their vulgar remarks.
The Crown
Then came more violence....
"And made a crown from thorns and put it on his head, and placed a stick in his right hand as a scepter and knelt before him in mockery. 'Hail, King of the Jews,' they yelled. And they spat on him and grabbed the stick and beat him on the head with it. After the mockery, they took off the robe and put his own garments on him again, and took him out to crucify him." (Matthew 27:29-31) Mocking, jeering, abusing - it's as if each soldier was trying to top each other's joke. Each took his turn spitting on Jesus...cursing His name.... slapping and jabbing Him with a stick...punching His chest with their fists. Jesus, upon God would soon bestow a name above every name. Jesus, at whose name every knee would someday bow. Jesus, before whom every tongue would someday confess He is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). But for now, all that was offered this king was spit, swearing, and punches. And Jesus bore it all with silent, patient dignity (1 Peter 2:23).
The Cross
After dressing Jesus, the soldiers followed their usual course with criminals: such a victim was surrounded by four Roman soldiers and led by a centurion, all the while struggling to carry the six-foot crossbeam that would later by attached to the larger, vertical post of the cross. And so it was with Jesus. After the scourging and beating, however, Jesus was too weak to carry the beam Himself. Matthew tells us that Simon of Cyrene was pressed into service to help Him (Matthew 27:32).
Above Jesus' head would hang a sign declaring His "crime": This is Jesus the King of the Jews (Matthew 27:37). Pilate had it written not only in Hebrew, so the Jews could read it, but also in Latin for the Romans and in Greek for the more educated in the crowd (John 19:20). No one was going to miss the meaning of what was about to happen.
The Crucifixion
Crucifixion was a barbaric form of capital punishment that originated in Persia. The Persians believed that the earth was sacred to Omuzd, the earth god, so death should not contaminate the earth. Criminals, therefore were fastened to vertical beams of wood by iron spikes and hung above the earth to die - from exposure, exhaustion, or suffocation. Death was painfully slow and publicly humiliating.
The executioner laid the crossbeam behind Jesus and brought him to the ground quickly by grasping his arm and pulling him backward. As soon as Jesus fell, the beam was fitted under the back of his neck and on each side, soldiers quickly knelt on the inside of the elbows...the thorns pressed against his torn scalp. Two soldiers grabbed each side of the crossbeam and lifted. As they pulled up, they dragged Jesus by the wrists. With every breath, he groaned. When the soldiers reached the upright, the four of them began to lift the crossbeam higher until the feet of Jesus were off the ground. The body writhed in pain.
When the crossbeam was set firmly, the executioner knelt before the cross. Two soldiers hurried to help, and each one took hold of a leg at the calf. The ritual was to nail the right foot over the left, and this was probably the most difficult part of the job. Over the years, the Romans learned to push the feet upward on the cross, so that the condemned man could lean on the nails and stretch himself upward to breathe. (3)
The Agony and Death
Excruciating pain stabbed Jesus' body as He hung on unbending nails. The pain in his wrists was beyond bearing, and the muscle cramps knotted his forearms, upper arms and his shoulders. His pectoral muscles at the side of his chest were momentarily paralyzed. This induced an involuntary panic; he found that while he could draw air into his lungs, he was powerless to exhale.
At once, Jesus raised himself on his bleeding feet. As the weight of his body came down on the insteps, the single nail pressed hard against the top of the wound. Slowly, steadily, Jesus was forced to raise himself higher until, for a moment, his head hid the sign which told of his crime. When his shoulders were on level with his hands, breathing was rapid and easier. He fough the pain in his feet in order to breathe rapidly for a few moments. Then, unable to bear the pain below, which cramped legs and thighs and wrung moans from the strongest of men, he let his torso sag lower and lower, and his knees projected a little at a time until, with a deep sigh, he felt himself to be hanged by the wrists. And this process must have been repeated again and again. (4)
In every crucifixion, fever would inevitably set in, inflaming the wounds and creating an insatiable thirst. When Jesus requested some water, they handed him vinegar. Waves of hallucinations would drift the victim in and out of consciousness. In times, flies and other insects would find their way into the open wounds.
There were two thieves on the crosses next to Jesus, one on each side. One thief mocked Jesus saying, "If you are really the Christ, save yourself and save us" (Luke 23:39). The other thief then rebuked him for what he said to Jesus, saying, "Don't you see that we are both in the same judgment, but this man Jesus, has done nothing wrong." He then looked across to Jesus and said, "Lord when you come again into your kingdom, remember me." Jesus then replied, "Today, you shall be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:40-43).
The thief recognized Jesus as the one God sent to be the Savior of the world. Because he had a repentant heart, called Him Lord, and trusted Jesus with his soul, Jesus told him he would spend eternity in heaven.
Probably worst of all, was when the Father had to turn His back on His Son, Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 it is written, "God made him who had on sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus actually became sin on the cross. The Father had to turn His back on the sin and His Son. Jesus then cried out, "Lord, Lord, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). But the Father did not forsake Him, He raised Him up from the dead. This is when the sky turned black and the veil of the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Jesus cried out, "It is finished" and breathed His last breath. Even after Jesus was dead, the Roman soldiers put a spear in His side to ensure death. Out from Jesus' body came blood and water and spilled into a pool at the foot of the cross. In Hebrews 9:22, God said that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Yet, He did this because He loved us. God needed a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus took our place. Sin had to be dealt with, and Jesus dealt with it for us on the cross.
Jesus could have kept Himself from this torturous death. He could have chosen not to have gone His Father's way. Jesus could have saved Himself from the cross by denying He was God, then his prosecutors would have dropped the case against him and the crucifixion would have never occurred. At any point Jesus could have quit. Yet, He was totally giving Himself and all He had toward God's purpose in this situation. Jesus totally gave Himself to you at this time. At any point, Jesus could have turned back from His mission, but he was the Ultimate Competitor. Even to the point of death, Jesus did not quit. He was a champion, winning an everlasting victory for you!
The Everlasting Victory
From the world's viewpoint, when Jesus hung dead upon the cross, it looked as though He had been defeated and was a loser. Yet, this provided a setting for the greatest event in history to take place.
On the third day, Jesus defeated death and was raised from a sealed and guarded tomb where he was laid. His resurrection from the dead demonstrates the power available to us, enabling us to live above our circumstances. Because of what God had done for us through His Son, Jesus, we never have to look at a defeat in an athletic competition as a loss. A temporary defeat is now a learning situation where we can bring more of our potential to the surface.
God's Perspective
Too many people tend to compare their present performance with those of the past, or even expectations of the future. Do not let that get in the way. Athletic performance can vary from competition to competition due to sickness, injuries, weather, rest, etc. It is our responsibility to give all of what we have at the moment, not what we do not have within. Your only comparison is with Jesus Christ. Statistics depend on game conditions. God's perspective on winning depends only upon how you perform in relation to giving all that you have to give. Leaving nothing behind, just like Jesus did on the cross.
Let's say an athlete has a personal best 18:20 in a 5k race, then the athlete competes the next time and only runs a 18:56, this is failure from the world's view, but this performance can still be a victory from God's perspective. One must realize that you can still be a loser even if you statistically better your performance. How can that be? It depends entirely on how much one gives of themselves to perform as Jesus would - with the same attitude and intensity He would have.
A Christ-like athlete will never be sidetracked by the score, who the opponents is, or even the situation. A Christ-like athlete would be focused on the though of representing Jesus, to compete to please Him in all that we would say and do. As we compete in this manner, we will know with confidence that the results of the competition will be His, to bring glory and honor to Him! When this is our focus as Christ-like athletes, we too can become Ultimate Competitors - Ultimate Competitors in Christ!
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men." (Collossians 3:32)
"If you can?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23)
"I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 3:14)
"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength." (Phillippians 4:13)
(1) Bishop, Jim. The Day Christ Died (New York, NY: Harper and Brothers, 1957). pp.290-291.
(2) Edward, Gabel, and Hosmer, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 21, 1986, pp. 1457-58.
(3) Bishop, The Day Christ Died, pp.311-12.
(4) Bishop, The Day Christ Died, p. 313.
http://www.tothenextlevel.org
Copyright (c) 2000-2003, TTNL

...and we can't stay in defensive stance because it hurts ?!?
Personal Pressbreak Program

Sometimes life is full of all different kinds of pressure. Just as if an opponent puts on their press,  in any pressbreak situation, it is crucial to approach these situations with knowledge, poise and self discipline. However, even with the right intentions if you are not properly equipped with an appropriate "Pressbreak Attack" mistakes can compound into major problems. What basketball4all will strive to do is always provide Athletes Looking to Learn with some guidelines to deal with lifes' "Full Court Press".
Learn about the Pyramid of Success
TOPICS
Care-Think-Try
Honor the Game
Redifining Winner
Fill the Emotional Tank
What is a Champion?
Pressure
Sportsmanship
Injuries & Setbacks
Integrity
Dealing With Adversity
Passion
Character
Who's Your Daddy?
Our Team
Total Release Performance
Journey of Dreams
Really Tough
THE Playbook
Questions & Answers
The Edge

DEVOTIONS
Developing a Winners Heart
Don't Stop Believin' !
New Focus
Forgive Others
Encourage Others
Show Kindness
Pure Shooter
You Can Do It
Follow Rules
Be Honorable
Developing a Champions Heart
Plan of Salvation
Winning Strategy
Unified and Disciplined Team
Perseverence
Make Perfection Your Goal
The Ultimate Competitor




last updated on: 10/27/2012
1 Cor 9:24
Google

Spreadshirt Sports
Slap up a slam dunk NBA Fathead today!