Matteke Hutzler – Fourth Blog from Portugal – A New Month, A New Beginning

The start of anything new is always exciting… the start of a new career, a new month, a new year. With a new beginning, comes the opportunity to leave the past behind as a memory, but take with you the wisdom, confidence and experience you have gained into the next phase. Even though it’s only 24 hours that separates the end of one month and the start of another, how you choose to begin the month will often set the tone for the next 30-plus days.

My past month in Portugal has definitely been a test of mental toughness and ability to deal with adversity. The most obvious challenge was just getting here and adjusting from 5,000 people to 1.5 million – life in a different country, on a different continent, with a different climate, in a different time zone, in a different culture. With so many new things to see and do, a number of distractions constantly try to take your ‘professional’ focus elsewhere. With most of our practices not usually ending until 11pm, it’s difficult to calm your body down and relax your mind before midnight, often resulting in a 2 a.m. bedtime, which is not optimal. Late practice also means late dinner and doesn’t give your body enough time to properly digest before going to sleep. AND, the later you go to bed, the later you are going to wake up the next morning. All of these things combined really put a lot of stress on your body to adjust.

Not only have I had to adjust to a new county, but also new teammates and coaches. Being one of two foreigners, I always try to act as professional as possible. This includes being mentally and physically prepared for every practice, individual work out and game. When I need a little boost of basketball passion and desire, I ALWAYS YouTube videos of Kevin Garnett (Check out this video –  For me, KG’s love of the game and the intensity that he plays with absolutely inspires me. His passion and hard work is consistently on another level… it’s non-stop.  His emotion inspires his performance on an off the court and I think that I also have a similar style of play. His passion always re-fuels mine.

I think that the past month has allowed me to get in a good groove. I have figured out what food works best to fuel me, the times I need to rest, the distractions I need to avoid, and the preparation needed to keep me focused and inspired to improve everyday. The month of November will be a great opportunity to start again in Portugal… not that I need to start over, but I am starting now with a head start. I know so much more than I did when I got here. With this knowledge, I can go full force into the month with the confidence and determination to keep improving. It’s exciting to begin new things; but it’s even more exciting to begin new things when you genuinely believe it’s going to be great.

“If you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner.”