“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
“Whosoever Conquers Others Has Force.
Whosoever Conquers Himself Is Strong.”
ACQUIRING FORCE AND STRENGTH
“Whosoever conquers others” in sport, is the definition of competition. To rise victorious in games of skill, precision, timing and split-second decisions are what make up a great part of our world culture. It is war without death, achieving in the spirit of sportsmanship by holding your foe in gratitude and mutual admiration when the battle is done. Sports performance hinges on the training done off the field and the ability of the athlete to bring that training to the game. It means possessing the energy, endurance and strength required for extended durations of concentrated effort, determination and focus. This is the acquisition and ownership of “force.”
To conquer with force is to out-distance, out-think, out-train, and out-play your opponents with a tenacity that wears them down while winding you up. “Whosoever conquers others has force” means that it is something you come to the table with, you don’t find it on the field or on the way to the game. You arrive with the force necessary to get the job done. “Whosoever…HAS.” That force may come in adrenaline, belief, vindictiveness or pure brute strength, but the force that wins the contest is an intrinsic component established with practice and preparedness as physical as any piece of equipment, as obvious as a helmet, as recognizable as the number on your back. To have force is to consistently demonstrate the mind/body/spirit resources the event requires.
“Conquers himself,” means knowing the strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies that make you unique. To conquer yourself is to take that leap into the ultimate plane where you know and are capable of your job and perform it with a flow to make it appear effortless. Conquering yourself is taking any weaknesses and squeezing them out of your body and mind so only strength survives. As an athlete in any sport, even for everyday fitness, you must conquer the mental demons that plague acceptance on so many levels. Past performance does not equal future performance. If you recognize a failure from the past and then work optimistically to build both mental and physical strength to avoid that happening again, you’ve squeezed out a weakness and gained positive programming to realize what’s possible in future endeavors.
To conquer oneself is to be strong in every aspect of discipline, from the mental to the physical to the spiritual, and smart enough to recognize and admit when one is on the way to breaking down. This preserves strength. Strength holds one end of the body to the other, the mind to the feet, the heart to the hands. In all sports you must have a strong determination, a strong physicality, and an inner strength that comes as confidence in knowing your preparations were thorough and complete. “Whosoever conquers himself” has already won over the greatest opponent.
MENTAL/ PHYSICAL/ SPIRITUAL
Believing, visualizing, adopting a positive attitude and creating a beneficial scenario to foster an ideal environment are the mental aspects. If it turns out your belief doesn’t bear fruit, you must reevaluate your route, your approach and your capabilities. By thinking of how long you have before a specific target date, and by breaking the training into achievable increments, keeps your training in perspective and allows more force or more rest as needed.
Concentration and focus must be strengthened like any other characteristic and not just by repeatedly performing the necessary actions. The concentration necessary in an optimal golf swing can be learned in the guided, centering practices of Pilates sessions in addition to repeated drives. Training outside of your sport is imperative to bringing the optimum benefits from varied disciplines to the whole gamut that is your game.
The physical lies in proper rest, nutrition, recuperation and execution of movements in practice. By compensating with adjustments for energy levels and the reality of variables not written into the regiment, the tone is set for the injury-free training found in focused attention. Every aspect you incorporate into your physical make-up in training – strength, flexibility, balance – is called upon on the playing field at the most unexpected moments. A well-trained body doesn’t get simple injuries while walking out to the field or warming up. Injuries come from poor preparation, inattention, physical weakness, or freak accidents when more force is exerted on appendages and joints than they are capable of withstanding. To the opposite effect, if the physical is over-trained, it can also lead to accidents, mistakes or injuries through overzealousness and loss of control, hindering not only the athlete but also jeopardizing the whole team.
The spiritual contains all the other aspects within it. The spiritual is the underlying awareness as all this preparedness unfolds for you. You know when you’re treating your body good. You also know if you’re abusing it. So you should learn how to use it in a positive fashion so it continues to grow, adapt and react naturally. Spirit may show up as intuition, as gut-reaction, and as a sixth-sense that will be listened to only if the awareness of it is trained along with the physical aspects.
Knowing yourself, your limits, your capabilities and knowing when to push the boundaries are evident in spirit. Sometimes spirit itself takes over and raises the whole level of performance to something magical that will forever be a barometer for future measurement. It’s as important to train the spirit to avoid its breakdown, as it is any other part of preparation.
Spirit encompasses attitude, beliefs and physical preparations. Spirit lifts you when you’re down and sustains you when you must go on. Spirit is exhibited when the miraculous play happens out of thin air. It is the thread that weaves each aspect to the other in an impenetrable, invisible bond.
SPORTS ARE EVERYWHERE
Get out of the “safe zones” of training. Try new exercises, sports, activities. They need not be “extreme sports.” Croquet requires skill, strategy, patience and a level of competence, it’s competitive but also relaxing and fun. Feel the weight of your body shift, your balance, your timing, in something as mundane as bowling, as frivolous as badminton, as passive as bicycling. Train away from your strengths. Train your weaknesses. Strive for as few weaknesses as possible, rather than growing one “great” strength.
Within a weightlifting exercise, explode in a hard contraction after a slow, steady, full extension of movement. Strength is the basis for power and endurance. Use as many muscles in training as are used in the event, including mental. Most of all, examine the sports you participate in or would like to compete, with critical attention to how the body moves, what the motions are, how much strength is required and the space your position occupies. Then visualize yourself in that position and watch how quickly your body adapts in reaction to the plans set by imagination. Competition, no matter how many players are on the field, comes down to one person who ultimately wants to win, you.
There is beauty in the physical plane. Through our physical nature we transcend earth and achieve the spiritual. All athletes in all sports experience it at some time in their lives. The best achieve it most often. Breaking tackles or cracking home runs, slam dunking, spiking, pinning, acing, slamming, scoring, outracing, hanging ten – everyone has had this feeling, this transcendence. An undisturbed, focused concentration, devoted to the higher development of the physical body, should be no more or less intense than attempting to elevate the spiritual. When this attention is directed toward a particular sport, the results are often higher than original expectations.