Happy Thanksgiving!

We are truly thankful for all of the many clients and coaches who have used CoachDeck to improve the lives of children during their time on the field or on the court. Please enjoy this day of gratitude and share your love with friends and family.

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How Athletes Can Perform Their Best When it REALLY Counts (Part 2 of 2)

By Dr. Jim Taylor

If you missed the first installment of this article you can read it here.

How to Reverse the Spiral?
Think less, feel more. The first step in getting back on track involves realizing that thinking more about your performing or putting more effort in won’t work. To the contrary, you actually need to do just the opposite, namely, less thinking, less trying, more feeling, and more letting go.

It starts by recognizing that performing well is about feeling, not thinking. Two types of feelings are involved. First, the physical feelings you like to have before competitions. You want feel strong, comfortable, and at your ideal intensity. Second, the emotional feelings you like to have before competitions. Some athletes like to feel happy and relaxed. Others like to feel inspired and excited.
Perform like a kid. One very consistent feeling athletes often lose this time of year is why they perform in their sport in the first place. Remember that feeling of freedom and joy you used to feel before competitions started to REALLY matter. For example, one athlete I work with who is competing at the World Junior Ski Championships in Are, Sweden next week said that he skis his best when he feels the way he felt when he was a kid. He just loved (and still loves) bombing around a mountain, “hucking” big air, and being a little crazy. In recent years, as his goals have risen and competing in his sport has REALLY started to matters, he has lost touch with the incredible love and joy he feels in his sport. My advice to him? Get back to that feeling and do a lot of bombing, hucking, and craziness in the coming week leading up the big event!

Express yourself. You need to get out of “protective mode” in reaction to seeing the upcoming competitions as threats to avoid and get into “expressive mode” in response to seeing the upcoming competitions as challenges and opportunities to pursue your love of your sport. Competing in sports is like creating a painting on a canvas. You don’t think through every stroke of paint you put on the canvas. Rather, you get in front of the canvas, see and feel the image you want to create, and then you simply turn off your mind and trust your creativity to express that internal image on the canvas. The same holds true for sports. Just before you enter the competitive arena, see and feel how you want to perform, and then trust that your body will express itself during the competition the way you’ve trained it to.

Nothing to lose. You have to perform as if you have nothing to lose (because, in the big picture, you have nothing to lose). You will surely perform your worst if you feel as if every competition is life or death. Now that is pressure! You perform your best when you let go of expectations, pressure, and fear of failure. You perform your best when you are totally focused on the process and the present. You perform your best when you turn off your mind and just let your body do what it knows how to do. You perform your best when you take risks and just go for it. And you perform your best when you are having fun and competing because of your deepest feelings for your sport.

“Forget it!”. For you to perform your best, you have to get in the starting gate and just say “Forget it!”. This attitude doesn’t mean not caring about your sport, but rather not caring about the consequences of your sport. It means being able to accept whatever happens as long as you take your shot and perform your best. When you adopt the “Forget it!” attitude, you liberate yourself to perform without doubt, worry, or fear, and with confidence, commitment, and courage.

Three Goals on Game Day
When you are able to clear out the mental and emotional clutter from your mind that’s holding you back, you can then free your mind to focus on three simple goals on game day.
Getting Prepared. Before the competition, you want to be able to say, “I’m as prepared as I can be to perform my very best.” Ultimately, that’s all you can do. Being well prepared doesn’t guarantee success (because you can’t control everything in sport), but not being prepared certainly ensures failure.

Bring it! During a competition, your singular goal is to “bring it,” meaning being fully commit to and completely focused on performing the best you can from start to finish. Bringing it doesn’t guarantee success (because S&%# happens in sport), but not bringing it certainly ensures failure.

No regrets. After the competition, whether you won or lost, you want to look back and have no regrets because you left it all out there. Of course, if things don’t work out the way you had hoped, you’ll be disappointed. But knowing you accomplished these three goals will minimize the regrets and inspire you to pursue these three goals in the next competition. And I truly believe that if you continue down this road, at some point, good things will happen.

Dr. Jim Taylor holds a Ph.D. in Psychology, is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, and blogs on politics, education, technology, popular culture, and sports for huffingtonpost.compsychologytoday.comseattlepi.com, and on his own blog at drjimtaylor.com.

Time to be thankful

Those of us with children playing sports, at any level, have so much to be thankful for. Freedom from injuries. Volunteers who make everything possible. Coaches. Teammates. The means to be able to allow our children to play. Take this time to think of all of those across the world who do not have our advantages and be thankful.

More great news from PHIT

Our partners PHIT America.org are making tremendous strides (no pun intended) toward getting America fit and healthy. Their land mark legislation is getting closer to passing in Congress and, when it does, we’ll all benefit!

It’s so Friday!

So be sure to get outdoors, (weather, schmeather) and make that heart pump! Take a walk or a jog, kick the ball with your kids, shoot some hoops, do something to work off some of that future turkey! Have a great weekend!

Seven Steps to Teaching Youth Athletes to Respect Umpires and Referees

Our friends at TrueSport have provided us with another great tip sheet. This one on the topic of our treatment of umpires and referees in youth sports. It is a terrific read and recommended for all players, parents and coaches.

ABF Lead-off dinner

Please consider sponsoring the February Lead-off Dinner held by our partners at the American Baseball Foundation:

In a couple of months, the ABF will host Mr. Tommy John as our guest speaker at our 17th annual fund raising dinner on Friday, February 2nd, 2018.  Tommy was a very successful Major League pitcher who won a total of 288 games. He is remembered as the pioneer in having ligament replacement in his throwing elbow to allow him to continue to pitch. After his historical surgery, Tommy won 164 or 57% of all his games. Tommy knows how to overcome obstacles.

Several of the children that the ABF works with each week in our after-school programs with Better Basics Inc. face formidable obstacles. The following passage summarizes these obstacles.

“What we know about the development of literacy skills is really quite clear. We know, for example, that literacy begins developing at birth and that the years before a child enters school are integral to this development. In fact, this is the time when the foundation of one’s literacy skills begins to develop. This explains why the earlier in life one tries to learn a second language, the easier it is. When the foundation for acquiring language skills is not laid properly, a child is placed at a disadvantage that will, in all probability, last a lifetime. For policymakers to pretend this isn’t true and create policies as if schools can undo the damage done by parents who aren’t properly engaged in their child’s earliest educational development does a horrible disservice to our youth. It is particularly harmful, as a rule, to children who are raised in poverty and who do not receive the at-home stimulation they deserve. 

The fact is, a child’s out-of-school experiences, not the school he or she attends, is the single most important factor in literacy development. We know that a child is given the greatest opportunity to thrive when he or she is provided an enriched learning environment in a home in which a parent, grandparent, sibling, or other caregiver properly interacts with him or her. Having an adult read to, talk to, sing to, and otherwise immerse a child in an enriched language environment beginning at birth provides him or her an advantage over a child who is not likewise engaged.” From Reading for Life: Why Childhood Literacy Matters Pages 54-55

The obstacles are many but the will to have fun with reading runs strong in children. After a normal reading session, we have all the children become one team. They have to answer two of three questions based on the reading to begin the sports section of the after-school enrichment. Not all the questions are answered by the readers. Our poorly-nurtured students jostle their peers to answer. They have been attentive and desire to help the group. They have the Tommy John will to succeed as a reader.

Please consider assisting and attending the ABF’s Lead Off Dinner with Tommy John.
$2500- Platinum Sponsor
Table for 8 in front of guest speaker Tommy John
8 tickets to VIP Cocktail Party-meet and receive photo with guest speaker
Name/Logo recognition in event program, all marketing materials and social media
$1200-Gold Sponsor
Table for 8 in priority seating area
2 Tickets to VIP Cocktail Party
Name/Logo recognition in event program, all marketing materials and social media
 $750-Bronze Sponsor
Tickets for four
2 Tickets to VIP Cocktail Party
Name/Logo recognition in event program
 $150-Ticket for dinner and event
For sponsorship, table and ticket information, please contact the ABF at 205-558-4235.