This book's definitely worth reading along with Sam Sheridan's other book A Fighter's Heart. Each chapter here focuses on one particular individual in an interview-like format questioning what it is that distinguishes the great from the good, and the author's got a real good mix of individuals, from outstanding fighters/athletes (Marcelo Garcia, Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock etc) to outstanding coaches/trainers (Freddie Roach, Virgil Hunter, Greg Jackson etc). Lots of valuable nuggets here on mental strategy. I've pulled out some of my favourite bits from the book below. I did try reducing the quotes below to five but just couldn't manage!
"It's easier to teach the skills than the mentality."
"One of the old boxing truisms is 'Frustrate a puncher and he'll fall apart'... Mike Tyson, one of the greatest punchers of all time, rarely fought past six rounds. If he hit you and you were still there, he'd mentally break. He'd bite your ear off, to foul himself out of the fight, or not answer the bell."
"You gotta take a lot of beatings."
"Ego is a big reason that guys stop advancing in the sport," Eddie [Bravo] said... "... once they get famous, they can't just roll, everyone wants to tap them. The famous guys start limiting their training. It's very hard to take risks to get tapped when you get famous. So they stop progressing."
"The most humble guys, who are the most open and willing to learn, are the ones who become the best."
"... It's in defeat that a man reveals himself."
"... When [George] Foreman [at the age of 45] came jogging down to the ring [to fight the then heavyweight champion Michael Moorer], Teddy [Atlas] saw he was wearing the *same shorts* he'd worn in Zaire as a young lion [against Muhammad Ali] - and now he was a battle-scarred old bull. To wear those same shorts, the ones that had been worn when he suffered the biggest defeat in boxing history - meant that George *couldn't* be stopped. His mind was too strong now. This was his night... He knocked out the twenty-six-year-old Moorer. He turned the tables on Zaire - he made himself the hero of the story, the bigger hero of history."
"... you have to be careful with saying *don't get taken down* because that's a negative statement... [give him] positive things to do - *get an underhook*, *tie him up*, *stay in his face*..."
"When you hear Randy [Couture] describe what he's going to do in a fight, or talk about another fighter, his language is interesting. It's technical and dry and devoid of emotion. Randy sees a problem, a technical problem, not an emotional fight filled with fear and rage..."
"I started thinking about the differences between being nervous and being excited - they're very similar. The physical attributes you assign to each are real similar, and one has negative connotations. Nervousness means something bad is happening and you're not enjoying it, and being excited makes you smile, you love what you're doing and good things are happening."
"... it's not personal. It's problem solving..."
"... the 'pinnacle of competition' [is to] see your opponent break..."
"The Gracies' always talk about jiu-jitsu and using breathing... If you're breathing slower, your clarity is better."
"In every discipline, the ability to be clear-headed, present, cool under fire is much of what separates the best from the mediocre..."