In this short video, I discuss a quote by author and performance coach Tim Grover about abilities, skills, and how best to use them. I also discuss what does and does not make athletes and coaches successful.
The Serena Williams tirade at the US Open has been a hot topic in my class recently. Here's an article looking at some of the data associated with penalties in tennis. As a former international referee, I know how hard it is to get it right all the time. In fact, it's impossible because we are human! But in this instance, it appears that the rules were enforced correctly. The issue becomes whether these rules are being consistently enforced across tournaments, tours, and gender. Thanks to Dr. Sean Mullen for sharing this article with me.
GSP Core Value #4: I respect everyone including my opponent and official.
GSP Core Value #11: When I win, I am gracious: when I lose, I demonstrate dignity.
In this short video, I discuss Tim Grover's comments about taking advantage of success and pushing forward rather than resting when an athlete reaches the top.
"No matter how many years I'm in this business, I still shake my head at pro athletes who can't make the decision to commit themselves to excellence. This is your body, your livelihood, you only get a few years to ride this wave. Are you going to ride it or lie on the beach whining that the water's too cold?" Grover (2014, p. 153-154)
One could argue that this could be applied to any of us in the sports fields: coaches, managers, athletic trainers, officials, ADs, owners... the list goes on. I took the plunge in 2017. The water's cold, but it tells me I'm alive.
In this Stillwater Area Sports Association (SASA) video, I explain some of the considerations coaches need to have when developing a practice or series of practices in youth sports. I cover topics such as warm ups, stations, punctuality, core values, periodization, homework, and cool down. Thanks to Ms. Melissa Jensen for her contributions to this content.
Yeah, of course I want to be a great coach/athlete! Wait, I have to study? And work? And... homework?!?!
In this Stillwater Area Sports Association video, I explain what coaching values are, why they are important, provide some examples, and offer some suggestions on how to create your own coaching values.
I interview World Natural Bodybuilding Federation World Champion Dr. Brian Whitacre about many topics including what makes a champion, training, nutrition, visualization, the psychology of posing, and juggling life, work, and sports.
I spend a couple of minutes discussing the excuses given by athletes and coaches to justify NOT getting sports performance help. Here I equate it to why we don't want to go to the doctor.
Too often we tend to criticize ourselves or our athletes for making mistakes. Using an example from the book Motivate Your Child, I very briefly share why these situations should be used as learning opportunities.
I'm assisting the USA Wrestling's National Coaches Education Program by providing some feedback on their coaching certification content.
Parents and athletes, here's a good take home statistic I learned during this process.
There are 2,500,000 volunteer coaches in the United States alone, and less than 250,000 receive any formal training. Put another way, there is more than a 90% chance your coach hasn't even taken a first aid or CPR class, let alone been taught how to coach! Read that last sentence again. It's frightening!
It's fantastic that organizations like USA wrestling are implementing required education for their certified coaches. But for those of you not in wrestling, maybe you shouldn't be relying solely on your coach to become your best... I encourage you to contact me to see how my education and experience can help in your specific situation.
Coaching Relatives and Friends: earlier this summer, NBA star Chris Paul dramatically and suddenly left the LA Clippers to join the Houston Rockets. Why did he do it? The answer is in my short video along with some suggestions on how this situation could have been avoided.
Coaching or being coached by a friend or relative is pretty common, and there are many challenges associated with it, so I also provide some suggestions on how you can ensure a Chris Paul like incident doesn't happen to you or your team. Share this link with a coach or athlete who might benefit from this.
Sometimes athletes and coaches (and dads and sons) just need to have fun in sports. It's the #1 reason why young athletes quit. Here's just one of many activities to make practice fun. Share it on to others who need to hear this message!
Professional athletes and coaches often focus on the importance of deliberate practice. Yet, deliberate play is also an important component to sports performance. This article explains why both need to be included in training, and it can be read in its entirety here.
When we think of sports performance, we sometimes just think of the athlete. But coaches and organizations need to consider how to develop clear guidelines and policies for communicating with their athletes. This article helps to explain some best practices for doing so at the international level.
In this article written for non-profit organization Reaching Your Dream Foundation, I discuss this topic. The full article can be read here.
Some time ago, I had the opportunity to speak with two athletes at a tournament. Their comments struck me. One competitor played at an elite-level and could certainly compete with some of the best in the country. We’ll call her Sally. The other was a lower-level player who was still quite new to the sport and competition. It was her first major tournament. Let’s call her Heather.
Sally entered a very competitive division in which she was comfortably the number one seed. But she didn’t enter the most difficult division available even though she would have been somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of seeding. I asked her why she didn’t enter the higher division. “I only play in divisions I can win,” she responded.
Meanwhile Heather was in the same tournament but playing in a division that placed her near the very bottom of the seeds. There were lower skill divisions that she would have been more likely to win, so I asked her why she had entered a higher division. “A gold medal is not the primary reason that I’m here,” she responded. “I’m here to learn and improve.”
If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll have read my article on ego orientation I wrote a few weeks ago. These two examples clearly highlight the differences between ego orientation (Sally) and task orientation (Heather).
Task oriented athletes are almost the complete opposite of ego oriented athletes. They can be identified by:
The Moderating Continuum
It’s important to recognize that rarely are athletes all ego or all task. Instead, think of the analogy of a ruler. On one side is ego and on the other side is task. We all fall somewhere on that ruler, but most of us fit somewhere around the middle.
The two examples I presented suggest that Sally is very ego oriented and Heather is very task oriented. However, I would guess that Sally has to be a little task orientated in order to become as good as she is. Heather probably has to be somewhat ego orientated or she may not compete at all. We all typically have both, but more often than not, we tend to have more of one than the other.
Where Does Ego and Task Orientation Come From?
The Goal Orientation (i.e., task or ego) of Sally and Heather stems from a variety of experiences combined with their core personality traits. However, much of this orientation will be developed through childhood and influenced by significant people in their lives (e.g., parents, coaches, and friends) but also by the sporting situations they are exposed to.
Even small comments from significant people in our lives can teach ego or orientation. “You have a higher ranking and shouldn’t have any problems beating him” focuses on comparisons between the two athletes and fosters ego orientation. Compare that to “Remember to control what you can control and keep working hard for each point.” The focus has switched to task orientation, which is much more controllable.
Parents are often at fault for reinforcing ego orientation in their athletes. “Did you win?” is the first question often asked. What if the athlete had performed to the best of their ability but lost to a superior player or team? Shouldn’t that be praised? Instead, in an ego oriented climate that doesn’t matter. Success is only determined by winning.
“How did you play?” is a much more effective question at reinforcing task orientation. The focus then becomes on controllable skills and behaviors. Effort, technique, and progress become the focal points. Winning? That’s great but personal improvement is the overall goal. Winning is a natural byproduct of continued personal improvement. All of legendary coach John Wooden’s books back me up on this one.
Which Athlete Do I Want To Coach?
Most of you will suggest that I want to coach the task oriented Heather in my original scenario. And you’d be right. But I’d also want to coach Sally, because they’re both capable of improvement, which is what I’m all about. Without any intervention, which one is most likely to become their GOAT and achieve their true potential? My money would be on Heather, and although Heather probably didn't get a gold medal at this tournament, but I suspect it won't be long before she's be taking home silverware, and probably for a long time to come.
Contact me to learn more about how task orientation can be reinforced in athletes (of any age and skill level!) and what steps sports organizations can take to foster task orientation in their staff and players.
Progress Takes Time
In racquetball, levels progress from Pro to Open, A, B, C, D, and Novice. In 2009, I entered the C and age 25+ C divisions of the US Racquetball National Championship where I finished second in both divisions. It was my first major tournament.
Last week, eight years later almost to the day, I was able to compete (and do a little coaching) in my second National Championship. This time I entered age 35+ Open as well as both the Centurion Doubles Open and A divisions with two different partners (partners must be a combined minimum age of 100). I came home with a gold, silver, and bronze. It was a great honor to compete in front racquetball legend and a mentor of mine Dr. Bud Muehleisen (see picture below).
Now there are days when I hate training, hate playing, and wish I could stop and just be a sports fan. There are days where I don’t feel I’m improving, my body hurts, and my mind quits. However, a reflection on what skill level I played in 2017 compared to 2009 is a reminder that although I have my bad days, I continue to improve. It’s encouraging and motivating!
Coaching Makes a Difference
But that’s not what this post is about. This post is not about the bronze medal I earned in 35+ Open singles but why it wasn’t a better color. I lost two matches, one in which I was outclassed by a much better player (for now…), and one in which I was close, but couldn’t seem to put it all together. It was very frustrating to be on the court knowing that I had the skills, fitness, and mental strength to match my opponent, yet feeling the match slowly slip away.
On reflection, I lost because I didn’t have a coach in my corner. I had the arrogance to think that my coaching education and knowledge would be good enough. And, unlike most players, I did have a game plan that I developed from speaking to his other opponents (I actually beat one opponent quite comfortably because I was able to watch one of his matches on YouTube before the tournament began and the game plan worked superbly).
But it didn’t work the way it was supposed to, and I needed a coach to help me change my tactics. On the court, I couldn’t see what they would have seen. Tactically, I got it all wrong, and a good coach would have seen the small things that I now recognize on reflection.
Too many of us, including me, make the foolish decision to rely on our own intuition and ability to carry us through a performance. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. I prefer it working out! There is value in coaching. I’ve learned my lesson. Will you learn from my mistake?
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