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The Power Of The Mind

Can the power of the body be increased by getting your mind right?  Can you perform better with the help of outside forces?  Or is the drive to be better something that comes from within?  And how can we access that fuller potential?

We’re going to hit on a bunch of different topics here, but I want to start out with Power Balance bracelets.  Seems like a logical place to start.  After all, they have been the talk of the town lately and made some pretty amazing claims in the physical performance department .

First, they were marketed as something of a magic cure-all, but that claim has been questioned heavily and they are now viewed, more than anything, as a fashion accessory.  Certain pro basketball players swear that they work, but testing at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse did a study that seemed to disprove the value of a specific bracelet.  The conclusion that they reached basically stated that the second time an athlete did something, especially if they believed they were being assisted by a bracelet, that athlete performed better.

The differences between a basic rubber bracelet and the $30 Power Balance bracelet appeared to be null, but the athlete’s belief that they would perform better propelled them to better results.

See the ESPN video below for the bigger picture if you don’t already know.  The post continues below.

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I also heard about the “power of the mind” phenomenon this weekend at the Mayor’s Cup in New York City.  I spoke with a number of high school coaches and was surprised to hear that many of their players were able to execute things in practice that they were unable to execute in games.  The kids’ entire demeanor changed come game time and shots that were easy in practice rarely fell in games.  Maybe they just need to practice like they play.  But for some reason, I believe that a number of the kids have mental blocks.

Maybe they just need something to make them believe that they can do it.  They could do it in practice because it was in front of people they knew, against people they knew and there was no pressure.  Games were a very different animal though.  The difference in mental state can have a huge impact on performance.

For some in the pro basketball and golf worlds, a Power Balance wrist band was the answer.  They put it on, felt better about themselves, and went out and performed.  Once the actual physical effects were debunked in the above study, athletes still used it.  And they still believed in it.  But really, they probably just still believed in themselves.  “The wrist band might be helping me.  What’s the worst that can happen?” attitude puts a player at ease.  The mind stops racing.  After all, the bracelet is aligning my body’s electric pulses.  And you’re able to focus on what you’re doing without over-thinking it.  In that sense, the bracelet sort of works.

So in the end, Power Balance wasn’t selling a magic fix-it.  Although that is how the product was marketed, and that is where the problems came from.  But really they were selling self-confidence in a bottle.  They were selling comfort and belief; things that athletes, and humans in general, have always craved.  And people paid for it, willingly.

This says more about our society than it does Power Balance.  Sure, they have marketed a product that they say really works, which doesn’t really seem to, but the biggest fault is with us, as consumers, thinking we could buy some panacea for only $30.  The truth is, that panacea is available right now, and it is free.  All you have to do is be supportive, get supported by those around you and practice the things you want to be good at.  Combine that with practicing like you play in games, and always being willing to give it your best shot, and I can guarantee you’ll perform your best.

And to think, we thought we could buy that all in a bracelet!