Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Want a Better Performance from your Athlete...Step Back!

As sports parents and coaches we undoubtedly want the best for our athletes/daughters and sons. However, for many their best intentions turn into game day actions and behavior that end up hurting athletic performance rather than helping it.

Let's look at the types of things a parent can do to diminish or even kill their athlete's game day performance, and worse...their love for the game:

1. Yelling instructions to their son/daughter during a game. This is probably #2 in my list of worst things a parent can do to kill athletic performance (we'll get to athletic enemy #1 later). Now I know that many of you are former coaches, but whether your athlete is playing at the rec, All Star, high school or travel level yelling out instructions (no matter how well meaning) only serves to confuse your athlete, take their focus away from the task at hand and, in many cases, undermines the instruction given to them by their coach(es).

In my experience as a coach last minute instructions during a game don't work. The time to instruct is during the week, before a game, or carefully critiqued after a game (see my "60 Minute Rule" post).

Additionally younger athletes end up being highly embarrassed by a parent who is constantly yelling at them through the fence (if you think I'm wrong ask your child).



2. Stalking. If you are the kind of parent who can't stand to be more than 10 feet from the dugout/field/court every game STOP. I once had a parent of one of my players who even went to the extent of pretending to take photos right next to our dugout at Nationals just so he could just stand there all game and "spy" on us. Now if you think that is acceptable or mentally stable behavior it's time for a long look in the mirror!

If you were a former athlete...get over it. If you were a former coach...get over it. Let go of your need to control or be involved during your athlete's games. If your athlete is at the travel/competitive level of their sport you are likely making a significant financial investment in their game via team dues and private lessons. It's time to DETACH yourself from her/his performance during ALL practices and games and trust his/her coaches to do their jobs.

3. Bad Mouthing. Yes, the #1 enemy of all athletes and coaches. This is the parent who can't keep his or her mouth shut during a game; always second guessing the coach's lineup and strategies; never happy. Usually only focused on winning. Even worse they will talk poorly about players on their own team. These parents are POISON and a VIRUS on a team as they infect other parents, players and even their own child to question their coaches and teammates. They are dividers that should be cut from any team their kid plays on. These parents live in a fantasy land of myopia where their child is the best player in the Universe. They utilize verbal abuse and sports "bullying" to attempt to coerce coaches and parents (and sadly their own kid) to see things their way.

This type of parental behavior absolutely kills athletic performance because it creates a constant negative mindset in their athlete. In one national tournament one of my parents barked at me during a game because I pinch hit for his daughter during a pivotal part of a game. For the rest of the week I could see his daughter shut down to any joy of playing or hanging with her teammates. It was sad to watch, but predictable.

Let's look at a couple of coaching behaviors and actions that can also greatly damage athletic performance:

1. Yelling at Players. This type of coach is almost always obsessed with winning, and is "results only" driven. At our recent national tournament I watched a game (yes...always scouting) and witnessed a coach acting like a caged lion in the 3rd base coaching box; pacing back and forth relentlessly, approaching the umpire aggressively on every questionable strike; verbally instructing and criticizing his batters before and after on EVERY pitch (with a booming voice). His body language mirrored his verbal tirades and his players cringed after a failed at bat as he approached them on their way back to the dugout, in their face.

Does this coach actually believe his actions and gross behavior are helping his girls to play better? And yet in this guy's heart he surely wants the best for them. If you have a coach in your world like this guy (or even close), you need to pull him or her aside to discuss their actions or get the heck out of there!

Step into the 21st century coach!
Female athletes, in my experience of twelve years of coaching, do not respond well to verbal abuse (or call it aggressive criticism), nor I'm sure to boys. In fact they usually shut down, lose all respect for that coach, and will NEVER play remotely close to their potential on that team. Verbally criticizing any player in front of their teammates is a major no-no, as kids hate to be embarrassed in front of their friends! 

2. Over-Coaching. As a coach it is hard not to over-coach during a game. We want the best for each of our players but sometimes (or always for some coaches) we verbally instruct too much during the game. Again, the time for mechanics instruction is during practice not the game. At best I will give my hitters one or two verbal cues if I see them doing something with their swing or I need them to focus on keeping their hands back for a slower pitcher. But far too often I see coaches barking endless batting or pitching instructions to their players.

As an example, for baseball or softball, a hitter has about 1/3 of one second to determine pitch velocity, movement and location and whether to swing or not. It requires the ultimate level of concentration and mental focus (think the Olympic platform divers who take sometimes 30 seconds or more to focus themselves prior to their dive). If she/he is being verbally barraged by both coach and parent what possible chance does he/she have to focus their thoughts on the task at hand?

The same goes for pitchers. If putting a round bat on a round ball (given the incredibly challenging parameters I described earlier) is the hardest thing to do in sports (as broadcaster Bob Costas often says) then pinpointing a softball or baseball within a target the size of a shoe box from 43/60.5 feet away may be the second most difficult! Any lapses in concentration caused by over-coaching will cause a clearly diminished return on performance by any pitcher.

In the final analysis it is often best for us adults to just let our kids play. When I was playing as a kid parents rarely said a word during a game other than positive cheering. I never remember my dad even being involved with my baseball as a kid. It was clearly about the kids and the kids ONLY. Today the parents are involved big time and they carry, in my opinion, excessive and unhealthy expectations for their athlete's performance.

Yes, I understand the investment and stakes are higher these days in youth sports, but if your intention is for your athlete to perform their best my suggestion is to take a step, or several, back and let their coaches coach. And for gosh sake let them enjoy playing the game by respecting their effort and the process of mastery they must go through. Let go of your need to critique every game, every play, every pitch. If she/he is 11, 12, 13 ,14 she is still in the developmental phase of a very difficult game, so let him/her develop at their, not your, pace...and just enjoy the ride!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Like a Magnet Does Your Athlete Attract or Repel Success?

As a kid I used to marvel at the magic of a simple magnet; the power and strength it has to attract or repel other objects to or from it. In fact a magnet produces a magnetic field around it that makes it super easy to attract non-magnetized metal objects and repel the polar opposite end of other magnets.

The stronger the magnetic field the more powerful the magnet's ability to attract. The weaker the magnetic field the more difficult it is to attract.


In the very same "magical" way your athlete or team attracts or repels their success on game day by the power and strength of their very own magnetic field; their perceptions, their thoughts and their emotions.


Success or failure on the field or court is always a cause and effect dynamic. Like a magnet success or failure are predictable outcomes based on the athlete's mindset (or magnetic power).


A magnet has no choice but to attract or repel based on the quality of it's internal magnetic field (that dictates the result)....which is, thus, totally predictable. In the same way your athlete or team's game day performance results are also totally predictable based on the quality of their cumulative mindset (the sum total of past experiences and the perceptions, beliefs and thoughts about those experiences).


Let's take a look at the "magnetic" mindset that attracts and produces athletic performances that consistently meet or exceed potential:


1. A mindset rooted in confidence (based on perceptions and beliefs about previous successes).

2. Process, not results driven (the recognition that game mastery takes time).
3. Expectancy for success ("can do" thinking).
4. Exceptional preparation (physical and mental) and a clearly defined plan (desire to be the best).
5. Laser focus (poise when it matters most).

Now let's take a look at the "magnetic" mindset that attracts and produces athletic performances that are consistently below potential:


1. A mindset rooted in doubt (based on perceptions and beliefs about previous failures)

2. Solely driven by results (elevating anxiety and frustration levels).
3. Expectancy for failure ("can't do" or "I'm not sure" thinking).
4. Average preparation (physical, likely no mental) and no plan.
5. Low or sporadic level of focus (caused by feelings and thoughts of doubt, focusing on past failure).

South Carolina - NCAA Champs
Cultivating the magnetic mindset for consistent athletic success takes time for any younger athlete. However as a parent or coach you can look for clear signs your athlete or team is attracting or repelling success. Here are a few of the signs you might observe that indicate success is likely:

1. An excitement to practice or play (high energy).

2. Decisive actions on the field or court (no doubt).
3. A calm, relaxed confidence before and during the game.
4. Extremely coach-able; always looking for ways to improve their game.
5. Great body language; particularly after game adversity hits.

Here are a few of the signs you might observe that indicate success is unlikely:


1. A lack of desire to go to practice or work on the side (low energy).

2. Body language on the field or court that indicates frustration, anger or sadness; particularly after a mistake.
3. Higher levels of anxiety before the game or at pivotal moments of the game (a fear of failure).
4. Defensive posture when approached by coach or parent about performance.
5. Indecisive actions during a game (doubt - an unwillingness to swing or shoot or pass).

So how can you as parent or coach help your athlete(s) to magnetize success rather than failure on game day?


A mindset that attracts athletic failure is full of doubt, false perceptions and erroneous beliefs about ability and possibility that lead to thought patterns of failure. An expectancy for low performance is inevitable in this scenario. 


To break the cycle of self-sabotage and "catastrophizing" you need to challenge your athlete's beliefs about themselves and help them to maintain more PMA (present moment awareness) and not dwell on past mistakes or failures. Help them to remember past successes, and reinvigorate their goals and reasons for playing the game.


As a point of comparison a mindset that attracts athletic success is full of energy, confidence and PMA that insures the necessary relaxed game focus to play at a consistently high level. Athletes with this mindset have clearly defined goals and a passion for the game.


So how is your athlete or team using their internal magnet? 


As always, success is a choice that always begins between the ears! Remember, knowledge is power, so help your athlete(s) to understand the power of their thoughts to dictate and predict their level of success on the field or court.


Invest in his or her mental game today, with Game Day Domination Course and Sports Confidence Blueprint!






Monday, July 1, 2013

Is Your Athlete a Robot...Doomed to Fail or Not?

In sports there is a super fine line between success and failure on game day. In a long tournament weekend sometimes that line becomes blurred and as parents or coaches we struggle with why our athlete and team don't play consistently and seem to reach such highs one week then such lows the next.

From a recent experience with my own team I believe I have discovered why so many elite, or travel level athletes and teams fail to achieve their true potential on game day.

If you study, as I do, athletic competition at every level you will find that an athlete's or team's "mentality" before, during and after the game is the X Factor that determines winners and losers.  From professional to elite Olympic, amateur and college athletes alike how you think is truly how you will play. With most teams and athletes at the highest levels of competition being fairly equal in ability it becomes the mental preparation and mental response to game day adversity that becomes the deciding factor.

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However, I have discovered for younger athletes the dynamics on the mental side of game day success are far more complex and far more troubling.

Keep in mind that my assessment is a generalization; that your athlete or team may not suffer from these dynamics. I do, however, highly encourage you to look honestly at your athlete and team to see if you can chalk up game day failure to what I'm about to say:

1. We place our kids in a highly competitive sports environment where the bar for achievement and game day performance is high. They may really want to do this or just follow along because friends do it or parent say to do it, or that's just what everybody does.

Poor baby...only went 3 for 4?
2. We invest $100s or $1,000s into our athlete's game in an effort to keep up with the other kids and, presumably, give our athlete the best possible chance to succeed and play at the next level.

3. We tell them where to play, when to play, and how to play.

4. We drive them to kingdom come and game for practice, games, private lessons.

5. We drag the entire family to far flung places for games, packing coolers with goodies for our athletes between games and the reward of  "drive thru" on the way home.

6. During games we cheer loudly and after games either soothe our athlete's tender egos and feelings or quickly critique and criticize their efforts because we have a right to expect a perfect performance for the money and time we're investing.

7. Because of skyrocketed expectations from parents, coaches, peers and self the athletes are easily impacted emotionally when game day adversity hits...with heads down, tears and diminished attitude and effort.

In short the younger athlete has become a "robot," incapable of making decisions; incapable of producing the fire in the belly necessary to see adversity as opportunity; quick to pout and emote after adversity.

Instead parents coddle these athletes, leading to mental softness instead of mental toughness. Some bizarre form of ADD takes root in these athletes as they appear to listen intently at practice, yet are incapable of applying what they have been taught on game day...making the same mental mistakes over and over again.

To the modern youth athlete as long as things are going well on game day they smile and play close to their potential. But at the slightest mistake or criticism from coach or parent they crumble emotionally, are quick to make excuses, or just finish out the game in a mental tailspin.

In my opinion many of these kids are cursed with an entitlement mentality, unaware or unwilling to do what it takes physically and mentally to be the best; to see competition as a challenge.

As a parent or coach my suggestion is to sit your athlete(s) down and clarify their motivation and desire for playing the game. Why do they play the game? What do you and them hope to get out of their playing the game at such a competitive level? Do they enjoy playing? Do they enjoy the competition, the challenge? Do they love the game?

To me, the bottom line is how bad your athlete and their team wants success. As I often say success is not an accident; it is an orchestrated effort of clearly defined physical and mental preparation. But more than that it is a burning desire to succeed, to play your best, to meet the challenge that playing sports at an ultra competitive level offers.

As former UCLA softball Head Coach, and winner of 11 National Championships, Sue Enquist told me, "The team that stops competing first will lose." It's just that simple. Unfortunately today many kids and their teams never start competing on game day! They go through the motions...robotic.

Playing youth sports at the highest levels has never been more competitive. It requires no less than everything a young athlete has to give both physically and mentally. I didn't make the rules...that's just how it is today.

Remember, mental toughness, effort and attitude are always a choice. As such game day success is also choice; but so is game day failure.

If your athlete is a robot maybe it's time to pull the plug and see if there truly is any fire in their belly to play the game at this level. If not, maybe chess is the answer?

Let me know what you think?

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

10 Ways Failure Can Lead to Success for Athlete and Team!

My latest 14u team played in a very competitive tournament over Memorial Day in Orange County and during the course of 8 games over 3 days we experienced both the exaltation of a great extra innings win late Sunday night and the devastation from a blown 6-2 lead in the last inning early Monday morning, eliminating us from the tournament (finished 9th out of 50).

It's what makes sports great isn't it? The ups and downs, the emotional highs and lows.

As a coach, sports parent and mental performance expert I'm always looking for ways my athletes and teams can channel adversity as well as success in ways that will heighten their passion, desire and commitment for the game. As it is said, "Champions are made and not born." I believe that to be true.

So how can your athlete and her/his team make themselves into champions this summer and beyond? One way is to take a painful loss or mistake and turn it into something great! It kind of follows along the adage, "When life gives you lemons make lemonade."

Here are 10 ways in which failure is a good thing on the field or court. In fact, the more devastating the better! It's all in the perception.

1. Failure is a part of the game. Accept it and move on. - If your athlete is a perfectionist this concept can be hard to grasp for them. And because external expectations from parents and coaches has skyrocketed any failure is ultra magnified. No one who ever played the game was perfect, so why should your athlete?

2. Failure as an opportunity to reflect and "feel" the pain. - Sometimes a painful team loss or individual failure allows an athlete or team to "feel" the pain, the disappointment, the anger. This reflection after the fact can allow your athlete to grow and stoke the fire to work harder and smarter!

3. Failure as a seed of opportunity. - Like I tell the players I coach "the game" will always give them a personal report card after every game to let them know what areas of their game they are excelling at and what areas need more work. Without failure and adversity an athlete's weaknesses wouldn't be uncovered, and the opportunity to hone in on improving those weaknesses would not present itself.

The agony of defeat.
4. Failure as a motivator, a challenge to be better. - Some athletes shrink from adversity and on the field/court failure while others use such failure to motivate themselves. Yes, some days the game will get you. But the game will always give you another opportunity to shine if your head and heart are in the right place. Ask yourself the hard questions...did you give maximum effort? Did you bring your "A" attitude? Did you bring laser focus? If not you should be motivated to do so in the future. Remember, these are all elements of your game you have 100% control over!

5. Giving credit to the other team. - Sometimes the better team wins. For an athlete to get down on themselves because of a loss is foolish if the loss was caused by a great performance by the other team. Remember, every game must have a loser (except in soccer...but I view a tie as a loss!). Perhaps the athlete can learn something by watching the other team to help improve their game. What did they do that caused them to play so well? Remember, imitation (emulation) is the sincerest form of flattery!

6. Focusing on effort, not outcome. - Herein lies the key to making lemonade from lemons. Let go of the stats and the "L" and see the big picture. Every sport requires years and years to achieve any lasting mastery, so to focus solely on the results or outcome (this applies to coaches and parents too) is shortsighted. Once any athlete truly focuses on their effort and the process of getting better the results will become secondary (still important, see #3) and consistent success on the field or court will appear more rapidly.

7. Re-evaluating expectations (mastery is a process). - In our ultra competitive "win at all costs" society we place far too much emphasis on winning. For younger athletes (8-18) who, as I stated in #6, are still in the process of mastering their sport excessive or misplaced expectations by parent or coach (external) or by athlete (internal) can hinder growth and joy for playing the game. Proper expectations mean being okay with the inevitable bumps along the road to mastery. Allowing failure to happen is the first step towards lasting success. Fear of failure will only bring more of it.

8. Remembering your successes along the way. - The sting of failure and adversity on the athletic field/court is significantly lessened if an athlete can remember prior successes. The key is maintaining the mindset that the occasional bump in the road is a necessary part of long term success in any sport. Taking failure or adversity too hard insures that the next play or game may also bring more failure. On the other hand maintaining a healthy perspective, as noted, can minimize and "quarantine" thoughts of failure and allow for quicker recovery towards greatness!

9. Failure is an opportunity to come together as a team with fortified goals. - From a team perspective losing and failure can serve to tear a team apart or bring it together. Failure can become a habit just as easily as success can. Failure provides the seed of opportunity to re-visit team goals, desires and motivations (the "why" you play), and to see new leaders emerge on a team.

10. Failure provides a gut check as to how hard an athlete wants to work to get better (or maybe the lows of the game are just too much?) - Okay...it's the old football player in me. I think far too many kids playing sports today are part of an overall "entitled" generation that often times simply isn't tough enough to handle adversity. Elite athletes are the ones that push through adversity by having a strong mental game plan and solid work ethic in which failure absolutely makes them stronger. All too often we coddle our children, trying our best to keep them from the jaws of failure. Although noble this path will not help your child to cope with the real world in adulthood, nor succeed playing their chosen youth sport(s).

Bottom line...failure and adversity are what you make it. For your athlete to achieve consistent peak performance on the field or court she/he must be able to frame failure in a healthy, productive manner that will allow him/her to bounce back and magnify their desire to get better and accelerate their success.

**A great way to overcome failure is through the development of rock solid self-confidence. Check out my Sports Confidence Blueprint program here. You'll be glad you did!



Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sports Parents: Are You Part of the Solution or the Problem?


Regardless of the sport, the gender, the age group or corner of the country on any given Saturday millions of sports parents will be dissatisfied with their son or daughter's coach(es) and/or team.

With the expectations for performance so visibly sky high for all youth sports in 2013 is it any wonder that parent/coach conflict is the norm rather than the exception?


As a coach and sports parent myself I ask you this question: Are you part of the problem or the solution?


Now I fully understand that there are numerous situations where, as a parent, you may be fully justified in being upset, bewildered or disappointed in how your athlete's coach runs their team or handles your athlete's playing time, etc. And you certainly have the right to expect an acceptable level of competency and decorum from your coaches during practices and games.


On the flip side you might be the kind of parent expecting nirvana, perfection, an idyllic season where your athlete, team and coach do no wrong in your eyes. Be truthful...how often has that happened before at any level? Being realistic of your athlete and their team's potential is critical for any sports parent.


So let's look at what being part of the problem or the solution looks like. Which category do you fall into (or your spouse)?


Here's what being a part of the problem looks like:


1. You keep track of game statistics and each players participation time to justify that the coach isn't treating your athlete fairly. Furthermore you will go out of your way to throw these stats at the coach to intimidate or manipulate his or her game day decision making.


2. You stand behind the backstop or in the stands verbally bad mouthing your athlete's coach or, worse, other players on her/his team; whether about his/her game strategy or player usage. This type of behavior is the worst kind of poison because it serves to undermine team unity, respect and support for team and coach; particularly if these verbal snipes are within eye shot of players, other team parents and coaches.


3. You share your displeasure with your athlete's coach with your athlete in the car from a game or at home. This serves to undermine the coach's efforts and plants the seed in your athlete's mind that his/her coach is incompetent or purposely treating her/him unfairly. She/he may then share your views with their teammates and team unity is then shot...leading to poor effort and game day performances.



Parents Behaving Badly at a Little League Game
4. You say nothing but are constantly pacing during the game or hovering by the dugout or bench in an attempt to hear what the coach or coaches are saying to the team. You are the proverbial fly on the wall, the pest the coaches can't wait to avoid at all costs (I have even seen players cut because of parent behavior like this).

5. You put your athlete on a pedestal, myopic to his or her true athletic ability. You can't understand why she/he isn't playing over Tommie or Tammie because she/he is clearly better than them (when the truth and stats clearly don't support your position). You maintain "small picture" thinking, without regard for team or individual player development.


6. You publicly confront your athlete's coach(es) immediately after a game in a quasi emotional rage making a fool of yourself in front of fellow parents, players and other teams...causing extreme embarrassment for your athlete and team, and risking permanent alienation with his/her coach(es).


Here's what being part of the solution looks like:


1. You express your frustration or disappointment in your athlete's coach(es) in a constructive, non-emotional way.


2. You approach your athlete's coach(es) at an appropriate time when neither of your emotions are high; at practice or in a private meeting set up by phone or email. You might find your athlete's coaches far more approachable and far less defensive if you proceed in this manner with any questions or problems you have. If you can cultivate a relationship of mutual respect with your athlete's coaches you'll likely be heard a whole lot more. Remember the old saying..."sugar catches a lot more flies than vinegar."


3. You communicate positively, but realistically to your athlete regarding her/his coach(es). You might say something like this, "Even though we may not agree with some of your coaches strategies (or you playing time/position) we need to respect his decisions. You can't control what your coach does (other than the player seeking out the coach to discuss concerns) so don't let it affect your attitude or game performance."


4. Maintain "big picture" thinking. You recognize that your athlete's coach(es) may just have a longer range plan for player or team development that you are not privy to. At the bare minimum maintain the perspective that it's youth sports: that where ever  your athlete and their team are today is not where they will be in a year or two. Comparing their performance to that of professional athletes and teams is silly and psychologically destructive to all involved...most notably your own athlete.


5. Because you do maintain "big picture" thinking you keep your emotions in check before, during and after your athlete's games. You give your athlete and her/his coaches "room" during games keeping your physical and verbal distance.


6. You recognize that coaching is not an easy job. So much more goes into what a coach has to do on the field or court than what any parent sees during a game. Coaches are constantly evaluating their athlete's during practice for effort, attitude and skill mastery (far more closely than you are able to observe). A good youth coach is always doing his/her best to put the team in a position to play their best while being mindful of each player's game and emotional development. Having to deal with irate parents in the stands should not be part of the job description!



The bottom line is your athlete and his/her team is comprised of kids who are, by nature, works in progress. Their coach or coaches may be volunteers or minimally paid individuals who, like their professional counterparts, are prone to making mistakes in strategy and judgment from time to time.


Now, that being said, there are bad coaches out there...absolutely. I am certainly not going to defend them. But even bad coaches deserve your respect for their effort; even if you don't understand or like the outcome. If they are verbally or physically abusive (like the Rutgers coach who was just fired) you have every right to confront your athlete's coach(es).


In any difficult situation in sports or in life you can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. The key is in recognizing which behavior leads to which result. You can be in a perpetual state of aggravation and frustration over your athlete's coach(es), spreading your venom where ever you go on game day...or you can be the adult and find a way to affect changes that might result in a positive solution to your problem (which might even include accepting the situation or even changing teams). But beware of "team hopping" because of your dissatisfaction with your athlete's coach(es); the grass isn't always greener on a new team and your athlete's being ripped away from his/her comfort zone may adversely effect performance.


[If your coaching issue is involving a high school coach I understand that transferring schools is likely not an option so, again, if you have no control over it why fume? If need be express your concerns to the school Athletic Director or Principal. High school coaches can be stubborn, especially if they also teach at the school. At least travel or competitive coaches know that if you aren't pleased with their performance you always have the option of leaving.]


Soon enough your little athlete will be out the door to college (whether playing ball there or not), so enjoy watching him/her play while you can. These are precious moments that will never come again. Do your best not to spoil them with misplaced anger and ego. Remember...be the solution not the problem!


What do you think? Share your thoughts or coaching/sports parents stories with me below.


Thanks for reading!


***************************

Every athlete needs a high level of sports confidence to be successful on game day. Does your athlete have it? Take her sports confidence to the next level with the Sports Confidence Blueprint program...a proven step by step formula to skyrocket game performance and game confidence!




Visit me at John Michael Kelly Sports!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Success Secret All Great Athletes Use


Often parents and coaches ask me if there is one single thing their athlete(s) can do to help insure their success on game day. 

In a perfect world I could give your athlete the magic bullet that would guarantee spectacular success and an end to all game day anxiety and frustration.  

The truth is I have no silver bullet but I may be able to offer you a bronze one!

You see all great athletes, sometimes without even knowing they're doing it, employ a secret that invariably leads to their consistent success on the diamond.

I call it the Power of Expectation.

Champion athletes that manage to perform at peak levels, closest to their fullest potential, carry with them an expectancy for success. To them success is not a surprise, but rather inevitable.

Conversely, athletes who experience a higher level of failure also carry with them an expectation on game day; particularly in the most pivotal time of the game. However their expectancy is one of doubt, uncertainty and perhaps even failure. 

The crazy and sad fact is that the physical profile of the athlete than expects success and the one that expects failure (or less than success) is often virtually identical. Both players will achieve success on the field or court; one of them is just able to do so far more frequently. Why? 

Here are five action steps your athlete and team can do to activate the Power of Expectancy:  

1. Trust Yourself - An expectancy for success starts with trusting in your abilities and your preparation. Consistently successful athletes rarely experience mental doubt or physical uncertainty when performing a task on the field. Doubt and trepidation on the diamond always lead to failure. Quoting Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."



2. Have a Plan - This means preparing properly for game day success. Remember...PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Successful athletes spend significant time on both their physical and mental game outside of team practices. If your athlete feels physically and mentally prepared come game day their success should be the byproduct of her/his proper preparation.

3. Allow Mistakes to Motivate Not Devastate - For any athlete attitude is always a CHOICE. In all sports mistakes are part of the game. If your athlete allows these mistakes to crush his/her confidence the expectancy of doubt and failure will creep in. However if mistakes are perceived as opportunities to learn and grow they can actually be motivating instead of devastating. All great athletes are defined by how they respond to the inevitable mistakes the game throws at them.

4. Remember Past Successes - Often younger athletes under the stress and pressure of the moment forget successes they have achieved before in similar circumstances. Successful athletes know they will succeed because they have done it before. 
5. See Your Success in Advance - In addition to remembering past successes "seeing" future success is also essential in activating the Power of Expectancy. Using visualization or mental imagery to mentally rehearse future success is both a fun and highly effective process that all great athletes utilize.

To fully ignite your athlete's Power of Expectancy there needs to be an underlying foundation of rock solid self- confidence. If he/she works hard at cultivating these five action steps above a far greater self- confidence level will emerge...causing the genesis of the expectancy for game day success.


The bottom line: success in sports in never an accident...but rather the result of great preparation, great effort and get attitude. Expecting success on game/match day comes from activating the mind to believe and not doubt when the game/match is on the line. Good players perform well when little is at stake while great players perform to their fullest potential when it matters most.

As always the secret to athlet
ic success lies between the ears! Expecting success over failure is a great way to start.


Check out my best selling Sports Confidence Blueprint program. This multi-media product will give your athlete all the tools she/he needs to skyrocket their game/match day confidence and activate their expectancy for success!




Sunday, January 6, 2013

Predict Your Athlete's Level of Success in 2013!

Even though I've been coaching youth sports for a long while I am not clairvoyant and don't claim to have a crystal ball. However, when it comes to predicting the absolute level of game day success any athlete will have I'm pretty confident I could do so blindfolded!

Yes...if I have just a handful of facts and a brief conversation with your athlete, without ever watching him or her play, I could tell you how good a player they are and will become with pinpoint accuracy.

How can I do that? Let me explain my magic.

Are you investing in their mental game? Change their game forever here!

As in life sports success is predictable based on a number of key factors, the most important of which is the Law of Cause and Effect; that every action empirically causes a specific and measurable reaction. Author Tony Robbins describes the process like this:

". . . the most powerful way to shape our lives is to get ourselves to take action.  The difference in the results that people produce comes down to what they’ve done differently from others in the same situations.  Different actions produce different results.  Why?  Because any action is a set cause in motion, and its effect builds on past effects to move us in a definite direction.  Every direction leads to an ultimate destination: our destiny."

Yes, I too had to read that passage a couple of times to really understand what Robbins was trying to say. After I figured it out it seems perfectly applicable to any athlete's sports "destiny."

One's destiny, in essence, is always shaped by choice; a choice of effort, a choice of attitude, a choice of preparation; a choice of purpose. And, thus, these different choices become the primal cause that shapes the ultimate levels of success and performance one athlete achieves versus another athlete.

Show me an elite athlete all the college and pro coaches/scouts are drooling over and more often than not that athlete became elite as a result of the decisions, the actions, and the choices she/he has made for years.

As I often say, success simply is not an accident. An athlete succeeds by design. And a well designed and well executed plan will, as Robbins says, set in motion causes which will produce predictable effects, or results.

Here is an even more startling fact about athletic performance; right decisions, actions and choices made over time will absolutely accelerate any athlete's success because these actions become cumulative in nature. They truly build upon one another and, in fact, become habits that are the true predictors of consistent game day success.

And, perhaps, the biggest "cause and effect" benefit to your athlete approaching his/her success by design is that their self-confidence will skyrocket over time as they see their decisions, actions and choices pay off on the field.

Here are five surefire "predictors" of your athlete's level of sports success:
  1. Does she/he have clearly defined goals? In other words, why do they play the game? If they can develop and be motivated by the "why" they play, keeping the end goal(s) in mind, he/she will have the right foundation and focus to accelerate their success.
  2. How bad does he/she want success? This is the most powerful "cause" there is in predicting any athlete's success. It defines the intensity of purpose and effort an athlete is willing to expend to achieve their goals. In other words, what are they willing to do to succeed? Is she/he driven to be good or be great?
  3. How well does she/he prepare? Greatness is built by the sum total of small efforts repeated daily. Is your athlete willing to work on their strength, their quickness, their game or position skills...their mental game for just 30 minutes each day to become the best player they can be? This is the "cumulative cause and effect" I talked about earlier. Is he/she doing ALL they can to get better, to master a difficult game....do they take massive action?
  4. Does he/she enjoy the game? Ultimately for your athlete to reach her/his fullest sports potential they must enjoy the game enough to put in the consistent time and effort to achieve greatness. Remember what Tony Robbins said: "The difference in the results that people produce comes down to what they’ve done differently from others in the same situations."  For your athlete to stand out from the crowd they need to have passion and joy for the game...a  pep in their step that others notice. 
  5. Does she/he expect success? Here is the mental ignition that can absolutely propel or limit your athlete's game day success level. Having the expectancy for success allows an athlete to bounce back from mistakes or bad games because he/she knows that they have done all the right things with their decisions, actions and choices and, thus, deserve success. 
In the final analysis you don't need to be a fortune teller to predict your athlete's game day success level. It is the sum total of his/her actions that will define their greatness or lack thereof. It's simply the Law of Cause and Effect in action.

Skyrocket Your Athlete's Sports Confidence 
and Performance Levels in 2013




Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 12 Habits & Traits of Highly Recruited Athletes


Across America on any given weekend, in any given sport, tens of thousands of teen athletes are performing at showcase tournaments, camps or other special events in front of dozens of college and/or professional scouts and coaches designed to give them the opportunity to “be seen.” Every player (and their parents) hopes for a stellar game or games to standout in some way, shape or form from all the rest of the players. And while playing well is the ultimate goal during a showcase type event how to prepare for that day is the topic of this article.

If your athlete aspires to play ball in college (or professionally) and receive a partial or full athletic scholarship it is never too early to start having her/him focus on developing the kinds of habits and traits that top athletic recruits possess that both catch the eye of the scouts as well as allow them to play at a consistent peak level on game/match day.

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Here are the Top 12 Habits and Traits of Highly Recruited Athletes:

1. They Have a Great Work Ethic - These peak performers have a crazy work ethic, and are self-driven to get better each day. No one ever out-prepares them. They are constantly pushing themselves in training and practice to be their best. They are the ones flying all over the field/court, and when they make a mistake in practice they immediately ask for another rep. Every coach would love to have an entire roster of these kids!

2. They Love the Game - Their work ethic is propelled due to their love of the game. Playing the game brings these elite athletes joy; they love the way they feel on the field/court and even smile after a mistake. It's all good to them whenever they cross the white line and their love for the game is infectious!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The 12 Traits of a Champion Athlete & Team

  
CIF high school softball champions
Torrey Pines Falcons, 2012 C.I.F. Champions
Whenever I coach or watch nearly any sporting event I am reminded of just how slim the difference between winning and losing really is in athletics.

In most every game played between two fairly evenly matched teams or players success or failure will come down to just a hand full of plays, right? The team or athlete that makes the plays, executes the best wins don't they? If you follow any larger tournament bracket you will find that the deeper the bracket goes the closer and lower scoring the games all get. Why is that?

Teams and athletes that win consistently do certain things that teams and athletes who don't win consistently do not. This is true in every sport for it is always the little things that capture or cost victory.

Let's look closer at what defines a champion with specific traits that can be learned then duplicated by your athlete and their team.

Here are the 12 traits of a championship level athlete or team:

1. Attitude - Championship caliber teams have a swagger about them, an expectancy that they will play well. These type teams literally exude an energy of success. They have a "can do" attitude from the moment they get up in the morning!

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2. Confidence - Along with the champion's swagger comes extreme confidence; almost cocky but never arrogant. Regardless of the score these teams never stop competing as they are supremely confident they will prevail when the game is over. They trust themselves to make plays, and never hesitate for fear of making a mistake.