An Athlete's Dialectic: Finding The Middle Ground
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
10M ago
Athletes and athletics lend themselves to black and white thinking: you either have it or you don’t; you are either mentally tough or mentally weak; you are a good person and your opponent is a bad person; referees and umpires are either good or terrible; coaches either have a product focus or a process focus.  It might be the case that all of these dichotomies stem from the queen of them all: you either win or you lose.  But such zero-sum mindsets, so embedded in our culture, aren’t effective for athletes and their support systems.  They corrode longevity in sport, one of the b ..read more
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Bearing the Unbearable
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
1y ago
During the height of the pandemic, Melissa and I joined OrangeTheory Fitness to shake off the doldrums that had congealed in our veins, bones, and minds: sluggishness, pessimism, and perhaps even a bit of hopelessness.  Our days of being actively involved in fitness related activities seemed well behind us.  The workouts at OrangeTheory are extremely demanding: one hour of highly intensive cross training with your heart sometimes working up to 90% of its maximum capacity.  And while the coaches can be relentlessly encouraging, the work can feel impossible.  The good news is ..read more
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The Container Is Everything: the sporting body is the body politic
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
1y ago
A memory from my days on my college squash team haunts me regularly, ca. 1987.  On one of our long van rides to a match, which averaged about 6 hours, we were somewhere between Ithaca and somewhere else, when our coach, breaking the silence, said, “I think it’s totally ridiculous that the Olympics are boycotting South Africa teams from participation in the Olympics.  Politics has no business in sport.  Something like that only penalizes the athletes.  What do you think, Matt?”  I remember distinctly that as my silence lengthened and my face reddened and tingled, words ..read more
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Winners and Winning V: Narelle Krizek & The Heart of a Coach
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
2y ago
A supremely happy and confident World Mixed Doubles Championship team, Paul Price and Narelle Krizek. Narelle Krizek, currently the assistant director of US Squash’s Arlen Specter Center, made an interesting choice when talking to me about a significant match in her life.  Rather than speaking of her Junior World Championship or her Women’s World Doubles title, two supreme highlights for an athlete’s resume, she chose to discuss her 2013 Mixed Doubles World Championship which she won with fellow Australian Paul Price.  Narelle talked about the tremendous privilege of being the doubl ..read more
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What Simone Biles can Teach Rory McIlroy (And any Athlete Dealing with Burn Out)
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
2y ago
If you’re a fan of Rory McIlroy’s, then you will have groaned along with him through his disappointing performances in the big events this year.  Sure, he is going through some swing adjustments.  Sure, he won the tour event at Quail Hollow this year. But, when the chips have been down in important moments, he has looked somewhat hang dog and stuck in second or third gear: A missed cut at the Masters, a T46 at the PGA, a T56 at the British, following a missed cut at the Scottish Open.  My blood ran cold as I listened to his press conference prior to the US Open, because it scre ..read more
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Justin Thomas II: Opposite Action in Action
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
3y ago
Maybe you saw that Justin Thomas just won The Players’ Championship, golf’s fifth major with harrowing closing holes that guarantee a pressure-filled and exciting finale.  And this year was no different.  What was remarkable was that Justin Thomas was able to win such a difficult tournament so recently after a number of setbacks, just the kind of life events that can derail a player for a long time: he had a very publicized public relations gaffe referred to in my last post, he lost his grandfather with whom he was very close, and his good friend and Presidents’ Cup teammate Tiger Wo ..read more
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Justin Thomas, the PGA Tour & the Stain of Homophobia on Male Sport
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
3y ago
If you are a golf fan, as I am, you will have by now heard of the episode involving Justin Thomas, currently ranked #3 in the world, at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.  And as disappointing as it was, you may have even been encouraged by his heartfelt apology and commitment to do the necessary self-examination to “be a better person.”  However, there are still elements of the event that continue to unsettle me and reveal just how much, on a systemic level, homophobia is just as alive as it ever has been in male sport.  To support this claim, consider the following: 1)&nb ..read more
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Force v. Flow, part 2
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
3y ago
In the last post, I wrote about the difference between force and flow energies.  In this post I want to discuss ways to find, practice, and increase flow energy.  There are two main steps to knowing flow energy more intimately and to cultivating it more committedly: 1) learning flow and practicing it, and 2) mindfulness to the difference between force and flow. Cultivating Flow: 1)          Find an activity whose intention is flow energy: yoga, tai chi, mindful walking.  An easy entry point is a practice called Yoga Nidra, a yogic pra ..read more
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Force v. Flow, part 1
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
3y ago
When I was at my competitive peak, with an intense practice and tournament schedule, one thing I particularly loved was the very intensity of it all: pressure drills, court sprints, plyometrics, track workouts, squat thrusts with lots of weight on the bar, a really tough match or tournament weekend.  The soreness of it all was “weakness leaving my body,” I believed, and acquiring the intensity that I lacked as a junior athlete definitely made me a more confident and steely competitor.  I’ve written often in this blog about the virtue of hard work.  But, for as fondly as I look b ..read more
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Stress: Everybody has a Breaking Point
Floating & Stinging: A sport performance blog - Altius Performance Works
by Matthew Munich
3y ago
Left: Novak Djokovic tends to a line judge after hitting her with a ball in frustration (Boston Globe); Right: Danny Lee spikes his putter into his golf bag after a catastrophic six-putt on the 18th hole at Winged Foot (Daily Mail). One thing that I have learned in my work with stress and traumatic stress, is that everybody has a breaking point.  So often, stressors accumulate, and unless there is conscious intent to ease their pressure, to de-stress, to let some steam off, you are on a collision course with having some sort of event that will be destructive to your aims, your relationsh ..read more
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