Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame baseball player, famously said, “90% of the game is half mental.”
If you do the math, you’ll find that current NBA superstar LeBron James puts even more stock in the mental aspect of sports.
“I think the mental side of the game is way over 50%, probably about 80%,” James once said.
Successful athletes have long known that physical ability is only part of the equation. Lynn Brown, a former basketball player for Liberty Bell High School and Loyola Marymount University, will teach mental and emotional skills to high school athletes in three workshops in December.
Brown recently ended a career in financial planning to start a new business, Full Spectrum Athlete. As she explains it, full-spectrum athletes understand not only that the game is mental, emotional, spiritual and physical; they also know how to transfer game lessons to their lives.
On a radio program in August on 1150 KKNW in Seattle, Brown said the collaboration and leadership skills developed in sports are in demand in the real world.
“I want the athletes to really know that … those skills are transferrable,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of companies out there that want those skills.”
Brown and current girls’ basketball coach Stephanie Mitchell were both seniors on the Liberty Bell basketball team in 1996, when the little-known school made waves by beating a highly ranked team on the way to placing fourth at state. Brown and Mitchell had played basketball together since third grade, and they are still friends.
Brown said she will be working daily with the girls’ basketball team while she’s in the valley teaching her workshops in the first half of December. She worked with the team last year, too, and Mitchell said she is happy to hand her players over to her old high school teammate.
“Like I told the girls last year, you build those types of relationships in high school,” Mitchell said. “I have one of those friendships with Lynn. … I would trust her with any of my basketball players.”
“I hope a lot of Liberty Bell athletes take the opportunity that’s being given to them,” Mitchell said, referring to Brown’s workshops. They are open to Liberty Bell athletes by donation, and space is limited to 45 per class.
Community members who would like to make a donation to support the workshops can pay Brown through Venmo by sending payments to FullSpectrumAthlete@gmail.com.
The school district is spending $900 for the workshops, activities director Michael Wilbur said.
“We wanted to put our money where our mouth is, in terms of helping the whole athlete,” Wilbur said.
“I hope students get the mental skills … that will help them be more confident and capable in all the things they do,” he added.
IF YOU GO
What: Lynn Brown’s life skills workshops for athletes in grades 8-12
When: 3-4 p.m. on Sundays, Dec. 1, 8, 15
Where: Liberty Bell High School
Cost: By donation for LBHS athletes; other schools, $35 per class or $90/all 3
More info: Michael Wilbur, 996-9225 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The girls’ basketball team already has a sense of Brown’s methods from last season. A team-building exercise Brown took the players through last year seemed to have a profound impact, Mitchell said. She said it was “a draining experience.”
The girls required a pit stop on the way to a game in Tonasket that same evening to pick up chips, ice cream and candy so they could recover from the session with Brown, Mitchell said. Even so, the team ended up winning.
“From that experience, they knew more about each other. They trusted each other,” Mitchell said. “If she’s got some leadership stuff she can teach them, like she did last year, it’ll be huge.”
Brown said the workshops will teach leadership and other mental skills, such as time management, goal-setting and the power of visualization.
Her lessons also include mastering the emotions that come with competition. Even though she has played thousands of basketball games in her life, Brown said in the radio interview that she always got extremely nervous before games.
“I learned to convert that into adrenalin and power,” she said.
“I think athletes … and a large percentage of people are controlled by anxiety, and they aren’t controlling anxiety,” she said.
While Brown’s lessons might be valuable for any young person, she said she is focusing on athletes for now.
“This is my current niche market and where my passion is right now,” she said.
Brown’s program is for athletes in all sports. But it’s best suited for a certain type of athlete, she said.
Every team has two or three players who stay late at practice, watch what they eat and study successful people, Brown said.
“For me, it’s the kids who want to learn about habits of success, the kids who want to have the winning edge,” Brown said. “I would like to see two or three athletes from every sport there — cross country, skiing, dance.”
Students in grades 8 through 12 are welcome. Brown asks participants to take the workshop seriously: be on time, be prepared to take notes, and put the phones away for the hour.
“You’re going to walk away a different person,” she said. “I don’t even care if they go on to play college basketball. I want them to have these skills for life.”