• Haylie McCleney

Summer Reading: Getting Your Mental Game Right

Call me a nerd, but I loved when I was in middle school and high school and teachers would send me home with a summer reading list. I still love reading and I love learning. I'm actually listening to an audiobook while writing this post. Once I got out of high school, I didn't really have any obligations to read during the summer, but I still wanted to make sure I was challenging my brain and learning more. This is when my love of "self-help" books kind of developed. I wanted to be the best softball player I could possibly be and I knew that started in my brain. What were successful people doing that I could emulate?

Below I have listed 10 of the books that have molded me into the competitor that I am, made me more mentally tough, and elevated my performance. I hope you will check them out. Remember, the best are always looking for ways to improve.

1. Extreme Ownership: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. These Navy SEALS give insight into leadership lessons they learneded during their time serving this country and how they can apply to any person in any team or any business. Get ready to get fired up to lead your team more effectively.

2. Relentless : Tim Grover. Tim Grover is the strength and conditioning coach famous for training Michael Jordan. In this book, he outlines what MJ did better than everyone else, and how you can have that same "cleaner" mentality every time you step on the field. A disclaimer: this is only for older athletes, as there is some harsh language throughout the book.

3. The Champion's Mind: James Afremow. Dr. Afremow discusses in this book how champions think, train, and thrive and how you can apply these principles to your career. He covers how to get in "the zone," how to maintain a consistent level of high performance, and the importance of pre-game routines.

4. The Energy Bus: Jon Gordon. We read this book as a team during my time at Alabama and it completely changed the way I approached the game of softball. This books gives you tips on how to stay positive, no matter the circumstances and to enjoy the ride that is your life!

5. Atomic Habits: James Clear. This book is such an easy read and gives you true insight into your habits are shaping your life. Clear outlines ways to create great habits to be successful and ways to break our bad habits that can hold us back.

6. How to Win Friends and Influence People: Dale Carnegie. An ABSOLUTE CLASSIC. If you want to be a better teammate and friend, give this a read. The advice in this book has stood the test of time like no other.

7. Why We Sleep: Dr. Matthew Walker. I cannot stress enough how important sleep is for athletes and even parents! Dr. Walker does an excellent job of explaining how to improve your sleep habits and outlines why sleep is so important. He MAKES you want to sleep more.

8. Genius Foods: Max Lugavere. Get ready to change the way you think about food. This book makes complex research simple and opens your eyes to how the food that you are eating effects your performance, both mentally and physically. Nutrition is so undervalued in athletes of all ages. Get ahead of the game and apply some of the principles outlined in this book.

9. Can't Hurt Me: David Goggins. Goggins details the "40% rule" explaining how most people only tap into 40% of their capabilities. This is an inspiring life story that, if applied to your life, is sure to make you more mentally tough.

10. Wolfpack: Abby Wambach. I read this book in less than an hour. It is a very quick read that is SO important for females everywhere, but especially female athletes. This book is based on Wambach's viral 2018 graduation speech to Barnard College's graduates and will inspire and empower you.

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