Article: 1 – #Growth


I wanted to start off my first article addressing a commonly asked question “How can I get better?”. I’ve been often asked this after becoming a fairly known competitive player in my state and community.  I’m sure several of you have racked your brains once or twice or have dived into this conversation with your peers throughout your magic career. Regardless if it’s kitchen table top, Friday Night Magic or even Grand Prix’s, I firmly believe 3 things can improve your game in destroying your big brother during lunch hours or turning the tables on one of the local pros during a heated battle.

Firstly, breaking old habits and tackling new challenges aren’t done overnight. In Fact, often before success comes failure – and that’s okay. With the correct mindset, failure is not the end of something that doesn’t work but the opportunity to grow, refine and expose a new outcome. Being resilient can become a game changer if you approach failing in the right way. During our magic careers we all know our own failures, punts, bad lines and losses we’ve chalked up. Learning from those failures and bouncing back to overcome the setbacks is where we are going to focus.

Very similar to Tom Brady, yes, the winningest quarterback in NFL history who has also faced multiple failures. Everyone knows him as the G.O.A.T. but how did he get there? As put by Vic Stretcher an author, businessman and educator at Brady’s alma mater the University of Michigan – When Brady gets knocked down, he bounces back within seconds of failing. Think about him getting sacked. Tom approaches the new challenge with resiliency and focus on what he can do differently, how he can learn from the defense and create a better result. Aka, the Brady Bounce. We may now all have the same bounce back speed as Brady, but it will take some practice and focus.

Here are three things you can do to improve your Brady Bounce Back.

Debrief. After you complete a round or match, do a quick debrief with your team or friends. Be proactive and ask for feedback on what you can do the same, differently, or scrap entirely. Maybe it’s how you used your counter spells, how to attack into settle the wreckage, or maybe it’s a card choice in your sideboard. Take notes during your match, don’t wait for someone to just offer up advice. Be Proactive!

Experiment. We can all be great playing Powerplant, Mine and Tower. But problems will pop up, you will always have new challenges and cards to overcome. Don’t be afraid to test different cards even if they appear bad or your friends give you grief about your card choice. I cannot preach this enough. Trust but verify! Experimenting will allow you to see other card interactions your peers won’t and will give you that slight advantage.

Inspiration. Seek out players who are better then you for specific reasons. Rules lawyers, deck specialists, the FNM guy who always plays tier 3 spice and wins, even the commander and pauper players. There is no wrong answer here, it’s okay to be inspired by someone else, and it’s not embarrassing. And it’s okay to let them know that. You are trying to get better. Surround yourself with inspiration, it is in human nature to mimic your peers. Sometimes you may need a little boost to achieve your bounce, and with this growth mindset you will be inspired to take the next step.

It’s easy to throw up your arms and give up after encountering failure. With a growth mindset, it’s about the journey just as much as it is the end goal. Changing your outlook and being proactive to debriefexperiment and seek inspiration will inevitably help you become a better player. Make the choice to take on these three challenges head on. And if you fail or get sacked, dust off your knees and bounce back.

  1. Seth Dillard

    Great advice, Justin.
    “Debriefing” after matches and discussing the game with much more talented players than myself has become my favorite part about the game. However, I need to be experimenting and formulating more opinions of my own. Enjoyed the read and looking forward to more content.

  2. Ryan Dunaway

    Switch Inspiration and Experiment in your three things above.

    Make it 4 things you can do instead of three.

    Add “Time. Take the time out to do everything from every angle. Take the time to research what and why you should do things differently. Take time to develop an understanding, instead of just reacting.”

    Change your Ways to Improve to the D.I.E.T. of an improving Magic Player.

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