Fueled by the Crowd
Many athletes admit that a desire to prove something to others is a great trigger. Sports pages regularly carry stories of players who perform better than average when they face a team that has traded them or cut them. In 1997, pitching great Roger Clemens felt betrayed by the Boston Red Sox, for whom he had toiled for 13 years. After a mediocre season in 1996, he felt he was forced out of Boston by general manager Dan Duquette, who felt he was washed up, and joined the Toronto Blue Jays on a mission to prove he still had what it takes. Clemens revived his career, winning 21 games and the Cy Young Award. When the Blue Jays visited Boston’s Fenway Park, he struck out 16 batters to stifle his old team. If someone tells me that I can’t do something, it becomes more of a challenge, Clemens said of his mindset. In high school, I was always considered a good pitcher, but I was never considered the best. The thing was, I felt I was the best. When people who don’t have any idea what they’re talking about say something bad about me, tell me that I’ll fail, it just adds
Roger Clemens: Everybody wants to win, but it burns much deeper in me . In Boston and Toronto, the five-time Cy Young Award winner has enjoyed the kind of career that fantasies are made of. He hopes to finish his career with the New York Yankees.
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fuel to my fire. Everybody wants to win, but it burns much deeper in me than it does in other people. That’s my edge. It’s like, ‘I’ll show you.’
Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres is never satisfied with his performance, even though he’s won eight National League batting titles: There were always coaches who said that I couldn’t do something. I couldn’t throw. I couldn’t hit with power. I couldn’t run.
I couldn’t field my position. I think that s one of the reasons I’ve been successful, because they can measure everything you do on the field, but they cannot measure what’s inside you and what drives you. It’s easy to cheat yourself and do just enough to get by, but that’s what everybody can do, just enough to get by. But those who want to be successful and maintain that level of success have got to push a little bit harder and do a little bit more.
Golfer Jack Nicklaus finds that defending himself against embarrassment is a big motivator. train like an athlete workout My urge for self-improvement has very little to do with winning, and nothing at all to do with making money or other materialistic factors, he said. athletic workout for beginners I’ve always believed that performance takes care of those things. Anytime that there’s a cooling off in this impulse to improve, one emotion above all others will get a good blaze going again. It’s embarrassment. I am very easily embarrassed by myself.
No single emotion is more responsible for what I’ve achieved.
Sometimes a noisy crowd can motivate the visitors, such as Reggie Miller, of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, who enjoys perceiving himself as the enemy and often shoots better in road games. But research suggests that athletes in explosion sports perform better when in front of a big home crowd, although they may perform worse at home and have a tendency to choke in more finely-tuned sports such as baseball. A noisy crowd can offer the love and support for a home team such as the 78,000 NFL fans at Arrowhead Stadium who raise the sound level to nearly 120 decibels, comparable to a jet taking off, in supporting their Kansas City Chiefs. For individual performances, an enthusiastic crowd can motivate miracles. Champion figure skater Elvis Stojko is a master of concentration, but he sometimes allows the noise of the crowd to spark him to athletic moves like a quadruple toe loop and triple toe loop combination, In many different situations, (the crowd) has helped me out, he said. athletic body workout routine They get you going. There’s such a significant relationship there you pull them in with eye contact.
U.S. tennis player MaliVai Washington would rather have people screaming for him. He credited a noisy crowd of 17,000 for a tennis victory over Slovakia’s Jan Kroslak in the 1996 Olympics: When I hit the forehand winner down the line in the tiebreak to go up 4-2, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard an uproar that big. The average tennis crowd thinks it’s supposed to be quiet and at certain times, clap. You don’t chant, you don’t have cowbells. Today, you had the ‘USA, USA’ chant and you had more like a soccer crowd When you get that crowd on your side, the other guy’s feeling the pressure and your adrenaline is going. That’s one of the intangibles that sometimes makes the difference.
Some athletes feed off negative comments coming from the audience. In an LPGA tournament in 1992, Dottie Mochrie was challenging for the lead when she left a putt short. Loser! a fan shouted at her. It was some man, Mochrie recalled. That’ll get you fired up in a hurry. It did, too. Two holes later, on the first playoff hole, Mochrie was declared the champion.