The game is the real genius, and grapplers and combat athletes are the talent who execute the game.

Do you agree with this?

A game is a complex combination of techniques, defense moves, pace, structure, and scoring mechanisms. All games have a winner and a loser. What gets a large section of society interested in a particular game in the first place is quite an enigma. All of the many factors about the game-the competitiveness, the speed, the aggression, and the skill required–capture the imagination of people and bring them out in droves to watch a match.

Why some players take to grappling and combat athletics while others play baseball or basketball is a mystery. It’s a question of opportunity, childhood exposure to the game, mindset to handle the rigors of a particular game, interest in the game process, physical fitness to play the game, and so on

However, the main thing an athlete must keep in mind is that the genius lies in the fine art of the sport perfected over thousands of years, played by thousands of players before you, and yet to be played by thousands after you. You are merely the talent that takes the game forward and brings entertainments to thousands of people. It is the power of the game, its nuances and techniques, and the sheer enjoyment of the mechanics of the game that is the real crowd puller. If you are a “star,” then it means that you are the person with the ability to execute the game the way it is meant to be played, but the game itself will always be “King.”

The mindset of a sportsperson in addition to all the mental preparation has to be humble enough to acknowledge the greatness of the sport. You playa big role, but that’s only if you take the time to understand the game thoroughly. When fans cheer you, they are definitely saluting you for a game well played. But remember, they are there because they love the game. If the game did not appeal to them, they would not be there.

Required Mindset

  • Shun feelings of self-importance
  • Don’t consider yourself indispensable: In fact, try to imagine and make a list of people who may be called to replace you in case you cannot play. It will be a sobering experience
  • Focus on bringing out the finer details of the game
  • Focus on understanding every small nuance of the game
  • Love the game as much as your fans do

“Attitude-Ego” Syndrome

This problem can be best explained with the storyline in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire.

Jerry Maguire was a big hit and everybody remembers the famous catch phrase in the movie -“show me the money.” This movie made a subtle statement on the psyche of sports professional.

Let’s take a look.

Tom Cruise played Jerry Maguire, a slick and successful sports agent who finds himself out of a job after writing an idealistic “mission statement” on caring for clients (sports professionals). Jerry Maguire manages to retain one client Rod Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. The Rod Tidwell character is a football player with a chip on his shoulder who hassles Jerry to “show me the money.” He wants an attractive contract and believes that his image is strong enough for him to endorse big brand names. Rod Tidwell behaves in a brash manner and does not play well enough for Jerry to swing big deals for him. Tidwell is the best wide receiver in the NFL, but because of his big ego and attitude problem, no mega-buck contract or big-time endorsements come his way. Jerry has the task of making him a star, despite his behavior.

After a particularly poor performance, Jerry gives Tidwell a “dressing down” on his poor attitude that is jeopardizing his game. Rod Tidwell ultimately goes through a transformation and polishes up his performance. He also becomes a team player and raises the morale of the entire team. And with good performance, he also gets to sign a lucrative deal-one he was initially after when he asked Jerry to “show me the money.”

What do we learn from this story? The sport that you choose to play has to receive its due in terms of commitment to preparation and performance. There are no short cuts. To play the game well you have to have the right attitude in addition to all the practice you undergo. To be noticed and singled out, your dedication to the game has to be evident. When you recognize that the “pure science” of the game is the real hero, you will set aside your ego and instead play for the sheer love of your sport.

Lloyd Irvin is a martial arts coach. He holds the rank of 7th degree black belt in Thai Jitsu, 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, 1st degree black belt in judo. In 2002 he was named The United States Judo Federation International Coach of the year. Lloyd’s coaching experience includes having taught Secret Service, FBI & SWAT. Read more on:

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