When I first agreed to read and write a review for the book Stillpower: The Inner Source of Athletic Excellence by Garret Kramer, I was nervous. What if I didn’t like the book? What would I say? I want to be completely honest, yet I wouldn’t want to be cruel or insulting.
All of that worrying was for nothing. *sigh of relief*
I tremendously enjoyed reading Stillpower. It helped give me clarity in an area I was being pulled in two directions over.
Our Ms. Firecracker (11) is a level 7 Optional Competitive Gymnast. She trains 5 days a week. She works out and practices at home. She wakes up thinking of gymnastics. She dreams of gymnastics. Her dreams are my dreams. Mr. Muscles and I want to support her in all that does and hopes to achieve.
The hardest part has been knowing how to support her. As athletic parents, we are often “coached” on the art of helping our athlete to push through and overpower difficulties through their force of will. It sounds good, but if you sit back and think about it, life doesn’t work that way. How often do we try to force something only to have it get worse, harder, or even backfire?
That is the focus of Stillpower.
Garret Kramer does an excellent job of first showing how willpower, trying to force excellence, only serves to frustrate an athlete. Yes, you can use willpower to do another set, or to go to the gym, but it will not help your performance.
…willpower requires forced power over one’s will- synonymous with battling one’s own thinking or state of mind. This belief implies that a person hasn’t had a true change-of-heart; he hasn’t let go.”
He uses a large variety of top athletes, and their time with him, as fantastic examples of letting go of mistakes and incorrect thinking in order to reach their goals.
He doesn’t leave us hanging there. He then moves onto identifying what an athlete can do to help achieve the performance that they are looking for.
We are productive, and thus successful, when we apply free will, not strength of will, to a project of any kind.
He challenged me to think back to Ms. Firecracker’s best performances, and take notice of the differences between those and the performances where she struggled. Attitude. When she performed her best is when she had an upbeat, positive, and can-do attitude. The passion she has for gymnastics flowed through her and was evident in all that she was doing. It was beautiful! When she filled her head and her heart with the instructions to focus, force yourself to perform the skills perfectly, and to make everyone proud, she was too clouded and so focused that nothing flowed freely. She had to fight for everything, then she found that she was disappointed in herself and the performance she believed let her coaches and parents down.
No more of that!
She is out there because she loves it. She is a gymnast because it is who God gave her the passion to be. I want that to be her focus.
Garret Kramer not only helps us to see what is stagnating and holding back our athletes, he helps us to understand how we can change our own behaviors and thought processes to best help them in their endeavors. It starts with us: the parents, the coaches, the teachers.
In spite of what you may have been taught, true leadership never revolves around motivating your players. True leadership means showing your players that the ability to be motivated rests within each of them individually; and thus, the team collectively.
…all individuals have within them the power to be more passionate and engaged.
That, my friends, is just a hint of Stillpower.
While reading, it felt as if I was sitting in conversation with Garret Kramer. I feel empowered, supported, and properly educated to be the best support for our gymnast that I can be. I have the tools to use.
These tools are not just effective in helping and supporting our athlete, as Garret points out, these tools will guide when I am with our children in our classroom. I want to help them find their passion for learning. I want the knowledge and learning to flow freely and be exciting.
It’s all in the attitude, and that is just the beginning.
I do not have a copy to give away, but I am more than happy to share it. If you have an athlete, and you want to read this book, let me know! We will get a Stillpower book reading chain started. 🙂