Seems simple enough, right? Completely natural. We breathe without thinking about it, one of those involuntary functions of our bodies that keep us alive.
But, then my mentor, Dr. James Hollingsworth, told me it wasn’t just breathing. It’s deep breathing. And they’re exercises, which, in my mind, implied some kind of concentration requirement, some kind of effort. Some kind of… WORK.
This new definition of breathing took the wind out of my proverbial sails.
Call it quacky. Call it weird. Call it what you will, but I've come to find that this quirky “breathing” is an important, even critical, part of performance. And, as we collectively venture further and further into the craziness of the holiday season, I thought to issue a little reminder about the athlete’s need to stop, breathe, and remember our goals.
The first time I did breathing exercises I thought it was stupid. At the very best, I...
In the summer of 2013, Coach James Bacca of West Liberty University Softball experienced a fracture… with his team, that is.
The softball players were emotionally and mentally separated from him. That split soon developed into a desire for physical separation: 11 of his players were writing letters to the Athletic Director, trying to get both Bacca and his wife, who serves as Assistant Coach, fired.
It took changes on all fronts to get the team thinking as a unit again, but, in the end, the results were worth it. Not only did they become more unified in thought, but they became more unified in their focus; athletes rediscovered their “Zone”, and winning more was merely one of the great results they experienced as a mentally strong fortress of players.
Before any of that happened, though, Coach Bacca had to alter his own process to get the ball rolling. He had to
It took this hard push back from his athletes for Bacca to take a step back...
Now that you've had a few days to create your focus lists and put those 80% efforts into practice, I want you to stay encouraged by knowing what you can expect by maintaining diligence in working toward your goals.
Applying focus in the way described in Focus for Coaches: Part 2 may seem extreme at first, but, as you do it consistently, you will begin to save time and eliminate wasted effort. You will be increasingly present and focused in each moment as you work toward your goals. When unexpected events happen, your clear priorities will help you make a strategic, rather than reactive, decision in response. Your focused plan will also help you say no to responsibilities or opportunities that are outside its scope.
A Simple Barometer: Ask yourself, “Does this task fit in with my priorities?” If not, it may be time to reevaluate your plan of action and revisit Article 2.
Because you do not operate alone, communicate your areas of focus with...
In our previous article, Save Your Best for the Things that Matter Most, we talked briefly about the pressures of being a coach and how you might have to wrestle with yourself to find focused time away from work to spend with those important to you.
That touched on a complex truth, that…
Our culture pressures us to do it all and do it all well, but it turns out not everything we do contributes equally to our success. The famous management consultant Joseph M. Juran* summed up this idea in the Pareto principle (which you may recognize as the 80-20 Rule or the Law of the Vital Few), which states that...
Work is no exception. The majority of the results we seek actually arise from a minority of our efforts. That means that 80% of what we do doesn’t really lead to the results we are seeking.
This concept suggests that, rather than working more hours, we should be more selective...
My college coaches (who happened to be married to each other) had one rule about work: don’t talk about it during dinner. For one hour of the day at least, rowing was off the table. The other 23 hours of the day were apparently fair game.
With all the stresses of coaching, it’s no wonder they had to set rules and boundaries to even give themselves time to enjoy dinner.
Unfortunately, their story is not unique.
As I work with high performers in all walks of life—executives, entrepreneurs, doctors, coaches, and athletes—one thing sticks out: we always feel we need more time.
But do we?
In this three-part article series, Focus for Coaches, I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking: that you don’t need more time, you need more focus in the time you have.
I want to give you real tools to help prioritize your never ending to-do list so you can get more done in less time.
And, yes, you CAN do this. First, let’s take a look at
Not long ago, the coaches of Niagara University's Women's Basketball team, including Head Coach Kendra Faustin and Assistant Coach Corinne Jones, felt their program had untapped potential.
In 2013, they knew they wanted to make a change in their team’s collective mindset. More specifically, they knew, in order to get to the next level of performance, there were
I once heard from an NFL coach that each player in the NFL has their "thing" they rely on.
‘Honestly, Lindsey,’ one of them confided, ‘you could come into our facility and I could tell everyone that you were my professional fart sniffer; you smell my farts to make sure my hydration and nutrition are good. I’m telling you, no one would blink an eye. They’d probably try to hire you.’
Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it holds true: the best players go into competition feeling – and believing – that they bring something special to the table. This is true for the role players as much at the stars, true for team sports as well as individual competition.
The best competitors have an IDENTITY and they prepare in accordance to that identity.
Imagine a team made of athletes who each believe they have something valuable, unique, and powerful within themselves to offer. Each player would position themselves mentally to adhere to that...
The new school year is just around the corner and, with it, come a variety of stresses for students: events, schoolwork, and a tougher homework load. For some, even one of those words can incite a domino effect of anxieties. Throw them together and you’ve got a cauldron of stress-y mess.
But those in athletics get an extra dose. Not only are many athletes and coaches also students and teachers, worrying about final exams and grades, but they’re weighted with additional expectations, like
Even with extra obligations adding to the stress athletes and coaches already endure, it’s important to remember that taking time out to have fun is an excellent and scientifically proven way to de-stress.
Watch this fun (and funny) video from Brainsmart BBC to better understand what stress actually is,...
There are examples all around us. Two NFL coaches collapsing in a single weekend last fall. The Rutgers men’s coach ‘snapping’. Women’s basketball coaches being downed by health issues in recent years.
While it’s easy to point to these health issues and blame stress, that’s not quite the whole picture.
Stress is actually really good for the body… that is, as long as it’s administered in the proper amount. It’s a very similar concept to lifting weights: stressing muscles to get them to recover stronger and, therefore, making them work better for us.
The problem arises when we forget about recovery. When we lift weights without allowing for recovery, the end result is physical injury. Just as overdoing physical exercise can lead to physical injury, overloading the mind with more than it can handle leads to a variety of both visible and non-visible problems.
Athletics are stressful....
If you don't think your anxiety and stress impact your physical health, think again." - Kris Carr
In our previous article—Coaches: Are You Good Stressed or Bad Stressed?—we described the difference between distress and eustress, and then listed three ways you could tell if you were stressing yourself appropriately, namely
So, you’ve spent the last few days creating a list of things that cause you distress and eustress. Great. Now what? Well, it's time to take action and
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Relieving stress by breaking things? Ahhh... if only it were that easy (and reckless). What we mean by “breaking apart” is slightly less than literal.
Most stressors are not stressors until we interpret the as...