In this episode Coach Jason discusses a strategy that has been proven to increase performance instantly in athletes from t-ball to the big leagues. Full of insights, practical knowledge and relevant stories–this podcast will be sure to take your game to the next level.
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Fake it Until You Make It
Welcome to the Full Force Life podcast, the show where we dig in deep into the mental side of some of the sports’ greatest athletes, the guys who played at the highest levels. We discover what their mental strategies were. When things weren’t going well, how do they get themselves back into a hot streak and hopefully back into that zone? How do they prepare themselves? What are the examples of focusing and bringing out the very best and doing it at a consistent pace, a consistent level and just being the very best that they can be both on and off the field? For myself, having been a professional player for more than fifteen years, four of them with the Texas Rangers at the Major League level, my mind was always trying to find the edge. The little details that I could to be more consistent to unlock a little bit more of the potential that I knew I had deep inside. I really had ended up leading to this obsession where more than just sports psychology, I wanted to find things that could make real shifts, real changes in people, real new beliefs.
People are always talking about the importance of confidence. You need to be more confident. I hear it all the time. I was reading this post just the other day on social media and they’re talking about how do you get yourself out of a slump? It was great advice. The first part was, keep things simple. Get back to the basics. Stay through the process; great advice. Number two was, be confident. Any athlete will tell you, if you’re struggling, if your swing doesn’t feel right, if you’re not getting the results over a length of time that you normally do or that you expect to, you don’t feel very confident. Just being told to be confident, to feel confident isn’t enough to make that shift.
How do we really actually train ourselves to be confident? That part of the program with the Peak State and the Full Force Life, we go more in depth in some of the programs, the 30-day challenge and things like that where we can put tasks, situations in front of us that we have to break through. That’s the greatest way to build true self-esteem, is to take on those big challenges that we don’t think we’re capable of, to go through those hard, those trials, those challenging times. That for me is the biggest shift in building and developing true self-esteem.
There are other ones when you get really good at something. You develop a great swing. You start to have confidence in that swing. That only can come through developing that competence in that skill. This idea of feeling confident is something that over the last couple of years has taking route in my mind because if you could feel confident, if you can make a little shift in just how you feel it in your body and you were able to take on bigger challenges or take more risk or more likely just to go for it because at that moment you felt a little extra confidence. If you could do that while you’re learning a new skill, would you not learn it faster and get to that competent level where now you have confidence in your capabilities? Couldn’t you just get there quicker? If you were able to take a few extra actions in those trials, those challenges that are up against you, would you not break through those barriers and get true self-esteem? True esteem in yourself where you appreciate, you admire who you are like that true, radiating inner confidence.
All those things come from these little moments where we take the action and over time, these little actions add up to these great big things. For me, this idea of how do we feel a little extra confident, this moment so we take that action, we take that risk. For me, that’s one of the simplest things that I teach but it’s the most profound. People will get a little bored and they’ll start rolling their eyes when they hear me talking about how we use our body language is going to change how we feel. If we want that little extra boost of confidence in our body, we’ve got to take on a more confident posture. This isn’t just some positive thinking. This is the change in how we feel. We feel it, we take that risk, we take that challenge and potentially we get the result that we want to. You stay in that posture, you’re not going to feel as bad. You’re going to be a little more tolerant of how you feel now. You’re not going to be hurt as bad and you’re going to be more likely to go ahead and try it again. This is something that is scientifically proven in fact.
To make sure that we’re on the same page, what I want you to do is I want you to come up with a couple different images in your mind. First, create one that is of a sad, upset, maybe frustrated person. You know what they look like. Is their head up or their head down? Down, right? Shoulders back, shoulders slouched forward? They’re slouched forward. What’s their voice like? I’m now with my head down and my shoulders forward and you can already hear my voice. It’s not too exciting right now, isn’t it? If I really start to think about things that make me sad, I can really tone that voice down a little bit more. Obviously, you don’t breathe very deep in this place. That’s a sad person. I know you recognize what they look like.
We shake that out. Now, make an image in your mind of what a happy, confident person looks like. They’re standing a little extra tall. Their shoulders are back and they’re breathing really full and deep. Their voice has that tone. Their eyes are focused, think of a predator. Think of that lion walking across the savanna in Africa and he’s going to the watering hole and he’s got that strut. He’s moving with this purpose, this intention. It’s just a relaxation to him. That’s what I think about when I see this confident person. We know what it looks like. We recognize it in others.
The next step of it, what I want you to imagine is there has been these studies that have been done many times in people who stand like they’re a superhero. What’s the famous Wonder Woman pose where she’s got her hands on her hips? If you’re a man or a woman, if you stand with your hands on your hips, it’s actually a territorial stance. It’s what it is when you make yourself real wide. What actually happens in your body if you stand like this, you hold this pose with your head up, your shoulders are back, your elbows are out, your hands on your hips. If you stand like this for one to two minutes, your testosterone levels will raise 20% and your cortisol levels will actually drop down too. What does this mean? When you have higher, elevated levels of testosterone like we mentioned earlier, you will be more willing to take risks to accept the challenge. If you fail, you’re going to be more tolerant of that failure. You’re not going to be bothered by it. It’s not going to drag you down. In fact, it might spurn you to go ahead and take another action. Go ahead and take another risk.
When we change our body posture, our body language, we’re not just changing how we feel. We’re actually changing our biochemistry, which is putting us in another elevated level of being a peak performer as well. The point that I always make especially to the young players when I talk to young players, “You’re very, very, rarely ever going to outplay how you feel in this moment.” What I mean by that is if you are walking up the plate and you feel like a four, a level of four confidence, you’re not going to have a result that’s going to be a five or a six very rarely. You’re definitely not going to do an eight or a nine. Especially when you talk about a baseball player, the chances of you when you’re in a defeated place, you just feel like you have no chance. The guy is too good and your swing is all messed up and whatever it is, if you’re in this place that you are just defeated almost.
I don’t remember any times in my career, a very, very long career, of accidentally running into a pitch and hitting it out of the yard. Baseball is too challenging, especially the art of hitting. It is too challenging just to accidentally do anything. Far greater will be the times that you feel like you are the man. You are the best thing since sliced bread and you will still make lots and lots of outs because the game is challenging.
One of the beliefs that I have when it comes to this body language, when I talk about physiology and the reason why it’s so important is because I have this belief that says, “Having a strong body and a strong mind are the same thing. They persuade each other. They affect each other.” To break that down further, just think about how your entire life you had this link between your brain and your body. Every time you’ve ever been happy and confident, been successful and things are going great in life, you’ve had this upbeat body posture. You know what it looks like, a big smile on your face. That happy and confident part of your brain has been working. You just see everything in just this great light, this great mood. Nothing can bring you down when you’re in this place.
On the other end the same thing when you’ve been sad and depressed. When it rains, it pours. This unhappy or frustrated part of your brain has been activated when you’re in this body language. Everything is out to get me right now. There’s been a link between that part of your brain and that same body language. For me, the mind is the link between the two. The brain and the body is the mind. If we’re feeling sad and depressed and we change into a strong posture, we just make this radical shift. We’re going to go for a walk. Maybe now you can walk around the room. Imagine you got this cape blowing on the back and you’re just walking around strut. Maybe you’re walking around like Derek Jeter or Mike Trout, whatever it is and you just got this little strut and this swag you’re going on. You just feel more confident in yourself now.
When you go to this place, this new body language, it activates that link. All of a sudden, the confident part starts kicking on and firing. These things that were bothering you only seconds before, you’re starting to see them in a new light from the confident part of your brain. You’re like, “That seems like a really big problem a few seconds ago but that’s just an opportunity now. That’s just a challenge. I can handle this. I got this.” When this confident, happy, positive, excited part of your brain is activated, you start seeing things in a different line. That’s why it’s so important.
There are so many parts of the BE A BEAST system about how to focus on things, be your very best. There are so many different little mental strategies out when I do the podcast interviews with these guys from the MLB and the NFL, the PGA, the Pro Tennis Circuit. I asked them how do they cope with failure, how do they get themselves back on track when things aren’t going well? Those are strategies in my mind and they’re important. What I tell people why I’m always preaching over and over again the power of your body language and creating a strong mind, I always tell people, if you can just master this one simple little thing, you won’t even need most of those BEAST principles. You won’t even need most of those mental strategies because you will find all that stuff, you will do all that stuff naturally on your own.
This is the power of the body language. I’m sure I’m getting through to you. I say it over and over again. I’ve done multiple podcasts on it. I just want you to know that repetition is the mother of all skill. If you’re an athlete and you’re developing your swing mechanics or your throw mechanics, whatever sport it is that you play, you don’t just go in there once a month and work at it. If you want to get stronger, you don’t go to the gym once a month. You practice the same things over and over again every week and building mental habits, building mental strength. These principles, these ideas, they need to be conditioned. The conditioning is hearing them over again and going out there and applying them and using them every time. That’s why I talk about this so often so that you are continuing to develop that one mental muscle of learning how to control your body language to go out there and peak perform your very best in your sport.
The name of this podcast is Fake It Until You Make It. To shift into that idea, how to use the power of your body language. I like the phrase, “fake it until you make it.” I remember when I played I used to just call it act as if. It was a tool that I used before I really understood how big of a deal this body language that actually was. I just would walk up to the plate and I would just imagine and walk like I was the best hitter in the league. There were other times I would act as if I was Manny Ramirez. Maybe when I was hitting left hand, I would act as if I was Jim Thome. What’s really cool about this is that when you pretend to be someone like that, it actually accesses your own resources deep inside of you because now you’re not being you anymore. Now you’re free to think differently. You’re free to have different beliefs.
What would be the beliefs? If you’re thinking about pretending to be someone who’s the very best in the world on what they do, obviously they have different levels of beliefs in themselves, different levels of beliefs in their confidence and their skills. When we pretend, we actually adopt what we perceive that they think and they feel the decisions that they would make and we step into that. If we take different actions, we get different results. If we step into someone that we feel is more confident and we feel that level of confidence inside of us, we’re going to be more willing to take those risks, take those chances. You take more chances, you get more results.
One of the examples, quite a few months ago, I was listening to a very famous peak performance type coach. He actually is over in Europe somewhere. He works with some of the very, very best golfers in the world. I know most people realize how mentally challenging that game is. He works with high-level players and in fact, he was given this lesson to a guy who at one point had been the number one player in the world. He wasn’t currently when they’re working together. He’s talking about a lot of these same ideas using our own resources inside of us, using the power of body posture to feel and to play better. He’s telling a story about being on the driving range with this guy. The guy is working on his driver and he just seems frustrated by watching his body language and he’s huffing and puffing after every swing.
The guy is like, “This is interesting because he’s driving every ball 300 yards and they’re going perfectly straight. I’m watching him and he’s really beating himself up.” He goes up and asked this guy, “What’s wrong? I’m seeing you at the ball great but I’m seeing your body language, you’re not very happy with yourself.” He goes, “Can’t you see? I’m hitting everything so short.” He was like, “I know you’re one of the best in the world but 300 yards is not too short. Who is someone that you do think hits it long? Who will be the ideal guy that you would want to hit alike?” He was like, “It was quite a few years ago when this all went down. Tiger Woods. No one hits the long ball better than Tiger.” The coach says, “Show me how Tiger Woods would hit it. What does Tiger Woods do?”
This guy all of a sudden, he’s describing it and he shows it. His body language completely changes. He stands upright and he walks up to the ball with this strut. We’re talking about that pressure just like a tiger. He goes up to a ball with his purpose and his direction. He gets behind it. His whole little set up and his little whole routine was all different. It was just this relaxed tension, this focus, it was just all different. You could see it in his body language. He reaches back and boom, he whacks it and all of a sudden, the ball flies next to 40 yards. The performance coach looks at the guy and goes, “That was pretty good.” The golfer goes, “Yes, but that wasn’t me. That was me pretending to be Tiger.” The guy goes, “It looked a whole lot like you were the one that hit it.”
Other people have huffed and puffed when I’ve suggested that they pretend to be someone else to get the result. It doesn’t have to be a long-term thing but sometimes we need to get ourselves back on track, we need to shift into a new body language, a new posture. It’s a great idea to take on this idea of acting as if we’re someone else. What if you had everything you need? What if you were doing it exactly the way that you needed it to be done? What if everything was perfect? What if everything was exactly the way that you want it to be? That’s my mind where this “fake it until you make it” idea comes in. When you’re talking about the science and tell about all these stories, when you fake it, if you really step into, you’re not faking it. You are it. I think that’s important to notice.
Another little story, a couple of years ago when the boys first started playing Tee-ball and you’ve got a bunch of five or six years old kids hitting on the field and hitting off that tee. At that age, there are only two types of players it seems like. There are those that are real confident. They’re just comfortable playing the game. They seem to take their chances and they like to hit and they’re not going to hesitate. Those guys make these huge strides over the course. They just keep getting better. It seems like you don’t even say anything to them, they just keep getting better. There are these other players. They’re not comfortable in that environment. Maybe they didn’t play a lot with their parents or just for whatever reason, they’re not comfortable. They’re hesitant. They just hit at the ball and they just wait for you to tell them what to do.
Like a lot of guys, I made the same mistakes. You want to teach them the right skills because they’re not holding the bat right. Their elbows are in the wrong place. They’re not transferring their weight. You work on these little mechanics and you put all this time and all this energy into them. They make these little improvements over the course of the year, while these other kids were just comfortable. They make these huge strides and you barely even tell them anything. Over the course, that was my first year, my first experience in Tee-ball with my oldest son.
Over the course of the next year, I went through all these trainings. I really started getting trained and certified in some of these new methodologies or make real changes in people and really help people to be their very best; stuff that was different than the typical sports psychology that I grew up with. One of things that they talk about was using these resources. Using this idea of acting as if, stepping into a different body language to produce a different feeling, to produce a different result. I got this bright idea even with them at that young age. When it came around the next year, it was actually before Tee-ball even started, I went and worked this baseball camp. I went with the real little kids, same age as my boys. I felt more comfortable with that age. I watch this other former Major Leaguer do the same type of things that I had done the year before. We worked on their grips and try to get them more mechanically sound. Eventually I took a group and I go, “Let’s try this new idea.” We only had one day to work with them anyway, so what was the point of teaching them how to swing the bat with great mechanics if you only had one day to work with them at that time. “Let’s try this new idea that I had.”
I looked at this kid and I asked him his name and he tells me his name. I go, “Who is your favorite superhero?” I remember the first kid, he goes, “Batman.” I’m like, “I like Batman, too. Do me a favor, show me how Batman stands. Can you stand like you’re Batman?” All of a sudden, the kid’s about two inches taller. He sticks his little chest of his out, his shoulders are back and he gets his little extra poise and sprung tension his body like ready to pounce on something. He has got this different look on his face now and you can see his breathing even changed a little bit. I was like, “This is really cool. Now, say something like Batman says it.” This little kid, five or six years old, all of a sudden his voice just dropped and out came this tone and then this confidence and the strength out of his voice.
I’m like, “One last thing, can you show me how Batman would hit this ball? Take this bat and show me how Batman would hit it and hit it right here.” I point to this one little spot, this one little seam on the ball. This kid who was hesitant, who just swung at it the first couple of swings and just hit with his hands, he coils up, he loads and he puts everything, his whole body fires in to this ball. It blew me away. His bat swing was three times as fast as it was the first couple of swings. Just like that example, that Tiger Woods story.
When I went into the Tee-ball season, I did that same mentality with some of the kids. It’s not just about them going up there and pretending that they’re little superheroes, which is fun to do anyway. Over time, they started seeing these different results. They started seeing the ball flying off. They start feeling the power and the strength that they have in their swing. Over time, just their confidence level grows up and all these visual angers of seeing the tee and seeing the environment, of being on the field, they just start becoming more and more comfortable. By the end of the year, they didn’t have to think about being a superhero. I didn’t have to remind them to do that. They just had grown this new association to seeing the tee, the environment of it all and just were more comfortable, happier, confident players.
My suggestion for you, the tip of the week, the assignment going forward is if there is one area that you’re really struggling with, maybe it’s a certain part of your game. Maybe you’re apparent on this and you’ve got a bunch of cold calls that you have to do. Who likes to do cold calls? Who feels good going into cold calls? This of who’s the best salesman in the world? Who’s the guy that you look up to that you admire? If he had to knock out 100 cold calls over this week, how would he do it? What will be his look on his face? How would he stand? How would he move? How would he breathe? What kind of thoughts would be in his head about these cold calls? “What a great opportunity. Everyone else hates these but I love these. I’m going to show how I can close more of these than any other person in the world.” Those were in my mind, I just went with it.
The same thing for young athletes, if you’re wanting to prove somebody about your mechanics. These parents have reached out, “My ten-year-old is struggling with his big game coming up on All-Stars. He’s just in a funk. His mechanics aren’t right, nothing’s going right. You could just see his confidence is falling fast.” I go, “Just tell him that I said go out there and practice his next practice. Go out and hit later the day like he’s Mike Trout. Even if he’s somebody who’s different, just imagine. Have him walk around and pretend that he’s Mike Trout.” Just about always, I’ll get these messages or emails back and say, “How did that work?” I was like, “It’s all you need to do. It can be that easy sometimes.” Go ahead and find an area of your life. Find someone that you can model, that you admire, that you could just act as if or just fake it until you make it. Step into it like everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Everything has been resolved. How would you walk? How would you move? What would you be doing next if everything was resolved? That’s another great way to try too.
More questions, more advice, or maybe you’re interested in one-on-one coaching and take in the next 30-day challenge. Feel free to reach out to me. You can find me on Facebook, the business and the personal page or maybe just go ahead and email me at info@JasonBottsPeakState.com. I can’t wait to hear from you guys. To send you off, let’s do one game ready visualization. Other than what I always tell people, you control, you master your body language and how you feel through your body, that’s the simplest, fastest way to change and improve at anything. Number two, the next thing I always recommend is you’ve got to become a master of this thing called visualization; seeing your results that you want advance; seeing your mechanics exactly the way better than you’ve ever done because it is the fastest way to get that edge in getting better as well as going out and getting the results that you want.
As we do this next game ready, I want you to think of the outcomes. What outcome do you want for whether it’s a practice-later day, whether it’s a game maybe this weekend or maybe you just want to quickly visualize the whole week in advance? How would you know at the very end of it all that you were successful? How would you measure it? How would you gauge it? Did I make the team? Did we win? Did I get a certain number of hits? Whatever the outcomes are, I want you to go ahead and set them. I want you to think of two or maybe even three performance intentions. What would you have to do? Who would you have to be in order to make these outcomes reality? Would you need to be a focused player, be a confident player? Would you need to play hard? Maybe it’s even more of a specific intention. Maybe you’re a pitcher and you need to keep the ball down in the zone. That’s our intention.
Be focused. Keep it down in the zone. Go ahead and think of those two or three intentions. I want you to get centered, get grounded in the power of gratitude. What you feed will grow and what you starve will die. If we take the time to really just feel grateful for a person, a memory, a gift, a thing, maybe something as simple as the beating of your heart. Can you give thanks to God for just this beautiful gift that was given to you? You didn’t do anything. You didn’t earn it; this gift of your heart. Your heart has been beating before you’re even born. It beats 100,000 times a day. It’s never taken one break. It’s never taken a day off for you, what a gift. As long as it beats, there still is a purpose. There’s still something for you to go out there and do and be and achieve today. Go ahead and give thanks for it.
Now, when you’re ready, go ahead and close your eyes and see your gate. You’re the designer of the gate. It can look any way you want it to. Once you have it, go ahead and walk through it. Come in to this beautiful place of nature. The place you’ve been to before, a place you just create in your own mind. Maybe it’s a combination of both but just enjoy it, appreciate it. See the beauty, hear the sounds. Feel how you feel here. Is it calm? Is it relaxed? Centered? Detach from all of the things that you don’t want to be focusing on right now. Whatever it is, just enjoy it. Have that smile on our face just now. Go ahead and take our big RESPA breath and breathe in real deep. When you exhale, make sure it’s slower than when you breathe in. If it’s a count of five on the inhale, make sure that exhale is a count of six. Just do it one more time. Breathe in and gently blow it all out of your mouth.
Now, you may notice, you feel even calmer. You may notice you feel even more relaxed. Go ahead and see the second gate. As you walk through the second gate, you come on to the next practice, the field at the next game, your week, whatever it is. Most importantly, I want you to watch it like you’re watching you on TV. You’re watching yourself performing better than you’ve ever performed in your life. In fact, I want you to imagine that you’re performing like someone that you admire, a hero, a favorite player, whoever it is. I just want you to see you playing your game, looking and moving like them. If you’re a hitter, see yourself standing in that batter’s box. Maybe your swing is different than Mike Trout. Maybe you’re a left-hand hitter and he’s a right-hand hitter but just see, if you had his focus, what would you look like? You see your swing. If you had the confidence of him, how would you move? How would you breathe?
Just think of your intentions now and pair them up to one of your favorite players or someone you admire. How would they do it? If you did it like them, what would you look like? Watch this movie of yourself, see how you would move if you had their beliefs in themselves. What kind of results would you be getting if you had their levels of confidence? How would you stand? How would you move? How would you even breathe? What would be going on in your mind? What would that player be thinking about telling themselves? Now, go ahead and walk up to this great performing you. Step into their body, step into their shoes. Play that whole thing back again but looking out your own eyes, performing your skills and just feeling what it feels like to play at the level of the person you admire.
Can you feel now where their shoulders are? Where their head is up looking? Can you feel the level of tension in your muscles and the purpose and the direction? Do you feel yourself moving like that lion? Can you feel yourself how fluid you move? Just go ahead and perform your skill, your sport, your day just like that. Feeling that level of confidence in your body. Feeling how it spreads and how it grows from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Feel what it feels like. Just see the results as they happen. Feel how amazing it feels.
Go ahead and make one great play, one big play, one closing the deal, whatever it is and just celebrate it. Feel how great it feels to be this person. High-five your teammates, your friends, your family; celebrate the victory. Celebrate the victory of a day well-lived and walk out the gate. Come back in this beautiful place of nature. Everything just calms and refocuses and re-centers and see your well of water in the distance. Walk up to the well, take a cup and there is the coolest, clearest water you’ve ever had. Fill it up, drink it in and fill this water in your mouth. The coolness going down your throat, down your arms and your legs, every vein, every cell, replenishing you, re-energizing you, giving you everything you need.
Now, in your best body language, your best posture, standing tall, shoulders back, head up, eyes focused, moving with purpose, moving with direction, go ahead and walk out that last gate and open your eyes because you are game ready. As you slowly come out of that trance, go ahead shake it out. Once again, it was my honor, my pleasure to serve you guys today. Feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, criticisms or sarcastic remarks to info@JasonBottsPeakState.com or on one of my pages on Facebook. Until then, aim high, swing hard and smile often.