Trust the Grind
By Greg Bach
During his days as a sports researcher at ESPN, Jeremy Bhandari was immersed in numbers.
But he knew all those sparkling stats, streaks and record-busters only grazed the surface when it came to what these great athletes who were producing these fabulous figures were all about.
“The majority of content at ESPN is heavily centered around numbers and statistics and accolades and I thought there is so much more to these men and women than numbers and box scores,” says Bhandari, author of the recently released book Trust the Grind. “I wanted to project these athletes in a completely different light and get them talking about their success habits so we can inspire youth. I wanted to create a success habit blueprint for kids.”
The book features insights from athletic greats like Chipper Jones, Jason Kidd and Mike Modano, among others, who share their thoughts on focusing on the present moment, setting goals, staying driven, and more.
Check out our conversation with Bhandari and how the insights these great athletes shared with him can help your young athletes on their journey:
SPORTINGKID LIVE: What do you want readers to take away from the book?
BHANDARI: I want them to be inspired and I want them to be moved and I want them to understand that they are just like these men and women; and even the most far-fetched ambitions can be reached if you put your mind to it and if you dedicate your time to doing the things that each of these men and women harped on.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: What was one of your favorite conversations?
BHANDARI: A conversation that stands out to me from a personal standpoint would have to be Jason Kidd, the Hall of Fame basketball player. He was my generation’s Magic Johnson. As a kid I loved watching him compete. He was always so poised and didn’t really show emotion out there and he just took care of business every day and really worked hard throughout the 48 minutes of action. His section was centered around self-discipline. During his Phoenix Suns days, he kept a journal. He would document his goals, the foods he was eating when he was playing at a high level, the people he was surrounding himself with and everything that was going on within his life when he was playing at a high level. When he stopped getting the results he wanted he would go back and look at his journal so he was able to easily reflect. I always thought growing up that a diary or journal was kind of a little girl thing but the way he outlined it and to hear that from an esteemed individual it meant a lot, and there really is something to documenting your life and writing things down. There’s also the science behind it where you have a higher likelihood of accomplishing your goals and it’s so much easier when we see it on paper, too. It’s like when we cook food we stick to a recipe and then when the result comes out in the oven it looks great and it’s scrumptious and it’s no surprise because we stuck to a plan. That’s kind of how he was illustrating it in our conversation that the benefits and the powers of writing things down is just a recipe for success, and I thought that was so interesting coming from a world-class athlete.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: You cover how visualization is a popular tool used to set the stage for success. What did NHL great Mike Modano and former Major League pitcher Tim Hudson share with you about doing this?
BHANDARI: No American-born hockey player has scored more points in the NHL than Mike Modano. On game days, for 30 minutes he would just sit in his bed and visualize himself making big plays, visualize where he wanted to be on the ice, visualize the goalie’s weaknesses and visualize himself making great passes and scoring and celebrating with his teammates. So when he went out there, he’d already done it and it was like second nature to him. I thought that was interesting because that’s something anyone can instill in any walk of life: if you’re taking a test or on a job interview, you can set aside time to mentally project positive outcomes. And Tim Hudson said the night before he was pitching he would sit there and visualize the batters swinging and missing, locating the pitches where he wanted, and getting the necessary results. So when he went out there he had already seen it in his head.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: Were there any key themes that emerged during your interviews?
BHANDARI: I don’t care what you want to do in life, you have to have some sort of a plan when you wake up. And all 16 of these men and women had a clear-cut understanding of what they wanted to do, where they wanted to be and what exactly they wanted to achieve. Chipper Jones said that every day he came to the ballpark he was really trying to be a tough at-bat each time he stepped into the batter’s box. And that’s a great analogy for life because the key to success from each one of these people that I garnered from was focusing on the immediate; focusing on the present moment and being locked in on the present. All 16 of them were so locked in on the present. It was all about how can I be the best version of myself in this particular moment?
SPORTINGKID LIVE: What stands out about what they shared about goal-setting that young athletes can apply in their lives?
BHANDARI: When you do set goals don’t be afraid to set them as high as humanly possible, and don’t be afraid if they may appear to be outlandish or gaudy to others because there’s no limit to where you can take it. To all the kids out there, each of these men and women identified exactly what they wanted to do and they weren’t afraid to set the bar extremely high – even if the person next to them thought it was outlandish.
Patrick McEnroe – youth tennis instructor, dad of three and host of the Holding Court podcast – on coaching and connecting with kids, influencing lives, and more
Former UCLA track and field and cross-country runner Bryan Green, author of MAKE THE LEAP, on helping young athletes think and train better to maximize their potential
Katrina Adams, former president of the United States Tennis Association and author of OWN THE ARENA, on leading your organizations to greater success; her love of tennis; and what youth can learn from playing the sport to carry with them for a lifetime
Noelle Pikus Pace – a two-time Olympian, mother, motivational speaker and youth mindset coach – on unleashing the power of the mind to help young athletes perform at their best