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.
It's great to see professional athletes recognizing the mental battle that goes on between their ears. In this situation it's tennis pro John Isner. Yet, I can only imagine how he could have been helped throughout his junior, college and young professional career to change some of his failures into successes.
"As a professional athlete, you want to feel so strong and impervious to everything, but that wasn't the case for me and I let him know that," Isner told me in Houston at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships last month. "I let him know what I was feeling in the big moments. I let him know sometimes how scared I was."
"I'd find myself seizing up, not freeing up," Isner said. "And just wanting to win so badly that I didn't want to go after it myself, I was a little afraid of that. With how I'm built, it's the absolute wrong thing to do. When other players get nervous and get tight, say, be it a Nadal, a Djokovic, a Murray -- they can rely on their wheels. I can't. I'd just find myself hoping my opponent would miss. I knew what was holding me up was myself."
I discuss a quote from Tim Grover's book Relentless. He highlights how important mental training and toughness in and external to sport is.
Congratulations to GSP athlete Alok Mehta, who won gold at the India racquetball qualifiers this weekend! He will be representing India at the International Racquetball Federation - IRF World Championships in Colombia later this summer. Alok is also one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the IRF Senior World Championships. Congrats Alok!
My wife and I have really enjoyed hosting professional racquetball athlete Marie Renee Rodriguez for the past 10 days. We spent a considerable amount of time working on developing a training program, practicing weight lifting, spending time on the court, discussing strategy, practicing emotional control, and analyzing her game. It was a busy period but we both gained much from the experience. Be sure to click on her name and keep up to date with her career progress!
Have you ever thought about buying a fitness tracker (accelerometer) such as a Fitbit but didn't know which one to buy? Dr. Shelley Holden and I recently wrote a short article on what things you should consider when making the decision. The publisher has made this article free to the first 50 people who click on this link. If you have specific questions about fitness trackers, please send me a message. I'd be happy to answer any questions.
Over the past year I have been blessed to include a variety of guest speakers in our Oklahoma State University Sports & Coaching Science program. Professional and amateur athletes, sports administrators, international coaches, professional trainers... the list goes on. It's been amazing to hear and learn from so many successful professionals in sport!
Recently, I was reminded by a guest speaker the importance of knowing WHY. The speaker, a director of a large rowing program, highlighted how imperative it was that coaches (and anyone working in the sports professions) knew exactly what they were doing but also WHY they were doing it. Why this training program? Why this nutrition? Why this rehab? The list could go on.
This is a valid point: how many coaches, if asked WHY, respond with examples such as...
"Because I'm coach."
"That's how my coach did it and he/she was very successful." "It's what I did when I was competing."
"I read it somewhere."
There are more. The point I'm making here is that we, as sports professionals, have a responsibility to continue learning and improving our craft to ensure that we have the most current knowledge and skills necessary to get the best from our athletes and clients. Anything less and we are failing to give our best.
Congratulations to GSP Athlete Maria Renee Rodriguez (far left) who took home silver in women's doubles at the 2018 Racquetball Pan Am Championships. Finishing runner up in doubles is a first for Guatemala Racquetball, and I'm excited at the professionalism and effort MRR has made in improving each month and year. It was especially exciting for me, as I was able to be in attendance for her performances at the Championships.
She and teammate Gabriela Martinez also finished a combined second place in women's teams overall.
A few days ago I was interviewed by Dr. Thad Leffingwell for his OSU Psychology of Sport and Human Performance class. We discussed how I got to where I am and a few other things.
Here's an article I recently wrote for the Reaching Your Dream Foundation on anxiety and sports performance. Its publication is good timing. This afternoon I was reading a book by a high school basketball athlete who described himself as being so nervous before a game that he experienced stomach cramps for hours before tip-off.
Anxiety is a real issue and can drastically affect performance... and generally not in a good way! If you or your athlete have not been trained how to cope with nerves, how can you expect an optimal performance? Contact me for a free chat to discuss how I might be able to help!
Legendary Strongman Žydrūnas Savickas (“the Big Z”) has a few choice words about training presented in this 90 second video. Is he right? Does success come from training the hardest?
In this short video, I discuss a few quotes from Tim Grover's book Relentless, in which he talks about the difference between saying you'll give 100% and doing it. I also discuss the challenge of staying at the top once there.
by Guest Contributor
Dr. René Lyst
When I began to coach collegiate gymnastics in 1993, the coaching profession was much different than it is today. I had just finished my athletic career at Penn State, which was a very hard working and over-achieving program. As athletes, we would never question our coaches’ plans in or out of the gym. We did what we were told to the best of our ability, and we ended up being very successful.
During my 23-year coaching career, I have seen many changes. Some of them have been for the better, and some of them are still out to be judged by future coaching professionals. Regardless, to succeed today as a coach there are some realities you must accept. For example, you live in a fish bowl and everything you say and do can be taken out of context. In fact, you should expect that everything will be used out of context. In some cases, the popularity of social media and the ability for everyone to have a voice can be empowering. But in other cases, it can cause significant damage.
I have recently found my own voice and launched a website to start making a difference. I did this because I want to be a resource for future coaching professionals. I want you to learn from my successes and my failures. In this short article, I have identified a few harsh realities that every coach should know. My background is collegiate sports, but these practices can and should be applied to every level of coaching in any sport. Here are a few things I wish I knew before I began my coaching career.
1. Meet With a Lawyer
Even after all my experience, writing those words is very difficult. I do not like the concept of starting a situation with what seems to be such a paranoid outlook. However, my coach always told me to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You are your only advocate!
There are two main items that should be discussed in this initial meeting.
Most of us are so happy to get a job we love doing that we do not take the time to thoroughly understand our contracts. That one document will mean more to you than you ever know should any issues with your performance come into question. Lawyers are obliged to follow that contract. I hope that you take this step before you sign the document. However, I know most of us will not. We trust in the system and are optimistic that the future will be smooth sailing.
Every state has slightly different laws. Unfortunately, sometimes your administrators, your student-athletes, and any other constituents with whom you interact may know more than you. Again, you are your only advocate. Protect yourself.
Here is just one example of how understanding state employment laws can assist you. Only 11 states require a two-party consent for recording conversations. Honestly, I was not aware of this until it was too late. I wish I had had the tools needed to be more proactive in protecting myself against untruthful claims. I wish I could have had ‘documented’ proof of conversations with certain individuals that would have provided me with a chance at a legal injunction against my administrative leave. I had some proof, but not enough, and a recorded conversation would have been a game changer.
In my last few months at Arizona State University (ASU), I was under extreme scrutiny for everything and anything. In the last meeting I had with my administrators, they began the meeting with intimidation and fear. They then presented me with various issues they had with how I was running the program. As I was sitting there shaking and trying to stay composed, I listened intently on what they were saying not how they were saying it. All of it had to do with my actions and me as a person.
Shortly after the meeting, I met with my assistant coaches at my apartment. I had post-it-notes all over my island in the kitchen of the issues that were presented to me. Each post-it-note had a subject, and I had written proposed action steps to meet the expectations of my supervisors. During this meeting with my assistants, we discussed the action steps, came to an agreement on how to move forward, and created a plan. This is how I like to manage – collectively – after all; we are all in it together. While my assistants were still at my apartment, I took photos of the post-it-notes and texted my supervisors that we had met and had action steps to move forward. I got a response that this was good work and a great step forward.
Two days later, I was put on administrative leave. The document I received said I was put on leave because I shared confidential information. There was no confidential information discussed, nor was I told not to talk to anyone about my meeting. My lawyer confirmed that, by law, I was permitted to share anything about myself that I want to anyone. I did have the text as partial proof of this, but my lawyer is the one who told me about one-person consent to recording conversations. Had I recorded the conversation, I could have tried to take legal action immediately. Of course, this is assuming I did not share confidential information, which I know that even today I did not.
2. Understand Your Organization’s Policies and Procedures
Again, this is not to be paranoid but to be a true professional you must understand the environment in which you work. I strongly advise that if you do not agree with a major policy in your environment, do not work there. Even if you do not plan to engage in activity that violates the policy with which you disagree, you just will not fit in, and your days are numbered.
One institution I worked for had a policy that staff members in the athletic department were prohibited from dating one another. I have been at multiple institutions and had never seen this type of policy. In most athletic departments, quite a few couples have met on the job and end up getting married and having families. In athletics, you are always at work and you do not tend to meet many people outside of work.
I did not date anyone in the athletic department. However, I personally do not feel it is okay for an employer to dictate a personal life between single consenting adults. I understand and acknowledge the reasons why this policy was adopted, but I personally do not agree with it.
In the bigger picture, instituting a policy on staff and their dating practices encourages an environment of intrusiveness. It also creates an environment of secrecy. People are people and will still date one another if they truly want to, but they will then keep their lives a secret. This leads to administrators looking for policy breakers. It is not a healthy environment.
3. Human Resources
Make sure you know the HR practices for grievances. Unfortunately, policies are only as good as the people that follow them. At one point in my career, a senior staff mishap of HR policy ended up being a professional nightmare on my end. While HR apologized profusely, the implications, the personal stress to myself, my staff, and others associated with the program, was personally traumatic.
There are policies and procedures that administrators must follow when a complaint is brought to them. They must also be applied consistently to all employees, whether it is a football coach or an academic counselor.
An example would be an athletics staff member being accused of dating a student-athlete. Even if the student-athlete is of age, this would not be permitted on any campus. I saw the result of this from both sides, and in my situation, correct policy and procedure was not administered. One individual was allowed to stay on staff even when there was ample evidence. In fact, the student-athlete was pressured to quit their sport. Eventually, this individual resigned from the department. They were of considerable fame, and once the issue became known in outside circles, there was no other option.
In another true story example, another athletics staff member was accused of dating a student-athlete and the administrator went directly to the Title IX office without following Human Resource policy that would require an internal investigation before notifying Title IX. Unfortunately, when the accusation was shown to be false, the complaint could not be withdrawn. The issue could have been dealt with professionally within the department, but at this point the staff member, the staff that worked with them, and student-athletes had to answer to the Title IX office. While there was no action taken by the Title IX office, the staff member lost credibility and respect from those around them from a false accusation.
4. Document, Document, Document
There is no substitution for documentation. The more detail-oriented you can become the better off you are. Here are a few suggestions:
Job Descriptions: Make sure they are written and shared
Emails: Save all emails always
Texts: Save all text messages always
Meetings: Summarize all meetings in writing
Injury Reports: Keep them forever
Itineraries: Do them for every event, make them detailed, and save them
Practice Plans: Do them and save them
Practice Results: Have a written record of what each athlete completed or did not complete
Food: Keep all food expenditures and keep receipts Record who was at the meal, and if you pre-order, what was ordered
Strength & Conditioning: Keep records of workouts
The list could go on and on. It is imperative you have documentation of everything you have ever done and that you keep the records as long as possible. If files get too large, back them up on a bigger hard drive. There are few things worse than looking for a piece of ‘evidence’ to support your case or argument and realizing you threw it away or deleted it. I still have documentation from the last three institutions at which I coached: Stanford, Arkansas, and Arizona State.
It is important to keep thorough records of all injury and illness. Coaches today are under strict scrutiny. There should be a consistent paper trail between the coach and the trainer and trainer and the doctor. The coach and trainer should decide together what to include in the injury report: name; date of injury/date of illness; injury; status; notes; restrictions. The trainer should have detail reports on all rehab, medication, and doctor’s visits. The coach should communicate with the trainer daily to stay current on all treatment.
However, there is a gray area. When the injury report states an athlete can train ‘to tolerance’ this can be a real gray area. The student-athlete wants to please the coach most of the time. The coach wants to keep them ‘in the game’ physically and mentally as much as possible. So how far do you push the athlete? The trainer is your guideline. If you, the student-athlete, and the trainer want to ‘test’ what ‘to tolerance’ is, it must be a consensual and a collective process. Best advice – ask the trainer regarding every step you want to take. If at some point in training, the trainer or the student-athlete do not want to or cannot continue, then that is it for the day. Period.
Unfortunately, some coaches do not follow a doctor and trainer’s recommendations on restrictions and injury care. Even if you follow every recommendation, you may find yourself being accused of forcing an athlete to train and do more than the medical staff prescribed. Sometimes athletes do not want to train; sometimes parents do not get all the information from the student-athlete; sometimes a fan may see something in the stands and make a complaint. These things do happen. Therefore, documentation and triangulation of information are imperative. The relationship between you and your trainer and the trainer and your doctor is the most important relationship in the department.
5. Triangulate All Meetings
When you speak to a student-athlete, or anyone whom you have perceived power over, you should have not one but two other individuals in the meeting with you. If I were to meet with a student-athlete about a gymnastics-related issue, I would have both assistant coaches sit in on the meeting. If the issue dealt with an injury, I would include one coach and then the trainer. If it was an academic issue, I would include one coach and the academic advisor. Transparency is the key.
I know most of us believe one other individual in the room is sufficient. I found that having that second person increased credibility, loyalty, and consistency. Student-athletes, especially in difficult situations, can be quite skilled at pitting one authority figure against another. If you have a staff of three, but only two are in the meeting, there is the ability for that third person to not get a full account of the meeting and may receive mixed messages. I found the third person to be an important part of protecting decisions.
Communication flows upward and downward. As coaches, we tend to communicate downhill to our assistants and student-athletes. However, make sure you communicate with your supervisor(s) regularly. It is important they know what steps you are taking to work through good and bad times. Remember to document those meetings!
Communicate with your staff daily. To do their job well, they need to know anything that pertains to the welfare of the student-athlete. Although some information should not be shared with everyone, most content can be, and it is important that all staff are on the same page so there is a consistent approach when working with the student-athlete. Make sure you have records of this communication.
Communicate with the student-athletes on a regular basis in a group or individually. You are all one team and the continuum between staff, coaches, and team should be a continuous circle.
7. Get Outside Support
This is a big one. Make it a priority to have someone that supports you. I would encourage it to be a professional – a sports performance coach, a life coach, a counselor, a mentor, a priest/minister/pastor, or anyone else with the ability to give you objective advice. You need someone to support you who is not directly involved with your staff, coaches, student-athletes, parents of student-athletes, boosters, or anyone else associated with the program. We may love all of these individuals as family, but you never know who may use a moment of weakness to their advantage.
Like most coaches, we like to work with those we feel are our friends or family. We want that connection on our staff because we want our team to be like a family. I did this. I had an assistant coach I was extremely close with and I shared a lot of my personal life with them. None of us are perfect, and we may all do something in our personal life that would paint us in a negative light. Unfortunately, we need to keep a line between our staff and ourselves. If your character ever comes under question, you cannot be sure they will not share the details of information you gave them willingly. They may not even do it maliciously. Nonetheless, your staff sharing personal information about you in that time of a manner will not turn out well for you.
I understand my suggestions are mentally sobering. For a moment, it squelches the altruistic mindset a coach innately possesses. It is my goal to make sure you can coach for as long as you want. I encourage you as you make your practice plans, are on the road recruiting, working day in and day out to teach technical skills – always remember – YOU ARE YOUR ONLY ADVOCATE.
Stay current with my professional activities and recent articles.