I returned home yesterday from the 2017 Racquetball Pan Am Championships where I was a broadcaster and analyst for the International Racquetball Federation's live stream of the tournament. In this picture I'm with IRF Hall of Fame inductee (and Israeli Sports Hall of Fame) Gary Mazaroff. I also oversaw the drug testing that occurred as part of my additional role as Anti-doping Administrator for the Federation.
In many ways my attendance is selfish. Although I do have work responsibilities, I use the time to observe: I watch the players, coaches, officials, and staff closely to evaluate how successful they are, why they are, and if not why not. It's fascinating to see how and why success and failure occurs, and provides me learning opportunities to take the best of what I saw and apply it to my teaching and consultancy work.
The tournament puts the best players from each Pan American country against each other, but subcategories are offered for those not able to qualify for the main draw. I entered both the 35+ age category singles as well as the open singles bracket. I was fortunate to come away with two gold medals.
I say fortunate, but it wasn't really. I have important advantages over my competitors. I know how to train effectively, I know how to fuel my body, and I am mentally strong. On talent alone I shouldn't have stood on top of the podium.
But winning doesn't always come down to talent. I've always said that winning is a byproduct of what comes before. And Confucius said it better: "Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure." These medals were no accident. How are you preparing for success?
Yesterday I had the opportunity to share some of my knowledge as a keynote speaker at the 8th Annual More Than X's and O's Coaching Symposium. Hosted at Emporia State University, over 130 athletic directors, coaches, and coaching students attended from across the state of Kansas.
Speaking as a keynote can be a high pressure situation: you are the one expected to razzle and dazzle the audience, and sometimes that can be hard if it is a difficult topic. Such was the case for my first presentation, Making Sound Ethical Decisions. Not many coaches want to hear about the potential problems that might arise as they progress through their career. However, if they are unprepared to handle them, sometimes things go array. Just google "coaching scandal" and you'll see what I mean. I used some of my time to provide them with a step-by-step guide to resolving such situations.
The presentation was well-received and I spent much of my time explaining how to use cognitive interviewing, a technique used by law enforcement to acquire accurate data from witnesses. It is a useful method for finding out the truth in a situation that is not clear cut.
My second presentation, Using Goal Setting to Improve Sports Performance Over a Season, was much more practical, and focused on the do's and do nots of goal setting. We did a practical example, and explored the differences between task orientation and goal orientation. Finally, I discussed tanking, when an athlete deliberately slacks off when losing is imminent, and why it might happen.
One never knows how well a presentation went, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive multiple thank you emails today.
"Dr. Baghurst, I am both a coach and athletic director and the information you covered is very important to my coaches, players, and students. Thank you, for speaking at the workshop."
It is messages like these that motivate me to continue doing what I do!
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