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Prepare Like You Intend to Perform

15 Nov

This post was originally published on November 15, 2013.

A few days ago, I published a blog post titled, You’ve Got to Practice at Game Speed.  Today, I’d like to address practice and preparation from a different angle — specifically, the athlete’s focus and intensity level.

I must admit, once again, my thoughts and observations are based on having watched my daughter’s — and our high school girls varsity basketball team’s — scrimmages.  And my comments don’t just apply to our team.  To some extent, I saw this in each and every one of the five teams that participated in the scrimmage.

Some of the pre-game warm-up activity was just awful.  I’m not referring to the drills, themselves, but rather the effort with which the drills were performed.  Many of the players’ focus and intensity level was variable, at best.  Some of them didn’t even look like they took it seriously — half-hearted passing, shooting, and overall execution.  Moving through the drills at half-speed.  Laughing, joking, and fooling around.  Do you really believe there’s no carry-over into the game?  I’m not suggesting that the student-athlete experience shouldn’t be enjoyable.  But once you lace them up and step on the court, it’s time to focus your attention and effort on the task at hand.

Representing your high school on the basketball court is a privilege… not an entitlement!  Same goes for any other sport at any other level.  Show that you respect the game, your teammates, your coaches — and yourself — by taking your decision and commitment to play a little more seriously.

The same principle applies to school, work… and life.  How do you study for your upcoming exam?  How do you prepare for your business presentation?  Are you setting yourself up for success, or sabotaging your own efforts?

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Are You a “ME” Player or a “WE” Player?

1 Oct
San Antonio Spurs -- The Epitome of Unselfish, Team Play

San Antonio Spurs — The Epitome of Unselfish, Team Play

No one is bigger than the team. If you can’t do things our way, you’re not getting time here, and we don’t care who you are.” – Gregg Popovich

Basketball season — my favorite sport season — will soon be upon us.  I train lots of basketball players, and enjoy supporting them by watching them play, so I anticipate having the opportunity to watch a lot of basketball.

Invariably, there will be some good and bad individual and team play; some cohesive teamwork and some selfish, “me-first” individual play.

So, I guess the question becomes, what type of player are you?  Do you play for you or do you play for your team?  Do you play for the name on the front of your jersey, or the name on the back of your jersey?

It’s frustrating for everyone to watch players who put “getting mine” before “getting ours;” players who, instead of playing within the system, play at the expense of the system.  It’s equally frustrating to watch the coach who allows and, in effect, encourages such behavior.

I’ve always told my kids and players this:  When you spend more time, on every possession, looking for your team’s best shot, instead of spending so much time trying to find a way to get off your own shot, you will be a better player and we will be a better team.

See the floor.  Pass the ball.  Move without the ball.  Get your teammates involved.  The longer you spend with the ball in your hands, looking for your own shot, the more sluggish your team’s offense becomes.  Trust me, the ball will come back to you.  On any given possession, your shot will be your team’s best scoring opportunity.  And, when it is, do your thing.

Don’t get me wrong, winning is great and — on the surface — it can even conceal some teamwork issues.  But I think I’d rather lose with a cohesive, unselfish team than win with a “me-first” player (or players) who thinks they are bigger than the team.

Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to produce uncommon results.” – Unknown

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Don’t Let the Scale Define You

23 Sep

weight-loss[1]While I realize (statistics indicate) the average American can stand to lose a few pounds, the scale doesn’t always tell the entire story.

Your body weight is not a reflection of your worth.  It’s more productive to focus on eating clean (and not overeating), exercising, improving strength and mobility, increasing energy, and NOT a number on a scale.

There’s not necessarily a definitive relationship between body weight and overall health.  A person can have a healthy body weight, yet eat (qualitatively) poorly and be relatively physically inactive.

I don’t do a lot with scales and body weight at our facility.  I would rather concentrate on how people feel, function, and perform.  Keep in mind muscle takes up less space but weighs more than fat.

“Healthy” is not limited to any particular shape, size, or weight.  At least some of that is determined by genetics, anyway.

Part of the problem is our referent.  We try to compare ourselves with others  — unfairly and unrealistically —  instead of aspiring toward self-improvement: being better today than we were yesterday.

We all want to look and feel good, but the fads and gimmicks we chase to get there are not the answer.  In simple terms, eat cleaner, eat less, be more active, and exercise more.

An examination of ounces and pounds shouldn’t start your day any more than it should end it.  Don’t let the scale deflate your efforts if you know you’re on the right track with your nutrition and exercise plans.

Even if weight loss is part of your plan (and it’s okay if it is), detach the number on the scale from how you feel about you.  Be fair to yourself, eat well, stay active, and stay on track.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Always Keep Swinging

2 Sep

44power[1]My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” – Hank Aaron

No one performs at the peak of his or her ability level, all the time.  You’re going to have good games and bad games.  And, sometimes, the bad games can seem to persist, and you may find yourself in somewhat of a slump (conversely, sometimes the good games will persist, too, and you’ll enjoy your “hot” streak).

The root of your slump may be mechanical, physical, psychological, or emotional.  In all likelihood, you may not even be aware of the cause of your slump, just the end (performance) result.

Attitude is everything.  More than anything else, your approach to improving your performance — when in a slump — will be most important in determining the outcome.

You may not hit the ball every time you swing the bat, but one thing is certain: you’ll never hit it if you don’t swing.  Same goes for shooting a basketball.  You’ve got to shoot if you want to score.

This same principle applies to school, work, and life.  “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” – Benjamin Franklin

Have a goal and be realistic.  Understand your strengths and areas for improvement.  Develop an action plan that is aligned with your goal, and take small steps toward your goal, every day.

Believe in yourself, don’t get discouraged, and don’t quit.  Seek help and inspiration from someone with experience and expertise in the area in which you want to improve.

Try and succeed… try and fail.  Try again.  Keep trying.  You’ll never win if you never try.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

16 Characteristics for Success

5 Aug

San Antonio SpursOnce again, this is borrowed from a poster I found hanging on the wall of a high school weight room where I work with an area swimming and diving team.  Another gem.

ALWAYS Compete!

Do EVERYTHING to the best of YOUR ability!

Practice is EVERYTHING — How we practice defines who we are.

Always protect the TEAM

No Whining, No Complaining, No Excuses!

If you’re 5 minutes early, YOU’RE LATE!

16 CHARACTERISTICS FOR SUCCESS:

  1. Make a commitment
  2. Be unselfish
  3. Create unity — come together as never before
  4. Improve every day as a player, person, and student
  5. Be tough
  6. Be self-disciplined — do it right, don’t accept less
  7. Give your best effort in everything you do
  8. Be enthusiastic
  9. Eliminate mistakes — don’t beat yourself
  10. Never give up
  11. Don’t accept losing
  12. Permit no self-limitations — expect more of yourself
  13. Expect to win
  14. Be consistent
  15. Develop leadership
  16. Be responsible

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

5 Levels of Player Commitment

29 Jul

201401042048749303103-p5[1]I found this, recently, hanging on the wall of a high school weight room where I work with an area swimming and diving team.  Good stuff.

WHAT LEVEL ARE YOU?

Five Levels of Player Commitment

  1. Compelled:  Team goals are of the utmost importance. Players feel a true sense of mission and purpose.  They enjoy extra work and team accomplishments.
  2. Committed:  Team goals are of high importance and a player is willing to do whatever is necessary.  Puts in extra time and effort to win.
  3. Compliant:  Team goals are important.  Player will do whatever is asked to achieve goal.  Will do no more, no less than what is asked.
  4. Reluctant:  Player is hesitant, or afraid to commit to team goals.  Will cut corners when they can get away with it.
  5. Resistant:  Player has not bought into the team goal, usually because he has his own agenda.  The player is selfish.

Which of these describes you?

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Remembering Dad

9 Jul

fatherson[2]This week marks what would have been my Dad’s 84th birthday and, sadly, 26 years since he passed away.  I also lost my Mom, eleven years ago this month.

My Dad never got to see most of his nine grandchildren, including 3 of my four.  But, for a short time, he sure did love and dote on the grandkids he was able to see.  I often think about — and talk with my kids about — how much I imagine he would have enjoyed watching them grow up.

In his younger days, my Dad was a pretty fair athlete, having been an all-state caliber high school basketball player and minor league caliber baseball player (athleticism that obviously skipped a generation).  Given my kids’ involvement in sports, I imagine him taking great pleasure and pride in watching them progress as athletes.

My Dad loved sports, and would watch almost any sporting event.  But what I remember most about him was his knowledge of sports.  He was a real student of the game, and had an encyclopedic knowledge and memory of the history of the game, regardless of the sport.

My Dad had a unique sense of humor, and always enjoyed a good prank or practical joke.  When he wanted to, he could be very engaging and entertaining.

My Dad wasn’t very good with names, which is why he referred to just about everyone as “pal,” “buddy,” “babe,” or “honey.”

My Dad loved to do the daily crossword in the local newspaper.  I can remember him sitting in our living room — pen in hand — almost every day after work, when he had finished dinner, working on that puzzle.

My Dad was also pretty good at imparting life’s lessons.  He had a way of communicating his point that was candid and sometimes a little harsh.  But he always got his point across, loud and clear.

I’m sure I could ramble on for a good while about all the memories I have of my Dad.  Mostly I guess I’m just thinking about him and missing him this week…

The 3 H’s for Athletes

17 Jun

hire_an_athelete-header-1024x588[1]

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?

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?

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