Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
This has been shared a lot over the past few days. Really, a LOT! And the joy in performing is evident and engaging to all of us watching. But how can Ohashi compete with such abandon in a high anxiety situation like this? It requires a feeling of flow, which cannot be obtained without having performed the routine again and again and again. Ohashi's body knew what to do, and she let it perform. Too often athletes are forced or force upon themselves the need to control their body during a movement. This isn't always a good thing, especially during competition. Sometimes, probably more often than not, it's better to turn the brain off and let the body do its thing. If you're an athlete, try not thinking so hard about your technique some time. If you're a coach, try letting your athletes figure it out when things aren't working and let them express themselves. Flow, and performances like that of Ohashi, do not come from the brain constantly telling the body what it should and should not do. They come from letting the body do it's thing.
Winning, Effort, and Sustained Effort - I discuss a passage from Tim Grover's book Relentless.
Recently, I wrote to a variety of coaches in Oklahoma and asked if they would be willing to share their advice for early career coaches as part of a textbook I'm writing. I was very grateful for how many responded and what they wrote. I've compiled them (I'm still getting emails) in a list here, which I hope you will find useful. They have lots of great advice!
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.
Stay current with my professional activities and recent articles.