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The 3 H’s for Athletes

17 Jun

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There are lots of qualities and characteristics that are important elements of athletic performance and achievement.  Ability, skill, and talent are — obviously — what every athlete aspires to develop.

But there are also intangible — effort-related — attributes that can improve any athlete’s performance.  Every team needs these athletes.  Persistent kids who work hard to get the most out of their talents and abilities.

Here are three of those attributes that will make any athlete hard to beat.

The 3 H’s for Athletes:

  1. Hard Work.  Get in the weight room.  Improve your strength, speed, agility, and athleticism.  Practice your sport-specific skills.  Improve your ball-handling, hitting, skating, foot skills, or whatever your sport requires.  Have a plan and work smart.
  2. Heart.  Believe in yourself.  Play with aggressiveness, confidence, and energy.  Hard work begets confidence.  Be confident, but not cocky.  Be positive, and have a “can-do” attitude.  Expect to succeed every time you’re on the field or court.
  3. Hustle.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re the most talented player on the field or court.  Never allow yourself to be out-worked.  Whatever your 100% looks like, give it.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Train Hard, Eat Well, and Get Some Sleep

10 Jun

Boy sleeping with basketballAs an athlete, you prepare by working hard in the weight room and being disciplined with your nutrition.

Don’t sabotage your efforts with bad sleep habits.

“Elite athletes now understand that ignoring their sleep can be as detrimental to their performance as taking to the field drunk,” says W. Christopher Winter, M.D., president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and a consultant to several professional football, basketball, and baseball teams.

Athletes and active individuals should aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, every night.

Here are some tips to stay on track with your sleep:

  • Boost your vitamin D.  During the winter, as sunlight exposure decreases, so do levels of vitamin D.  It’s an important nutrient for good sleep.  Get more vitamin D by eating salmon or other fatty fish, or by taking a supplement.
  • Eliminate distractions.  Don’t take the cell phone, computer, or TV to bed with you.  Try a sleep mask, earplugs, and lavender oil (research shows that the scent of lavender eases anxiety and insomnia).
  • Don’t “over-nap.”  Limit naps to 30 minutes to avoid sleeping too deeply and waking up groggy.  If you’re tired, go to bed earlier, and keep your wake-up times consistent.  Allow yourself to sleep in for 60-90 minutes on the weekends, but don’t sleep away too much of the day and deprive yourself of light exposure.

Also see related articles: Get Some Sleep, Improve Performance and Improve the Quality and Quantity of Your Sleep to Feel and Perform Better.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

A “Must Read” for Parents of Athletes

27 May

My Biggest FanIn keeping with our recent theme of youth sports coaches and parents, I thought this article was appropriate, and a nice reminder for all of us.  It was shared with me by the mother of one of our clients, a club soccer player.  If you have a child (or children) involved in sports, please take a moment to read it.

10 Things Parents of Athletes Need to Know

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

What is the Goal of Youth Sports?

20 May

DSC_0035[1]Recently, I was talking with an old friend of mine, whose daughter is a high school freshman preparing for her first high school basketball season.  She is also a talented pitcher, and aspires to play high school softball.

He continued to tell me how the high school basketball coach is encouraging his daughter to play both sports, while the softball coach is pressuring her to quit basketball and concentrate only on softball.  Keep in mind, this young lady has not yet set foot on a high school basketball court or softball field.

A few years ago, I published a blog titled, Are Parents Ruining Youth Sports?  While this is not meant to be an indictment of all youth sports coaches, I guess — in some cases — you can probably add coaches to that list.

For years, I’ve watched youth sports coaches play a limited group of players — leaving several players on the bench for most/all of the game — in the interest of winning.  It seems to me that the goal should be player development, especially at the lower levels.  That and encouraging young players’ love for the game.  The best youth leagues are the ones that mandate fair (and not necessarily equal) playing time for every child.  Kids grow and develop differently, and there’s no guarantee that the best 9 or 10 year-old athletes will grow up to be capable high school players.  Even in high school, how does it benefit a basketball program when the freshman coach only plays 6 or 7 kids?  What does it really mean if the middle school team goes undefeated?

Some youth coaches put a lot of pressure on kids to specialize in one sport — and play it year-round — at a very young age.  They try to sell the athlete and the parents on the value of concentrating on one sport in the interest of high school stardom and a college scholarship.  In reality, only a portion of youth athletes go on to become “elite” high school athletes, and only a fraction of those players eventually earn athletic scholarships (see The Race to Nowhere In Youth Sports).

Ultimately, Youth Sports Should Focus on FUNdamentals and Developing Athleticism in Youth Athletes.  Too often, parents and coaches are chasing their own aspirations and dreams instead of helping their children and players explore their interests and passions.

Youth sports coaches and programs should focus not only on creating better athletes, but also better people.  There are lots of valuable life lessons that can be learned through participation in sports.

Do your “homework” when it comes to choosing a sports coach, team, or organization for your child.  You can’t always be selective, especially as it relates to in-school sports, but you have much more latitude when selecting the appropriate club or travel team for your child.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

How Clean Is Your Gym?

25 Feb

“We all have our own reasons for going to the gym, but everyone has at least one common motivation—the desire to be healthy. Getting in shape is no easy feat but it turns out the very tool that should be helping us—the gym—may also be temporarily derailing our efforts,” according to Diana Gerstacker, Editor at The Active Times.

Gyms, exercise facilities, and health clubs are often breeding grounds for fungal, viral, and bacterial infections.

In her article, The 9 Dirtiest Things at Your Gym, Diana discusses the most likely areas bacteria is lurking at your gym (it’s everywhere) and how you can take steps to avoid it and keep yourself healthy.

Here are some “gym hygiene” tips to keep you (and others) germ-free while you stay fit:

  • If you’re sick, stay home.  Incessant, sickness-related coughing and sneezing has no place at your workout facility.  Opt, instead, for a home workout until symptoms subside.
  • Wipe down the bench and use a towel.  No one wants your sweat on the equipment they’re using, but it doesn’t matter how much — or how little — you sweat.  Make sure there’s something between you and the bench (shirt, towel, etc.) and wipe down any surfaces with antiseptic wipes before or after use.
  • If you touch it (or come in contact with it), clean it.  Same rules apply to exercise mats, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, etc.
  • Don’t eat or drink on the gym floor.  Keep your water, snack, and/or sports beverage in the break area.
  • Dress appropriately.  While you’re not expected to “bundle-up” in a warm gym, cover as much of your body as conditions reasonable allow.  Wear long-sleeved tops and pants rather than shorts and tank tops.
  • Use your gym towel wisely.  If you use your towel for wiping the gym equipment, don’t use it on your skin.
  • Cover open wounds.  If you have cuts or bruises keep them bandaged; you don’t want to make them worse.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

It’s Consistent Effort That Counts

29 Jan

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” – Unknown

Effort is important.  If you want to improve your performance, in any area of your life, you’ve got to work at it.  Whether your goal is to be a better basketball player or math student, practice is an integral part of the process.

But effort alone is not enough, especially if the effort is only occasional (anyone can do that).  Practicing once or twice, or once in a while, won’t get you very far.  Skill-building and mastery require consistency and quality of effort.

Additionally, you can’t count on team practices or math class to be enough to make you better.  Individual work, outside of and in addition to those areas, will make a big difference in your performance.

Top performers know that success requires daily (or, almost daily) practice, including the following components:

  • Attention to detail — technical correctness; diligence for each step of the process.
  • Purposeful repetition — don’t just go though the motions; follow your plan.
  • Goal-oriented — your practice should reflect your desired result.
  • Quality — give your best effort — aim for excellence — each and every time you practice.
  • Learn — watch and listen to others with experience and expertise.

When it comes to practice, you can’t wail until you have time… it’s up to you to make time.  Don’t forego practice just because you can’t dedicate a large chunk of time, on any given day.  Some practice — as long as it’s high-quality and purposeful — is better than none at all, even if only for 5-10 minutes.  The cumulative benefit of even small “doses” of practice will be significant, over time.

Get STRONGER, Get STRONGER!

Your thoughts?

Happy New Year! (it’s resolution time)

7 Jan

Happy New Year, once again, and welcome to the end of the first full week of 2016.  Although I’m not a big proponent of annual resolutions, this time of year certainly lends itself to that process for lots of people.  If you’re one of them, here are some considerations in your quest for self-improvement:

  • Upgrade your pantry and fridge.  Replace the high-sugar, refined, processed, and fried foods and snacks with healthier options like nuts, fruits, and veggies.
  • Schedule your workout.  You’re more likely to commit to a regular workout if you schedule it as part of your day/week as you would any other appointment or obligation.
  • Train with a buddy to keep you motivated and accountable.  Research shows that you’re more likely to stay on task if you workout with a partner, especially if he or she is more fit than you.
  • Try new foods.  Experiment with new recipes and try to avoid stuff that comes out of a bag, package, or box.
  • Get your sleep.  You’ll feel and perform better when you are well-rested.  Aim for 7-8 hours of shuteye per night.
  • Try a new activity.  If your current routine is getting stale, move on.  Finding an activity you enjoy increases the likelihood that you’ll make it a priority.
  • Take a break.  Set aside time in your daily calendar for two 15-minute breaks — one in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Go for a walk, listen to music, or grab a healthy snack to improve productivity.
  • Get more color in your diet.  Try to include at least three colorful fruits and vegetables on your plate at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Colorful meals are packed with antioxidants and nutrients to help fight illness and decrease inflammation.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

New Year, New and Improved You

31 Dec

No matter how good you are, everyone has room for improvement.  How will you improve yourself in 2019?  Here are a few thoughts:

Do Something

Challenge yourself to develop a new skill.  Start a new project. If it’s making you better — taking you in a positive direction — continue and improve what you did in 2018.  Commit yourself to self-improvement in some area.  If you’re not satisfied with a certain area of your life, do something about it.  Then, keep doing it… every day.  The cumulative impact will be considerable.

Get Moving

Inactivity is the enemy of productivity.  Get started.  Take action.  Move.  Nothing will change until you get going.  Beginning a new endeavor can seem daunting, but Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu reminds us, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

The best and brightest individuals in every field were once beginners.  No one starts as an expert.  The greatest accomplishments all have the same common denominator:  At some point, someone was willing to take the first step toward greatness, even if they didn’t realize it at the time.  American Author Zig Ziglar said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

Be Confident

Believe in yourself.  You have positive attributes.  You have strengths and skills.  Use positive self-talk as a motivator.  Surround yourself with people who are positive and encouraging.  Learn to view setbacks as nothing more than learning experiences — steps on the path to success.  “Believe you can and youre halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Risk New Things

You know the “definition” of insanity:  “Doing the same things over and over, and expecting different results.”  Take a chance.  Be open-minded and adventurous.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Go out on a limb — that’s where the fruit is.  Change can be scary, but it is a necessary component of progress.  “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” – Ben Franklin

Stick With It

Creating a better you won’t necessarily be easy.  Some days will be better than others.  There will probably be some obstacles and growing pains along the way.  Be persistent.  Follow your plan and do something to move forward, every day, especially on the “low-motivation” days.  Don’t give up, don’t give in.

Then Be Ready for Big Surprises

You’re as good as you think you are, and as good as you want to be.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

A Visit from St. Nicholas

24 Dec

‘Twas the night before Christmas

When all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with  care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their  beds,

While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

And Mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap

Had just settled down for a long winter‘s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave a luster of midday to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick;

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came.

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by  name:

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!

On Comet! On Cupid! On Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!

Now, dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane  fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the  sky,

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew

With a sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas,  too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his  foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his  pack.

His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples how  merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a  cherry.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the  snow.

The stump of his pipe he held tight in his  teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a  wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of  jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of  myself.

A wink of the eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his  work,

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a  jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a  whistle,

And away they all flew, like a down of a  thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of  sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good  night.”

— Clement Clarke Moore, December 1823

Are Parents Ruining Youth Sports?

10 Dec

It’s important for parents to support and encourage their children’s interest and participation in sports (or any other endeavor).  Sit in the stands and cheer for your kid(s).  Provide the means — within your means — for their participation based on their interest.  Be a conduit to their learning and having fun playing the game.

And, while most parents (and coaches) “get it,” there’s a growing vocal minority whose behavior is ruining athletics for everyone involved.  These obsessive, over-involved adults have unrealistic expectations of their children’s ability and potential, operating under the misguided notion that their kids’ games are a miniature version of grown-up competitions, where the goal is to win.

Some families are overly preoccupied with finding a private batting instructor, a summer hockey program, an expensive soccer camp, or that special coach who can help their pre-pubescent child improve their jump shot.  This is often an ill-advised attempt to accelerate a process that may not even be occurring, since most young athletes will never reach the elite level.  The fact is, only about 1% of high school athletes will receive a Division I scholarship.

You can hire private coaches, but you can’t buy love.  Kids who passionately love their sport are children who won’t have to be nagged to practice. They’ll go out and shoot basket after basket, simply because they want to. That can’t be bought or forced.

Some parents “volunteer” to help their child’s team — keeping stats for the team, spotting for announcers, etc. — in a thinly veiled attempt to gain closer access so they can yell instructions to their child, which usually conflict with the coach’s.  They call, text, and email coaches about their child’s playing time and blame everyone else if their child fails.

Part of the problem is that these parents are living vicariously through their children and their expectations are unrealistic.  They also may feel entitled because of the investment they’ve made in their kid’s sport participation.  And, of course, they think their child is better than they actually are.  They become so emotionally invested in their child that their own identity is linked with their children’s athletic endeavors.

Ultimately, the biggest contributing factor is the financial and emotional over-investment some parents have with their children.

Because youth sports have become about everyone getting an orange slice and a participation ribbon, parents aren’t used to seeing their child on the bench. They expect them to start because a parent usually thinks their kid is better than they really are. They see another player getting a scholarship to a college and think their kid should too.

Youth sports are expensive.  When participation becomes year-round, they’re even more expensive.  When parents invest a considerable amount of their disposable income in their kid’s athletics —  and expect a certain return on that investment (playing time or scholarship) — they’re setting themselves up for disappointment.

The emotional over-investment is a big problem.  Since youth sports have become this year-round “industry,” parents spend years shuttling their kids to practices, games, and tournaments.  All of their free time is consumed by their child’s sport. Their identity is linked with the child, and they spend most of their time with parents in the same situation. They live in a bubble with blinders on. So when their child is benched or cut it’s the coaches fault. It’s impossible for them to believe that their child has athletic shortcomings.

As parents. we all want the best for our children. But there are ways to do that other than making everyone else’s life miserable. If most of these players knew how their parents were acting, they’d be embarrassed.

A child gains nothing if they’re playing because of their parent’s influence.  They benefit more if they’ve earned it. In fact, perhaps they could gain even more if they don’t start. Life is that way. It’s unfair at times. It doesn’t always reward hard work. It doesn’t entitle anyone to anything. You don’t always get what you want.

To exert your influence and prevent your kids from experiencing this early in their lives will almost certainly handicap them in the real world where, more often than not, it doesn’t matter who your parents are.

If you don’t allow your child to fall, how will they ever learn to stand on their own two feet?

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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