As a book about optimizing sports performance and coaching technique, Stillpower: The Inner Source of Excellence In Spots - And Life by Garret Kramer is bound to be challenged by some of sports' most seasoned experts. As a book about life and inner dialogue, however, Stillpower succeeds admirably in more ways than one. According to Kramer, Stillpower "is a perspective of clarity;" that is, Kramer's message is not meant to be a self-help book as much as it provides a means for any athlete to recognize his or her mental challenges that may be preventing the athlete from performing at a high level. This book doesn't espouse calming techniques or mediation for the reader. Instead, Kramer offers the reader a higher understanding of what unclear thinking can do to a person no matter their level of athleticism or professional career choice.
For me, Stillpower radiated in a very specific way. As someone who deals with anxiety on almost a daily basis, I often find it difficult to remain focused on the task at hand, especially when on the golf course. I sometimes fall into the routine of remembering what went wrong on a particular golf hole the last time I played it as opposed to playing freely and allowing my experience playing the game take over naturally. When I am playing my best, I know understand that I am hardly thinking at all while maintaining a high level of free confidence and deep trust in my ability. Stillpower asks the reader to embrace this "free-thinking" mindset and proposes that we perform at our best when we simply stop thinking.
However, I also disagree with some of the elements Kramer introduces in his book, especially as it pertains to coaching. For example, Kramer describes a scenario when a coach of a little league team struggles with keeping his team focused during a tough day of practice. Instead of encouraging the team to grind through the practice session, Kramer suggests halting the session and taking the team to another activity they may enjoy more at the time. While the message Kramer attempts to convey is understood, one cannot help but wonder how this same coach will react once players learn that "coach will take us out for ice cream if we just stop practicing". A slippery slope is created, in my opinion, and coaches might be doing more harm than good in that scenario.
Regardless, Stillpower is a book worth reading if you are looking for a unique opinion on how to excel in sports, how to think more clearly despite your past struggles, or are interested in learning more about the human psyche from an athletic arena. If you are looking for another self-help book that offers a "quick fix" technique, however, Stillpower might not be your cup of tea.
Stillpower - The Inner Source of Excellence in Sports and Life
Atria/Beyond Words Publishing