Being a coach for twenty plus years affords a little bit of wisdom when it comes to coaching athletes to success. There are 5 KEYS, if you want to be the best.
- Prepare and feed your mind. Not all athletes truly understand the value of a strong mind. But to beat out your competition, you have to be mentally tough. Now metal toughness is usually considered for being a gamer. But I’m going to challenge that belief. Having a strong mind requires focus. Wear it and believe it! Focus requires clarity and exercising that mind of yours too. Recently I’ve been fortunate to work with two major athletes in the world of volleyball. Both players compete at very high levels on the men’s and women’s side of our USA National teams. After getting to know them both, I was extremely impressed with their commitment to growth through reading a whole array of books, listening to podcasts, and keeping their circles small and at a high level. I know that each of them would say how important it is for athletes to read and grow daily. It helps you both on and off the court. Some people may scoff, but to stay in the game and continue to go to that next level, your mind matters.
- Be committed to being coachable. One thing elite athletes know, is that there’s always a way to improve. Whether it’s focussing on getting 1% better or 20% better, there’s got to be that attitude that you can learn something every time you show up and from anyone who’s coaching. Ok. I know you’re thinking, “But Coach, you don’t know who is coaching me this year.” And I’ll tell you again that there’s always something to learn. Show up every day with a beginner’s mindset. You’ll find that you’re happier and will enjoy your training and competing at a much greater capacity. Hey, you may even surprise yourself by getting just that 1% better.
- Attitude check. How you approach anything is how you approach everything. When you’re in a battle for the W, your attitude can determine the entire outcome. As both a player and a coach, I’ve been on both sides. I’ve lost matches. Battles I should have won. And I say that with huge amounts of respect for the opponent. But really, any time I’ve lost, as a coach or a player, I always have told myself that the opponent must have been better. Maybe it wasn’t skill. It usually came down to my attitude and approach to battling for the W. There is nothing worse than knowing you could have won had you just had the winning attitude. Keeping your attitude on track will always be that 1% factor in a tight one. So keep that attitude in check and focussed on the bigger picture. Don’t be cocky. Respect the game and the opponent to have your best outcomes. And that goes for practice and training too. The ones who work harder and smarter, all the way around, make it to the big leagues.
- Protect your body. Say what??? I know, I know. Parents and Coaches are clapping and yelling, “Get ’em Coach!” While the athletes are shrugging saying but c’mon Coach, does it realllllly matter? Yes, it does. When I first started coaching, nobody was talking really about the How’s nor the Why’s in how you treat your body in relation to growth and development, and training, recovery and performance. In this day and age, science and the evolution of sport requires you to treat your body like a machine. Keep it gassed up. Rest it so you don’t blow your engine. Keep it lubed up for the those little things which add up to the big things in the end. Eating the right combination of your macros and getting those fleeting micros are key. Staying hydrated with the good stuff rather then those dehydrating, inflammatory sugary caffeinated drinks. Let’s keep it simple, focus on eating things that come from the earth. And pick and take a high quality pharmaceutical grade supplement. You may think that you run out to Whole Foods or GNC and be safe. There are no guarantees of purity or potency so do your due diligence and align yourself with a product that won’t compromise the integrity of the athlete. For those starting young and planning to rise to collegiate and then to the pro levels, I put my athletes on a supplement line that is not only in the Physician’s Desk Reference, but also is NSF Certified for Sport and has an Athlete Program with over 2000+ elite and Olympic athletes. They are given a $1M dollar guarantee that they won’t test positive for any banned substance. Don’t compromise when it come to your body! And NO, a hot dog in between matches at a 3 day tourney is NOT OK!
- Believe and have a grateful heart. If you don’t believe, with an humble spirit, that you can achieve greatness, you’re right. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right has truth behind the saying. It took me a very long time to learn the value of taking time for myself to think. Now I spend quality time meditating, using deep breathing to clear my mind and focussing on peace. I love speaking affirmations and the way I feel looking into my own eyes, and speaking everything I want to be. It gives me the courage to actually BE that person. By doing so, I feel so grateful for everything I am, how I approach and live every moment. Now don’t get me wrong, I still fall. But it’s in the falling that I learn HOW to become better and stay committed to becoming better! Never stop believing in yourself. I truly wish one of my coaches would have taught me to do things like this when I was growing up. I am grateful for it now and am passionate about teaching this, and coaching other coaches to be that coach for their athletes. Always be grateful for all the sacrifices of the people who took their hearts, resources and a piece of themselves to make you who you are and who you will be.