Don’t Lose the Ball in the Lights and other Life Lessons from Sports is the first in the Home Grown Wisdom Series. Presented in short, devotion style chapters, the book sends the reader on a journey of learning, self-examination and self-improvement. Each chapter is based on a sports themed story – ranging from basketball to bowling, lacrosse to skiing, dance to gymnastic, and many other sports in between – and covering a wide range of levels – from little league, through high school and college, and into Olympic and professional sports. Each chapter ends with an invitation to consider and self-reflect and leaves the reader a little wiser after each day of reading.
The cover model for the book is Hannah Togami, a young member of my church and an outstanding pole vaulter and volleyball player. The Charleston RiverDogs, a minor league baseball team that plays in the Class Single-A South Atlantic League and is an affiliate of the New York Yankees, let us use the field after a night game. Although Hannah is not a baseball player, we dirtied her up and put her in a uniform. Her natural athletic skills took over as I tossed her balls and she tracked them down. Our talented photographer Lynn Cobb caught just the right angle and lighting. Hannah went on to become the state champion in the pole vault for Wando High School as an eighth grader and to win the national junior high pole vault championship.
Life can throw us curveballs at times. It's how we handle the curve that can make all the difference in our lives. In this chapter I use the example of the main character from the book "Diamond Ruby" as well as a real life example of a young swimmer. Life threw them curves - they didn't wallow in self-pity. They took action and overcame life's difficulties.
Sports psychologists and researchers have studied the benefits of positive self-talk in a variety of athletic movements and under a variety of self-talk conditions. The research concludes that positive self-talk increases athletic performance – the level of improvement varies depending on, among other things, the type of self-talk and the type of athletic skill measured. This excerpt shares a few examples of positive self-talk.
Do you tend to overdramatize a personal setback? To focus on the negativity of a situation? To be paralyzed with fear of the uncertainty of a proposed action? In this chapter, I explore how some athletes are able to bounce back from a bad play or call while others seem to implode. And, then I share some tools to help you overcome a setback, whether in competition or in life – tools to help you have resiliency.
Are you someone that people can count on? The position of first off the bench in basketball - the sixth man - is a great example of the importance of reliability. Philadelphia 76er and UNC great Bobby Jones was the epitome of reliable in his role as sixth man. Are you reliable? Do you give 100 percent? Read the excerpt from the chapter "Be Reliable" in this book bubble. Learn more at www.SuzanneDetar.com.
Who has control issues? Do you attempt to control others? Do you control yourself? The example of how Lafayette College women’s lacrosse team tried to control Temple University’s team is a great example of attempting to control someone else. It was a good strategy against an amazing team but it ended up not being sustainable for the entire match. The same is true in life. Our attempts at controlling how we want others to react and behave might work for a time, but eventually we get worn out or deviate from the plan, like the Lafayette team. But, if we work to control our own efforts, we can be much more successful in all aspects of life.
The story of good sportsmanship shared in the bubble to the right was one of several examples I used in this chapter to stress the kind of behavior we should encourage at home and in all our relationships. Let's be on the lookout to carry someone around the bases, especially those who live in our own homes.
The sport situations outlined in this chapter describe how an athlete determines whether he or she should avoid or confront another player. In real life situations, deciding when to avoid or when to confront is not always easy. Like athletes, we need judgment, balance, planning, practice, rules, respect, and commitment.
Fear is a mental barrier, a success inhibitor, a problem maker. In this chapter, I use examples from athletic situations - how athletes overcome fear to thrive - and how each of us can overcome fear and thrive in our own life situations.
I used Olympic swimmer Katie Hoff's story of training and competing in small community pools as an example of how hard work pay off. It may not be glamorous and it may not be easy, but most accomplishments only happen with hard work.
I used the perfect game in baseball, a perfect gymnastic routine, and a perfect game in bowling as examples of how difficult it is to be perfect and that, in most instances, a mistake doesn't change the outcome of a situation. A one-hitter might not be perfect; a gymnast might have a little bobble; and a bowler might miss one pin. In all three instances, the player is still likely to win the event. The same is true with life. Even with mistakes, even if we don't perform perfectly, we can still have great outcomes. Sometimes a mistake, or something we don't do perfectly, is like pitching a one-hitter. It isn't perfect, but it's pretty awesome. It's perfectly imperfect!
It's also good to remember that even in the midst of a losing season, there are some plays that do make the highlight reel.
This chapter examines the retirement stories of several high profile professional athletes (Michael Jordan, Justine Henin, Ricky Williams and Annika Sorenstam). By examining their decisions, we can reflect on our own decision making. American monk Thomas Merton wrote, "To make good choices, I must develop a mature and prudent understanding of myself and that will reveal to me my real motives and intentions." What are your true motivations when making big decisions?
"Slump? I ain't in no slump...I just ain't hitting." - Yogi Berra. This chapter relates real life Major League Baseball players' hitting slumps to life slumps. And Yogi Berra always seems to put everything in the perfect perspective!
This excerpt tackles the problem of being distracted – both as an athlete and in many other areas of our lives (parent, lover, co-worker, spouse, sibling, etc.). Don’t Lose the Ball in the Lights and other Life Lessons, presented in short, devotion style chapters, sends the reader on a journey of learning, self-examination and self-improvement. Each chapter is based on a sports themed story – ranging from basketball to bowling, lacrosse to skiing, dance to gymnastic, and many other sports in between – and covering a wide range of levels – from little league, through high school and college, and into Olympic and professional sports. Each chapter ends with an invitation to consider and self-reflect. It’s the perfect gift for dad or the graduate in your life!
Always ringing in the back of my head during warm-ups, or other drills, was my Dad’s voice, "Practice like you play the game." This chapter and book bubble stresses the importance of giving your best effort on and off the field.
Proper breathing techniques can improve performance, both on the athletic field and in life. Whether you’re looking to improve your times in events, add power to your tennis stroke, or to simply clear your mind, breathing deeply and properly will improve your athletic performance and help clear your mind so you can attack projects, dilemmas and everyday living with renewed vigor, confidence and peacefulness.
Family traits, good or bad, can be passed along. It may be nature or nurture, but the examples in this chapter highlight that we can train ourselves to hone our positive family traits and to overcome those that limit us.
Five-time Olympian Dara Torres, the holder of 12 Olympic Medals, including 3 Gold Medals, endorsed this book - Don't Lose the Ball in the Lights and Other Life Lessons from Sports. The excerpt from the book, included here is a chapter that explains Torres’ last Olympics in Beijing in 2008, where at 41 years of age she won the silver medal in the 50 meter freestyle and in the 4 x 100 relay. But the chapter isn’t about her athleticism – it’s about her sportsmanship and her ability to see beyond herself in a high stakes Olympic moment. Having read the chapter, Torres endorsed the book with these words, “I’ve spent my life trying to be the best I can be in the sport of swimming and it’s very rewarding to know I’ve inspired others through sports. I’m so excited to see a book capturing great champions at their best…giving back and trying to positively affect the lives of others. That is truly a campion.”
Research in the field of Sports psychology proves that visualization improves performance on the athletic field. In the chapter of the book titled "The Psychology of the Triangle," I use specific athletic examples of successful visualization in athletic endeavors to encourage the reader to put visualization into practice in their family and work lives as well. Whether practicing for the big game or for difficult life situations, imagining a positive outcome and how to achieve it will bring a measure of success and peace to our lives.
This chapter on good communication references the pairs figure skating team of Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov. It also references baseball’s pitcher/catcher duo of Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver and tennis doubles partners Bob and Mike Bryan. These pairs were so effective and successful, in part, because of their amazing communication. This chapter is a reminder that communication is hard work; that unspoken communication isn’t communication at all; and that the only way people know what we want or expect of them is to tell them.
Writing a sports themed column (Field Smarts), and then turning it into a book (Don't Lose the Ball in the Lights and Other Life Lessons from Sports), created a purpose that meshed my love of sports with my skills of writing and inspiring. How can you mesh your skills with your interests to find your purpose?
Who remembers the irreverent but adorable Bill Murray character from the movie Meatballs? This excerpt is taken from the chapter in the book that teaches us that placing unhealthy pressure on winning or being perfect is not necessary. If you make a mistake or come in second or second to last, just carry on. In the overall course of life, it just doesn't matter!
Publishing a book isn't just about the act of writing. So many people help the author along the way. This is true of all books. Highlighted here, in a portion of my “Acknowledgements,” are my thanks to the athletes of all ages and skill levels whose stories inspire throughout the book. For me, and for most writers, there are many more “thanks” to give - to editors, photographers, designers, family members, friends and life helpers.
This chapter on good communication also included references to baseball’s pitcher/catcher duo - Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver - and to the tennis playing Bryan brothers. The skaters, ball players and tennis pair all had good communication that led to amazing victories. This chapter asks you to consider: How’s your communication?
I've been a sports fan all my life. And and lifelong Phillies' fan! It's opening day - I'm celebrating the official release of my book and the Phillies' home opener. The excerpt is one of the earliest lessons I learned from baseball - Never give up!
Sometimes not having boundaries can have significant negative impact on our lives.
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