How do professional athletes perform at such high levels? Natural ability plays a major roll and physical training is essential, but there's also a mental component. Michael Jordan wouldn't have hit clutch shots if he were overcome with anxiety, and Ray Lewis wouldn't have made so many memorable tackles if he weren't so hyped up. Elite athletes know how to prepare themselves to compete at the outer fringes of their ability, and their pre-game strategies are more defined by what works than by what makes sense. Some football players do yoga while others eat cookies – but both players are following a system that yields results for them.
Here's how some of the all-time greats prepared themselves to succeed at a high level. It's only crazy if it doesn't work.
Before games, the Ravens linebacker would clap his hands, slap his chest, and exhort his team to win, shouting phrases like "This is it!" and "Let's leave no doubt today!" and leading chants in the huddle. Lewis allowed his passion to compensate for a lack of specific rhetoric. "I love Ray, and I love how he always spoke from the heart, but if you listened to those speeches, a lot of them didn't even make sense," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco told 'ESPN The Magazine' earlier this year. "He meant everything he was saying, but I didn't know what he was talking about 90 percent of the time." Lewis now works as a commentator.
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