Bob Tewksbury on a recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast:
Confidence is a choice. A lot of people think it’s a feeling. But if you wait for that feeling, it may never come.
So said Tewksbury, the former major league pitcher who is now a sports psychologist and mental skills coach for the San Francisco Giants. Really enjoyed this episode, “Think Like A Winner,” which dives into the mental side of performance: how the best athletes handle pressure, overcome fear, and stay focused in various situations. There were a lot of great takeaways from this podcast but my favorite was former major league pitcher Brandon McCarthy talking about his former teammate, Clayton Kershaw:
[The most impressive thing about him] is how quickly he fixes something where most everybody else spirals, and it turns into an okay outing or a poor outing, his turns into a just a less-great outing, because he fixes the little thing that’s going wrong. And then even if it’s still not great it’s much better and then by the next start he fixes it again. That’s the diagnosing and the ability to fix immediately that the brain and physical ability to do that is very rare.
As I like to say about racing: Whether you’re competing in a mile or an ultramarathon, when it comes down to it, it’s just a giant exercise in problem-solving. If you find yourself in a tough spot, rely on your experience and intuition to figure out how to make the best of it. Then use those learnings to make even more informed decisions the next time out. And so on and so forth.