March 9, 2010
Improve Performance On and Off the Field by Kathy Toon
All of us need a regular shot of perspective and direction in a sports world that is an arena to learn the best life has to offer… and the worst when left unattended. In this article, we'll discuss ways to (teach or build) skills that improve an athlete's performance on and off the playing field.
Speaking from over twenty years of experience, I know that we expect our athletes (and our children) to show up for both competition and practice with their Game Face on. We want them to maintain their Game Face on the playing field no matter what. Do we hold ourselves to the same standard? I believe the saying "A team is a reflection of its coach." I also believe that kids are a reflection of their parents! The best coaches (and parents) lead by example, so if you want your athletes to have great Game Faces, you need one, too. What does your Game Face Routine look like on the sidelines? How do you react to things that happen on the playing field? What do your athletes (kids) see when they look toward the sideline during competition. Do they see Game Face, or do they see upset, frustration, and negativity? You set the tone for your players and your kids. Be sure to reflect back to them what you want to see on the playing field
Sideline Tool - Athletes have no control over winning or losing, the weather, or the behavior of fans, opponents, teammates, judges, or referees. Champions keep their focus on the things they directly control: their attitude, work ethic, thoughts, motivation, effort, and learning. In addition, champions focus on the process, not the outcome (winning, scholarship offers, playing time). They keep their attention on the things in their circle of control that will put them in the best position to succeed. As coaches and parents we can help train our athletes to focus on what they want to happen rather than what they do not want to happen. Remember, "You can't do a don't do." How often do you say to your something like this to your athlete?
"Don't drop your elbow,"
"Stop hogging the ball,"
It's no wonder our athletes harp on themselves by saying or thinking: "Don't miss," "Don't hog the ball," "Don't fumble," or "Don't turn the ball over"? Good luck. It's like someone asking you not to think of a pink elephant. (What image just popped into your mind?) When you focus on what you don't want to do, your mind and your body don't hear the word "don't." They hear "miss," "strike out," "fumble," and "turn over." It's no surprise that these things happen when you focus on them. Instead, focus on the things you do want to happen. Tell your athletes to:
Keep your eyes up
Look for the open player and pass the ball
Ask for what you want
The more specific we are with our athletes, hopefully the more specific they will be with themselves: "Watch for the open player," "Make contact," "Go to the ball," and "Get a good foot on this pass." We want our players to tell their minds and your bodies exactly what they want to happen and let them go to work on making it happen.
Check back next week for another great coaching tip article.