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Focus on the Process, not the Outcome

16 Oct

I recently read an interesting article about the Boston Red Sox organizational philosophy.  Hitting Coach (and former big-leaguer), Chili Davis, stressed the importance of his hitters’ approach for each and every at bat.

“What we try to do is have a good approach at the plate.  We are process-oriented. As long as you go up there with a good game plan and execute that plan the best you can, we’re good.”

I really like that because, when you think about it, that philosophy applies well to just about everything.

It’s not that outcomes – goals and results – are not important because, of course, they are.  But goal achievement is rarely possible without consistent and diligent attention to the process.

No one improves their strength without putting in the appropriate work, over time, in the weight room.

Success – excellence – in sports is the result of days, weeks, months, and years of practice and preparation.

Good grades in school are a product of attendance, homework, and studying.

Rewards – promotions and raises – at work are a by-product of long-term effort.

Coach John Wooden was a big proponent of focusing on the process, and not the outcome.  Coach Wooden didn’t focus on winning.  He focused on the character of his team, key fundamentals, daily improvement, effort, potential, and selfless teamwork.  As a result he won… a lot.

Take care of the process – practice, prepare, and work hard – and the results will inevitably follow.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Think Like an Athlete

9 Oct

Being an athlete is about more than just strengthspeedagility, and athleticism (although the development of those characteristics is certainly important).  It even goes beyond the genetics and “natural” ability with which you have been blessed.

Being an athlete is also about how you think; how you practice; how you talk (especially self-talk); how you act; and how you dream.

Being an athlete is about setting challenging goals — and working hard toward the achievement of those goals, every day.

Being an athlete is about realizing your long-term objectives and having the discipline to stick to your plan.

Being an athlete means being aware that there will be obstacles along the way, and having the mental toughness to overcome adversity.

Being an athlete involves visualizing yourself succeeding, and positive, encouraging self-talk, along the way.

Being an athlete requires a commitment to constantly improve upon your performance.

Being an athlete means focusing on improving you, and not comparing yourself with others — being better today than you were yesterday.

Here’s a great read from Huffington Post titled, 8 Ways to Think Like an Athlete.  The article does a nice job of expanding upon some of the thoughts discussed above.  If you are — or aspire to be — an athlete, it’s a “must-read.”  And it doesn’t just apply to athletics.  The same principles can be applied to school, work, and life.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Get Some Sleep, Improve Performance

22 Sep

I came across an interesting article in Sports Illustrated magazine, discussing the relationship between sleep and performance, and the importance of maintaining an appropriate sleep schedule, especially for athletes.

Our country, as a whole, suffers from a “staggering amount of sleep deficiency,” according to Dr. Charles Czeisler, director of the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School.  And athletes are especially affected, due to their exhaustive schedule of workouts, practices, and games.

According to Dr. Czeisler, the impact of inadequate sleep includes:

  • Slower reaction time
  • Decreased precision
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Missed signals in your visual field
  • Increased irritability
  • Greater propensity to getting sick
  • More inflammation; slower healing from injuries
  • Duller memory
  • Burnout, exhaustion, and depression

The doctor, who has worked as a consultant to the NBA (as well as NASA and the Secret Service), says athletes should sleep at least 8.2 to 8.4 hours per day.  Here are some of his sleep tips:

  • Establish a routine.  Go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day.
  • Unplug at night.  Get rid of distractions in the bedroom — especially electronics.
  • Aim for 9 hours.  Athletes may need even more sleep than the average person.
  • Nap in the afternoon.  If you sleep only five to six hours per night, an afternoon snooze can help (it works for LeBron and Kobe).
  • Don’t overextend yourself.  You can’t compensate for lost sleep by one long night of sleep.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Make a Difference

18 Sep

Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What can you do today to make a difference — a positive impact — in someone else’s life?  Perhaps it’s as simple as a kind word or a thoughtful gesture.  Maybe it’s as easy as saying, “thank you,” or just being kind in the face of adversity.  What can you do to lift someone else’s spirits and improve their day?

What can you do today to make a difference — an improvement — in your own life?  I’m not talking about quantum change.  I am encouraging you to take one step toward a dream or goal.  What can you do to improve your physical, psychological, or emotional well-being?  What can you do to better yourself academically, athletically, or professionally?

So, I guess the question is, what will you do today to lift someone else and become a better you?  It all starts with that first step.

Make a difference.  Carpe Diem.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You Can Do Better

6 Sep

If you think you can do better, then do better. Don’t compete with anyone; just yourself.” – Bob Fosse

You can do better.  You can, I can, we all can.

I’m reminded of this every day, at my Strength & Conditioning facility, working with athletes and active individuals.

But it’s not limited to Strength training.  As a matter of fact, it’s WAY BIGGER than Strength & Conditioning.

Personally, professionally, athletically… you can do better.  But first you have to be honest with yourself – is this the best you can do?

Then you have to want to do better.  Even if it’s just one small change… one small improvement.

You can do better in your daily interaction with family and friends.

You can do better in your daily correspondence with colleagues and coworkers.

You can do better in your daily collaboration with teammates and coaches.

You can do better in the weight room, at the gym, on the field, or wherever you prepare or practice.

You can improve your attitude and level of effort, every day.

You can be more patient, more tolerant, and less judgmental.

You can extend more kindness and hospitality – and express more gratitude – to everyone around you.

You can be a better example, and a better role model, to others.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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