Why Decisions are About Commitment

Why Decisions are About Commitment

Everything we do is a decision. Easy decisions result in our day-to-day activities. They are decisions that we make are simple and have been ingrained in our makeup since we were young: Do I take a shower or not? Do I brush my teeth or just mouthwash? Do I eat this apple rather than that orange?

There are also decisions that we make that do not happen on a daily basis that are a bit more challenging. They are the ones that challenge us to be committed to our core values, the people that we care about, the things that we really want to do, or the person that we wish to become.

These decisions are hard. But no one ever said that doing the right thing was going to be easy.

Sadly [myself included], we have all made poor decisions at one point or another. It maybe because it’s easier to do the wrong thing than the “right” thing. It could be because making the right decision for yourself is not popular amongst your peers. Whatever your rationale is for doing what you do, it all comes down to one thing: how committed are you to staying connected to your values and being the best version of yourself.

Take a look at these examples and see if they remind you of anything you have done [or may even be doing]:

If you want to be a good father, it’s probably best that you don’t run around bars late at night with people who don’t have the responsibilities you do. What are you more committed to - being the best father that you can be or running around downtown like an asshole? I think that you know the answer to that one.

If you want to be a good teammate, would it behoove you to not just support your teammates in moments of victory, but also challenge them in times where they mess up? Being a good teammate doesn’t just mean that you are a great cheerleader - it means that you hold the people on your team accountable when they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. What are you more committed to in that moment - being a good teammate or a good buddy?

If an opportunity to disappear from work takes place so you can drink with your friends before work is officially over, knowing damn well you are not going to get your work done at all that day, what do you do? What are you committed to? People pay you good money because they EXPECT good work from you. They EXPECT you to be committed. But sometimes getting that cold one with your friends is a bit more tempting that sitting at the desk and being responsible.

I think that you get the picture.

Being committed and making the right decisions that are connected to your values all comes down to self-awareness. If you are not self-aware of who you really are, by making decisions that are not good for you at all, then becoming your best self is just not going to happen.

You are going to continue to drink with your buddies rather that get work done, be a friend rather than a teammate, and put yourself before your family.

Stay committed to being aware of who you are and what you value. And although there maybe times in which you wish you were doing something else rather than being responsible, doing the right thing in the long run is better for you and the people that want you to be your best self. When the two of those mediums are at peace, I think you are going to like the situation that you are in.

Lessons in Perseverance from Gatti v. Ward I

Lessons in Perseverance from Gatti v. Ward I

In less than a month, the 15 year anniversary of the greatest round in boxing history - round 9 of the first of three fights between Arturo Gatti & Micky Ward - will take place. This round, the second-to-last that took place on a cool spring night at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, is not just one that should be used as an example of perseverance and toughness to up-and-coming prize fighters, but to anyone who is looking to learn how to come back from seeming insurmountable odds.

Shortly into the round, Gatti received a body blow that would take him down not just to one knee, but leave him wincing in pain. Ward thought it was over, the announcers thought it was finished, the crowd was beginning to leave their seats. Gatti however, persisted.

Upon returning to his feet, Ward unleashed 31 [that’s right 31] blows to the head of Gatti. However, much like George Foreman in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle,” Ward began to punch himself out of energy. Gatti, seemingly un-phased, began to return the favor to Ward, releasing devastating blow after devastating blow, keeping the crowd from leaving and the announcers in shock.

With one minute to go in the round, now Gatti looked exhausted. As blood gushed from the right eye of Ward, he had survived the barrage of punches from Gatti, and began to take over. With announcer George Foreman screaming “go to the body,” Ward railed on the face of Gatti, who at this point, couldn’t see due to the amount of severe hits.

And [as you probably guessed] with just a few seconds remaining, Gatti then came back. The bell rang, the men returned to their corners and boxing history was set.

What does this story teach us about perseverance and persistence?

First, DON’T STOP FIGHTING: Gatti could have stopped after being knocked down, but he didn’t. He probably wanted to. So did his trainers. You maybe down, you want to stop. But the last thing you want to do is not get up when you are down and look back wandering on what might have been.

Second, BE AWARE. Know that you can come back. Nothing is over until it is over. And the awareness to know what situation you are in, how you can, right in that moment, deal with the challenge that is right in front of you is going to be the difference between you getting up and staying down.

Third, LIVE ONE MOMENT AT A TIME. When things begin to get tough, the last thing you should do is think ‘oh man, this is hard, I got knocked down, I suck.’ Thinking that you suck is not worth the time that is spent. However, giving your best effort to the very next rep, next question, or next challenge is the best thing for you.

We admire people throughout history to overcome great challenges. Whether it is King overcoming racism, Jordan overcoming the flu, or two boxers attempting to overcome each other. Those are the people that we look up to. We all at times dream of being someone we are not or someone we have not become yet. Whether it is wanting to have the ball with time running out or coming to the plate when it matters. Why be someone else? Just be in the moment and keep fighting - and maybe one day someone will be writing an article about you 15 years later after you did something great.

The Achievement Podcast: Nike's Ryan Hill

The Achievement Podcast: Nike's Ryan Hill

Our interview this week is with Nike's Ryan Hill. A multiple-time NCAA All-American at North Carolina State University, Ryan is a Silver Medalist at the 2016 Indoor World Track & Field Championships at the 3,000 meters.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST w/ NIKE'S RYAN HILL

Ryan was able to share with us his thoughts on:
- Success
- How to deal with disappointment
- Adjusting to the challenges of training in college
- The importance of taking calculated risks
- His thoughts going into the 2017 Outdoor Track Season

The Achievement Podcast: HOF Announcer Larry Rawson

The Achievement Podcast: HOF Announcer Larry Rawson

USA Running Hall of Fame Member Larry Rawson was gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule to be our guest on this weeks show. Larry is nothing short of a legend in the sport of Cross Country and Track. From announcing 47 National Championships, to 7 Summer Olympics, to being the only announcer in the Penn Relays Hall of Fame, Larry has been the voice of running in America for nearly 40 years.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR THIS WEEKS PODCAST WITH LARRY RAWSON

His journey from growing up in Newton, MA to being one of the most recognizable voices on television has been nothing short of remarkable. We are so excited that he has been good enough to share his story and his insights on what made him [and what makes others] successful.

Larry discusses the following with us: how important it is to take risks / how he has dealt with pressure / how he addresses challenging situations that take place on and off the air / how his childhood helped lead him to his career / the values of hard work / how running helps young people with their confidence and academics

3 Reasons Organizations Fail

3 Reasons Organizations Fail

From athletic teams to small businesses, there has been article after article and book after book written about why groups fail and and how not to fall into the same traps as those who have not made it. Rather than follow that trend, which usually involves explanations that are way too long for the reader and deal with mind-numbing minutia, we wanted to streamline these conversations and give you three short but specific ways that organizations fail and how you can be one a group that thrives. 

First, GROUPS THAT FAIL DON'T EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE

Assuming that those within your organization know all the time what is going on is almost always a sure fire recipe for disaster. A breakdown in communication is at the root of nearly all team failures. And remember that we said its about communicating effectively. This does not mean you scream, it does not mean that you don't talk because you are afraid to hurt someones feelings. Communicating the right way means that you are always making sure that your team is on the right page in a way that best gets your message across. From weekly conference calls, to email wrap-ups, to 1:1 meetings, these should all take place while at the same time making sure that you as a leader are open to feedback and criticism. 

Second, GROUPS THAT FAIL HAVE LEADERS THAT ARE NOT EMPATHETIC 

As we have said a lot on our blogs, self-awareness could not be more important - especially if you are in a leadership position. Sadly, as leaders move up the ladder of success, they tend to become less self-aware, losing the empathetic view that they had when they were not in such a position of power. Teams fail with their leaders become totally disconnected with those who are doing the day-to-day grunt work. Not everyone may be as hard a worker as you, as smart as you, or came from where you came from. The more that you look at things from a perspective of those who are dealing with the customer, or doing the work on the field, then the better you are going to be.

Third, GROUPS FAIL WITH TEAMMATES DON'T HOLD EACH OTHER ACCOUNTABLE  

I hate to tell all of you leaders this, but what the boss or the coach says can only go so far. They are there to set the tone and the standards for the group, but it is the people on the ground or the athletes on the field that needs to hold each other accountable each day in order to make things more successful. If a player misses an assignment, obviously the coach is going to be upset - and will tell them so. However what is more effective is when the players on the field tell the person who made the mistake how they feel. They see them each day, they stay with them in the dorms or while traveling, they are more connected to one another. When people with closer social ties hold each other accountable, that is when your group can really start to succeed. 

This is much easier said than done. But, the more that you talk to your people, look at things from an empathetic point of view, and get your team members to hold each other accountable, then you will start not just seeing better team cohesion, but a better atmosphere where people can learn, grow, and become a more effective group. 

Mike Tyson & Facing Fear

Mike Tyson & Facing Fear

At one point, Mike Tyson was the most feared fighter in the world. Most of his opponents were scared to even go into the ring with him, knowing that there was a good chance that they were going to get knocked out. Although Tyson was the face of fear across all sports for years, he himself was scared. Yes, Mike Tyson was afraid that he would fail in the ring. 

The following video provides evidence. Before his second Junior Olympic fight, Tyson is taped outside the arena crying a shaking, so scared about the upcoming competition, that his coach had to convince him to even go back into the stadium. Tyson eventually got into the ring, knocking his opponent out in 8 seconds. 

Watch How Mike Tyson Faced His Fears

We all have fears. And when we are afraid, we are given two options: let our emotions overcome us and allow fear to deter our performance OR we acknowledge [through self-awareness] this fear, and control it, using it to better ourselves, calm us down, and put us in the right place to perform. This is not just for sport, but in business and in life. Tyson is a flawed person, but his ability to face his fears and not allowing them to take him over is an example that should be used by all of us. 

Don't be afraid, just acknowledge your fears, take a deep breath, regain your confidence, and go kick ass. 

3 Reasons Tom Brady is Tom Brady

3 Reasons Tom Brady is Tom Brady

Half way through the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, my wife, who is always pretty accurate at predicting what will happen in sporting events, leaned over and said, "If Brady gets the ball back, he's so pissed off that he will bring them back." Well, like most times, she was right.  

When Mike Powell broke the World Record in the Long Jump in 1991, after running around the track in celebration thinking that the meet was over, he stopped for a second and looked at the end of the runway. There stood 6x [at the time] Olympic Champion Carl Lewis, getting ready for his last jump. Powell said that he thought to himself, 'Holy Shit. I just pissed off the greatest athlete in the world. He's gonna break my World Record." Now, Lewis would break Powell's WR on that jump, but it was considered at foul and Powell's record would stand [as it still does today]. 

I tell this story because I could only imagine what went through the heads of the Falcon's players after they took a 25 point lead. Although elated, someone had to have realized that they just pissed off the greatest quarterback in history. And what we saw last night was a culmination of all of Brady's jaw-dropping work ethic, skills, and most importantly - his mental toughness. You could make a list a mile long of all the attributes Brady has a what makes him the player he is. We wanted to give you what we thought where the top three. Here they are: 

He Trains Like a Rookie

In the post game interviews, a teammate of Brady's was asked how he thinks his quarterback is able to do this year after year. He answered, "he acts like a rookie. You see him at the field before every one else, breaking down film more, doing simple drills over and over. If he is working that hard, it makes us all have to get to that level just to stay on the team."  

He's Got GRIT

Grit [having the passion and perseverance to succeed over time] has become a more popular topic in football recently, as Pete Carroll and the Seahawks talk about building a 'culture of Grit.' Those who are at the top of the grit scale are those who not just a have deep passion for something, but are able to continuously persevere. Those of us who have followed Brady's career know not only about the hard work - but the failure that he has overcome. Getting drafted in the 6th round, losing to the Giants [twice], and Deflate-Gate as just a few examples. But he always comes back - with more focus and determination. THAT is perseverance. And it's hard to imagine someone who has had a deeper passion for his craft than Brady. This not only is apparent from his work ethic, but the longevity of that work ethic. While most people stay in one job less than 8 years, Brady has done it [all with one franchise mind you] over 17 years. So the next time you are tired of your job or want to quit - just realize that the 'Tom Brady' of your team or office is getting up while you are still laying down. Because it matters that much to them. 

He Plays One Play at a Time

We talk about playing life one moment at a time a lot on this blog. Lots of people talk about it, but few actually do it. Brady does. An interception doesn't phase him - he knows he will get another chance. A fumble doesn't discourage him - he knows he is gonna get the ball back. He is not worried about what happened in the past longer than he has to - because he knows he is going to get more opportunities. That is what playing the game one play, pitch, or moment at a time means. It means that the only thing that matters is what is right in front of you. THAT play, THAT pitch, THAT moment. Winning the game, and the outcome does matter, but if you can't be engaged in the moment - nothing else matters.

On a personal note, I have been lucky enough in my life time to see what I have considered the Mount Rushmore of Athletes - Jordan, Armstrong, Woods, Gretzky, Williams [Serena]. All the best I have ever seen. All of these people are not perfect [much like Brady], but what we have seen in the last 25 years from these men and women is something that we will talk about for the rest of our lives. Last night was something special, and whether we see something like that again really doesn't matter. What we saw was history in the form of Tom Brady. Because winners win. That is what they do. And that is what he did. 

 

 

Why the Only Thing You Have is Now & 3 Skills to Keep You There

Why the Only Thing You Have is Now & 3 Skills to Keep You There

Every athlete and coach around the country will have goals for the end of the season. Whether it is winning a conference championship, hitting for a certain average, running a specific time, or averaging a particular amount of points. Some athletes and coaches will develop short term goals that they will examine at certain points in the season to see how they are trending to that goal. However, every emphasize the importance of NOW. 

NOW, this very moment, is the only thing that you have. You don't have the past, because it already happened, and you don't have the future, because it hasn't taken place. Ryan Hall, American Record holder in the Half Marathon, says in his book, Running with Joy, that '...the only thing I can control is the present moment.' World-Renowned Mindfulness Instructor Joseph Goldstein teaches that with 'with each breath, there is an opportunity to simply start again.'

When athletes over emphasize results, they get away from the thoughts of being in the now. We start to think about 'what happens if I don't run this time?' 'I need to get this hit,' or 'I have to make this play.' All of this, from questioning ourselves, to using words like need and have all stress the idea of living in the future. Success however does not reside in the future, it rests in the present moment. 

This is why understanding and implementing techniques that keep us focused on the present moment is the most important tool that you can implement, even if you don't have the most talent, you can always focus on the moment, which will put you in the greatest position to succeed. Here are three techniques that you can implement to help you do so:

Be Aware of Your Thoughts: The most successful athletes are aware of when they are in the present moment. They understand that when times get tough and the 'pressure' is on, one of the simplest things they can do is keep their thoughts in the NOW.

Focus on Your Breathing: While focusing on the breath, you can block out the past and the future, keeping you in the NOW. Pay attention not just to the breath itself, but to the feel and sound of the breath, helping you relax and bring your attention to the present.

Make Living in the Moment of Part of Your Day: Athletes may sit around waiting to focus on the present moment only when they are practicing or competing. As you may guess, that is not enough time. If you can start to make living in the moment a part of your daily life, not only will it make your play better, but you will be able to make better decisions in your relationships and throughout your day. 

Don't just start this the next time you head to practice. Start living in the moment right now. In this moment. It is the only thing that you have. 

Follow us on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Email: chris@acheivementllc.com 

 

10 Ways to Build Mental Strength for Indoor Track Athletes - Part II

10 Ways to Build Mental Strength for Indoor Track Athletes - Part II

We hope that you enjoyed [and more importantly learned] from Part I of our series on building mental strength for you indoor track and field teams. As you will hopefully pick-up today in Part II, once you have learned who you athletes are, learned how they communicate with themselves under times of stress, and implemented mindfulness practices with your team, you can start to move on to more specific, event oriented tactics to building your teams mental strength. 

Again, this is not about treating your athletes like dirt in order to get them tougher. They don't even need to have your mentality as a coach, they just need to be themselves, be committed to what they have been trained, and be confident in their ability to execute. 

Here is Part II of 10 Ways to Build Mental Strength for Indoor Track Athletes

If They Focus on The Process, They Will Like Their Place & Their Time

Focusing on running a fast time, finishing a certain place, or throwing a specific distance is all well and good, however it is the result of lots of things happening in succession. It is the result of a process that worked out over time. For example, how many times do we see athletes not run through the line? Trip over the last hurdle? Fall out of the circle? I think the answer would be too many. I would attribute this to athletes seeing the result close at hand a loose site of the process that is going to get them what they have trained for. It’s ok to talk about results, but what is more important is getting the little things [the process things] correct so you can attain your goals. Don’t stress ‘you have to run this time’ or ‘you need to throw this far,’ focus on the things they need to do to get there. Then your athletes will see the times and distances they have been striving for.  

Prepare

An athlete that is mentally tough is one that is prepared. They can build confidence from the work that they previously have done in training, the film room, and all the extra pieces that fit together to form success. Just think about the confidence your team would have if they walked into a meet knowing that they were the most prepared, that no one had done the amount of work that they had done. Not just from the miles run or time spent in the weight room, but making sure that no stones where un-turned. Is that your team? If it isn’t, think about what it can do to be more prepared and get to work.

They Pain is Gonna Come, So Why Fight It?

Especially in running events, pain is going to come. It’s inevitable, it’s science, and a fact of running. It’s nearly impossible to count all the athletes that quit in the face of pain. Not because it was that awful of an experience, but because they did not know what to do when their legs began to tighten and lungs began to burn. So having said all of this, the mentally tough athlete is aware that at some point, the pain is going to come. And rather than tighten up, the calm their breathing, focus on good technique, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Those athletes will have breakthroughs, while others will suffer and sink in the presence of pain.

Create Focal Points

One of the simplest things that you can teach an athlete that allows them to become more focused is the creation of a focal point. A focal point can be any point in the stadium that is a reminder to stay calm, focused, and committed to staying in the moment. For jumpers and throwers, it can be a point at the end of the runway or past the thrower's circle that they look at before they start their event. For runners, it’s a spot at the end of a straightaway that they focus on as the move down the track that helps them stay in their lane [more on that later], block out pain, and negative thoughts. It’s a simple technique that when used correctly, can be invaluable.

Segmentation

Breaking up the race into segments, especially in indoor track races lasting over a mile is a skill that is not utilized enough. Again, like we discussed earlier, focusing on the process, and taking the race one piece at a time, especially in longer races is a great way to increase mental toughness. If an athlete has a goal of being in a certain place or time at specific points in the race is a much easier pill to swallow than trying to get someone to focus non-stop for 3k-5k. Spoon feed success throughout the race and win smaller victories along the way.

No Meet is Bigger Than Another

When you get to the championship part of the season, most athletes fail to perform because they believe that because it is a ‘big meet’ they need to go outside themselves and put together a bigger than needed effort, which usually creates tension and non-desired results. The mentally tough athlete knows that they go to that meet for a reason. A championship meet is no important than any other meet. The environment may be different, but the same effort and focus that got them there will lead to desired results. So, treat every meet, small or large, with the same amount of attention and care. It will prepare them for more important meets down the road. Remember the more prepared they are, the better they are.

Stay in Your Lane

When I was younger, I always laughed when Carole Lewis, when discussing the sprint events, would comment ‘the most important part of the race is that you stay in your own lane.’ I never understood until later how important this line was. Who is in the race is only there to bring the best out of you, the biggest competition is yourself. By getting athletes to focus on what they must do, then it does not matter who is in the lane next to them. Teach your athletes to stay in their lane, focus on what they need to accomplish [again, focus on the process], then you will start to see the results you are looking for.

Control Your Controllables

Your athletes can’t control who is in their heat, where the event is taking place, the hostility of the crowd, or a how hard their competition will compete. What they can control is their effort, emotions, and thoughts. If you have an athlete that says, ‘I don’t like this track’ or ‘I can’t stand this throwing circle,’ then they are focused on something that is out of their control. What is in their control is how they respond to that ring and the quality of their effort on that track. Coaches rarely teach this without getting pissed first, so take the right step early and teach this skill early in your pre-season. The more the focus on doing the best they can with what they can control, the better their results will be – no matter where they are or who they are competing against.

Follow Us on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Chris@achievementllc.com

10 Ways to Build Mental Strength for Indoor Track & Field - Part I

10 Ways to Build Mental Strength for Indoor Track & Field - Part I

With Indoor Track Season up and running across America, we thought that it would be fitting to discuss ways to build your team’s mental toughness. Now, many coaches may will tell you that the best way to become tougher mentally is to beat the hell out of your athletes in practice, make sure they know how important it is to dominate your opponents, and let them know that they are not worth a damn because they have to earn their coaches respect through ‘acts of toughness.’ And if you are an athlete, you may have more examples. If you are a coach, you may have even more.

But, this two-part series, we hope to bring an end to the negative [and unfortunately, sometimes abusive] type of metal and physical training that takes place way too often that does nothing but make athletes more frustrated, and coaches bigger pricks.

Before you start reading - know that none of what we are going to share with you is hard to implement, it just matters if you care about training the mind or not. I think it’s pretty important, especially in indoor track and field where events can last anywhere from a matter of seconds to over twenty consecutive minutes. If you as a coach have done nothing to train the mind, then you are selling your athletes short and not doing your job. Sorry to be so blunt, but part of your job is to be skill developers, truth tellers, and truth seekers. The more honest we can be with our athletes, the better that they are going to be. So don’t just think that a few seconds of chatting before an athlete gets into starting block practice is gonna solve the problem. You need to train them on how they can communicate positively with themselves, quiet their minds, and get them to execute in the presence of pressure for themselves, not just for you [as their coach] or their team.

So here is How you a build the Mental Strength of your Track Team

Help Them First Find Out Who They Are

Just because you work with recruit an athlete and then spend hours of time with them on the track, does not mean that you know what they really are. You probably have an idea what their goals are and what they want to do after leaving your tutelage. However, do you know what their values are? What drives them as a person? Are they willing to take risks? Do they have high levels of Grit? Now again, you may think you know all of this, but odds are you don’t. The more you know about your athletes emotions and mind, the better you can communicate with them and the more invested they will become in you because of your interest in them.

So how do you find out all of these things? Here is an article we wrote in 2016 that will help identify their values and also assist them in creating a mission statement for their life.

Learn What Thoughts Go Through Their Head During Competition When Things Get Tough

Every coach is looking for ways to increase their athlete confidence. But very few understand where confidence comes from: it come from how an athlete speaks to themselves. When things get tough in a race, when a bad throw or jump takes place, how do they speak to themselves? To them, is the competition over? Are the next 2 jumps just throw aways? With most novice track athletes, the answer would be yes. However with elite athletes, they have a way of recognizing their self-talk and moving on to the next step in the race, jump in the series, or throw in the flight without it affecting their entire effort. Talk to your athletes about this and see what they say after failure - then adjust accordingly.

Give them skills that will last their entire life, not just the blink of an eye you have them as an athlete

We have only have an athlete for 4 years to work with and train. However many coaches only give them skills to become ‘good’ for the time you are working with them. That’s irresponsible. The mentally tough athlete is constantly getting skills that will help them improve their life not just for the upcoming meet, but years down the road. Just as much as you are thinking ‘I need to get this kid ready for the conference meet,’ think also, ‘I need to get this kid ready for life.’ When those skills have started to bare fruit, that is when you start to have athletes that are mentally tough.

Start Treating Practice With The Same Routine You Do as Meets

Most track practices are pretty relaxed. They show up, they shoot the breeze, stretch, talk a bit more, workout, joke a bit more, cool down, and go home. If you are looking for your athletes to perform on meet day, you should be creating an environment that prepares them for meet day. This does not mean that you need to me so intense that they feel undue pressure each day at practice. However, the importance of the workout should be stressed, just as a meet would. The importance of the warm-up should be stressed, just like it would in a meet. Just think - if your team warmed up and worked out with the same intensity and purpose that they did on meet day, wouldn’t that make your team better? I think it would.

Start Teaching Mindfulness

In the later part of 2016, we discussed how important it is to start teaching your athletes meditation or mindfulness techniques. This is a concept that is starting to be utilized in baseball, football, and basketball, but yet has not made its way into track and field circles. It’s time that comes to an end. All mindfulness training does is makes athletes more aware of how they are communicating with themselves [as skill we spoke about earlier] and how they can react in a positive way to where their emotions are taking them. If you have an athlete who is getting ready to take a jump or a throw, it is only rational that you want them in the best mental space possible. That is what meditation and mindfulness training does. And you can do these trainings a few times a week for 10-15 minutes. Take the time and starting doing some breathing and meditation before, during, or after your practices. Not only will you see them become more self-aware, but their ability to control their emotions and just compete will increase significantly.

Teach Your Athletes How to Breathe

When pressure starts to mount in an indoor track race, breathing starts to play a vital role in whether or not that athlete is going to succeed or not. If they start to panic, their breathing becomes shorter, the heart rate increases, and oxygen flow throughout the body dissipates. No athlete ever won a race, thrown a PB, or jumped far while holding their breath. The best weapon an athlete can have on the track is their breath. It makes them more aware, calms them down, and lowers their heart rate - even if it is already racing. Discuss this with them before they practice and make it a skill that they should have. It will start to pay off big time in a manner of minutes. Here is an simple way to teach your athletes how to breathe more effectively.

Introduce a Routine with Purpose

Everyone has some type of routine. They may jump around, say a prayer, whatever it is. The problem is that nearly all routines in track are without purpose. Everything you should be doing should have a purpose. So before an athlete takes a throw, jump, or gets in the starting blocks, they should have a routine that does three things:

ANALYZES Their Body & Emotions

They should be checking in with their body and mind. Are they tight? Where are their thoughts? It’s just a simple thought that most athletes don’t give themselves. Just a few seconds can make a world of difference.

PREPARES Them to Compete

A deep breath, like we spoke about earlier, is the best way to prepare your athlete to compete right before their race, throw, or jump. A breath through the nose and out the mouth will calm the mind, slow their heart rate, and is their check in system saying ‘I’m ready to compete.’

ATTACK The Event

This does not mean attack with tightness. This means it’s time to compete. The are committed to the plan you and them have spoke about, they are willing to respond to competition, and they are ready to give their best effort in that moment.

Tomorrow, we will discuss some event-specific techniques that can be used with indoor track athletes that will help them continue to build their mental toughness, along with how coaches can implement these over and over again with success. This is not a 'quick fix' program, these are skills that if implemented right, can have a lasting effect on your team and teams in the future to make sure that when you step on the track this season, you and your team are the most prepared that they can be.

Follow us on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Chris@achievementllc.com  

Why You Should Know What Your Athletes Value

Why You Should Know What Your Athletes Value

We believe that in order for athletes to be successful, they should be striving to be the best version of themselves. And this does not just mean the best goalkeeper, defender, or hitter having their best athletic performance. Being the best version of oneself means that your effort is inline with the values that you stand for and represents who you are as a person, not just an athlete.

When an athlete gets scared and tenses up in the face of a challenge, the person who may consider themselves brave or courageous, is not being the true version of who they are. They are letting the environment and their emotions get the best of them. That is when people start to fail - when they are not staying true to the person they believe they are.

The first time we meet with athletes, whether individually or as a team, we ask them to identify the core values that make them who they are. Is friendship a value that matters? Is openness? Is adoration? Bravery? Excellence? What are the building blocks that make you the person you are. Not who you want to be tomorrow, or the person you thought to have been in the past. But is someone came up to you in the middle of the street and ask, “hey, what values matter to you?” - these are the ones you would give them.

So here is how you can identify those values:

Meet with you teams at the start of the year, create a list of 20-25 values that you feel are important [you can find a great list here]. Have each of them circle a maximum of 10 that they feel define who they are. Once you have done that, you have taken the first step in building a legitimate personality profile for your athletes, which can be invaluable to your team’s success.

Remember, the more you know your athlete and what matters to them, the more effective strategies you can use to improve their confidence, heighten their skills, and teach them lessons that they will carry with them years after they leave your team. After all, if you are not teaching you athletes skills that they can carry with them for their entire life, what the hell are you coaching for anyway?

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Why Teaching Your Athletes How To Breathe Properly is so Important

Why Teaching Your Athletes How To Breathe Properly is so Important

Teaching mechanics in any sport is important. Teaching how one needs to understand the playbook is important. But teaching an athlete how to breathe SO THEY CAN ACHIEVE better mechanics and understand the playbook will make them better in the moment, better over the entire season, and teach them a skill that they can use not just in sport, but in their everyday life.

The issues is, much like we discussed recently, coaches are not teaching proper breathing and meditation in their practice sessions. Because of this, you are seeing teams that play in the face of tension, tightness, and a less-than-desired version of themselves. Not only does meditation and proper breathing instruction teach you how to be more aware, but that awareness allows you to know when you are breathing correctly and when you are not getting enough oxygen into your system.

I am not advocating that coaches get away from teaching fundamentals or mechanics. You need to be a master of teaching these skills in order for your team to be successful. However, what I am saying is that taking 10 minutes out of your team's schedule and teaching them how to breathe and get centered will not just help them retain the information you taught them, but get them to compete in a place that is calmer and more focused.

If you are thinking: ‘I only have 2 hours of practice time a day, I don’t have time to squeeze anything in,’ here are some tips that can help you get some breathing training into your sessions:

  • As your team is stretching, have them focus not so much on the stretch, but on the breath they are taking during that exercise. It may only be 30 seconds, but doing that several times in a training session will be beneficial

  • Before you go through an exercise, take 30 seconds and have the group focus on taking long, deep, calming breaths to slow down their heart rate and increase their ability to focus on the task at hand

  • Have your team download an app. Headspace and 10% Happier are both great applications that provide easy breathing trainings and explanations for any level of athlete or person in business. And it can be done anywhere.

  • Talk to your team about their breathing after an exercise. How was your breathing? How was your mind? Where you tense or relaxed? I see that you look tight, how is your breathing right now? Just asking simple questions such as this will make your team more aware of how important their breathing is to their performance.

You are not trying to reinvent the wheel here. All you are trying to do as the leader of the team or organization is to teach another skill to your group. That’s what effective leaders try to do. They understand that although a specific skill is important to success, that it can’t be accomplished unless your athlete is calm, focused, and has all the tools necessary to succeed. And it all starts with just a simple breath.

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