1w6k1b99tnjW5qLK9QKgJCiG0NE The SportExcel Zone: 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

#2 Rule of coaching and playing: Learn to forget

All great athletes and coaches play their game in the moment.  Thoughts about past losses and mistakes have no place in their memory banks. Let the commentators, fans and parents remember them—not the players and coaches.

One of my karate colleagues taught me to forget. He was unusually obsessed by his mistakes and losses. After the tournament, he would work for hours on techniques and strategies to overcome any weakness he had displayed in the competition. He literally transformed the bad memory into a success—a learning success. And he rarely repeated mistakes.

When you treat past mistakes as a gold mine, they are easy to fix. When you treat them as something that makes you sick (and it will often feel that way), you will avoid thinking about them. And you will learn nothing. Zero! Plus, the negative feelings could be triggered at the worst possible time by some well-meaning (or devious) coach, opponent, parent or spectator.

The faster you can learn to forget, the better. Quit those ‘hang dog’ postures or displays of self-pity. Instead, learn to get back in the game instantly. Your team needs you. One instant of ‘hang-dog’ can prolong your misery (and even bring your whole team down.) And that especially goes for coaches.

So start noticing how professional athletes and coaches move on from mistakes, and copy them. They’ll strike out, miss putts, have mental lapses or be down a few points—and you’ll still see a fierce determination in their eyes.

There are some very powerful strategies you can use to help you to forget. Some are so effective that they can permanently resolve post-traumatic memories involving car wrecks and sexual assaults. Now that’s powerful. If a strategy can do that, forgetting BAD sports memories would be a piece of cake.

Email me today if you’d like some help getting started.

Monday, February 2, 2009

#1 Rule for Coaches

I was at a hockey game the other day and once again my #1 Rule for Coaches held true.
"When the coach stays in the Zone, the athletes will."
The young hockey players were playing their hearts out in a somewhat pathetic show of miss-steps, while behind the bench the coaches were slouching and showing signs of fatigue (and they weren't even the ones playing).

Something called mirroring is at play here. With any great leader you can FEEL their presence, their charisma, their incredible energy. We FEEL it and unconsciously mirror it back at them. Athletes mirror their coach. Employees mirror their boss. Audiences mirror the singer or performer.

Now this is a huge responsibility for you if you coach. Stop blaming your players. At no time should a spectator be able to tell the score by your demeanor, except to think that you are winning. At all times you need to display the sense of presence, charisma and energy of a great motivator and leader. I have gotten more coaches to be winning coaches by helping them with this simple rule.

In the hockey game, the players were playing with such little energy that the fans could feel nothing. There was no spark, no reason to cheer. Half the seats were empty. But think of it: every time a player sat on the bench between shits, he was influenced by a coach who was fatigued and defeated. It is only natural for them to mirror, especially since they don't even know it's happening.

Of course, like so many things in coaching, it's so easy to fix. For one thing, you can always act like you are winning and your athletes WILL feel the difference. And second, if that sounds too easy to be true, it probably is if you don't have some strategies to support it. I'll be giving you some of these strategies in upcoming blogs. Stay tuned or contact me.
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