“On The Verge:” Fierce Focus Gets Villanova to the Final Four
Champions are crowned because of their ability to be composed in the heat of competition and in key moments, whether on a sports field, in a boardroom, or at a recording studio. This week, all eyes are on Villanova University as they take on the University of Oklahoma in the NCAA Final Four. Can the Wildcats find their "fierce focus"? Can they stay mentally steady? Cara Bradley, mental strength coach, certainly hopes they do.
Champions are crowned because of their ability to consistently notice their doubt and fear and shift into a clearer state of mind in key moments, whether on a sports field, in a boardroom, or at a recording studio. This week, all eyes are on Villanova University as they take on the University of Oklahoma in the NCAA Final Four in Houston, Texas.
Years ago, a Villanova basketball player came to author, mental strength coach, and yoga teacher, Cara Bradley, because he was struggling with free throws. Playing on a nationally ranked team in front of large crowds and often on national television had thwarted his ability to stay calm and cool on the foul line. He felt distracted and on edge and needed a tool to help him settle down. He agreed to try an exercise using a repeated phrase to help him become present and stay calm before shooting free throws.
“Fierce focus” became the phrase he repeated as he stepped up to the line. His commitment to this simple practice paid off quickly as he learned to steady his mind, improved his free-throw percentage, secured his starting position, and helped his team reach the NCAA Final Four in 2009.
Now, Villanova finds themselves in the Final Four and in the center of the spotlight once again. There is no doubt they will need to find their fierce focus once again come tip off on Saturday night against Oklahoma.
“The Villanova basketball program is mentally disciplined,” says Bradley. “Head Coach Jay Wright and his reputable team of coaches develop players who exemplify strong character and an incredible work ethic. It’s been a privilege to be associated with such a successful program and committed coaches.”
What exactly is fierce focus? As Bradley, author of the new book, “On The Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine,” explains, fierce focus is having the capacity to stay composed in the fire of competition — to be steady in the storm. When an athlete is able to stabilize their mind and body in order to maintain balance and steadiness, they tap into strength and access a physical intelligence that is normally not available when one is riddled with fear and doubt.
Athletes develop fierce focus by noticing when doubt or fear locks them down and closes them off from tapping into their potential know when to move right or left or to shoot the ball. Pay attention to everything, cites Bradley, and you will recognize what holds you back from experiencing your peak performance. Notice what you’re saying to yourself in the heat of competition and you’ll learn to shift beyond the noise in your head and step fully into playing from your body.
Cara hopes the current Villanova players will find their fierce focus on Saturday as they step onto the court and into the history books. As a mental strength coach, her advice to them is to stay steady and relaxed and trust that their years of experience and expertise on the court will shine through come Saturday.
Cara Bradley is the founder of Verge Yoga and recently wrote “On the Verge: Wake Up, Show Up, and Shine” (New World Library). Her book calls readers to shift beyond their busy minds and to live their lives in a way that allows them to meet their full potential, so they shine in every moment. As Head Coach Jay Wright describes “On the Verge” as, “A must-read for anyone who is passionate about peak performance at home, work, and at play.”
For a free report on “5 Strategies to Seize the Day — Everyday,” go to www.carabradley.net
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- Founder, Verge Yoga
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