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Every athlete is tested at some point “” do you have all the tools to pass that test?  Get Mental : Erika Carlson  ...

Every athlete is tested at some point “” do you have all the tools to pass that test? 

Get Mental : Erika Carlson

   While attending a recent sport psychology conference, I had the pleasure of hearing WNBA basketball great, Sheryl Swoopes, talk about what drives excellence. 

   She talked all about her journey to the top of her sport, which included Olympic gold medals and being a three-time WNBA MVP. Despite all of her success, Sheryl, like every great athlete, had many “failures” along the way. The most profound failure, in her eyes, was being cut from Team USA “”TWICE! 

   Despite being a physical powerhouse, a technical phenom, Swoopes was cut. Why?  According to Stanford coach Tara Vandeveer, the national team coach at the time, Swoopes wasn’t “ready.” 

   In her bid for a spot on the national team, Sheryl found herself in new territory. For the first time in her career, she wasn’t a starter and got very few minutes on the court. Sheryl got frustrated with this new and unwelcome experience “” mentally, emotionally and physically frustrated. She paced up and down the court, got on her teammates and made it clear how she felt.

   Sheryl thought it was important that everyone know, especially her coach, how important this was to her and it wasn’t acceptable to sit on the sidelines and not be allowed to help her team. What Sheryl didn’t know was that it was test; a readiness test.  Vandeveer needed Sheryl to be a team player during her minutes on both the court and the sidelines. The behavior that Sheryl thought of as “caring” about the team and it’s success, was viewed by her coach as a selfish response, one that valued her own minutes over the whole team. Sheryl wasn’t ready. 


Check out the rest of the article in our digital edition of SportStars Magazine: Are You Ready?

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