When we talk about “the game slowing down", we are referring to the idea that when you are truly proficient at something, you are able to slow things down both mentally and physically. One of the key differences between an expert and a beginner is their ability to mentally filter information and focus where it counts. For the beginner, everything happens fast and there is simply too much to manage without enough experience to do much of it well. Everything happens “slower" for the expert although the pace of the game or task remains the same. The expert can filter out distractions and their body is conditioned to focus on only the essential movements and thought processes needed to get out ahead of what's coming next and react to what's happening in the moment. This is what it means when we say “the game slows down".

Now that being said, how do you actually get to the level of expertise when “the game slows down" - in sports and in life? Below are 6 key factors to make this a reality.

1. Fail your way to success.

Show me someone who has never failed and I will show you someone who is not as successful as they could be. If you can't overcome the fear of failure, things will never slow down. You should seek to create a safe training environment where failure is not forbidden. And when you do fail, ask yourself “what can I learn from this?", “how can I prepare better next time?"

Let's say you're not comfortable speaking and presenting ideas to people. You could attend a Toast Masters session, feel the nerves before you speak, probably talk too fast, and not make a lot of eye contact, but the experience will transform your next presentation. Do this as many times as it takes until you're effective because the only way to overcome these fears is to practice, fail, correct and practice more. Do not be afraid of what people think, judgments, ridicule, or others because every one who tries anything, especially if they want to be great, will fail trying to reach their goal; It's the ones who can see past the failure, not judge or doubt themselves, who will ultimately learn to slow the game down.

2. See the big picture, and focus on individual steps.

Think of it as trying to reach the top of a mountain. You have to step back, see the mountain top, then plan the route, and then execute your plan. Plan your route by defining milestones or benchmarks you need to achieve and master. Start with the most fundamental movement or task necessary to reach your goal, achieve that milestone and move to the next milestone. Keep your head down. Knock out one milestone (correct movement pattern, reps, time, etc.) and move directly to the next one. Before you know it, you'll be halfway up the mountain.

3. Hard work is not enough.

It goes without saying that you need to work hard to achieve your goals; however, just working hard will not get you to where you need to be. This is about practice, repetition, and mastery of the individual skills that combine to achieve your goal. Most goals do not have only one individual movement, task, option, or path. It's a combination of many moving parts and the correct path for you. This takes time. You need to dedicate time to master these components.

How many golf swings does a pro golfer take? How many throws has a pro-quarter thrown? More than hard work, its mentally preparing yourself that this will take time dedicating and committing yourself to the long term goal.

4. Become a student: Watch, listen and ask questions.

This really has to do with surrounding yourself with people that are better than you at your desired task or goal. Listen to how they explain a task, watch how they perform a task, learn by emulating the task and then ask lots of questions. Do this with a number of people who have master a task or goal, as explanations will vary from person to person (some better than others). You need to become a student. Immerse yourself in videos, articles, and any other content that discusses your goal.

5. Belief meets visualization.

That which mankind conceives and believes can be achieved. Visualization is a skill that unites the conscious and subconscious minds. Your subconscious mind acts like a heat seeking missile guiding you according to how you think about yourself and your circumstances at the deepest level. Visualizing your success as specifically and vividly as possible can reset you subconscious thinking to redirect you to the path of success. The key to this is belief.

6. Never Rest in achievement.

You can never rest on your laurels. When you stop learning, you stop growing. Things are always changing and the only way to stay on top is to keep yourself sharp and current with new information (like dance stretches athletes can benefit from) and the best practices. Even when you know a lot, it pays to “carry an empty cup" so you can learn and grow.

Do these 6 things and you can't help but succeed. And you will be able to enjoy your success when things slow down. Your confidence will grow and things will get even slower as your expertise increases.

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