In order for an athlete to reach their Upper Limit, one must learn to control the flesh and let the mind be in total control.
By Reed Sainsbury
Published: Spring 1999
“Come on push it. Suck it up now!” I think every serious athlete has heard those words muttered or even screamed by a coach during practice. Hunched over with hands on knees you desperately gasp in another breath of air trying to comfort your pounding heart that feels like it's about to burst through your chest. With sweat streaming down your fatigued and worn out body, you somehow manage to get back on the starting line and desperately hope that by some miracle that whistle is not going to sound to send you racing in another 40 yard sprint. What determines an athlete's limit? How much can an athlete take before he or she gives up, or passes out? Before this question is answered, one thing must be understood. The flesh is weak. The mind is what determines how much one can take. Granted one must be physically strong but most athletes are, otherwise, they would choose not to compete in such demanding physical competitions, which sports offer. So the question is, why do some athletes give one hundred percent on every play, drill and sprint, and find it in themselves to never “dog it”? Everything is as if their life depended upon it, while others let up and don't try as hard. The answer to this questions boils down to desire and ambition. If an athlete burns, I mean rages from within to WIN then he or she will pay the price, whatever the cost may be, to accomplish that. If your ambition is to be MVP in every game played then one must pay the price. Nothing ever worth having comes easy. Usually through blood, sweat and tears are champions brought to light. They are the ones who find it from within, to exercise mental toughness and prove to themselves that the mind has all power over the flesh. The mind is in control and when it says sprint the body becomes a slave and immediately obeys, without hesitation. When the body is totally exhausted, muscles completely fatigued and says “no more”, the mind takes control and steers the ship in the direction he or she wants it to go. This is the key to becoming a champion. Learning to control the body with the mind is the factor that determines our success not only in athletics, but in all of life. Once a person has this mastered, they can do just about anything. What the mind of mankind can conceive and believe it can achieve. “Two people are in the same business on the same street. One of them prospers and the other does not. Why? Because one of them wants it more than the other. It is not always the strongest man who wins the fight, or the fastest man who wins the race, or the best team who wins the game. In most cases, it is the one who wants it the most, the one who has gone out and prepared, who has paid the price.” Tommy Lasorda One of my favorite examples of this is the story of the mother who was in a terrible automobile accident. Her three year old daughter was trapped under the burning car. She panicked knowing that the car could explode any moment with her previous child trapped underneath. She immediately began to pray to her Creator for strength and through faith, she some how picked the car up enough for her daughter to crawl out and escape from being caught in the explosion. Now some of us who are more religious than others might tend to think she didn't lift the car, but the good Lord probably sent angels down to lift it. Either way, does it really matter? She accomplished her task, didn't she? What difference does it make whether her mind exercised total power over her body and made herself lift the car, or the Lord really did intervene. Both sides hold the same amount of weight. Her mind was so powerful, she totally believed, without a doubt, that it would be done, and it was. Athletes constantly cry out for that little extra added effort, to help make the touchdown, or score the winning point. The line between success and failure is most often so fine we don't realize it. In order for an athlete to reach their Upper Limit, one must learn to control the flesh and let the mind be in total control. Think of how much more pleasant the world would be, if every one could master this. There would be no illegitimate children, murder or rape. Easier said than done, right? The first step that needs to be taken to accomplish this goal, is to start practicing mental domination over the flesh. For example, athletes can start by saying, I'm going to do three forced reps after I fail on the Squat, or any other strenuous activity. “The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens.” Arnold Schwarzenegger Any time we get out of our comfort zone, whether it be squatting 495 for 10 repetitions with the last 3 being forced reps, or sprinting a 400 meter dash, the mind must be in control in order to win. The flesh is weak, it will almost always want to relax and go back to its comfort zone. “Nobody wants to be mediocre in life. The mediocre are the top of the bottom, or the best of the worst, or the bottom of the top, or the worst of the best.” Lou Holtz There once was a young boy who wanted more than anything in the world to be a great basketball player. He dreamed of this, day and night. He worked at it as hard as any human being worked at anything, trying to develop skills and coordination. He practiced long and hard trying to improve each day. It was a very sad and disappointing day when his coach told him he didn't make the team. The next year, he tried again, but still didn't make the team. He went home to his room and cried his eyes out. He had been rejected twice and was very discouraged and upset, but he would not quit. He said his experience of having been cut taught him how to handle rejection in his adult years. He worked harder than ever to improve his skills and become a better athlete. With much perseverance, hard work and sacrifice he finally reached his goal of becoming a great basketball player. In fact, this man by the name of Michael Jordan, became the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. Many times the road to becoming the best or a champion is rough and rocky. It is filled with disappointments and falls, but those who get back up after each fall and keep on going are the ones who find themselves crowned the champion in the end. In closing, if you want to WIN, if you want to be a CHAMPION, you must exercise mental domination over the body. If you have not prepared yourself mentally then all your hard physical preparation will be wasted. Make sure to train your brain as well as your physical body. If you fail to choose, you choose to lose.
"Nobody wants to be mediocre in life. The mediocre are the top of the bottom, or the best of the worst, or the bottom of the top, or the worst of the best." Lou Holtz