There’s a long blog post coming up, for which I make no apologies. A year of experiences takes time to explain!
I began competing in racquetball 11 years ago when I entered my first tournament as a novice to find out whether I really did love the sport. Eleven years later, I still do.
Although I have improved steadily over the years, I have never had an opportunity to really train and improve like I wanted to. I knew I was a decent player, but how good was I really? I was also now a coach of athletes, and I was asking them to work and train at a level I had never done myself, at least in racquetball. I knew that if I could do it with my busy lifestyle, anyone could do it.
At the end of 2017, I asked my wife Terra-Leigh whether she would support me training and competing seriously for a year. I wasn't talking about becoming a full-time competitor, of course, but spending more time training and traveling to compete. Something would have to give, and that something was primarily family time.
Competing seriously is something I’ve never been able to do before. Yes, I’ve played in a variety of tournaments over the years, but I’ve done so knowing I haven’t been able to give them my best. Work, family, and a lack of training all affected the outcomes. I hated losing a match, knowing the outcome could and would be different if I had been able to put in the work. I hate losing, but if I lose to a better player than me then I can accept that and work on getting better. But losing to someone you know you could have beaten if you had the time to put in the work… that I really hate.
I was now 38 years old, and I knew that physically the opportunity for becoming my very best was slipping away. No one beats time! I wanted one shot to really play this sport like I knew I could. Terra-Leigh agreed to support me for one year. She’s an amazing woman!
January 1, 2018, began a new me -- someone who was dedicating a large portion of the year to training and competing in racquetball. My life and daily schedule changed completely. With the help of OSU faculty member Melissa Jensen and strength and conditioning coach Chantel Anthony, I developed a nine-month training and competition plan.
I won’t describe the weeks and months of training, other than to say it was lonely and unpleasant. I didn’t have a training partner on or off the court, so the only person who pushed me was me. The gym, court, and yoga studio became regular features in my life. We won’t talk about the planks and wall sits. It was all hard. I can’t really describe how hard it was.
My nutrition changed a lot. I quit alcohol completely. I quit desserts, candy, and chocolate completely. I really mean completely! I tracked my exercise daily. I logged my workouts to set improvement goals. It was an all-or-nothing approach. If my wife was willing to deal with my time away from our family, then the least I could do was take it seriously. In many ways, as an amateur I trained harder and was more dedicated than most professionals. I committed everything to being my best for nine months.
I had a successful year. My training and diet worked, and I improved off and on the court. I challenged myself to play the very best players I could. Some I beat, some I didn’t. But I have no regrets. My fitness improved consistently; so did my power, my speed, and my agility. My weight and body fat percentage came into line. I became living proof that my training program works. If I could do it, so could others.
I challenged myself to play the best, to discover how good I was and how good I could be. For more days than I could count, I trained alone. As I said before, it was hard. But I had goals and one shot to give it my best. And I regret none of it. Did I miss the ice cream, or having a drink, or taking days off, or coming home an hour or two earlier? Yes, I did! But sometimes you have to give up something good for something better.
I finished playing completely in early October, but September was my primary goal. I tracked data three times during the year: January, April, and September. Here’s what I found:
I was never that interested in the actual numbers, but improving each time I measured them. I was interested in the improvement.
As 2018 comes to a close, I asked myself whether I could continue to become better than I am now. Absolutely yes. I’m still improving as a player and learning more and more in every tournament. Having only played in maybe 35 racquetball tournaments in my life, I’m still a novice in the sport. My skills as a player continue to improve faster than my physical attributes decline with age. But the time has come to focus my attention back on my family and on helping others achieve their goals. Continuing with my own athletic goals are unsustainable and unfair to my family. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of guy.
The year 2018 is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I gave everything and pursued my goals relentlessly. I bettered myself in so many ways. So I ask the question: if I can do it, even with a job, family, and many other responsibilities, why can’t you? My year was not based on my skill level, ability, or because I had “talent” and a future in the sport. Rather, it was based on my desire to become my own GOAT. It came down to commitment and discipline and a desire to fulfil my goals.
I have new goals for 2019, but they are professional goals this time. I challenge all of you reading this to set New Year goals and achieve them. Only about 8% of those who set New Year resolutions achieve them. I was part of that number. If you'd like to discuss how this could look for you in the new year, give me a call, send me an email, and let's talk it over!
In this short video, I explain how and why to goal set in sports, and include and extra "S" into the traditional SMART goal setting. If you subscribe to my YouTube Channel you'll get a notification when I post new material.
In this short video, I discuss what National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum Olympic gold medalist and former USA Wrestling coach Steve Fraser has to say about being nervous and controlling your anxiety.
Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel to make sure you get notifications when I put up new content.
I hear these words all the time. Yet, when it comes crunch time, most athletes (and coaches) cannot sustain the challenge. Why? Often, it's not because they don't want to, but because they lack the support system in place to help them overcome the barriers and hurdles that they face. Few successful athletes and coaches achieved their success alone or without seeking support. The very best know when to ask for help.
Here's a short article written by myself and Dr. Shelley Holden providing some fundamental nutrition advice for coaches working with athletes. A limited number of copies are available for free at this link.
I believe I'm good with words. Thousands of published pages of my writing help to justify this claim. But, there are experiences and feelings that, no matter how much I try, I struggle to convey. Once such instance came this weekend, when I had the opportunity to watch Lalo Portillo in person, as he defied the odds to become a Junior World Champion.
Many doubted Lalo's ability to overcome a very talented group of competitors, but we knew he was prepared. He had done the work. He had trained for this. In front of a packed house, Lalo showed composure, confidence, and control to overcome what could have been a crushing 15-14 first game loss to demonstrate his will by winning games two and three.
I have worked with Lalo for the past year, and I confess my input may not have been much compared to the many, many hours of training he has put in over this year and the years before. There is no doubt he earned his title by beating the very best.
I have been amazed at Lalo's willingness to listen and learn. He is truly a remarkable athlete and young man. In many ways he has demonstrated professionalism well beyond his years. Those interested in sponsoring young athletes would do well to consider Lalo as an ideal candidate.
Lalo, I'm so proud of you. You have listened and taken care of the little things. Your title was not given you to. You earned it. To see you achieve it in person is something I will never forget. Thank you for allowing me to be part of that experience.
"To be the best, whether in sports or business or any other aspect of life, it’s never enough to just get to the top; you have to stay there, and then you have to climb higher, because there’s always someone right behind you trying to catch up. Most people are willing to settle for good enough." (Tim Grover)
Keep climbing Lalo. Keeping becoming your GOAT.
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.
Why do athletes perform better in some environments than others? Why do they perform better at home than away? What if you're faced with the challenge of performing in an unfamiliar environment? Tim Grover has some thoughts on the issue which I share in this short video.
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.
Honored to be able to provide a few comments for this article on muscle dysmorphia and male body image.
Full link is here:
I love finding quotes across different sports to demonstrate that core fundamentals for success cross the boundaries of sport and life. It doesn't matter what walk of life you are in, success comes from consistent sources.
VERY excited to finally see this article in print. The publisher has made it available for free for the first 50 people to download it! If it's not available please contact me and I'll be happy to send you a copy.
I love this one. It's a reminder that our success is not dependent on one-off efforts, but a continual every day effort to improve.
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.
In this short video, I expand on Tim Grover's thoughts on instinct, learning, and skill development in sports. The quotes come from his book Relentless. He was the performance coach to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade). Subscribe to my channel to get notifications for when I post new content.
In this short video, I use a quote from tennis legend Helen Hull Jacobs to explain how to overcome adverse situations in sports.
For as long as I can remember, companies in the fitness industry have been promising to deliver the holy grail; the body we have always desired (the one created in someone else’s image, by the way). The grail may be a new method that promises to tone and sculpt a body part, a pill that guarantees weight loss without ever leaving the couch or changing your diet (that is still one of the funniest things I have ever heard), or a new ‘workout’ class; you know, the one that everyone is doing. Good marketing companies are exceptional at fleecing the uninformed.
One of the things I learned early in my life was that if something sounds too good to be true, well, it probably is. My parents pontificated that lesson. Over time, I no longer accepted claims at face value. I stopped believing the alleged subject matter experts and started asking questions and researching things on my own. Why? Well, I absolutely hate feeling like a complete moron and I want to make informed decisions. With more information, if I still choose to believe something that is not true, well then I deserve the ‘Idiot’ label. Those who know me well are keenly aware I typically question everything.
I really do not know much in the big picture. I have dabbled a little bit in the whole exercise thing, but I believe that I may know enough that I can speak on the subject when I want. Two decades ago, I was not as informed as I am today. To be honest, I was guilty of arguing with my trainer about the caloric expenditure reading on cardio equipment in 2002. When I began studying for certifications a couple years later, I humbly apologized for my indignation. In fact, those calorie counters are a big fat lie, and while that makes sense to me now, my naivety led me to believe that it was true. After all, those people wouldn’t lie about how many calories I burn, right? Of course, they would; these are the same people claiming the Thighmaster will make my thighs thinner.
Where am I going here? Well, insomnia was winning earlier this week, so I turned on the TV in the very early morning hours. Behold, Jeeves! The grail, the Arc, the secret! At long last, the product that will deliver us all; Squat Magic. I gaped at the screen as I could feel the blood now coursing through my veins. As I watched and turned up the volume, something I still deeply regret. I posted the segment to Facebook with a comment that it should be illegal to sell this stuff; all of it.
I have held my tongue for a very long time. You can thank the extortionists marketing the Squat Magic for me reaching the end of my rope. I am simply apoplectic. My colleagues and peers actually have integrity, and for that, I am grateful. It is this kind of product that undermines the science and the truth. ENOUGH!
I am going to say this one time. The Thighmaster, Shakeweight, and the myriad of other pieces of exercise equipment claiming to be the solution are crap. The Squat Magic is crap. Not one of these modalities do anything they claim. Each of these is brought to market by marketing companies that spend a ridiculous amount of money to lie to all of you because they know you will buy. Please just stop. I am not going to break down each modality for you in this article. If you want to actually start listening, please go retain a qualified individual, such as a NSCA or ACSM professional, to explain the science in laymen’s terms. You can even go to the library to research the Exercise Science books; go back to school for an education in Kinesiology, but do not continue to take the alleged expertise of an actor (yes, actor).
Not only does this company have you believing the magical claims, they also flash across the screen the words “dual certified celebrity trainer” to support this blasphemy. Guess what my friends; he isn’t a trainer of a thing, but he did play one on TV. He is an actor. His IMBD profile with reference to the work in which he has appeared. Wake up! “Well, ‘so and so’ said so, and he’s on TV; you’re not. Clearly he is successful to get to TV so he must know.” Um, well, for those not willing to do some homework in order to make truly informed decisions vs nonsense, then good luck to you. Eject. Don’t blast it all over social media later when the latest fad failed. For the most part, I blame the companies but at some point, buyer beware. Wake up and smell the crap. Own your part of the ignorance.
Anyway, the other night, I am staring at the ‘unicorn.’ Here is the device that is going to give me the shapely ass of my dreams; tone and sculpt my gluteus (This is literally nails on the chalkboard for me). Not only was my butt going to be amazing, my form while performing the squat would be immediately perfected.... (insert colorful commentary here). My blood pressure must have reached an all-time high that night, just as I can feel it rising as I write. I would like to destroy the construct of this product; however, I live by a set of rules. Yes, many are Gibbs’ rules. My rule number #10, ‘Never argue with an idiot; they drag you to their level and then beat you with experience.’ Rather than ripping every claim to shreds, I am going to provide some science based in research and evidence.
What does this all mean? Put the brownies down, lift heavy stuff, push out of your comfort zone, and nothing changes overnight. More importantly, find an activity you like to do. Research has proven we are more likely to achieve our goals and make new habits when we are enjoying the work (yes, this can be done). If you want the holy grail, do the work. If it sounds too good to be true…
Phil Heath is a legend in bodybuilding. He's won Mr. Olympia LLC consistently over the past several years. But what does he attribute his success to? I found a quote he made which I think is quite insightful. Spend a minute to learn from one of the very greatest bodybuilders of all time!
What I've Learned
- Every client is unique, and the challenges they face are unique. A generic program can demonstrate success and be beneficial, especially for large groups and teams where time and efficiency are issues, but it will never replace one-on-one support.
- It takes time to develop trust with clients. This is especially true when clients don't know me personally.
- I can help most, but I can't help everyone.
- I have always believed my role with a client is to compliment the training/expertise they receive from others. This philosophy results in positive, beneficial relationships with the client's support team rather than harmful/negative ones.
- The suspicion about sport psychology and mental training still exists among many people in sports.
- Tied with this suspicion about mental training is a willingness for those in sports to invest heavily in the physical training aspects of the sport over anything else. This is perhaps because physical improvements are easier to measure and demonstrate.
- A good training session can be easily undone by the actions of an athlete when they are not training (e.g., poor nutrition, sleep).
- Athletes and teams, even in major sports with significant coaching and financial assistance, can still lack the support they need to be their very best.
- In general, coaches rely on their own experiences as athletes in combination with their successes/failures as coaches to become and continue being successful. Most do not engage in any professional or personal development to become better. Some do, but it's often because they are required to do so. Finding coaches hungry to learn and improve is quite rare.
- Some people claim they want to be their very best, but lack the discipline or desire to actually become their very best. There's a difference between words and actions.
- In almost all sports, the mental challenges are similar. Dealing with anxiety, controlling negative emotions, working with others, motivation, believing in oneself, and many other topics cross sports, ages, and abilities.
- Most athletes and coaches work very hard, but cannot explain why they are training the way they are training. There remains a distinct lack of scientific process in training for sports and sports in general.
- The behaviors, feelings, and actions of an individual that have been developed for many years, and often for decades, cannot be undone with a few hours of work. Small changes can be made, but it takes time to undo bad habits etc. There is no magic pill!
- Working with clients online and with video technology has worked well, but it will never be more effective than working in person.
- My clients make me better also. I love working with clients, and they inspire me to continue learning and improving. I've spent considerable time this year working to improve my knowledge base and ability to be a more effective coach.
- I have competed in many different sports at various levels throughout my life. I enjoy and have always enjoyed performing at the best of my abilities, and winning is always good too! But this year has taught me that the success of my clients is more rewarding to me than my own personal successes. I love seeing my clients succeed!
It's been a great year, and I'm so excited to see what the year has in store! My thanks to all my clients who have instilled their trust in me. You challenge, encourage, and inspire me to continue bettering myself. In other words, I'm working toward becoming my GOAT! I hope you are too.
Stay current with my professional activities and recent articles.