Earn winning: Why competition success starts in practice

While practices inevitably vary across sports, levels, and seasons, most practices include at least some conditioning exercises. And, while you can debate the merits of certain drills and certain philosophies, most coaches and athletes agree that cardio has some place in their practice plan. Therefore, cardio conditioning is a great universal experience for us to look at and study. For argument’s sake, let’s examine wind sprints, a common conditioning drill in athletic practice.

“Why do we run wind sprints?”

I ask this question of young athletes all the time. Their answers are what you would probably expect and usually fall into one of two categories:

  • Punishment: “Our coach is mad at us,” or “We got in trouble.”
  • Conditioning: “So we get don’t get so tired during games.”

So, wind sprints are either punishment (reactive) or conditioning (preventative)? What a terrible message we are giving to young people about...

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Coaches’ Guide: 3 Steps to addressing athlete nutrition and eating disorders

As mentioned in our previous article on highlighting National Nutrition Month, nutrition isn't just about the food we do or don’t eat. It’s about that and how we treat our bodies overall to achieve optimal health, including but not limited to exercise, sleep, and mental health.

Eating disorders and disordered eating (when there are signs of an eating problem without adherence to a specific disorder) span three of these four categories – food, exercise, mental health – and so deserve our undivided attention. Add to that the occurrence of eating problems in athletics and you’ve got a coaching game changer.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), about 33% of male athletes in weight-class and aesthetic sports are affected by an eating disorder, whereas estimates of almost double that (62%) have been predicted for women participating in those same sports.

That’s a minimum of 1/3 of athletes in weight-class and...

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Coaches’ guide: How to spot athletes with eating disorders

March is National Nutrition Month. It’s a month for stepping back and contemplating how we eat, what we eat, and our overall health in general. According to the official website, “[the Nutrition Month] campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”

Coaches know proper nutrition is of utmost importance to both themselves and their athletes. But the dark side of nutrition isn’t only in the excess fats, sugars, and alcohol that we (try to) stay away from. Some of the greatest nutritional dangers are those not talked about; the psychological and mental problems associated with food.

As you go about your time as a coach, one thing you should be very aware of and constantly on the lookout for is:

Eating disorders

While athletes in certain sports such as figure skating, gymnastics, swimming, or ballet are at a far greater predisposition to developing eating disorders,...

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Jim Clem: Character traits & 6 pieces of advice for winning pitchers

We’ve talked about understanding yourself as a pitcher. We’ve talked about the things that can hold you back from achieving peak performance as a pitcher.

Now, we’re going to talk about character. Specifically, the character traits of winning pitchers, and six rules to follow to excel both on and off the mound.

Character traits of successful pitchers

In truth, if you were listening closely, our past articles featuring pitching coach Jim Clem already mentioned the winning character traits. (Surprise!) Admittedly, they’re not very specifically pointed out during the interview and were woven into the fiber of the entire conversation, so might have been tough to pick out.

Don't worry: we'll give you a hand by pulling a quote from directly from the interview:

…the personality characteristics of successful pitchers I think are determined to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually balanced, and have a really great competitive nature...
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Grit: Get tough with tough love

As we leave another Valentine’s Day behind, it’s time we put down the feel-good greeting cards to refocus on sports and let loose a little harsh truth: tough love breeds toughness.

Tough love is real love

Love is too often romanticized into something simple and carefree, that once you’re “in” it's all smiles and flowers and hearts and x’s and o’s, forever and ever. Pretty, yes. Practical? Not even close. No doubt falling in love is wonderful.

“Falling” is, however, the simple part. (As athletes, we know gravity cannot be resisted!) It’s the staying—the constant maintenance, the working through the hard parts, the training, and the getting over the unavoidable mistakes and hiccups—that constitute a successful love relationship.

Don’t be mistaken: the same basic principles that apply to love also apply to sports.

Tough love means getting gritty, and even a little dirty

Call it what you will: mental...

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The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat: Unavoidable pain in sports

Sunday’s Super Bowl was Exhibit A of why so many of us just LOVE sports, even when it hurts. For most people, there are very few times in life when so much is riding on a single moment.

No PowerPoint malfunction has grown men throwing punches; no sales meeting has people with painted faces screaming; no last second email makes a city’s collective stomach sink.

This passion, this pain: it’s the price we pay for caring. 

What a difference a week makes

Last Monday, after the NFC championship comeback, Seattle was literally skipping through her day. As I visited the doctor’s office that afternoon, nurses were wearing Russell Wilson jerseys instead of scrubs and nobody cared that appointments were running 20 minutes late.  In every café, restaurant, and shop, people were talking about ‘The Comeback’. “Go Hawks” rolled off the tongues of old ladies and hipsters, immigrants and yuppies alike. The sun even came out. For...

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Ursula Grobler: Training tips from a champion

Uncategorized Jan 27, 2015

When people want good advice and training tips, they want it from a champion in a specific industry. For business, you might want to get advice from Elon Musk. For politics, perhaps you’d listen to what Jay Inslee has to say.

For athletics, rowing in particular, Ursula Grobler is someone we should perk our ears to listen to.

I’ve mentioned before that Ursula achieved (and still holds!) the Erg World Record. What I haven’t mentioned is that, before she accomplished that feat, she’d only been in training for five short years and, even then, she didn’t even start out intending to become a professional rower! Prior to rowing competitively, Ursula was a runner, and only took up the water sport out of curiosity. (Source: King 5, Aug 2, 2014.)

Her swift, initially unintentional rise to the top is what makes her accomplishment all the more impressive and her story all the more compelling.

Trusting the Process

Before discussing rowing specifically, Ursula...

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Russell Wilson and his Jedi mind tricks

blog Jan 22, 2015

Seattle NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and Greenbay Packers

It was perhaps one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NFL. And, while you can certainly look at the X's and O's, in my opinion the real keys to Sunday's NFC Championship game came down to the intangibles.

In particular, looking at Russell Wilson, the Seahawks quarterback, one can see the enormous importance of mental toughness. But it’s important to note that these displays of mental toughness aren't accomplished on the day they happen, but rather from a culmination of months and years of mental preparation. We know the Seahawks practice regular meditation, visualization, and other mental training techniques so they are prepared for moments of adversity.

Here are the...

3 ways Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' commitment to consistent mental training paid off

#1. Patience

Our first example is actually of how the Seahawks spent nearly 56 minutes of the game NOT being patient...

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Ursula Grobler: Winning for the love of the game

Ursula Grobler has a strong love of the game. In hearing her speak, it's easy to see she has a true passion for her sport and there's no doubt that that passion is a strong driving force behind her success.

Last week, I reintroduced Ursula Grobler, 2010 Erg World Record holder, and gave you a peek into an interview I conducted with her about how mental training impacted her outstanding erging performance. (If you missed that article, click here.)

I wanted to continue that thread by sharing a few more portions of that same interview with you.

Ursula Grobler's 2010 Ergomania World Record

A member of Ursula's crew stood by and video recorded Ursula as she pushed herself through Ergomania in 2010 and surpassed the previous record by a full two seconds, a seeming eternity in the sporting world.

Watch the video (Ursula is the one in the white shirt, fourth from the front, with the colorful socks :) ) and take special notice of how relaxed she is even though...

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Ursula Grobler: Erg rowing & mental training

On October 4, 2014, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ursula Grobler about erg rowing (aka “erging”) and the effect mental training has had on her performance. (If you don’t know what erging is, it’s the use of an erg, or a “ergometer”, an indoor training tool for on-water rowers and better known as an indoor rower, one of the toughest full-body exercises to tackle.)

Ursula is the 2010 Erg World Record holder, a feat accomplished at Ergomania 2010 (otherwise known as the Northwest Indoor Rowing Championships). Most recently, Ursula finished fourth in the lightweight single sculls at the 2011 World Rowing Championships and she continues to train hard with the ultimate goal of achieving first place because, as she says, "fourth isn't first"!

Needless to say, Ursula’s an athlete who is experiencing steady improvement in her performance.

Our conversation was a lengthy one, but from it I was able to glean some really great insight into how...

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