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Carpe Diem

9 Aug

How will you approach today?  Think about it for a minute…

Will you be purposeful, or will you just go through the motions?

Will your focus, on each task, be on excellence of execution, or just getting it done?

Will you try to improve upon yesterday — personally, professionally, academically, athletically — or just retrace your footsteps?

Will you run the day, or will you let the day run you?

Here are some thoughts my friend, Ginny, shared with me a while ago:

  • The way we do anything is how we do everything.  If you give 100% to making your bed, you will give 100% at work. Doing small things to the best of your ability shows that you will do the big things to the best of your ability
  • Don’t try and do everything you learn. Take a few key points and CRUSH THEM. It’s better to give 100% to 3-4 things than 20% to 15 things.
  • When you know exactly what you want, nothing will stop you. If you have a purpose, a reason — a why — you have everything you need to get started and achieve success
  • Start now and get better as you go.  Everyone on stage did not start at that point, they all started in the same position as everyone in attendance.  The only difference is they took action even when they didn’t know everything there was to know.

Have a plan, set a goal, and go to work.  Work your plan, to the best of your ability, each and every day.  Carpe Diem.


Your thoughts?

Court Vision is the Key

31 Jul

As another summer high school and AAU basketball season winds down, it has become even more clear to me that court vision is one of the biggest areas of development for most players.  The number of scoring opportunities missed, in an average high school girls basketball game, is staggering.  And the reason most players miss these scoring opportunities is because of their inability — or unwillingness — to see the floor and pass the ball.  As soon as most players touch the ball, they become narrowly focused on finding a way to create their own shot, often at the expense of their teammates.

I’ve always told my kids and players this: When you begin to look for your team’s best scoring opportunity, instead of your own shot, on every possession, you will be a better player and your team will be a better team.  And, the irony is, sometimes your shot will be your team’s best scoring opportunity.

The ability to see the entire court enables you to become a more effective offensive player, and also enhances your defensive game.

  • Practice. Whenever you are practicing your ball-handling skills, be sure that your head is up, and not looking down at the basketball. Practice (and lots of it) is critical to develop your ball-handling skills so you are able to dribble without looking at the ball. You’ve got to develop a “feel” for handling the basketball, and you won’t accomplish this without a lot of repetition.  Without this skill, you can’t develop court vision with the ball.
  • Play.  Play as much basketball as you can.  Small-sided games (one-on-one, two-on-two, etc.) are just as effective as playing 5-on-5, and can provide the opportunity for more “touches.”  The more you play and practice your court vision, the more comfortable you will become.  As your ball-handling skills improve, your comfort level increases, and so will your confidence.
  • Watch.  Observe other players in action, live or on TV.  Watch what these players do when they have the ball in their hands.  Check out a local high school or college game.  March madness is a great time of year for basketball players and fans because there’s no shortage of televised games.  Become a student of the game.
  • Learn.  Study and understand your team’s offense.  Know where your teammates are supposed to be, on every play.  Get in the habit of surveying the court when you are still in the backcourt, to get an idea of teammates’ and defenders’ positioning.
  • Develop other skills.  Improve your ability to create space by mastering moves like the jab step, and head and shoulder fakes, which will keep defenders at a distance.  Learn to use your body as a barrier between the ball and your defender.
  • Get help.  Find a ball-handling camp or clinic in your area.  Summer is a great time to work on your game, and there’s usually no shortage of qualified coaches and trainers offering opportunities for basketball skill development and improvement.


Your thoughts?

Improve Performance with Visualization

28 Jul

Athletes spend months preparing for the season, yet there are typically only a few moments during competition when they experience complete control. On the field, athletes have little or no influence over the weather, the fans, their opponents’ skill level or other factors affecting performance.

The trick to becoming familiar and comfortable within uncertain environments is visualization. When they visualize, athletes are totally in control, and they have a great opportunity to experience success by realizing their mental images. The more an athlete can visualize successful performance, the greater his or her potential to achieve it. The correlation is direct between mentally rehearsing an action or movement—using the senses of sight, sound, touch and even smell—and making it real.

Here are some tips for creating effective mental images:

  • Start simply by visualizing a single, static object, for example a basketball
  • Aim for clarity; with practice, the vividness and detail of your images should become clearer
  • Visualize in the first person by imagining yourself, or in the third person by imagining another person with the object
  • View it from a different perspective; if you are imagining a basketball, attempt to mentally bounce it and “feel” the seams of the ball with your fingertips, enhancing the complexity of your visualization by adding another sense
  • Practice. Mentally rehearsing successful skill execution, such as dribbling a basketball during imagined competitive conditions, can provide your subconscious mind with positive memories, increase confidence and enhance preparedness


Your thoughts?

Youth Sports Should Focus on FUNdamentals

24 Jul

Millions of children across the country participate in youth sports.  It’s not unusual for children to start participating in youth sports as early as four to five years of age.  And, while there are lots of potential benefits associated with participation in youth sports, it’s critically important that parents and coaches make it a positive experience — at home, and at all practices and games.

Participation is the first step — get them involved.  The benefits of youth sports participation reach far beyond what children do today on the court or field of play, and include:

  • Socialization with peers and adults
  • Increased independence and confidence
  • Sense of achievement
  • Development of positive self-esteem
  • Opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills
  • Learn to compete and cooperate with others
  • Development of physical skills
  • Learn to make good decisions and act responsibly
  • Learn appropriate expression of emotions and feelings

Focus on development of physical skillsnot winning and losing.  This is the time to emphasize sport-specific skill development (for example, ball-handling and shooting for basketball players), as well as the development of strength, speed, agility, coordination, and endurance.  Be willing to allow victory and defeat to be a by-product of the process, and not the primary focus.

Encourage them.  Kids learn by what we say, but even more so by what we do.  Be positive and encouraging.  A word of encouragement in a difficult situation goes a long way with a child.  Also, be aware of how you act, interact, and react with your team, other parents, opposing coaches and teams, and officials.  As an adult and authority figure, your words and actions will be interpreted as “situationally appropriate” by children watching you and, ultimately, learning from you.

Make it fun.  Children should enjoy their participation in sports.  It’s okay to smile.  Maintain a pleasant demeanor and don’t raise your voice in anger or to criticize; only to praise, encourage, or to be heard while providing direction.


Your thoughts?

The Art of Deception in Basketball

3 Jul

While deception may not be a positive personal attribute, it can be a real asset in sports. The art of deception has great value in basketball, where faking out an opponent can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Of course, deception is important in virtually every sport. In baseball, the pitcher wants to throw a fastball when the batter is expecting a breaking ball. In football, the offense wants to pass when the defense is expecting a running play. But it’s especially useful in basketball, where tactics like changing speed, faking a pass and faking a shot can give an offensive player a competitive advantage.

What makes the art of deception especially valuable is that it’s generally not dependent on physical tools. Deception relies on the cerebral part of the game, so it doesn’t necessarily matter how big or strong or fast you are.

The essence of deception is the ability to make an opponent think you’re doing one thing when you are doing another. Want to become a master of deception? Here are some simple ways to improve your ability to deceive your opponent on the basketball court:

Change Speed

Practice a stop-and-go or a hesitation move to make it more difficult for a defender to guard you. With or without the ball, this involves starting, hesitating (stopping or slowing down), and then starting again.

Change Direction

No player is easier to stop than one who moves solely in a straight line. If you’re a ball handler, practice a crossover dribble. If you rely on your point guard to get you the ball, a well-executed V-cut is hard to defend.

Ball Fake

Pass Fake. Defensive players react to where they think the ball is going. Especially against a zone defense, the fake pass can be effective in drawing defenders toward one area to open up another for a scoring opportunity.

Shot Fake. The shot (pump) fake is a great weapon against over-aggressive defenders and shot blockers. Once you get defenders off their feet, they are at your mercy.

Jab Step

No one likes to get beat off the dribble, but a hard jab step can get a defender off balance to create space for a shot, open a path to the hoop, or clear a passing lane.

Use Your Eyes

Don’t “telegraph” your passes or, more broadly, your intentions. Defenders will be drawn to the direction in which you are looking. Use your eyes to draw them away from what you actually plan to do, like the often-admired “no-look” pass.


Your thoughts?

Positive People Are Healthier

26 Jun

Abraham Lincoln reputedly said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Do you expect the best or think the worst?  For most of us, optimism and pessimism are on a continuum.  And, while no one is necessarily on the extreme end of either side, we all gravitate one way or another.

Your state of mind affects your health, according to a recent article in Men’s Health.  Negative thoughts are like parasites that can adversely affect your health and wellness.

According to research from the University of Pittsburgh, compared to optimists, pessimists tend to have:

  • higher blood pressure
  • higher triglyceride levels
  • higher odds of heart attack
  • higher odds of early death

Jeffrey Huffman, MD, director of cardiac psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, believes that “Happy and hopeful people are more likely to exercise, eat healthy, and stop smoking.”  Simply stated, a positive outlook empowers you to take control of your health.

Staying positive can also reduce the secretion of a hormone linked to multiple sclerosis and heart disease.

It’s been said that “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

It’s never too late to start looking on the bright side and improve your reaction to situations you encounter in your life.


Your thoughts?

You Have to Do the Hard Things

12 Jun

I found this gem, posted by a friend on Facebook.  It’s a blog post that was shared by an organization with a commitment to continual self-improvement.  The original author is Dan Waldschmidt.

19 Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Successful

You have to do the hard things.

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have to try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

You have to do the hard things. The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.

Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid. To excuse away. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.

The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage — or desperation — to do.

Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.


Your thoughts?

The Effects of Alcohol on Athletic Performance

26 May

GREAT read from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and Coach Claire Siekaniec.

The effects of alcohol on athletic performance vary depending on quantity, demographics, and type of exercise, making it difficult to determine specific recommendations. From an athletic performance standpoint, the acute use of alcohol can influence motor skills, hydration status, aerobic performance, as well as aspects of the recovery process.

Alcohol use is widespread in the realm of sports. Consumption ranges from the weekend warrior guzzling a beer after completing a 5-k run to elite athletes popping champagne in the locker room after a championship win. Alcohol is often used as a means of celebration or relaxation, and athletes frequently consume drinks without much thought of the acute and chronic effects on performance and health. Alcohol’s path to oxidation is complex, and both short- and long-term use affects most systems of the body. Factors such as genetics, gender, amount of alcohol ingested, body mass, and nutrition status help explain the large variance in effects that alcohol has within and across individuals (1,4). From an athletic performance standpoint, the acute use of alcohol can influence motor skills, hydration status, aerobic performance, as well as aspects of the recovery process; consequently, influencing subsequent training and competitions (2,9). Chronic alcohol use can lead to difficulty in managing body composition, nutritional deficiencies, and depressed immune function, resulting in increased risk of injury and prolonged healing and return-to-play (2,17). While the acute and chronic effects of alcohol are largely dose-dependent, chronic and heavy intake can increase one’s risk of long-term health effects such as cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and cancer (4). The drinking habits of athletes, as well as the effects of alcohol, are highly variable, making a one-size-fits-all recommendation difficult and impractical. Furthermore, current research on the effects of alcohol on athletic performance is limited due to ethical concerns. This article will discuss the available evidence related to alcohol and athletic performance.

Alcohol Ingestion Prior to Exercise

Blood alcohol concentration increases upon ingestion of alcohol. Soon after, the acute side effects begin to take place, which can result in depression of central nervous system activity. While the effects are dose-dependent, this can lead to compromised motor skills, decreased coordination, delayed reactions, diminished judgment, and impaired balance (3,9). These effects on the body may not only contribute negatively to athletic performance, but may also increase an athlete’s risk for injury. The effects of low to moderate doses of alcohol on anaerobic performance and strength are equivocal, but an aid to performance is not evident (9). Conversely, research has shown that even small doses of alcohol ingested prior to exercise led to a decrease in endurance performance (10). It appears that alcohol may affect aerobic performance by slowing the citric acid cycle, inhibiting gluconeogenesis, and increasing levels of lactate (12). Additionally, the body preferentially metabolizes alcohol, thereby altering the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids, which are the preferred energy sources during endurance exercise (12). Although alcohol may have been viewed as an ergogenic aid in the past (likely for psychological reasons), the scientific evidence shows that alcohol hinders athletic performance, and ingestion prior to training or competition should be avoided. Alcohol is currently a banned substance for National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rifle competitions, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits alcohol consumption during air sports, archery, powerboating, and automobile competitions on the basis of it being considered an ergogenic aid (11,18).

Alcohol Ingestion after Exercise

The ingestion of alcohol prior to or during exercise is not very common. However, the intake of alcohol following an event is a much more likely scenario. To recover properly from exercise, it is important to replenish glycogen, stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS), and restore fluid balance. Alcohol and the behaviors associated with intoxication can interfere with many aspects of the recovery process. Beverages containing greater than or equal to 4% alcohol can increase urine output, ultimately delaying recovery from a dehydrated state (15). Beer has been plugged as a post-workout recovery beverage because it contains carbohydrates and electrolytes, but in actuality, the typical beer does not contain nearly enough carbohydrates or electrolytes for proper recovery from a long workout with a large sweat loss. It is reasonable to conclude that the negative effects of alcohol consumption after a workout outweigh any potential beneficial effects. To adequately replace lost fluids, it is important for athletes to drink rehydrating beverages such as sports drinks, or consume water with salty foods, prior to alcohol consumption. If immediate alcohol intake is inevitable, athletes should strive to only consume small volumes of alcohol.

Replenishing glycogen stores is another essential component to recovery, especially when the turnaround between training and competition is short. It is unclear if alcohol consumption after exercise directly affects glycogen synthesis; however, alcohol can indirectly displace carbohydrate and protein intake (5). When protein-rich foods are displaced with alcohol during the post-exercise recovery period, MPS is not optimally stimulated, which can potentially inhibit muscle growth and repair. Furthermore, there is evidence for a direct effect of alcohol on MPS. Researchers have found that alcohol significantly decreases MPS even when adequate protein is consumed (13). This effect has been investigated on resistance exercises, as well as exercises commonly carried out in team sport training (6). Overall, when an athlete chooses to fill up on alcoholic beverages during the recovery period they are less likely to follow optimal nutrition guidelines for recovery, resulting in a prolonged recovery period, inadequate recovery before the next training session or competition, or lack of desired muscular adaptations.

Alcohol’s Effect on Sleep, Injury, and Hormones

Beyond the energy storage and MPS implications, alcohol can also negatively affect sleep, recovery from injury, and the production of hormones associated with muscular growth (2). Athletes need adequate sleep to aid in recovery and to be able to perform at their best, both physically and mentally. Ingestion of alcohol before going to bed may help induce sleep, but has been shown to disrupt restorative sleep cycles throughout the night, decreasing quality of sleep (7). To compound this, when athletes enjoy a night out drinking, they may stay out later than normal, reducing their duration of sleep. These two factors combined may impact recovery, energy levels, and performance in upcoming training and competitions. When athletes experience soft tissue injuries, the body employs

an inflammatory response. Alcohol has been shown to limit the inflammatory response via an increase in the production of anti-inflammatory molecules and a decrease in pro-inflammatory molecules (2). In addition to an imbalance of the inflammatory response, alcohol also acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the injured area, which could possibly increase the severity of the injury and prolong the recovery (2). Therefore, consumption of alcohol is generally not recommended if an injury has recently occurred.

There are a number of hormones that affect muscle growth. For example, cortisol stimulates protein breakdown while testosterone increases protein synthesis. In recreationally trained athletes, research has found that high doses of alcohol intake after resistance exercise increased cortisol levels and decreased the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio, which can interfere with the adaptive process of long-term resistance training (8). Additionally, alcohol decreases testosterone secretion; therefore, excessive intake during the recovery period should be avoided for athletes striving for muscular hypertrophy or for those with hormonal imbalances (4).

Exercise and Hangovers

The effects of alcohol do not simply wear off when signs of intoxication are gone. Heavy drinking can lead to an array of symptoms commonly referred to as a hangover. Athletes are not immune to hangovers, which can influence their training and competitions. The hangover symptoms produced by alcohol have many intra-individual variances. However, the main effects of hangovers include electrolyte imbalance, hypoglycemia, gastric irritation, vasodilation, and sleep disturbances (14). These effects cause an array of physical symptoms, which may leave an athlete feeling drained and unable to train as hard as normal. Research has shown an approximate 11% decrease in aerobic capacity in those exercising with a hangover (12). Effects of a hangover on anaerobic performance remain unclear, but overall it is probable that athletes training or competing without a hangover will enjoy a competitive edge over their hungover opponents.

Chronic Effects of Alcohol

There is evidence supporting health benefits from moderate alcohol consumption, but regular heavy consumption and binge drinking can take a toll on the body. Athletes are susceptible to the health effects associated with excessive alcohol consumption, which can also affect performance. Alcohol is calorically dense, providing seven calories per gram, with a standard drink in the United States containing 14 grams of alcohol (16). If other substances are present, such as soft drinks and sugar-based beverages, the caloric value of an alcoholic drink rises even higher. As a general reference, the following are common drink sizes and their average alcohol content: 12 oz of beer (5% alcohol), 5 oz of wine (12% alcohol), and 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol) (16). The calories from alcoholic beverages can add up fast and contribute a significant amount of calories to an athlete’s overall caloric intake. Additionally, behaviors associated with heavy drinking, such as irregular eating patterns and increased consumption of unhealthy foods, may lead to increased caloric intake. Over time, this combination can affect an athlete’s body composition.

Heavy intake of alcohol can also lead to nutritional deficiencies. Athletes require a sound nutrition plan to promote optimal athletic performance, and may already be at a higher risk of nutritional deficiencies than their non-athlete counterparts due to the physical demands of training. Alcohol affects absorption and utilization of many nutrients. Excessive alcohol intake can reduce the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients such as vitamin B12, thiamin, and folate. Additionally, liver cells can become inefficient at activating vitamin D and the metabolism of alcohol can destroy vitamin B6 (4). Nutritional deficiencies present many different problems to athletes and can have serious health and performance implications. In addition, long-term misuse of alcohol is associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and cancer (4). It can also compromise the immune system and increase susceptibility to illness (2).


Overall, the effects of alcohol vary dramatically from person to person with many different contributing factors. The effects of alcohol on athletic performance vary depending on quantity, demographics, and type of exercise. Therefore, it is difficult to determine specific recommendations, but it is suggested that athletes follow the same recommended guidelines for safe and responsible drinking as the general public. Binge drinking is never recommended due to the side effects that interfere with desired athletic adaptations. The cumulative effects of binge drinking episodes may leave an athlete unable to perform at the expected or desired level. After an athletic event, athletes should be encouraged to follow recommended nutrition and hydration guidelines for recovery prior to alcohol consumption.


1. Alcohol metabolism: An update. Alcohol alert. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 2007. Retrieved 2016 from
2. Barnes, M. Alcohol: Impact on sports performance and recovery in male athletes. Sports Med 44(7): 909-919, 2014.
3. Beyond hangovers: Understanding alcohol’s impact on your health. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 2015. Retrieved 2016 from Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm.
4. Boyle, M, and Long, S. Personal Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth; 251-263, 2007.
5. Burke, L, Collier, G, Broad, E, Davis, P, Martin, D, Sanigorski, A, and Hargreaves, M. Effect of alcohol intake on muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 95(3): 983-990, 2003.
6. Duplanty, A, Budnar R, Luk H, Levitt D, Hill D, McFarlin B, et al. Effect of acute alcohol ingestion on resistance exercise induced mTORC1 signaling in human muscle. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Published Ahead of Print, 2016.
7. Ebrahim, I, Shapiro, C, Williams, A, and Fenwick, P. Alcohol and sleep I: Effects on normal sleep. Alcoholism, Clinical & Experimental Research 37(4): 539-549, 2013.
8. Haugvad, A, Haugvad, L, Hamarsland, H, and Paulsen, G. Ethanol does not delay muscle recovery, but decreases the testosterone:cortisol ratio. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 46(11): 2175-2183, 2014.
9. Koziris, L. Alcohol and athletic performance. American College of Sports Medicine Current Comment. April, 2000.
10. Lecoultre, V, and Schutz, Y. Effect of a small dose of alcohol on endurance performance of trained cyclists. Alcohol & Alcoholism 44(3): 278-283, 2009.
11. National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2016 – 2017 banned drugs list. Retrieved September 7th, 2016 from http://www.ncaa. org/2016-17-ncaa-banned-drugs-list.
12. O’Brien, C, and Lyons, F. Alcohol and the athlete. Sports Medicine 29(5): 295-300, 2000.
13. Parr, E, Camera, D, Areta, J, Burke, L, Phillips, S, Hawley, J, and Coffey, V. Alcohol ingestion impairs maximal post-exercise rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis following a single bout of concurrent training. PLoS ONE 9(2): 2014.
14. Prat, G, Adan, A, Sanchez-Turet, M. Alcohol hangover: A critical review of explanatory factors. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental 24: 259-267, 2009.
15. Shirreffs, S, and Maughan, R. Restoration of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration: Effects of alcohol consumption. Journal of Applied Physiology 83(4): 1152-1158, 1997.
16. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 (8th Ed). Retrieved 2016 from dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
17. Volpe, S. Alcohol and athletic performance. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal 14(3): 28-30, 2010.
18. World Anti-Doping Code International Standard. Prohibited list: January 2016. Retrieved September 7th, 2016 from http://

About the Author:

Claire Siekaniec, MS, RD, CSSD

Claire Siekaniec is a Sports Dietitian at the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in Murray, UT. She is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of New Haven and a Master of Science degree in Sports Nutrition from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She has spent time working as a Clinical Dietitian at the Alaska Native Medical Center and as a Sports Nutrition Intern for the University of Virginia Athletic Department.


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Celebrate the Small Victories

12 May

I saw this recently in Men’s Health, and really liked it.  It further resonated with me because of a recent conversation I had with one of my daughters.

A nutritionist and author offered “life” tips that were not necessarily limited to nutrition, including the title of this post.  His grandfather used to say, “Life is full of challenges, and when something good happens, you should pause to enjoy it.”  His grandfather’s advice reminds him to celebrate the small victories that lead to larger ones.

While I believe it’s important to keep your eye on the big picture, it’s equally important to remember that it’s the day-to-day, step-by-step successes that enable the big victory.  Ultimately, there are no big victories without practice, preparation, and a fair amount of small victories.  Take a moment to appreciate and enjoy the smaller accomplishments, along the way.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

Just a few years ago, my youngest daughter was a basketball player on our local high school team.  She was fortunate to play on a team that earned and experienced a good deal of success during her playing days.  She and her teammates were focused on achieving goals like winning a conference and district championship.  In talking with her over the years (and before I ever saw the Men’s Health piece), I encouraged her to take a moment after each victory and reflect upon how special that particular moment was.  I didn’t necessarily want her to spend a lot of time dwelling on what soon became the past (good or bad), I just wanted her to absorb, cherish, and learn from the moment because I know how fleeting success can be — and I certainly know how quickly time passes.  I also know that, sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the “end justifies the means” mentality.  Championships may or may not happen, but you can’t always let that define your season.  Additionally, although the core of her team played together for three years, there was no guarantee that they would replicate the success of any given season.

Take a moment to savor your daily accomplishments, no matter how small they seem.  Develop an appreciation of the small victories and their cumulative effect on your larger victories and accomplishments.

We may never pass this way again.” – Seals and Crofts


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Don’t Take Yourself Out of the Game

21 Apr

As an athlete, consistency is important.  Consistency of effort, preparation, and practice leads to consistency of performance.  But, despite our best efforts, athletes at every level experience performance slumps.  There will be  some games when your shots are just not falling.  How will you deal with it?

There are some things that are under your control every time you take the court.  Attitude is one of them and, perhaps, the most important.  You decide if and how you let a missed shot or turnover affect your next possession, or the rest of your game.  Although it may be easier said then done, a positive mental approach (and, sometimes, a short memory) is critical to athletic performance success.

Effort is another area that shouldn’t be impacted by your level of play.  Keep hustling.  Continue to “play hard, play smart, and play together” (Dean Smith, former University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach).  Don’t allow a missed shot or bad pass to be an excuse to give anything less than 100% when you’re on the court.  Focus on the aspects of your play that aren’t susceptible to slumps, like defense, boxing out, and rebounding.

Don’t allow a performance slump to take away your aggressiveness, confidence, or energy.  You’ve worked hard to get to this point.  Keep believing in yourself and maintain a high intensity level.  Draw on positive past experience to fuel your thoughts.  Keep working hard, stay positive, and good things will happen.


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