“I just need to get out of my own way and let my natural ability take over.”
How many times have we heard top athletes say that in interviews?
At first blush, it sounds like a profound insight. And after hearing it, I always think, hey that’s advice I could use.
But then confusion sets in when I ask myself the following questions:
- Exactly what part of me is getting in the way and keeping the rest of me from playing my best?
- How do I get whatever that thing is “out of the way?”
Since no athlete has given me a clue, I asked a well-known neuroscientist to answer these questions in the simplest possible terms.
He started out by explaining that when we practice an athletic skill, the memory of how our muscles perform that skill is stored in the part of the brain known as the basal ganglia.
“For example,” he said, “when it’s time to hit a backhand, the muscle memory of the backhand you practiced flows from your basal ganglia to your body. If this information is able to flow without interference, all your muscles will work together in perfect coordination and you will end up smacking a killer shot. This experience will feel like you let your natural ability take over.”
“But what gets in the way of that experience?” I asked.
“Another part of your brain gets in the way. When that happens we get coordination break downs, mechanical flaws, stiffer play, muscled shots, and weaker execution.”
“Okay, so what part is the culprit?”
“It’s your prefrontal cortex,” he answered. “It’s located directly behind your forehead and it’s the part of your brain that is doing all your thinking and questioning at this very moment.”
Damn that prefrontal cortex, I thought.
“The prefrontal cortex is the brain’s Chief Executive Officer,” he explained. “And because it’s the boss, it has the power to override other parts of the brain which it does during times of stress. Of course, this is particularly valuable when a person is in physical danger. But this same bossy attribute can have a terrible effect on athletic performance when the pressure’s on.”
“But how does the prefrontal cortex get in the way?” I asked.
“Instead of just letting the stroke flow freely, it gets nervous and tries to modify the stroke while you’re in the middle of it,” he said.
“Can you give me a specific?”
“For instance, it could tell the body to swing harder. Or softer. Or it could start hoping for a specific outcome like wanting to sink a foul shot or throw a strike or hit the golf ball over the pond. These types of thoughts disrupt the flow of muscle memory.”
“But these are thoughts every athlete thinks all the time!” I exclaimed.
“They are. And each one interferes with the flow of muscle memory to some degree.”
“Wow,” I said. “It’s hard to believe that these little thoughts keep me from playing my best.”
“But it’s true. And to make matters worse, the prefrontal cortex tends to get more engaged as competitive pressure grows which further sabotages performance. Basically, if you want to play your best, you need to find a way to keep your prefrontal cortex quiet.”
“But that’s the billion dollar question,” I said. “How do I get my prefrontal cortex out of the way, short of a lobotomy?”
The neuroscientist shrugged.
Mercifully, I wasn’t left in the dark for long. The perfect answer came from my friend Steven Yellin who I believe has ingeniously solved The Case of the Interfering Prefrontal Cortex.
Steven discovered a simple solution that elegantly accomplishes two important things in one stroke:
- His solution keeps the prefrontal cortex quiet even under the most demanding, pressure-packed situations, and;
- His solution creates the ideal mental environment for muscle memory to flow like greased lightning.
In other words, Steven Yellin has not only found the answer to “getting out of our own way,” he has found the key which unlocks the Zone. This may well be the single most important discovery in sports.
I know the impact he had on my game was transformative. It totally blew my mind when he taught it to me.
The first time I applied his method to my golf swing, I instantly had more freedom, power, accuracy, and distance. Elation doesn’t begin to describe how I felt.
And when I applied his methods to tennis, everything immediately improved—my footwork, my timing, my technique, the whole enchilada. I played more efficiently, more powerfully, and more consistently. I stayed energized throughout and I had a ton more fun.
But I’m not the only one who Steven has helped. Steven is getting amazing results from recreational players to top professionals in Major League Baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, soccer, and basketball. In fact, Steven’s star is clearly on the rise. He’s been invited to teach Major League Baseball teams and also to speak at national conferences for the PGA and Women’s Tennis Association.
I’ve spent a lot of time with Steven. We’ve had incredible discussions. My friendship with him can be characterized as one eye-opening revelation after another. And I’m proud to say, I was his first guinea pig to test out his breakthrough method for the golf swing.
Over the years, if there is one thing I’ve done right, it was to jot down all of Steven’s amazing insights and turn them into a book titled The Mentally Quiet Athlete. In it, I show how easy it is to play with a quiet mind and let your natural ability shine on the field of play. I think it is cutting edge stuff.
But, please, don’t lump this book in with all the other books promoting mental techniques for sports. It is significantly different. And if you read this book carefully, you will find it to be a quantum leap above all the rest.
So go to www.MentallyQuiet.com. Read the sample pages. And decide for yourself if it’s your cup of tea. Personally I believe it to be a powerful, game-changing brew.
P.S. This is from a satisfied customer:
"These guys have discovered something in sports that is going to have a huge impact wherever it is taught."
Baseball Hall of Fame