Around this time of year I get a lot of questions from student athletes struggling with off-season temptations. You know them: parties, sleeping in, eating poorly…
Basically, anything that isn’t training.
So, in an effort to answer one question for many, I’m sharing in this article a genuine question asked very recently by one of Positive Performance’s swimmers and my corresponding answer.*
“Thank you for helping the team with mental training. Many of us, including myself, went all best times and I had the best season of swim career largely due to my improved mental attitude.
“However, now that its off-season, I’m struggling to stay focused in the pool. The lure of partying with friends is almost stronger than the desire to improve in the water.
“I'm just wondering how you think I should handle the situation? Is it wrong to go out at all or can I party with friends in moderation?
“What is your take on...
Change happens on a cellular level. The gist is this: we all get hooked on hormones. For example, if you are used to being stressed all the time, your cells not only adjust to the high levels of cortisol (that’s the “stress hormone”) in your system, but you actually begin to like it, and then need it.
In short: you get “addicted”.
Ever feel weird while or shortly after relaxing, after experiencing a lot of stress? It’s because you’re on withdrawal; your downtime has literally become your rehab.
The same thing happens when you workout a lot: you get used to working out, your body produces and gets used to “consuming” dopamine and serotonin, and then proceeds to whine about not having those hormones when the workouts stop.
Personally, I've always had a hard time taking a real vacation (to the complaints of my wife). Going from high stress/high stimulation environment to peace and quiet was unsettling.
I was programmed for stress...
In case you didn’t know, yesterday, April 26th, was Safe Kids Day 2015. It’s a special day dedicated to celebrating children and keeping them safe. We at Positive Performance like kids and we like staying safe. Truly, it’s a win-win. :)
As a new dad, I’m especially aware of how my growing child interacts with the world and how that world, with its array of dangers, interacts back. While I’m in no position to tell you about seat belts (“Yes”!) or where to store prescription medications (“Top shelf, please!”), I do have something to say when it comes to staying safe during physical activities.
But, before we start getting into the how to’s, we first need to understand what mindfulness is.
Mind-ful-ness, noun: a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
According to Mind+Sport Institute,...
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...
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:
While athletes in certain sports such as figure skating, gymnastics, swimming, or ballet are at a far greater predisposition to developing eating disorders,...
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.
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.
Call it what you will: mental...
It wasn't that the Golden Eagles weren't tough. It was just that they lacked mental toughness. Patti Hoelzle is the head volleyball coach for Ferndale High School in Ferndale, Washington. She has a skilled team with the right level of fitness. A team consistently comprised of amazing athletes, tall and athletic girls who do well during practices... Now, that is. Before mental training came into play, they were a completely different team during matches.
In addition to the team unraveling during games, Coach Hoelzle had to consider retraining the athlete’s parents. She needed them to understand their young daughters were impressionable; that their conversations were affecting their children’s performance. What conversations, exactly? Well, the town enjoys a very successful youth athletic program. Unfortunately, that often means the parents almost automatically expect their children to win upon entering...
We just completed a survey of 137 coaches and saw that the majority of teams don’t use a structured and consistent program. Instead, they rely on homegrown solutions, guest speakers, or books to guide them. These tools, while with their merits, rarely deliver meaningful and measurable long-term results.
While most coaches and athletes understand the importance of the mental game, it previously has been very difficult to implement a structured & comprehensive mental training program. It involved a lot of trial and error and often times required the coaches and organization to first learn and then develop a program. Doing so typically takes a few years to build and most organizations forgo this investment and suffer from under-performance issues, low confidence, and inconsistency in their teams and players.
Just like any other skill, mental training should be as structured and methodical as any type of physical training. It’s a simple equation,...