If you’ve ever wondered how the greatest names in sports manage to make the best decisions at crucial moments, author Sally Jenkins has the answer.
In “The Right Call: What Sports Teach Us About Work and Life” (Gallery Books), Jenkins examines a wide range of elite sports performers and coaches — from Tom Brady to Andre Agassi — in a bid to determine the key characteristics that help them produce the goods when it really matters, time and again.
“The separator is the willing to work at the things you aren’t good — the rest of us plateau,” Jenkins tells The Post.
“The greats have the candor to diagnose weaknesses and to find a way to mitigate them, and they tolerate setback.”
For record-breaking Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, for instance, it was “the embrace of absolute drudgery,” says Jenkins.
“Phelps’s easy rhythm in the water was as much a matter of mental conditioning as physical, the result of years of metronomic laps like musical scales.”
Basketball’s Steph Curry is another case in point.
The Golden State Warriors superstar takes around 2,000 practice shots every week — and also dedicates significant time to working on his cognitive fitness, enabling him to quickly interpret game situations.
Making the shot — or ‘the call’ — is just the final piece of a complex physical and mental jigsaw.
“Nobody is predisposed to the right call under pressure — it comes from method,” says Jenkins.
“Even the most intuitive seeming act by a great athlete is actually a series of micro-decisions.
When you really talk to athletes you get a growing sense that all that beautiful action under pressure is really the result of a lot of dirty, tedious work in order to make better judgments and swiften their reactions under pressure.”
These lessons can be applied to everyday life, as Jenkins demonstrates in the book.
“Though we’re hardly aware of it, we, too, make scores of choices every day,” she writes.
“Athletes and coaches show us how to drag ourselves from this semiconscious state into more explicit purpose.”
Whether you’re on the field if play or in the office, “we can all learn how to make the ‘right call’ under pressure.”