Coaches: Take the Time This Season

Typically in this blog space, my posts are directed towards athletes.  But after reading this article about Urban Meyer, I thought I would dedicate this month to the coaches.

“Meyer is following a strict regimen of working out at noon, taking medicine to control the reflux that contributed to the esophageal problems and eating healthy meals five or six times a day…That is a stark contrast from when Meyer would get so wrapped up in his job that he would stop working out for weeks at a time and leave his lunch uneaten on his desk. In preparing for the Southeastern Conference title game against Alabama last year, Meyer lost 20 pounds.”

As you may already know, Meyer, the head football coach of the University of Florida, was taken by ambulance to the hospital following the Southeastern Conference championship game last year. In the subsquent weeks, Meyer resigned, made some changes in his life, and returned to coaching.  As we approach the kickoff of a new fall sports season, coaches can take some lessons from coach Meyer’s situation.  As you begin a season of taking care of an entire team of individuals – players, assistant coaches, parents, school administrators, students, and others – make sure you take the time to take care of yourself too!  As they say on the airplane, “put the oxygen mask on yourself first.”

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3 things you can do to keep yourself healthy, balanced and energized:

1 – Make time to exercise – The easiest excuse in the world is to say “I’m too tired” or “I’m too busy” to exercise.  But as coaches, how would you react if a player gave you that excuse?  No matter what happens, carve out that 20-30 minutes a day for a good workout.

2 – Make time for smart nutrition choices – Notice the key to this is to make the time.  This is the easiest one to lapse on during a busy season.  We all know what the proper nutrition choices are, but at the busiest times of the year, the convenience of fast food and other junk food can be alluring.  Make sure you are stocked with good meals and snacks before the week starts.

3 – Make time for family time – Like coach Meyer did, turn off the cellphone, tv, and computer, and spend some quiet time with the family.  My colleague, Eric Bergreen, recently wrote about athletes taking a “vacation” from their sport: http://www.spinw.com/index.php?view=entry&id=80.  In this case, I am taking the same principal, only on a smaller level.

Staying healthy, balanced, and energized is crucial for not only athletes, but coaches too.  What better way to instill these ideals in the young men and women you coach than to lead by example.

Have a great 2010 season!

About the Author: Brian Baxter received an M.A. in Sports Psychology.  He teaches individuals how to identify and build awareness of their difficulties, their areas of improvement and their strengths and implements strategies to make the process second nature.

I AM PREPARED…I AM CONFIDENT…I AM…UH OH!

packingforcdaI am the queen of pre-race routines. I have amazing organization skills when it comes to packing my race bag, and I am always sure to arrive early. I’ve got my pre-race routine down, which is vital since I’m not a morning person. I anticipate changes in this routine that may occur given the location or size of a particular race. I line up feeling confident in my preparations. I assure myself that I’ve completed every step in my routine and even double-check how I’ve tied my shoes.

Then the countdown begins. It’s no longer about the physical preparation; it’s now about being mentally prepared. In those final 5 seconds before the start of a race, the adrenaline kicks in and my mind is racing! This results in two basic scenarios. Scenario 1 is when I have to focus on controlling my excitement so I do not go out too fast leaving me staggering across the finish line. Scenario 2 is where I have to focus on taming my anxiety and staying relaxed so I can make it across the starting line.

dsc01272Personally, I most often follow scenario 2 when it comes to distance races. Don’t believe me…I have photographic evidence. I believe my face reads “Wait…I don’t…I mean…YIKES…how many miles is this…ummm…I…what.” I then quickly remind myself of all the miles I’ve logged leading up to race day. Deep breath. I then look down at my left shoe. Why? Well there is one nail that doesn’t have sparkly polish on it due to all those training runs. Looking at my shoe serves as a more visual reminder of the effort I’ve made. Another deep breath followed by my personal mantra, and I’m across the starting line. I am relaxed, in control and ready to race.

What are your pre-competition or pre-race routines? Do you even have one? These routines may seem mechanical at first but give it a try. With some fine-tuning these routines can help you better control your responses to surges of adrenaline and allow you to quickly work through those last minute moments of terror!

About the Author: Lisa Peetz received an M.A. in Sports and Exercise Psychology. Lisa is an avid runner who appreciates and is addicted to marathon running. She uses her athletic experience in her mental skills training by individualizing skills to be both sports and life specific.