Stillpower, by Garret Kramer: A Review
By Torleif Sorenson on 10/22/13
by Garret Kramer
Beyond Books / Atria Books
ISBN: 978-1-58270-388-6
US $22, CAN $26
170 pp.

This book was a pleasant surprise. I was prepared to be bored with Garret Kramer's book, and the author included both a preface and a thick introduction. But the excellent foreword by NHL star Zach Parise would be enough.

Indeed, Parise advises the reader to not attempt to memorize the information or to take notes. While this is not your correspondent's usual approach with non-fiction and instructional material (especially the Holy Bible), I took Parise's advice in my first read-through of Stillpower.

It was worth it.

Parise nicely summarized what he learned:
I believe the principles introduced in this book are the future of athletic mental performance—actually, performance of any kind. Garret helped me to recognize that in griding so hard, I was reducing my chances to perform up to my capabilities. Now I see why the game wasn't always as enjoyable as I wanted it to be. Today, my effort is present like before, but for some reason it rarely feels like work, and I am simply more successful in everything that I do.
Parise isn't just blowing smoke; he wrote that foreword in 2011, a year before he captained a surprising New Jersey Devils hockey team to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, then became one of the two most-highly prized free agents in all of sports in 2012, when he and Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild.

Kramer has written this book to be an easy (but not breezy) read for parents of athletes and performers, the athletes and performers themselves, and especially their coaches.

In his book, Kramer is not advising people to just relax and "be happy," as Bobby McFerrin might put it. But Kramer does explain how to recognize the warning signs of how worry and nervousness can impact one's game. In fact, much of what Kramer teaches in the book dispels the value of unnatural mental conditioning practices, including the pre-shot routine. Says Kramer:
A player's performance, I believe, should never hinge on the temporary relief of coping strategies such as affirmations, imagery, or prescribed habits.
That sentence was wonderful assurance that Kramer isn't out to teach some hippy-dippy, utopian, googly-eyed psychobabble. Kramer provides examples of when a system of rules and guidelines works well, but also examples of when a coach can set aside a pre-conceived strategy in favor of respecting and deploying ideas team members agree upon and can fully engage.

Kramer even explains when and how to use video analysis — and how not to use it. He provides a golf-flavored example of how one player in the midst of a slump carefully compared his golf swing during unsuccessful play to when the golfer was playing well — and found virtually no difference in the swing!

The author also points out the horrible fallacies that some self-appointed social engineers have wrought upon youth sports, including the faulty "everyone gets a trophy" mentality.

In reading Kramer's numerous examples, I was able to relate to some of my own previous problem-solving episodes and how many of those "light bulb moments" occurred when I wasn't expecting them — or forcing or over-thinking them. In 1996, I was trying to solve an unexpected technical problem I had created in the bass-line for a song called "Frontline," which I co-wrote in 1996 for Stone Foundation, a horn-funk band for which I played six-string bass. The song is in the key of C-minor and could be described as "Prince meets En Vogue." While I was on my honeymoon and driving back from a day-trip to Thunder Bay, Ontario, the solution to my problem hit me from out of my subconscious mind. The solution was one I had not considered: Tuning my low B-string up a half-step to accommodate the fast transition I needed from the tag to the chorus.

Being able to relate these episodes to what Kramer teaches in Stillpower leads me to fully and heartily recommend this book, especially to athletes, coaches, parents, and musicians — especially teen-agers. Had this book been available to me when I was trying to learn to play golf at the hands of a thoroughly unqualified instructor, I might have been able to solve some of my problems myself and save myself a lot of frustration.

Learn more about the book

Learn more about the author

[ comments ]
slimpks1850 says:
"everyone gets a trophy"
Hate this ^. Even did as a kid. Anyone a proponent of this idea & why?
jamielbradley says:
nice article
management says:
excellent thank's a lot to you for this nice artile
management says:
Verry interressenting i love this aticle société aux Seychelles
sarah95 says:
great post,it's very interressting especially concerning the idea of "everyone gets a trophy"; I dont know why we can think like that
ali92abc says:
This is interesting and informative article
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