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Goal-Setting for Athletes

12 Nov

The winter sports season is upon us, which means that winter sports athletes should have been actively preparing for the coming season (especially those not involved in a fall sport).  Improving sport-specific skills and strength and conditioning should be priorities for basketball players, swimmers, and wrestlers.

All four of my children were basketball players.  They all played other sports, as well, but basketball was the “common denominator.”  Prior to any season, I always encouraged them to sit down and develop written goals for the upcoming season — team goals and individual goals; performance-related goals and effort-related goals.  I think goal setting is important to any endeavor, not just sports.  Personal, academic, athletic, and professional goals — along with appropriate action planning — help to facilitate a successful outcome.

Here’s an example of what individual goal setting might look like for a basketball player:

Play with AGGRESSIVENESS, CONFIDENCE, and ENERGY

Use your SPEED and QUICKNESS to your advantage

DEFENSE

  • Take away opponent’s dominant hand
  • Interrupt passing lanes
  • Jam cutters
  • Box out and rebound

OFFENSE

  • Change SPEED and DIRECTION
  • ATTACK the basket
  • TAKE open shots
  • Knock down shots
    • Field goals, free throws, layups
  • Use reverse layup and spin move, situationally
  • Shoot pull-up and step-back jump shots when you have the opportunity
  • Look for offensive rebound and put-back opportunities
  • Always look for your team’s best scoring opportunity, on every play

This example is, by no means, intended to be all-inclusive.  It’s just a template and, perhaps a starting point — something to get you thinking and started.

It’s important to have a realistic understanding of your strengths and areas for improvement — to know where you are today, relative to your goal, and where you want to be tomorrow.  The time and effort it takes to invest in your self-development and self-improvement is up to you.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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The 4 “A”s of Success for Student-Athletes

7 Nov

First of all, thanks to Athlete Motivation for sharing this, on Twitter.  I’d like to take their tweet and expand on it.

We work with hundreds of athletes at our facility — from scholastic, collegiate, and professional levels.  By far, our highest concentration comes to us from the high school and college ranks.

To a one, the most successful student-athletes with whom we work live and breathe the “4 ‘A’s of Success.”  They are capable, responsible students who work hard — both on and off the court/field — to be the best athletes they can be.  They understand that their ultimate success in school and sports is actually developed away from the classroom and gym or field.  Their practice habits and willingness to prepare are “a cut above” the average student-athlete.

  1. Academics.  Hit the books and make your studies a priority.  I don’t care how talented an athlete you are, academics are the conduit to your future.
  2. Athletics.  Work to develop your sport-specific skills to the best of your ability.  Improve your strength, speed, agility, and overall athleticism.  Dedicate yourself to become a student of the game.  Commit yourself to contribute to the success of your team however you can.
  3. Attitude.  I could go on and on about the impact of positive thinking.  Believe in you.  Approach each day as a new opportunity to improve yourself and be successful.  Be happy and smile… a lot.
  4. Achievement.  There’s nothing better than a sense of accomplishment.  Goal setting and action planning are important components of the achievement process.  Ultimately, action is probably the most important element — you’ve got to work your plan.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Responsibility. Authority. Accountability.

15 Oct

For many of us, at some point in our lives, fall means sending a child to college.  I thought it was timely that a good friend shared an article with me — Is Someone You Love Going to College? Their Success Depends on Three Words.

Obviously, the “three words” can be found in the title of my blog post: responsibilityauthority, and accountability.  And, while the advice shared by the article’s author is directed at college students (and those of us sending kids to college), it really applies to all of us, whether we are students, athletes, business professionals, etc.

The article does a nice job reinforcing the fact that, ultimately, your success depends on you.  Winners know that their successes and setbacks are directly attributable to their actions and efforts.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Power of Action

23 Jul

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they do not quit.” – Conrad Hilton

What do you want to accomplish?

Maybe it’s sport-related.  Perhaps you want to improve your strength, speed, agility, and/or athleticism.  Or, maybe it’s something even more sport-specific, like your shooting percentage or batting average.  Or, it could be that you aspire — quite simply — to make the team.

Maybe it’s school-related.  Your goal could be to improve your grade point average or perform better in a particular class or course, or the next time you take the ACT or SAT.

Work-related goals are important, too — promotions, increases in pay, and performance improvement, among others.

Ultimately, some of our goals involve interpersonal communication and relationships.  We seek to improve upon our relationships with family, relatives, and friends.

Regardless of what you want to accomplish, develop a plan of action and take the first step toward your goal today.  Make sure your action is purposeful — not random or arbitrary — and do something that moves you along the path toward your goal, right now.

Then, no matter how effective your first action step was in moving you toward your goal, keep moving.  If appropriate, repeat the first step.  If necessary, take the next step.  Just don’t stop.

You may surprise yourself by how much you can accomplish by just “inching” toward your goal, with steadiness and consistency.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished if you’re persistent and keep moving forward.

Action is empowering.  It’s invigorating.  It’s gratifying.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Basketball 101: The ABCs of Shooting

16 Jul

I’ve always been a big believer in defense, as it relates to team sports.  If you can limit your opponent’s scoring opportunities, you will always be in the game — you’ll always have a chance.

Conversely, I understand the importance of offense — you’ve got to shoot if you want to score, and you’ve got to score if you want to win.

Basketball shooting is built on repetition — quality repetition.  Great shooters understand that there are a few basic principles that guide their desire to become proficient.  Here are a few tips — ABCs, if you will — to consider as you prepare for your upcoming season:

Accuracy

You’ve got to be able to put the ball in the hoop.  Great shooters are accurate.  They don’t make all their shots, but their shots are always around the basket.  That means shooting with the proper releaserotation, and arc, for any given shot.  Technically correct form is a must.  If you practice with poor shooting mechanics, all you’ll succeed in doing is reinforcing poor shooting form.

Belief

If you’re going to be a great shooter, you’ll need an unwavering belief in yourself.  You’ve got to have confidence that borders on (but doesn’t manifest itself in) cockiness, and confidence leads to success.  You must want the ball in your hands, want to take the “big” shot, and believe in your ability to make it.

Consistency

As previously stated, release, rotation, and arc are important components of shooting.  The ball has got to come off your hand the same way — consistently — for any given shot.  It’s all about muscle-memory.  Once again, technically correct repetition is the key — doing it the same way, over and over again.

As long as we’re at it, there are a few “Ds” to throw into the mix: DependabilityDedication, and Desire.  Great shooters are dependable, and can be counted on to produce, consistently.  Great shooters are also dedicated to self-improvement, and have a strong desire to be the best they can be.

To get the most out of your practice, make sure your shooting drills reflect game conditions and game speed.  As much as possible, you want to be able to simulate conditions similar to those you’ll encounter in competitive play.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Dream Big

25 Jun

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Norman Vincent Peale

First of all, I’ve got to thank my cousin, Vince Nardy, from whom I borrowed this picture.  He posted it on Facebook, I thought it was pretty cool, and it started my thought process.  Thanks, Vince!

For twenty years, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, mostly in the training department.  I had a great job.  Basically, I had a hand in creating my own job description.  I was involved in the creation, development, and implementation of training programs — initial sales training; product training; disease state training; technical training; skills training; and management and leadership training and development. I was involved in virtually every facet of training and development, but my favorite area was being in front of people — teaching, training, coaching, and developing.  That’s my passion.  Great opportunity, great compensation, and great job satisfaction (most of the time).

But my dream was bigger than that.  I wanted to (help) build the best training department — and training experience — in the pharmaceutical industry.  I wanted every participant in our training and development workshops to leave feeling that they had just experienced a “best-in-class” training program.

Then, a little over ten years ago, I learned that my job (and most of my department) was being eliminated.  For years, the entire pharmaceutical industry had grown faster than it’s infrastructure could support, and now the pendulum was beginning to swing in the other direction.  My severance was at the forefront of what would become a massive downsizing, both in our company and the industry.  It was time to move on.

Then, the dream process started again.  Long story short, I took a severance package and started my own business — Athletic Performance Training Center — in April 2008.  I had been developing this vision for years (and, sort of doing it “on the side,” in my basement and elsewhere, with my kids and some of their friends and teammates) but, I must admit, losing my job forced my hand.  And, although there have been some “speed bumps” along the way, I haven’t looked back since.

My undergraduate background is science based, and I completed post-graduate work in Exercise Science and Human Performance, and earned my certification, with distinction, through a highly respected, accredited organization – the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).  With the help of a few other local small business owners, I developed a business plan.  I enlisted the help of an attorney (a neighbor and family friend) to ensure that my business was set up legally, professionally, and registered with the state.

Then I went to work networking with, and learning from, some of the brightest, most-respected, well-known names in the field of strength and conditioning.  I still try to learn something new, every single day, that  makes me better at what I do, and improves me as a resource to my clients.  I never want to stop learning.

Although my endeavor is categorized as a “small business,” my vision — my dream — is anything but.  I have been dreaming big since opening my doors over ten years ago.  I want to reach everyone, and help them reach their athletic performance, strength and conditioning, and fitness goals.

We currently collaborate and partner with dozens of clubs, schools, teams, groups, and organizations.  Additionally, I spend some time every day contacting coaches, athletic directors, administrators, employers, businesses, corporations, and program directors in hopes of discussing with them how we can be a resource to their constituency.  We’re currently working with an organization to take our business (and workouts) online so that anyone can benefit from APTC training, regardless of where they live.

Obviously, I publish this blog, posting once a week, but I also write for a handful of other publications, including STACK Media.  I hope to reach and positively impact as many people as I can, on a national (and international) level.

Another of my passions is public speaking, and I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to speak at several grade schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, and other organizations.  I have also had the privilege of speaking at local and regional NSCA sanctioned events.  My dream, however, is to broaden my scope and speak more at the national level.  I have recently been added (after much legwork) to a few national speaker’s bureaus, which have the potential to increase my exposure.

My point is this:  DREAM BIG!  Don’t aspire to make 50% of your shots (even though that’s a solid field goal percentage), aim to make all of them.  Dream of a 1.000 batting average; a 100% free-throw shooting percentage; a 100% passing completion rate; a 4.0 grade point average.  But don’t stop with the dream.  You can’t just dream big and expect good things to happen, you’ve got to do something about it.  Develop a plan of action, then WORK to make it happen.  Do something, every day, to move yourself closer to your dream or goal.  Surround yourself with people who believe in you and encourage you and, most importantly… BELIEVE IN YOU!

I may or may not realize all my dreams but, if I don’t, it won’t be because I didn’t dream big, or for lack of effort.

My dreams are still bigger than my achievements but, hey, that’s how it’s supposed to be… right?

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

The Most Important Game Is Your Next Game

18 Jun

How did you play in your last game?  Did you play as well as you wanted?  Did you play as well as you expected?  Did you play as well as you are capable?

Maybe you played with aggressiveness, or maybe you weren’t aggressive enough.

Maybe you played with confidence, or maybe it was lacking.

Maybe you brought energy, or maybe it just wasn’t there.

Well, here’s the deal:  There’s nothing you can do to change your effort or your performance now.  The game is over.

The key is to analyze and understand your performance — what happened and why it happened — and use that analysis and understanding to gain a competitive advantage… to improve upon your last game.

If you played a great game, work on further improving and reinforcing the things you did well.

If you played a not-so-great game, don’t dwell on it — it’s over.  But make sure you learn from it, and do your best to apply what you learned to your next game.

Because now the only game that matters is your next game.  It’s the most important one, because it’s the next game you can impact.  You can’t play any of the games after the next game until you play the next one.  Do your best to make it what you want it to be.  Make it happen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Book Recommendation: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

21 May

If you have not yet heard of – or read – the book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth, I highly recommend it.

Grit is a must-read book for anyone striving to succeed – parents, students, educators, athletes, and businesspeople.  Ms. Duckworth shows readers that the “secret” to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

In the first part of the book (the first five chapters), Ms. Duckworth discusses what grit is and why it matters.

The second part of the book (chapters six through nine) reveals how to grow grit from the inside out – how we can develop grit.

The third, and final, part of the book (the last four chapters) focuses on how to grow grit from the outside in – how we can help (parent, coach, and teach) others to develop grit.

My favorite part of the book (and it’s all terrific) is chapter 3, which is titled, “Effort Counts Twice.”  In this chapter, the author discusses the relationship between talent and achievement, and why any effort we make ultimately counts twice toward our goal.

talent x effort = skill

skill x effort = achievement

It’s unlikely that talent, alone, can help people achieve success.  However, when we apply effort to talent, it can become skill.  Likewise, when effort is applied to skill, it can result in achievement – success.  I love this!

Also among Grit‘s valuable insights are:

  • How grit can be learned, regardless of IQ or circumstances
  • How lifelong interest is triggered
  • How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much is ecstasy
  • Which is better for our children – a warm embrace or high standards
  • The magic of the Hard Thing Rule

Grit is a book about what goes through our heads when we fall down, and how that – not talent or luck – makes all the difference.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Slow Progress Is Better Than No Progress

14 May

We all have aspirations, dreams, and goals.  And sometimes it can be frustrating when our progress toward those goals moves more slowly than is consistent with our expectations.  How do you handle those situations?

As it relates to exercise, I occasionally have clients and friends tell me that they simply don’t have time to workout.  Given the choice between a short but effective workout and doing nothing, they would choose the latter.  If they can’t set aside 45-60 minutes for exercise, they’d rather not do it at all.  That kind of convoluted logic makes me crazy.

Ultimately, everything is a process — fitness, sports, school, work… life.  Slow and steady is the way to go.  In the long run, consistency wins the prize.

Quantum change usually does not reflect reality.  Incremental change, over time, can make winners of us all.

A while ago, I published a blog post titled, The One-Percent Rule.  The 1% rule is all about self-improvement.  It means you should try to be 1% better today than you were yesterday — in the gym, at practice, as a competitor, at work, at home, and in life.

Do something — anything — today that moves you closer toward one of your goals.  Don’t get caught up in how much or how little you are able to do.  If you’re willing to do something, you’re halfway there.

Keep moving forward.

Carpe diem!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Your Failures are Behind You — Move on

16 Apr

“What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” – Dean Smith

At some point, we’ve all experienced failure.  None of us succeed at everything we do, all the time.

And one of the major obstacles to success — one of our biggest fears in life — is fear of failure. It’s the main reason that prevents us from realizing our full potential and achieving our goals. Fear of failure paralyzes us, limits us to our comfort zones, prevents us from moving forward in life, and hinders our chances of success.

Face it… defeat is a bitter pill.  There aren’t too many things that make us feel worse than facing failure. Failure often leaves us feeling bitter, miserable, and depressed.

It’s easy to see why most people are afraid of failing. We prefer to play it safe by remaining in our comfort zones and avoiding any risks. But playing it safe can also be detrimental. It takes us out of the game. When we choose to forgo potential opportunities and push ourselves into mediocrity, we restrict ourselves, preventing us from realizing our full potential.

Failure is a matter of perspective. We tend to think of failure as the opposite of success. But failures are actually the stepping-stones of success. Nothing worthwhile in life has ever been achieved without a series of failures.

We learn by trial and error.  Experience — the rewards and consequences of our actions — is the ultimate teacher, and our mistakes are a considerable part of that equation.

Successful people make mistakes… they fail.  But they don’t give up. Instead they stay the course. They overcome their fear of failure and are quick to learn from their mistakes.

There’s an endless list of examples of people who, despite facing defeat, did not give up on their dreams. They succeeded in overcoming their fear of failure.  Failure did not keep people like Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, and Abraham Lincoln from achieving their goals and becoming extraordinarily successful.

Overcoming our fear of failure is a necessary step toward the achievement of our goals. Successful people are not the most intelligent, most talented, or blessed.  They are just ordinary people who view failures as temporary setbacks on the road to success. They are successful because they have developed the ability and willingness to learn from their mistakes, move out of their comfort zones, and take calculated risks.

Don’t allow fear of failure to prevent you from working toward your goals. The “secret” to success is not avoiding failure, it’s having the persistence and perseverance to overcome failure, learn from your failures, and use that learning to improve yourself.

“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” – Mia Hamm

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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