“The No-Scoreboard Challenge”
This may seem like the craziest idea ever, but hear me out …
#1, it’s super helpful at a practical level to stay focused during competition. But it’s also a powerful skill-building exercise for raising your Inner Game in general.
Anyway, it’s at least worth giving some serious thought to.
- The craziest idea you’ve ever heard?
- The critical moments at the core of raising your Inner Game
- The key to training the mental game
- How to get started
- Listen/read to get the full message
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[ transcript ]
Okay, this might seem like the craziest thing you’ve ever heard, but hear me out, because #1, I’m serious about this, and #2, this might actually be one of the most powerful things you can do to raise your mental game during competition or if you’re a coach, to help your athletes raise theirs.
I’m David Levin. Author of Raise Your Inner Game. Founder of Raise Your Inner Game Sports Academy.
And here is the idea.
Don’t look at the scoreboard during the game. And I mean at all. Okay? Ignore it. Completely.
So, you’re in the game or the meet, the scoreboard is there, of course, and you feel the pull to look at it, probably a lot. But you don’t do it. You consciously, intentionally resist looking at the scoreboard.
That is the "No Scoreboard Challenge."
Now, this is for athletes only, okay? The coach should definitely look at it.
But for athletes, try this out. The next time you’re in competition, try to not look at the scoreboard until the game is over.
So, why should you do this? And I’m telling you, there is a ton of power in this exercise. So what is it?
If you listened to the Michael Jordan post, A Masterclass in Focus, you remember we talked about how REAL focus, the kind he had, means you’re not thinking about anything. You’re not off in your head somewhere. You’re just fully present and focused on what’s happening in the moment, right? That’s focus, and it’s the key to peak performance.
So, apply that to this idea of not looking at the scoreboard.
What’s happening when you look at the scoreboard? What happens the moment after you do that? You start thinking about what it means. Where are we? How are we doing? How am I doing? You’re framing things, putting context to things, thinking about the different possible outcomes and what those mean.
So, in other words, you’re off in your head. You’re THINKING, which is not where you want to be.
So that’s just at a very basic level. The goal is to be focused and present, and you’re not. You’re off somewhere else.
But let’s go deeper.
You might say, but it’s helpful for me to know where things stand so I can pick it up if I need to or whatever. I can adjust to how things are going.
But is that really true?
If you feel you need to know if you’re behind with two minutes to go, for example, so you can take things to the next level, that means you didn’t need to play at that level before that. Right? That’s what that’s saying? I don’t think that’s what you want. Peak performance means bringing your A game all the time. Every play. Every minute. They are all equally important. And if they’re not, you will not be playing at your highest level.
So that’s a powerful shift.
And when you get right down to it, on this play, this run, this task, whatever it is, how does the current score or the time left affect what you need to do to be successful? It has nothing to do with it. Success on this play is only about your focus and your execution. Right?
So, thinking about the score only makes you less likely to succeed. It makes you nervous if you’re behind or over-confident if you’re ahead, and it gets you off in your head, all things that hurt your performance.
So, I hope you can see how powerful this idea can be.
But there’s even one more level to it.
Thinking about this Challenge to not look at the scoreboard. What will doing that actually look like?
So, you’ll be there in the game, and all of sudden, and it happens so quickly you might not even notice it, you will get the impulse to check the score, to look at the clock.
It’s an unconscious feeling, it comes up in an instant, and it feels like a pull to do it. There’s something that actually wants you to do it.
So, then the Challenge is to simply resist that pull. Nope. Not gonna look. And that’s it.
But that little moment is THE core skill of mastering your inner game. Psychologists call it Impulse Control or Cognitive Control or Emotional Self-regulation, and it is simply what we just said. You notice an impulse or a thought or a feeling come up, and you resist it.
So, when I say that you can train the mental game the same as any other skill, this is what I’m talking about. THIS is the core skill of the mental game, and an exercise like the No Scoreboard Challenge is how you train it.
Every time you notice an impulse and you resist it you are doing another rep of the exercise and you are strengthening that core Inner Game muscle.
It really is about that simple. And you simply will not believe the power in doing that work over time.
So there you have three big reasons why this Challenge is so powerful.
- It helps you stay focused in the moment rather than be off in your head.
- It keeps your attention where it should be — on successfully executing the play
- And it’s a powerful exercise in strengthening the core skills of your Inner Game.
I hope that makes sense. There’s a lot in there. And we get into all of it in the Sports Academy program. But you should be able to just do that right now.
For your next game, try it out. Don’t look at the scoreboard. Let the coach do that. Let them think about strategy and which play to run. You just take that play, focus, and execute. And I think you’ll really feel the difference.
Hope that’s helpful. To hear about future posts when they come out, add your name to our announcement list. We’d love to have you join us. Otherwise, keep up the good work, and we will talk next time.
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