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Competitive Fire by Michael Clarkson


About Competitive Fire . . .

                 Words have been used to describe it: intensity, burning desire, mental toughness, warrior attitude. Athletes such as Michael Jordan, Nancy Lopez, Roger Clemens, Paula Newby-Fraser, Alan Shearer, and Steffi Graf have demonstrated it. Coaches like Bill Cowher, Pat Summitt, and Dan Gable have tried to teach and inspire it. Now award-winning writer Michael Clarkson explores and explains it in Competitive Fire.

                 "It" is the special inner drive that allows an athlete to thrive in competition. At times it manifests itself in anger, at other times as a great burst of energy or power, and sometimes even as an almost surreal experience commonly called "the zone."

                 This highly readable and thought-provoking book examines this special inner drive and the great athletes who have harnessed, mastered, and unleashed it to maximize their potential. Competitive Fire not only uncovers the mental and emotional essence of sports champions, it also offers valuable insights for aspiring athletes who want to achieve that powerful, winning mindset.

                 Clarkson asserts that there are two common psychological and emotional characteristics of world-class athletes: their need to defend their egos and their controlled anger. He documents many cases in which the channeling of "negative" emotions spurred athletes on to great performances in every arena of sports competition.

                 Throughout this engaging book, Clarkson supports his positions with research, anecdotes, and quotes. He also presents several case studies featuring stars like Michael Jordan and Jack Nicklaus that serve to highlight and confirm key points.

                 Competitive Fire is a refreshing, insightful, and controversial look at one of sport's least understood subjects. The book may be just the spark athletes need to think and perform like champions.

About the Author

Michael Clarkson is a sportswriter for the Toronto Star. Over the past decade, he has interviewed, studied, and researched athletes in all types of sports, focusing especially on the motivational techniques of elite athletes. His research and insights into athletes’ behavior and motivations have received substantial worldwide attention and acclaim. 

As a player and coach, Clarkson has won many amateur championships in basketball and soccer. He has been a newspaper journalist for more than 30 years, winning 11 national and international awards. Clarkson lives in Mississauga, Ontario.

Table of Contents

PART I: Fight, Flight, or Fright
Chapter 1. The Athlete’s Primal Defense System
Chapter 2. Impact of Optimal Arousal
Chapter 3. Altered States
Chapter 4. The Painless Zone and Other States

PART II: Warring Athletes
Chapter 5. The Athlete as Warrior
Chapter 6. The Drive of Elite Athletes
Chapter 7. Turning Adversity Into Advantage
Chapter 8. The Parent Influence
Chapter 9. Fueling the Fire

PART III: Soaring Athletes
Chapter 10. Finding the Arousal Zone 
Chapter 11. Tricks of the Trade
Chapter 12. Relaxing and Focusing
Chapter 13. Controlling the Intensity
Chapter 14. Altering Your Mindset

PART IV: Crashing and Burning Athletes
Chapter 15. Choking
Chapter 16. Overarousal and Intensity Overload
Chapter 17. Athlete Addictions
Chapter 18. Shattered Lives

Words of Praise 

"Competitive Fire delves into the subconscious and conscious abilities that are so important to success in athletics and in life. Many aspects of the mental side of sports are discussed that usually get left out. This book gives athletes, coaches, and leaders a great insight into outstanding performance."
Dan Gable
Fifteen-time NCAA Champion Head Wrestling Coach, University of Iowa
Former NCAA, World, and Olympic Champion wrestler

"Competitive Fire is a fascinating read. Its insights into athletes’ upbringings can be valuable to understanding their motivations and why they act the way they do sometimes. I don’t want anyone to go through what I did in order to win a race or a game. The research contained in this book can be helpful to those who want to prevent this motivation from becoming manic."
Ted Turner
Owner, Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks
Founder, CNN and the Goodwill Games

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