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'Stillpower' Frames the Athletes' Minds as Well as the Game of Life

  • Aug 3, 2011
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"When we focus on a personal prize, our options narrow; when we relish the process, our options expand."--Garret Kramer, `Stillpower'

At first, I thought Garret Kramer's book `Stillpower: The Inner Source of Athletic Excellence' was so simple that a mind video popped up into my head: A soccer player is working his way to the goal in the final minutes of a championship game. The score is tied, and everyone is in position to help deflect any score he can make. All of a sudden, the voice of Obi Wan Kenobi fills his head and says, "Luke, let go of your feelings!" Then after a few shuffles with the ball; he eases his way to the net, kicks, and scores!"

It is tempting to reduce Kramer's `Stillpower' to a caricatured work--such as a Zen handbook that Phil Jackson might be able to pen, but he dismisses this and many other arguments early and often. Kramer`s premise is simple, but for Kramer simplicity is a virtue. For his sense of purpose, Kramer states, "I hope that the feeling of freedom and unbounded effort revealed...is enough to give all athletes a glimpse of...what they must understand, and `not do,'* in order to find [The Zone]." So much for Yoda.

Kramer wisely warns us that he wants his inner working primer is to be read (Is it alright to say experienced?) and not studied, for his premise is that success--and that's really open ended for the athlete to define--is by "clarity of thought...and insight". Diametrically opposed to "Stillpower" is "willpower" when athletes put all possible exerted physical and mental force into their performance. It isn't that effort is scorned by Kramer; it is merely that "revved up" preparation pumps an athlete out of "The Zone," in the athlete's vernacular, "--that magical, timeless, peaceful place that spawns great play."

As an excellent example, he illustrates the example of a young boy who runs a track in the same area as his son's baseball field. The boy is unencumbered, "grinning from ear-to-ear," unaware if anyone is watching him. Or, as Wordsworth put it, "Heaven lies about us in our infancy!/ Shades of the prison-house begin to close/ Upon the growing boy."**

This doesn't mean there aren't apt elaborations, for his foundation is supported by many philosophical beams, and the most significant amounts of space are given to examples and analysis of amateur and professional athletes struggling with their own inner resources. After all, a good inner motivational coach shows you more than he tells you. His wealth of analysis and anecdotes come from his own clinic, several quotes, and many athletes both well-known and obscure. You don't need methods; you merely have to get away from the madness.

It is to enjoyment; it is to pacing oneself; and not allowing external forces such as money for pros, or parental approval and keeping up with the record books for the amateurs that Kramer says within success lies. It is found in a free state of mind, one that is positive and can allow negative developments and thoughts to pass freely where Kramer advises athletes to get into "The Zone" where mind and body click with joy and "clarity" reigns.

Avoiding injury and judgment, and finding freedom with fulfillment are some of manifestations possible with "Stillpower".

In fairness to Kramer, you can't pin his written coaching as a method because within the work, he states that methodology is often what is hindering athletes. I also was tempted to dock him for not really developing a working definition for "Stillpower," but this is also not the case. Being able to apply abstractions and a mindset in a way that is accessible and believable is no small feat. He explains his concept well enough to work inside your own head while reading.

How can you not find the whole package believable, tangible, and applicable? If Little League adults..., if coaches and players..., if counselors and athletes..., if people in the business world--or anyone in the workplace for that matter--would pick up this book, how much better our world would be--or at least in the sports world...but it would be an improvement each beneficiary of the book would be able to grasp from "within".

* Italicized by the author.

**From Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality" taken from Auden, W.H., ed, et al. `Romantic Poets.' PA: The Franklin Library, 1982. P. 169

(Post script. There were certain intangibles that prevent the book from becoming a full-throttle five-star home run. His communication skills improve markedly during his written presentation, and being able to elaborate about such abstractions in an accessible way is impressive indeed. Despite some flaws as a writer, the import of the book and their ideas are very valuable. If sports become more rewarding, fun, and free the professional and amateur athletes from the shackles of pressure to perform, the book is worth its weight in...er,.. well...silver. JP)
'Stillpower' Frames the Athletes' Minds as Well as the Game of Life 'Stillpower' Frames the Athletes' Minds as Well as the Game of Life 'Stillpower' Frames the Athletes' Minds as Well as the Game of Life

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August 05, 2011
Thank you, Woopak, Devora, and JSMaresca for your positive and enthusiastic responses. It is sometimes difficult to convey the merits of such a book. I chide myself for explaining so much, but I think I at least imply that he creates the teaching within his book--and as such a valuable lesson, all the primer summarization won't spoil the book--or at least I hope so! I hope you pick this one up at your bookstore, Amazon--or other online service--or at least at the library. Cheers, JP
 
August 04, 2011
JP, so happy you shared this review with us! awesome!
 
August 04, 2011
This sounds fascinating and enlightening. Thanks for sharing, John!
 
August 03, 2011
Well written !
 
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More Stillpower: The Inner Source o... reviews
review by . August 16, 2011
Good advice for sports and life
Sigmund Freud revealed that a high percentage of human action is motivated by a person's subconscious. The pagan and Jewish philosophers Aristotle and Maimonides stressed that people should develop habits of behavior according to the golden mean, the middle between the extremes of avoidance and excess, so that when a situation arises they will react unconsciously in a proper manner according to their habits. The writer Ayn Rand advised other writers not to struggle over their manuscripts but …
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John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #100
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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''Garret Kramer has overturned much of the conventional wisdom about coaching and performance. With persuasive logic and an array of interesting stories, he shows the limits of grind-it-out willpower and the potential of insight, mindfulness, and even love.Stillpoweris an insightful and, at times, profound book.'' --Daniel H. Pink,New York Timesbest-selling author,DriveandA Whole New Mind

''In covering sports for more than twenty years, I am always looking for what separates the good athletes from the great ones. Garret Kramer looks outside the box when it comes to athletics. His views have provided me with incredible insight. When I'm calling the action, I now have an appreciation of an athlete's true mental state. Stillpower is a must-read for someone serious about performance, or for the casual fan who wants to learn what REALLY makes athletes tick--on and off the field.'' --Ian Eagle, CBA Sports/YES Network/Westwood One Radio

''A clear and quite state of mind isn't just a key element in sports; it's also important in finance and life. Without the understanding that Garret Kramer conveys, the best advice can be lost or forgotten, and the worst could be followed--no matter how smart you are. The principles introduced in this book apply to so much more than athletics.'' --Jean Chatzky, New York Times best-selling author, Money 911

''As I reflect back on my personal quest to develop character through ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 1608321851
ISBN-13: 978-1608321858
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

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