Footprint of Mental Toughness


As a child, I threw a tennis ball against the outside steps of my house countless number of times.

I did it to practice my baseball fielding. Sometimes the ball would catch the corner of a stair and it would shoot off and make for an “amazing” play.

I did this for hours on end… I enjoyed it, I kept score, it was fun, and my fielding was never better! I made some killer plays in the actual field because of my repetition. 


Have you done any activity so many times that you lost count?

Imagine how many steps it would take to leave footprints in stone?

Footprints represent where we were and what we have done. 

In order to leave footprints there must be a blueprint. 

One has to think about and plan not only the sheer number of steps to create footprints in stone, but also the manner in which the steps are placed. 

Creating footprints of mental toughness requires a blueprint of dedication, sacrifice, teamwork, and extreme precision.

It has been done.

Every second of every day since 1937, men and women followed the blueprint and created these footprints in stone. The Honor Guard for The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. check out more of their exact requirements and sacrifice here. 

The detail is how the footprints are created in stone. The Honor Guard march in specific twenty-one step arrangements, The heel strike and toe push are so precise, that footprints are eventually created. Twenty-one steps and 21 seconds in-between movements at the end of each walk. Twenty-one symbolizes the 21 gun salute which is the highest honor bestowed in the United States military. Every second of every day the tomb is guarded and footprints are made.

The changing of the guard is where the blueprint gets riveting. Each changing of the guard is so precise that perfection is the goal and each sentinel is graded after every change. If there is a mistake, each guard will hear about it during review. 

Tradition demands it and Honor Guard enforce it.

What is amazing, is that even with the blueprint and the evidence of the footprints made in the stone, they still make mistakes. Perhaps the posture is a tad off, or their tone in voice is low, or there is an error like what you’ll see here. Can You Catch it? 

Here’s the head fake.

These are the folks with footprints of Mental Toughness. However, even the best in the world with a perfect blueprint make mistakes. What seems to matter more than the footprints is that they keep following the blueprint. That’s only when footprints can be made. 

Does your team have a blueprint and can you keep following it long enough to create footprints? 



Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books on Mental Toughness- 

smart goals are stupid

smart goals are stupid


I completely failed the first time as a young Sport Psychology coach.

I started working  with the a University baseball team. I had my mental toughness session all planned out and we were going to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. The word still makes me cringe.

Of course the team session went well, we did the song and dance, wrote them out, shared them and even had specific team goals. But, I quickly learned smart goals are stupid!

Well, one of the goals the entire team agreed upon was no errors for the upcoming weekend series. The very first play was a ground ball to 3rd base, which he bobbled and bam, there goes that  S.M.A.R.T goal down the drain.

Goals are exactly like fitness. We ALL know it is important and want to do it, but the first time we miss a workout, our goal now becomes a gut wrenching reminder about why we hate goals.

Goal-setting works, but SMART goals are stupid.

Shockingly, Some companies or teams still use this outdated method to motivate and hold you accountable for production? Are you kidding me?  Do people still drive to Blockbuster to rent movies?

Three reasons why SMART goals are stupid.


Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. said ” I have a mission statement” Or “I have a realistic goal?”


First, SMART Goals do not offer any type of plan. Second, they inherently make you set goals that are “realistic or achievable.”  Third, they fail because there is no emotional connection to the goals. 

1:  SMART goals are apathetic.

They offer no plan, sort of like the gym teacher who just rolls out the balls at class time. These teachers simply have different things on their mind. SMART goals are bumpers for bowling. They don’t actually help you become better. As Mark Murphy posts in his blog, only 13% of people think their goals will help them maximize their full-potential. 

2: They make you put a ceiling on the goal. 

If we reached our goal in the past, (which we did, because we are achievers) then the goal just moves a bit further out next time. It produces an assembly line of goal setting, not a way to actually make a difference.  For instance, Improve your market share for the year by 5%. How is that creative or inspiring? Set Top Gun Goals Instead…

3: There is no emotional connection.

SMART goals are similar to packing for the vacation, there is a precise to-do list and set time to get them done. However, real goals are instead all about the vacation itself and what you want to do there.We need to make an emotional connection to that goal and vision about our why, our passion. Your why has to make you cry, if it doesn’t, it’s not your why.  Check out Gia Ganesh importance of the “why.”

Here’s what to do instead:

Step #1- Set a vision.

Who do you want to become?  Not what do you want to achieve, but who do you want to become? There’s room there for only 1 or 2 goals, everything else just becomes a distraction.

Step #2- Develop habits.

First we create habits, then our habits create us. We are what we repeatedly do, so begin forming routines and beliefs that align with your vision of who you want to become. 

Step #3- Focus on the now.

Become a Millionaire is your goal; great. But, you only made $85k last year?

Focus on the short-term objectives you have for your vision. These shorter-term goals are needed for momentum. When we ride a bike, we don’t need to pedal all the time, we just need momentum.  These short-term goals need to be delved into deeper and set for us to be pleased not satisfied along our journey.

Step #4- Look at them.

Look at your vision everyday.  They have to be places where we can see them and reinforce our vision. Tanya Patrice writes about the importance of looking at the goals every day and even posting motivational quotes alongside.

Obstacles and adversity will emerge along your process of becoming who you want to become. Don’t worry about that SMART goals are stupid, instead make the commitment that nothing will keep you from it, no matter what it takes. 


top mental toughness coachDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

Sports parents

(Photo: Kidspot.com.au)


I love my kids more than anything. So, I get it, how they perform is important to me. But their performance is not a reflection of my parenting, just a shadow. The most important elements of youth sports is passion- a love for their sport! Each of the following recommendation is related to nurturing their own passion. Remember, sport teaches whatever we want it to teach…

Click Here for Bonus Video that I Guarantee Will Help!

Here are 6 ways that sports parents are doing it wrong.


1. Wanting it more than them- I get calls every single week from parents wanting our mental coaching for their son/daughter. I have to screen each parent, and one question I ask them, “Is this something your child wants?”  Whatever the situation they have to want it, period.  No matter the sport, the best athletes have that passion. They don’t have to be asked to work at it, because they love it. 

2. Not allowing them to fail- Losing hurts and it should hurt. The pain eventually subsides, but if we remove the failure, setbacks, and allowing them ownership of their mistakes, than we actually cheapen the joy of winning. How can we truly appreciate winning and improvement if we have never lost? The safety net for children has become dangerously close to actually touching them. They know mom or dad (sports parents) will take care of it… Example: “I forgot my glove, my gatorade, jersey, goggles, putter, etc, Mom and dad will pick it up for me.”

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3. Traveling too early- It’s the gateway drug to specialization. Anything before late middle school is too early. A few travel tournaments or matches here and there is great, its fun! But even for young kids, the trips have become every single weekend. Here’s the danger, it becomes expensive and once they start traveling, it’s too easy to buy the idea that they now have to pick a sport and stay with it. Specialization isn’t all that either because the specific movements with different sports actually transfer. Jumping, running, throwing, all transfer across sports! Playing a variety of sports achieves that goal of skill development. Plus, each sport offers a unique advantage, competitiveness. When they learn to compete in many different sports, they will eventually transfer that skill of competitiveness to their favorite!

 4. Not emphasize & reward effort- Effort is everything. But as sports parents, we forget that. If we only emphasize the outcome, athletes will learn and internalize “all that matters is winning.”  Players that are good will win early and often, until they no longer win. If parents only emphasize rankings, final scores, and talent, then taking risks, addressing weaknesses, and competing become afterthoughts. At some point, they are no longer the best, and they can become stuck in limbo between past expectations and low confidence. Question for sports parents: shouldn’t the best 12-year old in the nation almost always be one the best 18-year olds? Rarely happens because winning and outward appearance was rewarded instead.

5. Blame coach, system, or refs- I was sitting next to a parent of a future DI basketball player whose brother had made it to the NBA. This sport parent was miserable and every single play or refs call that did not go his son’s way, was heard by everyone including his son. I cried on the inside, because there is no way that this kid was happy either. A little league coach once told me when he knew parents were talking about him because the kids would no longer look him in the eye. Sad…It’s about progress not perfection. It’s not your role to call or blame coach about playing time, change coaches or schools, or get a lesson every time they play bad. 

Click Here for Bonus Video that I Guarantee Will Help!

6. Over-communicating with themThere are good opportunities to talk about their performance and not good ones. During the game is NOT the appropriate time. However, all the time, parents are communicating with their son/daughter. Body language doesn’t talk, it screams, and they can see your negative behavior. Also, the stands can be packed with hundreds or thousands of screaming people, and the ONE voice they will recognize is yours! Why are you trying to coach them during their performance? 

I get it, no one has an ugly child, but if he/she becomes great, then they will get noticed. Really want to be a good sport parent? Just tell them, “I love watching you play.”


dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

 6 Mental Toughness Hacks for Injured Athletes


Injuries are unfortunately a part of the world of being an athlete, even a corporate athlete.  I feel bad however when I witness so many athletes having the wrong experiences through their injury and especially returning to injury. Here are 6  techniques to help the injured athlete. 

mental toughness hacks for injured athletes


 

Athletes will experience getting depressed. Feeling the blues, getting down, sad, and angry are normal, so expect it. Remind yourself that this is temporary. These Mental Toughness Hacks include being patient and saying “this too shall pass.” Click here if you want more information on Mental Toughness Coaching.

Remember,  It’s not about the setback; it’s about the comeback.


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books on Mental Toughness