2 Words For Athletes To Avoid At All Costs

By using negative words like HAVE TO and CAN’T we vocalize our fear of failure. Teaching athletes to keep a positive and growth mindset is important because being an athlete means you will fail multiple times a day, and that’s okay! However, you must learn to fail, and not be afraid of that failure. Here are two words that athletes should avoid using to stay in the right mindset.

HAVE TO– Instead of saying have to, say you WANT TO. When we say, we HAVE TO do something we create a belief that someone is forcing us to do something. For example, when a coach gives an athlete a specific workout, and the athlete asks “do I HAVE TO?” This athlete is creating doubt, and does not have the desire to accomplish the workout or their goals. To have a productive training session change your word choice to WANT TO, and the overall atmosphere and morale of you and your teammates will increase. Have a drive and a WANT to work towards your goals, and not do something because someone is making you do it.

CAN’T-Instead of saying can’t, say not yet! This is the most used, and most hurtful, word to our goals and mindset. When we say, I CAN’T, we are telling our brain that our body will not be able to perform the action. We have put up a mental road block on our path towards success. By changing the outlook, and saying NOT YET to something, we are keeping our path clear to continue towards our goals. Coaches may even respond to you when you say can’t with “not with an attitude like that!” If something seems hard try it anyways because you never know what you are capable of until you try.

Are you having a hard time finishing your training sessions strong? Do you/or your athlete feel defeated before even attempting your session? Watch what you say, and try changing a few words in your training vocabulary. Teaching athletes to keep a positive and growth mindset is important for their mental health, and goals.

Failing is part of life and all sports. When we learn to fail, and learn to overcome that failure we learn to have resilience. When we get knocked down we learn to get back up!

3 Ways to Break Out of a Slump

Slump_velocity_sports_performance_ortiz_0513

We all go through times when things just don’t go our way. We try to break out of it, but no matter what we try we can’t seem to shake it. This could be in sports, in school, at work, or in the gym. It happens to even the best of us.

Here are three ways to help break you out of a slump:

  1. Acknowledge the Slump

Accept it, don’t fight against it. Like getting stuck in a strong current, fighting the waves only tires you and worsens your chances of making it to shore. Fighting it can make a slump last longer and feel much worse. Ask yourself, what are my body and mind telling me? Acknowledge that maybe this is its way to tell you to slow down. The best athletes learn how to take advantage of the adversity that they face and come out stronger as a result.

  1. Write It Out

Try a free-writing exercise where you spend 10 minutes writing whatever you want. The only rule is that you have to keep writing. More often than not, writing exercises like these can help you get to the bottom of any problem you might be having. It takes time to master, but having a daily journal like this can help you understand your habits over time. It is also quite valuable to look back and see if you have had this problem before, and how you dealt with it.

  1. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)

Don’t throw yourself a pity party. The only people that want to attend are the ones that want to tear you down. When you’re in a slump don’t give into it. Have a positive mental attitude and surround yourself with other like-minded individuals.

Remember everyone gets in a slump. Acknowledging that it happens is the first step to breaking out of it. Try free-writing exercises to discover your habits. This will help guide you in making the right adjustments to break those bad behaviors. Attack your slump head-on with a positive mental attitude and surround yourself with others that exude that same positivity and you’re sure to be a success.

How to Keep Your Athlete Focused

Stay-Focused

When it comes to playing youth sports, the best predictor of success is not based off of an athlete’s physical abilities or skills. What really matters is which athlete is able to remain focused on the task at hand when they are tired. The more focused an athlete is, the more successful an athlete will be.

Look at a pitcher as he prepares to throw, he is focused on the catcher’s glove. Consider a weightlifter or gymnast, notice how calm they are before their event. They are totally locked into “the zone”.

So how do we teach our youth athletes to get into the zone and have laser sharp focus when they need it? Luckily, focus is something that can be trained.

As a coach, you must plan practices with the goal to keep athletes engaged. How do we do this? Here are some of our tricks:

Limit Distractions

One easy way to do this: NO CELL PHONES. Smartphones of any kind can dramatically decrease focus and productivity. To keep it simple, and increase focus, our rule is: Phones stay in the bags.

3 Words: Structure, Routine, Consistency.

Having a structured practice with little down time is necessary to keep athletes engaged and focused on the task at hand. When practices are consistently the same, athletes develop a routine. Routines are very important for helping an athlete increase focus. Let’s be honest, athletes are going to lose focus from time to time, so developing a strategy to regain focus is critical to help them get back into the zone. This is why a routine, or ritual, is important. For example: consider a baseball player’s at-bat routine. After each pitch, they step out of the box and adjust their gloves and helmet the same way before stepping back into the box. They consistently do the same thing over and over. This helps them maintain focus.

 Understand Different Learning Styles

Each athlete is different and they learn in different ways. There are three types of learning styles: audio (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (doing). Coaches and parents need to be aware of the possibility that the information they are presenting their athlete might not be done so in the style of learning that they understand best. In this case, the athlete is less likely to pay attention. Engaging your athletes in all of the different learning styles helps them to remain focused.

Find a Balance

Challenge is an integral part of your athlete’s overall improvement. However, keeping these challenges in line with their skill level is important to keep them from losing focus. It’s impossible to stay focused on a task that is way too challenging. Coaches need to create attainable challenges their athlete’s in order to keep them focused on completing the task at hand.

Don’t Over-Coach

Many times as a coach we feel the need to tell our athletes everything they are supposed to do and exactly how to do it. This can be information-overload for an athlete. When there are too many things to focus on, the athlete is overwhelmed and breaks down. Giving them one task to focus on is the best way to see them succeed. Once they’ve mastered the initial task, you can begin to add more.

 Keep it Fun

Sports are fun. Plain and simple. Let’s keep it that way. If an athlete is not having fun, they will be less likely to stay focused and and more likely to disengage.

3 Ways to Tell Your Athlete Needs an Off-Season

Youth Speed Training

Off-Season

In competitive athletic environments where strength, speed and skill development are constantly compared to teammates and competitors, off-seasons are extremely important for athletes.

To be clear, an off-season does not give an athlete license to disregard all healthy and active choices, it is productive time spent away from a given sport in order to reflect, recover and re-up for the next season with energy and excitement. Without this time, athletes can lose passion, concentration and can very quickly burn out.

Here are three ways to determine if your athlete needs an off-season:

Do they play their organized sport or sports year-round?

If yes, they need an off-season. If professional athletes don’t practice and compete in their sport year-round, why should your athlete?

Do you not plan family vacations because you don’t want to pull your athlete out of their sport?

If yes, they need an off-season. In order to train and compete at the highest levels, all athletes — and family members, too — need some good-quality R&R. Rest and recuperation are critical for developing athletes.

Do they only play one sport?

If yes, they need an off-season. Let another sport or structured athletic performance program act as their off-season. In the words of strength and conditioning expert Guido Van Ryssegem, “Movement variability is the oil to the central nervous system.” Athletes can make the most out of their off-season by training speed, strength and skills with the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.