Vacations can give us time for self-reflection, which is good but can also unlock feelings of being unproductive or stir up old emotions that are easier to ignore in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Back in the day, I hated taking days off. I thought it was boring. And I never thought about rest in the context of a larger picture. It just felt lazy. My first real vacation wasn’t until I was well into my 20s and even then I remember running on the beach feeling sort of odd without the structure of practice.
And that sort of drive is typical for many athletes and coaches, we are all used to going going going. That’s mentality is what got us to where we are…. It can also be the kiss of death for ambition, health, happiness and many other useful and productive emotions.
But vacations serve a vital purpose in our overall reach for success. But for some of us, we need to prepare to enjoy our vacation. Here’s how to make your vacation the most...
There’s a sink-or-swim mentality floating on athletes’ minds. There’s no question that, when competition time comes around, “Survival of the Fittest” accurately describes how athletes view the importance of the game and their involvement in it. Either they ‘get it’ or they don’t. Those who ‘swim’ come out proud, confident, and successful…
…but those who ‘sink’ suffer disappointment and embarrassment; if it’s really bad, they risk removal from the team. And, for the coach worried about the team's pool of talent, there’s rarely someone standing on the sidelines ready to replace the fallen soldier.
It only makes sense to give athletes the best training to optimize their potential and make it out of the game alive. And, if we want the best training method, we need to model it after the best-trained: the Navy SEALs.
Let’s face it, most seasons end in disappointment with a loss or some kind of unfinished business. The silver lining in all this is that disappointment can be a powerful motivator. But it can also be crushing.
Some teams grow, some crumble. Much of this has to do with an individual’s outlook and confidence; much of it has to do with the culture of the team and the coaches expectations.
This is the time of year to challenge your athletes to improve. The taste of failure can be the fuel that motivates them this Spring and Summer to be ready to wipe that taste away come Fall. OR, it can be the evidence they need that all their hard work just isn’t worth it.
Here are 3 things coaches can do to ensure their team is one that grows from adversity:
1. Let them decide their poison
There is no way to avoid pain. You either risk the pain of disappointment or the pain of regret. Many people pick the pain of regret simply by default because there isn’t such a...
You know the player: he or she is so ridiculously hard on themselves that they might as well be playing with handcuffs on. They obsess about mistakes, they have anxiety about failure that hasn’t even happened, they are at times even harder on themselves than you are on them.
One of the biggest issues I see repeatedly in my work with athletes is the tendency to expect perfection, be obsessive about details, be competitive to the point of making yourself sick with anxiety. I call it a ‘rigid’ mindset. High standards are of course desirable, and if you ask any coach they’d obviously prefer perfectionist athletes over unmotivated and lazy. But the problem with this perfectionism is that it almost always leads to anxiety, fear, and unnecessary stress.
I know this because I had this tendency myself. And the upside was that this rigid mindset kept me in the gym shooting for hours, made me lift weights on days when my body woke up screaming, and wouldn’t let me...
Imagine you’re about to compete against a team you’ve played before. It was last season, and in the first few minutes you were up by so many points the game was already over. What a win that was.
Skip to this year: the same team but they have some new athletes. Though their stats aren’t as good as yours, they aren’t bad. On your worst day, they might have trouble beating you. Still… it could happen.
After all, that is why we play the game.
You look at your team. You’re worried. You get the feeling they’re not as focused as they should be, that they’re...
Envision a well-respected women’s program that wins an early exhibition game. They look good. They have a ton of talent. But the coach wants more: more focus, more toughness, more… something.
Like many college players, these young women have seen success. But they also struggle with self-confidence and self-doubt; they're unable to play through mistakes and suffer with an inconsistent pre-game routine. They become easily frustrated with themselves and can’t seem to stop letting their own minds mess them up. And all this even after winning by 40 points!
If you’ve ever experienced a similar situation, listen up, because Mental Performance Training is for you.
Now, let’s talk about how to get your players’ minds right.
The thing about athletics is this: Everyone is watching. Whether you play professionally and on television or in your local golf tournament. Whether there are 15,000 people in the stands or 5, you are performing in public. This can add a great deal of pressure to a situation. No one really wants to let anyone else down or embarrass themselves. (Which is why public speaking is the #1 fear in America- ranked higher than death). And while that fear of embarrassment can be really uncomfortable, there actually is some biological reason for it. Our brain actually considers a ‘social death’ (i.e. complete and total embarrassment, rejection, public failure) comparable to real death because it could mean actually death. In primal terms, a ‘social death’ meant we were ostracized from the group that could protect us, the group that we depended on for survival. So some of this ‘fear’ is ingrained in us and some of it can be healthy and normal. It’s the...
Many athletes want to be perfect. They want every shot to go in, every pitch to be a hit, every serve to be an ace. Letting go of being perfect is difficult for them to do. They think it means failure, they think it means a slippery slope of eventually being mediocre.
Sure we want our athletes to be driven, they didn’t get to play at a high level by being indifferent about their performance. However, once they learn how to motivate themselves and have a strong work ethic, the irony is that the more they hold on to being perfect, the worse they play. They start thinking (moving into the conscious brain which is WAY too slow to react in a game), they start TRYING to play well, trying to be perfect.
This type of reaction ends up being a disaster more times than not. So, if it doesn’t work why do they do it? Somewhere along the line we almost all learn that thinking constantly helps us to improve in everything. We want to solve the problem. And solve it fast. But it...
Sometimes what a program really needs is a total and complete culture change. Whether you are a new coaching staff trying to shift the mindset of your whole program, your whole athletic department, your whole university or you've been frustrated with a team that just accepts being mediocre and you need to shake things up, mental performance training just might be the missing link.
Positive Performance Training was honored to work with the University of Albany last year. They had an awesome brand new coaching staff –Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Fred Castro, Mary Grimes, Amber Metoyer, and Tahnee Balerio. They were PUMPED to be there, all winners in their own lives and ready to shake their players into a ‘take no prisoners attitude.’
But it's not always that easy. External motivation only works for so long, no coaching staff can ‘want it’ for their players: the PLAYERS had to believe. And at first, they didn’t. They were used to losing, they...