Focus for coaches: Part 2 - Why you shouldn’t try to do it all

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...

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Focus for coaches: Part 1 - Save your best for the things that matter most

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

The reality of being...

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Case Study: Niagara Women’s Basketball

Before mental training

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

4 things they needed to address

  1. “Get Over It.”

    Failure, that is. A fear of failure across the board in their program was manifesting itself in competition. The team would have great practices but were overly nervous about their performance when game time came, resulting in losses and, ironically, failure.
  1. “Drop the Language.”

    The Niagara athletes held on to a lot of negative self-talk (e.g. “I can’t believe I missed that layup in the first half”). Basically, “I can’t” was heard way too often.
  1. Confidence Un-Boost

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What's your athletes' THING? - The fart smeller and other NFL stories

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...

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Keeping it real, keeping it fun: A de-stressing action plan

Uncategorized Oct 21, 2014

Joy isn’t elusive

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,...

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Is It good stress or bad stress? - 3 ways to tell

blog Oct 13, 2014

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.

It’s enough to stress you out

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....

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Stress: Control it or it will control you - A simple mental workout to balance body (and mind)

blog Oct 10, 2014
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

  1. Sleep Quality
  2. Exercise
  3. Mental Rest

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

Break apart your stress

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.

Before doing anything to control the stress itself, you have to come to terms with what we spoke about in our last articleStress isn't always bad.   As Kassandra Lamb, says,

Most stressors are not stressors until we interpret the as...
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Why your goal setting fails - Do this instead

blog Oct 08, 2014

Thanks to for posting this video on youtube

We all want to achieve more in life - being a better coach, winning a championship, reducing stress, making more money, etc.

How do you get there? Typically, we start by goal setting. We figure out what we want, write that on a piece of paper and commit to it. Recently, after my wife had a baby, we set the family goal of getting back in shape.

Guess what - it didn't work. After a few false starts, our goal seemed too difficult and the road too long. Why? We made the mistake of focusing on outcome-based goals, rather than process goals.

I'll explain

Setting the right type of goals is just as important as what goals you set. As a coach, how often do you set goals that aren’t attainable for yourself or your team? Or see your athletes struggle to follow the steps needed to hit their goals?

While setting the goal of winning the division championship is great, if you lose the...

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Performance killers: Not managing athletes' arousal levels

We talk with a lot of coaches about inconsistency. In fact, I’d go so far to say this is the #1 issue that we’ve seen this year. As an athlete, I remember being frustrated with my team’s and my own inconsistency. We’d often ask ourselves:

  • Why would we play great one half and poorly the next?
  • Why did I score 30 points one game and 10 the next?
  • Why was I ready for the big game and lackluster for a minor game?

While the competition was part of it, I’ve realized that a big part of the problem was arousal management. We never effectively nor proactively managed our arousal level.

What is arousal?

Your “Arousal Level” is your state of readiness and refers to your physical, emotional and mental state. In simple terms, it is a measure of your internal energy level (also known as butterflies). It includes psychological (anger, confidence, fear, nervousness, aggression, etc.) and physiological (pulse, breathing, temperature, etc.) elements. The...

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How to axe athlete anxiety

athlete anxiety Sep 16, 2014

Can your team handle the pressure?

Athlete Anxiety is one of the primary causes of performance mishaps, especially when the game is on the line. Regardless of what sport you coach, once the competition begins, it is up to the athletes. You’ve spent months, maybe years training them. They are physically ready but can they make the big play when the chips are down? Unfortunately, most athletes aren't ready to handle the game winning shot or save the day. Why? Because they haven’t acclimated to the pressure of big moments.

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward." - Vernon Law

Imagine for a second that you are a softball coach. Your team has performed up and down most of the season but has really turned it on lately, beating some teams you had previously lost to. Somehow you and your program find yourselves in the conference championship game. Early in the game, your team got up early, but your opponent, a...

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