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Yoda - The Ultimate Sport and Performance Psychologist

In honor of Star Wars Episode VIII coming out I thought it was only appropriate to have a Star Wars themed blog post. For the record however I am a Star Wars geek and really only love the originals (Episodes IV-VI) and still get yelled at for having them on all the time. I swear it's only been several hundred times that I've seen them, and yes my toys are packed away.

In my line of work we are always looking for inspiration for motivation to help my clients. While I know others have written about Yoda's famous before within this context, it cannot be done enough. Let's see why he really is the best sport and performance psychologist (Quotes can be found at

“If you end your training now - if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did - you will become an agent of evil.”– Yoda

Let's start off rather easy. Although I hope you will not become evil by taking the quick and easy path to training, this quote is clear about the importance of hard work, practice, and perseverance to become successful in sports or at school. We can always find a short cut, but in the end, taking it only means hurting ourselves.

“PATIENCE YOU MUST HAVE my young Padawan"– Yoda

This quote can mean many things to an athlete or student when it comes to patience. We must have patience in ourselves to learn by making mistakes, patience with the process of learning as it takes time, and patience even within the game to strike at the right time. Without patience, success will not come.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”– Yoda

Throughout our lives we have learned many ways of thinking, beliefs in ourselves and performance, many ways of talking to ourselves, and many ways to manage emotions. While many of these beliefs, thoughts, and skills can be positive, more often than not our brain takes us to the negative. If you truly want to succeed in the classroom or on the field, you must learn to let these ways of thinking or acting behind, break these habits, and learn more effective skills. Only then can you reach the elite level.

“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.”– Yoda

To be successful in life you have to commit. Elite sport and school performance is no different. Spend that extra time on the field practicing, or go to that extra study session, Be the first one there or the last one out. At the same time, keep your mind in the moment. If an athlete spends too much thinking about the future, opportunities to learn can be missed. It is great to daydream, and think of the future, but to reach that next level, an athlete or student has to stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand.

“Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”– Yoda

Elite athletes know how to use emotion to take their performance to the next level. However, if your negativity, your anxiety, your anger or frustration cannot be controlled, performance will suffer. It is essential that for elite performance, learning to control emotions is necessary.

“Clear your mind must be, if you are to find the villains behind this plot.”– Yoda

For athletes and students this one is tricky. Our mind is very powerful and directs our performance, often in a negative way. To reach the elite level, a person must learn to let these thoughts go.

“Control, control, you must learn control!”– Yoda

Elite sport or school performance is all about control. :Learn to control your thoughts and emotions, confidence and motivation, and you can control the outcome.

”Already know you that which you need. ”– Yoda

Trust - trust your preparation, trust you have the skills, trust in yourself. Bring that to the game or to school, and you can reach the next level of performance.

“Luke: What’s in there? Yoda: Only what you take with you."– Yoda

Again you decide the mindset necessary to succeed. If you bring doubt and negativity, your performance will suffer. Embrace the challenge, trust yourself, go in with a mentally tough mindset, and you will find elite performance.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”– Yoda

To show elite performance, you cannot have fear to lose, fear of a poor performance, fear of embarrassment. This will only start the cycle of negativity, and a loss of emotional control.

“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”– Yoda

The next step is to let go of that fear. To reach the next level in sports or school, you have to believe in yourself, be confident, and go for it, regardless of the outcome.

“[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail.”– Yoda

Mental toughness is all about belief in yourself regardless of the odds or the challenges in front of you. Your opponent may be better, the test may be a challenge, but if you already approach the situation thinking negatively you have already lost. Go in thinking positively and confidently and elite performance will follow.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”– Yoda

Yoda's most famous quote. Just trying is selling yourself short from truly putting in a confident performance. It is settling, rather than working through adversity, taking control of your emotions, trusting yourself, and accepting the outcome win or lose.

I hope you have had fun with this blog. I know I did and cannot wait for the next movie. Do not forget to check us out at, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. May The Force Be With You.

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