The Unsung Hero

22 02 2016

28well-bullycoach-tmagArticleIn the world of sports we have become obsessed with those that hoist trophies, win scoring titles and are the face of the latest Nike or Under Armour commercial. However, I have learned that there is a class of athlete that will most likely go virtually unnoticed, unrecognized and at times even ostracized.  For the sake of confidentiality I will not name the athlete(s) that I am basing this article on, but the inspiration for this article comes from an actual series of true stories.

I am writing to give these athletes respect and a voice.

The season begins with all of the excitement that comes with a new beginning. The off-season training, which requires significant sacrifice, hard work, and focus is now in the books and coaches speak of an “equal playing field” to compete for playing time. Coaches say things like: “IF you work hard you will be given an opportunity to contribute.” Optimism is high because the hard work has resulted in a stronger, more explosive body as well as, a  set of refined skills. However, what will transpire over the following months is nothing less then devastating!!

The season begins and over time the favoritism  becomes obvious as the pecking order is already well established. Entitlement and privilege under girds the environment while players without scholarships, draft status or a powerful enough network are given messages that if evaluated outside of the sport would be nothing short of abusive. Many coaches send verbal and non-verbal messages that  show very little respect for the heart, soul and mind of these athletes that have given their all in pursuit of their dream.

Yet these UNSUNG HEROES continue to pursue their dream with vigilance, passion, focus, and belief without even a taste of humanity from the coaches that espouse being in the sport to develop young people, a community of connection and long-term skills for success.

What keeps these athletes going?

HEART. STRENGTH. COMMITMENT. DETERMINATION. BELIEF. PRIDE.

These are UNSUNG HEROES!!! I cannot think of anything that is more WORTHY of our respect and honor than recognizing the many young men and women that have the courage to pursue their dream with this kind of vigilance and courage.

This is what champions of LIFE are made of!

To those that fit the criteria listed in this article I say, “You are worthy of the highest of awards. THE UNSUNG HERO award. I hope each of you has a person highlighting these amazing qualities in you and honoring you for the character and determination that is nothing short of amazing!!! My everlasting respect goes with you!!”

The world of sports is filled with great mentors and coaches.

However, if you are a coach that is treating those you are privileged to coach with anything less than the respect you would give to your own children, then please get out of the sport!!!

We owe it to those that are giving their all to apply the best practices of coaching in their pursuit and ours.





WHO OWNS YOUR MIND?

16 07 2014

imagesA troubling trend is emerging and gaining momentum quickly.  This destructive trend is the outsourcing of our opinions, perspectives, thoughts, interests, and evaluations to coaches, parents, friends, teachers.  Day after day I talk to athletes that are giving away their sense of personal power to a parent, a coach, as well as, friends. It would be one thing if they had already arrived at their OWN thought or opinion and were seeking new thoughts, affirmation or challenge to refine and strengthen their own opinions. Unfortunately, many have simply abdicated and allowed others to dictate and define their lives and thoughts for them. Now I know this isn’t without outside reinforcement. There are certainly many parents, coaches, friends, along with others that like to share, might I say, force their opinions on those around them believing they are helping. This is dangerous and destructive and needs to be confronted, challenged and changed. You might ask yourself, “what is the harm?” Quite frankly, the harm is significant and long standing.

The price tag of abdicating one’s opinion, perspective, and sense of possibility is significant!

  • Loss of inner confidence
  • Increased anxiety
  • Decreased engagement and motivation
  • Decreased self awareness
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Delayed learning
  • Delayed maturation
  • Decision-making skills underdeveloped
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Increased confusion and despair

These are just a few of the unintended consequences.

When athletes play and learn in environments where their opinions are rarely asked the likelihood of outsourcing one’s opinions, perspectives and personal power is high. I believe we need to challenge, encourage and affirm our young athletes to retain to their personal power by asking, affirming and acknowledging their opinions and perspectives along with refraining from offering OUR thoughts. This is not to say that every opinion and perspective one generates is helpful. However, if we rarely ask or acknowledge then how does one ever cultivate a useful, productive and personalized perspective for themselves? This is often referred to in other circles as “growing your voice.”

Over the last 15 years of coaching athletes at every level I have found that those that have learned to believe in themselves starts with having an opinion that often leads to an inner confidence, strong work ethic and faster learning than those that simply wait for someone else’s approval or perspective on their performance.

If you are an athlete that has been prone to giving away your power then I offer these tips to gain back your sense of power:

  • Start with admitting that you have given your power away. What you are most likely doing is trading your power for the assurance that you will play or please. At some level you believe that if you try to fit your game to the satisfaction of someone else it will insure you will get playing time. Hey, the truth is playing time goes to those that are clear about their role, have the skills to perform and confidently and courageously engage themselves doing the best they can.
  • Determine your strengths. GET REALLY CLEAR about them. Most athletes hand over their power because they are not clear about their strengths. To compensate for their lack of clarity they simply allow someone else to tell them what to do. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS!
  • Have an opinion before you ask someone else for theirs. It is to easy to shape what you think after you have heard someones opinion, especially if you respect them or they have power to determine your playing time or role. No matter what it is IMPORTANT to arrive at your own conclusion. You may need others to help affirm or challenge your opinion but HAVE ONE TO START!
  • Commit yourself to fully expressing yourself to the best of your ability. We are all at our best when we live boldly, confidently, intentionally, and without regret. You can do this by designing your life and play with clarity, support and the commitment to learning along the way.

Lets take the time to ask before we tell, acknowledge before we assume, and empower our young people to retain and refine their opinions and perspectives. In doing so we will be growing independent thinkers that can confidently withstand the objections, critical feedback and disappointment that often accompanies the competitive environment they will undoubtedly experience now and in the future.





Moving from PRACTICING to TRAINING

1 07 2014

Training

The time of year is upon us when many athletes prepare to take the next steps in their personal and physical development. For many this  time of year is when skills, strength, speed, and mental focus can significantly advance.  For this reason I am compelled to provide a  framework to exponentially charge the progress in each of these areas. That is, to differentiate between just “showing up” to practice and  engaging in training.

At the surface these two concepts almost appear redundant. However, they really aren’t and it is important to know the difference.

The concept of training centers on an athlete’s vision for a goal they want to accomplish and doing the work to generate crystal clarity about what needs to be accomplished in order to see the vision become reality.  This vision or goal may include making a team, increasing ones contribution or playing time on a current team, running a marathon, preparing for a challenge, or deepening ones physical and mental tools. The focus on training is on growing discipline, focus, consistency and overall personal development  because this is how exponential gains are earned rather than the incremental progress that is the mindset associated with practice.

The focus for practice is a single ‘moment in time’, a scheduled block of time that provides the opportunity to work on a skill or set of skills often done in repetitive fashion seeking to incrementally move an athlete or individual closer to their vision of achievement. Here is the problem…it is possible for one to practice but not train. I have worked with athletes too often that continually show up to a practice session lacking clear goals, leading to a lack of focus, as well as, disconnected from a overall plan, investing significant time, energy and resources only to find themselves at the end no closer to any goal than when they started.

So how does practicing turn into training?

This happens when five elements converge:

1. A clear and challenging  goal or achievement is set. (requiring significant progression)
2. The skills needed to qualify for the achievement are clearly identified.
3. A holistic plan is created that puts forth a series of practices that build momentum towards the achievement sought after. (including mental skills)
4. The athlete engages, commits and focuses on these skills intentionally in each practice with the desire to push beyond current limitations. (living more comfortable with discomfort)
5. Quality coaching brings feedback and correction immediately to enhance learning. (expertise, and relevant immediate feedback and correction)

The individual blocks of work often disconnected from any clear goal are practices. The long haul daily grind connected to a goal or clear point of accomplishment is training. Very rarely does any ONE practice or block of time get one to their goal or achievement, it is the ongoing focused energy and commitment to deliberate and daily practice (I am calling training) that qualifies one to gain not only the physical tools needed but also the character and mental toughness and focus required to achieve and succeed to the extent required to reach the long term goal.

My challenge is to TRAIN your way to your vision and goals, use practice as your on ramp to accomplish what it is going to take for you to get to your end result. The character, mental toughness, and discipline required to do this not only helps you in your sport, but also deepens your character along the way.





Triggers for Growth

2 06 2014

StruggleParticipation in sports provides a great opportunity to test the waters of competition, overcome challenges and manage change. Growing through these dynamics is a must if one is to maximize the opportunity in front of them. Often, athletes train to improve skills, work hard to improve strength and speed, however, they neglect the training that is required to grow through the resistance, discomfort and disappointment that competition brings.

Success in a competitive environment not only requires the evolution and mastery of skills, but also, the capacity to work together with others, receive feedback and coaching, manage and experience discouragement, struggle, and disappointment. Because competition creates environments where equally skilled and talented athletes seek to test their skills against each other, challenge becomes a  consistent theme in the life of an athlete accompanied by change. Change happens because situations may dictate that athletes be asked to fulfill different roles and these roles may be different than what has been experienced prior. All this is to say that the landscape of sports INCLUDES the opportunity to COMPETE, as well as, manage and grow through CHALLENGE and CHANGE. Unfortunately, growth does not just happen. Athletes need to be equipped with strategies in order to grow through these 3 C’s.

To that end I offer these (3) triggers for growth:

The first trigger is to work to develop a more effective PERSPECTIVE. Our perspective can become lazy, unfocused and under developed. Much like a physical skill without continued focus and work it can begin to lag behind as others are moving forward and gaining greater mastery. Your perspective should always be a focus of improvement. Here are (3) questions you can ask yourself in order to improve and strengthen the quality of your perspective:

  1. How can I use the circumstances I am currently dealing with to get better?
  2. What is my picture of success and what do I have to do to create the picture?
  3. Say to yourself: I know I can take any situation and turn it into a stepping stone of success.

When athletes pay attention to their PERSPECTIVE and actively seek to improve and strengthen it they are better able to GROW through competition, challenge and change.

The second trigger is to be INTENTIONAL.  Too many athletes live in fear and therefore, hold back because of the fear of failing. Nobody, exhibits power in their life without first understanding the importance of being intentional or on purpose. What this means is to begin each day with an internal picture and design about how you want the day to go. Facing competition, challenge and change insists that you move boldly towards it seeking to have an intentional stamp that you leave on the situation you are in.

Train yourself to think in this manner:

  • Next time I face that situation I am going to_______.
  • When I face that challenge in the future this is how I am going to approach and it________.

These types of statements put you in a place of power to affect the situation you are in and give you an incredible advantage.

The third trigger is to embrace the power of STRUGGLE. Put bluntly, struggle is where strength is created. Have you ever seen an athlete go into the gym and lift air? Why? Air provides no resistance and would keep us weak and underdeveloped. Growth truly requires us to embrace struggle so that we can be strengthened through it. To do this will require you to change your mind about struggle so that you are not interpreting struggle as a symptom of failure but a platform for future growth and success.

These triggers will add great value and benefit to you as you seek to grow through competitive moments, the challenges that come from competition, as well as, the change that often results from being involved in sports.

Let’s begin to actively and intentionally train ourselves to not simply be stronger physically but to match the mental skills needed to grow through any circumstance or situation.

This is when we truly become GREAT!





Nothing Short of Bullying

26 02 2014

ImageOver the years it has become increasingly apparent to me that we have a HUGE problem in our youth sports culture. It would be natural to assume this problem is with parents that have unrealistic expectations for their kids that lead to the over involvement it tends to breed. However, I have come to realize there is a much bigger problem sparking outrage that needs to be addressed.

This problem is the lack of COACHING SKILLS LEADING TO POSITIVE ATHLETE EXPERIENCES!

Everyday, young athletes and families invest big chunks of time, energy, money, and maybe most importantly, HOPE in the sport they play. Their hope is that they will have a positive experience comprised of bonding with their teammates, skill mastery and the possibility of another adult mentor giving them another voice of truth.

What do many of athletes find when they show up? Many are met with negativity, verbal abuse, a lack of communication, and significant confusion to name a few. This leads to many becoming discouraged, beaten down, and quite frankly hurt beyond our awareness.

Because of this I feel compelled to write…

In a time where we are writing legislation to put an end to bullying, I wonder why we have been so silent when it comes to how our kids are treated by many coaches? Are we that afraid of the possible back lash that we allow this to happen without outrage and up-rise?

Now, I am aware not all coaches treat athletes in this manner however, I believe many coaches utilize screaming, verbal abuse, and mind games along with emotional manipulation in an attempt to motivate and get kids to behave in a certain way. For instance, just last week I witnessed a coach scream at a 9th grade basketball team while on the bench. For what? They made a bad pass? Missed a shot? Were in the wrong place?

Does this justify such abusive behavior?

What about an athlete that shows up to practice and exhibits low levels of energy, engagement and execution? Does this give license for a coach to “go off” on a kid? Do many think to themselves… “they had it coming because they are lazy, disinterested and distracted”? To get the kids going the coach had to do something.

If we believe that these are acceptable reasons for a coach to verbally assault our kids we need to truly think twice about the price tag of this. OUR KIDS ARE BEING EMOTIONALLY DESTROYED! What is worse, is that our kids are often blamed for the verbal assaults, manipulation and confusion. We have set our kids up as the source of our coaches happiness through their athletic performance play. Many kids believe that their coaches are more invested themselves than the team itself.

It is time that we RISE UP and quit tolerating these often utilized coaching strategies. Yelling, intimidating and verbal abuse of our kids is not okay! I do not care what level of laziness, distractibility or lack of execution is occurring. This type of coaching behavior is unacceptable . If this type of behavior happened in any other environment (schools, for instance) the bully would be suspended and often times expelled. Yet, this bullying takes place daily in gyms, rinks, and on fields all over the country with little to no consequence to the bully.

From where I sit the spirit of our young athletes is being destroyed.

What is worse is that the kid truly has no recourse. Day after day they go to practice and games and experience this type of coaching with little to no protection around them. What is a kid in this situation to do? Should they go talk to the coach and say; “I will not put up with this type of treatment!”? Doing so in many cases will be seen as a lack of respect and most likely will result in punishment to themselves and the team.

It is important that we have a no tolerance policy for coaches that utilize intimidating, manipulative, verbally abusive, and poor skills in coaching. Our kids are hungry for a positive experience and deserve to be coached by skilled coaches that know how to get the most out of them while they cultivate a safe and positive environment.

I am passionate about championing positive experiences for our young athletes. This happens when parents, coaches, youth boards, and communities quit tolerating unacceptable behavior and start prioritizing training, skill development and accountability for those that have the privilege of shaping and influencing our young people.

In my next blog I will lay out a plan for how coaches can generate quality experiences for kids while they are able to challenge them to be at their best.

Until next time, lets join together in doing something to STOP THE BULLYING.

Shaun Goodsell





Perspective and Power

26 03 2013

Perspect&PowerAthletes consistently pursue achievement at many levels. When athletes train, they spend most of their time training their body to be faster, stronger and more skilled (these are important). Optimum performance often is not only dictated by the training of the body, but also the mind.

The mind is often spoken of as being a significant asset for those seeking optimal performance. Words like confidence, mental toughness and resiliency are often noted as labels to clarify what leads to optimal mental capacity.

The truth is, in order to cultivate deep confidence, resiliency and mental toughness a TRAINED PERSPECTIVE matched with an active, consistent display of personal power is non-negotiable. Most athletes simply believe that the mind will develop on it’s own until they run into a performance roadblock. This is a catastrophic error in judgement.

Your PERSPECTIVE is your personalized window you look out of AND the window that information comes back to you. Your PERSPECTIVE sets the stage for how you think, how you feel and what possibilities or limitations you experience. Your PERSPECTIVE either opens or closes you to vital information that can end up influencing your ability to learn or keep you stuck in a reality that limits you. Too many athletes have an untrained perspective. They have never even explored this nor experienced the power of a “trained perspective”. When your PERSPECTIVE inhibits your learning, you foster a negative and rigid attitude as well as a defensive and fearful existence that reveals your need to enroll in PERSPECTIVE TRAINING.

Perspective training includes:

1. Increasing your awareness of how your current PERSPECTIVE is helping and hurting you in your quest towards achievement.

2. Re-inventing a new PERSPECTIVE leading to enhanced awareness, creativity and courage.

3. On-going support to consistently grow and utilize your reinvented PERSPECTIVE to take on challenges and pursue optimum achievement.

Make a commitment to train your perspective in a way that will allow you to reach consistent play and live at your optimal potential. You will never regret it!!

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Discipline…get in the zone!

14 03 2013

ImageBeing a sports fan, along with working with athletes to enhance their performance, I am fascinated by the concept of discipline.

What captivates me is how easy it is to miss the deep value within the practice of discipline. The richness of this concept begins when you start to break down the word and realize at the root of the word discipline is the word “disciple”.  A disciple is one that positions themselves to LEARN. Learning is a critical aspect of development, performance enhancement, and life training. To live without discipline inhibits us from learning the lessons required to realize the self mastery needed to live in a manner that positions us not only for success, but as important, a life of peace.

Putting ourselves under a structure of discipline is like being mentored by a great teacher, sort of like your own unique personal trainer. Unfortunately, many have come to think of discipline as a life or torture and punishment.

Being disciplined forces us to face discomfort, which in turn kicks in our need for will power. Many of us our weak in will power because we engage in all sorts of avoidance thinking, actions, and comfort-based life patterns. To dodge life lessons through  excuses, comfort behaviors,  and avoidance eliminates our ability to learn the lessons that are taught through struggle and the use of creativity, resourcefulness, and imagination.

Challenge:  Choose one behavior that will force you to face some discomfort. Make a 30 day ritual out of that behavior. Spend the next 30 days executing that behavior. Experience the good feelings that occur as you generate success each day using your will power to fight all the excuses and explanations used in the past to act in an undisciplined fashion.

There are not any successful people I know that are not disciplined and have great will power. Make a commitment to strengthen yours today!