Friday, April 11, 2014

Champions Train Mentally and Physically

If you believe you can, then you have a shot. If you believe you can’t, then you won’t. Too often, we fill ourselves with negative thoughts. We justify why we can’t do something. We tell ourselves we are tired, too sore, too old, too young, too stupid, too smart, too tall, too short, too skinny, too slow, etc, etc, etc. We are defeated before we have even had a chance to begin.

The first person we have to overcome, before we can every think about beating an opponent, is ourselves. We have to be able to mentally tell ourselves we can accomplish what we set out to do. We then have to feed our confidence with positive words. We have to continually reinforce to ourselves that we have the ability. 

During my 19 years in coaching I have had opportunities to be a part of turning programs around. My first coordinator job was at a school that lost 27 straight games and was shutout 6 times the year before we got there. The principal told me we can't win their, and tried to talk me out of accepting the job offer! My first task was not teaching an offense. That was the least of our concerns. Like many losing programs, the kids were beat down after years of failure. Our first priority was teaching our kids to believe they were capable of more than they thought possible. Our job was to build a championship culture.

The change in mindset was not overnight. It also was not by accident. It was a process of continual improvement. We dedicated time to training the mind as well as the body, and we did so with intent. We developed specific activities, both individually and as a group, that allowed our athletes to experience success. 

One important aspect was building in a four week boot camp that ran from the first week in January through the first week in February. We started off in the classroom for the first three days. It was in the classroom that we set very clear expectations, and defined things in a very detailed manner. We used a variety of avenues to provide our players with character and leadership lessons. We spent time each day talking to them about focus and mindset. We defined adversity and mental toughness. We asked them to create an identity. We had them come up with a list of qualities of a championship program. We then had them develop a set of standards of performance. Then, we helped them meet the standards they set.

After we set our standards of performance, we began our mental and physical toughness activities. We focused on holding our athletes accountable to our standards while coaching them on the details. Our goal was always to have a "perfect" day. From arriving on time to how we stand to how we move to how we transition from station to station, accountability was key. We also introduced stress into their environment. We can't simulate the stress they will face on Friday Night, but we can put them into stressful situations with tremendous adversity. 

While our boot camp only went 20 days, the culture we built grew throughout the winter, spring, and summer. The weight room and track were very important for our cultural transformation. We set up the situation each day and clearly laid out the expectations. We talked about focusing on the process and the details. Our players began to learn that if you take care of the process, the outcome will be more favorable. 

The key is that everything had to build confidence. As their confidence grew, we began to stretch them physically and mentally. We didn't ask them to climb Mt. Everest day one. We created situations where they were able to string small victories together. As they gained confidence, we begin to put them in situations that stretched their limits farther and farther. We reached a point where they became comfortable being uncomfortable. They began to embrace rather than fear their shirts being drenched in sweat. That sweat became a badge of honor. They felt empowered!

When you empower young people and it becomes their deal, they will work harder. They will push through more adversity than what they thought possible. They take ownership, and once they take ownership, you have something special. 

The results spoke for themselves. We enjoyed tremendous success. We won 6 games our first year, scoring over 50 points three times. We went to the playoffs for the first time in school history our second year. The next year we won the first playoff game in school history. Each year we continued to improve. We became a consistent championship contender every single year. 

The important thing to understand is that beliefs and values can be taught. You are not at the mercy of your circumstances. There are so many things which we have complete control. We realized early on that we could control how we developed leadership. We could control how much we empowered our players. We could control the process of building a championship culture and mentality. We control whether we make the most of our ability!

If you want to change your program, take time to train your athletes mentally. Tie your strength and conditioning program into a character education and leadership program. Give your players ownership and watch them excel in ways you never thought possible!

A few months back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959. The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense. 
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Installing-Explosive-Concepts-Into-Offense-ebook/dp/B01B12YSCG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1075902270.


Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

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