Category Archives: Mindfulness

Capitalize on Coaching Opportunities

Interactions with athletes are littered with opportunities to have a positive impact on their lives. It requires being present to their needs, what they’re asking, and what they’re open to at the present moment. Your athlete might be preparing to start an event requiring a little bit of last minute technique and mental preparation coaching. Or on the flip side of the event an athlete that just DNF’ed (Did Not Finish) might require some immediate empathizing and encouragement to allow the distress of the event to wear off before exploring what caused the DNF.  These are prime opportunities to have a lasting impact on the athlete’s future performance, whether it’s the event they’re about to start or the event after the DNF’ed event.

Last minute preparation is a very individualized process, however sometimes there are certain obstacles that can potentially derail our routine. When this happens I encourage athletes to have the courage to bring their concerns to the coach to work through whatever is going on. What a coach does with this opportunity is crucial to the athlete’s performance. The coach must acknowledge the athlete’s awareness of their own process, be very attentive to the athlete’s specific needs, and ensure that the athlete’s needs are met by the conversation. In this scenario the coach must take a holistic approach to ensure that the athlete is mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming event.

DNF’s can occur for a variety of reasons depending on the sport. The cause that is being addressed here is physical and mental preparation. This is a vulnerable time for an athlete because this is what they have prepared for. This situation calls for a much different response than the previous, but both require complete and total presence to the athlete. It’s the coach’s responsibility to figure out what happened, and wait for the opportunity to educate the athlete on what and why it happened. Then the coach must work with the athlete to implement a plan to ensure the same mistake doesn’t reoccur.

Allow this post to be an invitation to be present to each and everyone of your athletes. They’re individuals with different needs. It is your responsibility to meet those needs. I believe in your coaching ability. The question is do you?

Where is the light I saw yesterday?

I find that we learn the most from our times of struggle. I’m getting all this out now, because it’s getting in the way of me writing my paper. Most people see me as this perpetual optimistic bubble of joy. Well you know what? I have my ups and downs just like most people. And I’m choosing to share it with you today.

It could be my frustration with not being able to focus on this paper, or the rhythmic rock in my ears dictating the flow of my fingers on the key board. Rhythm is only allowing me to be fully open right now.

 

The Power of Community

Thank you for allowing me this time to vent to you. Who know’s you might even be connecting with what you’re reading and will be inspired to share your story with the world. That leads me to another point! So many of us are trapped with our faces in our phones browsing social media, and ignoring the world around us. Well this is another form of social media. I may not be a friend of yours, but I do have your attention. Welcome to my world, and thank you for letting me be apart of yours. It’s truly honor to have your attention.

Now take your face away from the screen and smile at a stranger. Make someones day. You’ve already made mine by being there for me.

 

An Invitation to Invent Your Life

There is so much talk these days about living with intention, and being mindful. Thousands of books offering theories, and applicable concepts to implement into our daily lives. Yes, they work, and yes I suggest reading as many as you can. If you need a reading list, then leave a comment and I’ll provide a couple of my favorites.

Right now, I want to talk about the idea of invention: The invention of your life and how you choose to live it. In order to invent something you need a set of tools, in this case there are a few words that I’d like to give to  you:

Inventing

Inventing your life is a call to action. Without action nothing will come to fruition. I’m inviting you to take action for your self and your life.

Possibility

When we are given a blank anything; piece of paper, wall, canvas, or in this case a new day, then anything is possible. What do you want to be possible for you and your life?

Act

We all have a story (Act) that has a tendency to prevent us from living mindfully by applying a filter to everything we hear, see, and do. This Act is very present in everything we do, unless we acknowledge it’s presence, and make the conscious decision to give it up. By giving up our story, we can be present to the moment we’re in without looking at it from the past.

Now that you have the tools, I’ll show you how to use them. There’s a phrase I was taught years ago that goes something like this…

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The “…” is your blank canvas to invent the possibility of being in a way that you never thought possible.

Here’s my commitment to this process; I’m going to invent a possibility for my life for everyone to see…

The possibility that I’m inventing for myself and my life is the possibility of being “CARING”.

April 23rd, 2015

By inventing this possibility, I’ve now instilled in my mind that I will behave in a way that I feel is inspiring to me and those around me.

Now that we have invented a possibility for ourselves and our lives, it’s time to tell ourselves and world who we are. In order to authentically tell the world who we are, we must first acknowledge and give up the act that we see the world through.

My act is “You’re not the boss of me”. When I’m not being present to a situation, I know my act is at play. It manifests it’s self as rebellious, and it’s harmful to the man I want to be. When I choose to give up my act, I’ve created that blank canvas that you’ll see in the next phrase…

(null)

In this phrase we see that we’re declaring who we are for the world to see, and we’re acknowledging that we’re giving up our act. This is who I am today…

Who I am is the POSSIBILITY of being “UNDERSTANDING”. The ACT that I’m giving up is “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME”. That is who I am. 

April 23rd, 2015

Here I am; exposed and open for the world to see.

I’m inviting you to use these tools in the comment section below to be courageous and join me in this life that we’re fully capable of living to the fullest.

Mobility Vs. Flexibility

Are the terms Mobility and Flexibility interchangeable? Before we discuss that, let’s take a look at the definition of both:
Mobility: the ability to move or be moved freely and easily
Flexibility: the quality of bending easily without breaking

Simply by definition, they are not interchangeable. They are however easily swopped out for each other. Training flexibility and training mobility are two totally different beasts! Both need to be respected and practiced.

An example of training mobility is the “Overhead Squat”. Being able to retract your shoulder blades, expanding your thoracic cavity, extending your thoracic and lumbar spine, breathing into the belly, as our hips, knees and ankles flex, preventing our head from protruding out in front of our shoulders. Total body engagement and awareness.

An example of improving flexibility is the splits. Flexibility is about breathing and relaxing into a stretch, allowing gravity or an external force to open or a close a joint by relaxing the muscle that is preventing that joint from going through it’s full range of motion.

There are books, websites, and studies on this topic… My intention is for you to see a quick glimpse of the similarities and differences. And invite you to include both in your training.

 

When An Athlete Cries

Our lives revolve around our sport. We live our lives to the fullest, walking a fine line between sanity and insanity. Our breakdowns are few and far between but powerful and painful to witness. The fear we have of our lives being taken away isn’t obvious to on lookers because we don’t feel understood.

Last night, I got jarred pretty good in my beer league hockey game. Not sure what I did wrong, if I did anything at all to deserve a blocker to the back of the neck or to the face. As I walked into the locker room alone to remove my pounds of sweaty gear, I continued to hear the sounds of an out of control hockey game which resembled the intensity of raging testosterone adolescent males desperately trying to impress the cheer leaders.

I clasped my helmet in my hands, balling and gasping for a breath to ask “why?” again. What is the purpose behind these blows to the head, inducing a severe panic attack, followed by outrageous rage, leading to abnormally high fear. My life comes full circle in a matter minutes. Feeling death, confusion of birth, anger of confrontation and fear of loss.

All of these experiences are what make me a great coach. My mission is to support my athletes through stages of growth, maturation, elevation of sport and life skills. My friends inspire me to keep going, knowing that I’m good at what I do. I change lives as my friends, coaches, and parents have worked diligently and supportively to help me form my life.

I’ll continue to push the limits because the limits are where I feel uncomfortable and on the edge of the something great. It’s the feeling of discomfort where growth is possible. I know going over the edge is terrifying, painful, and potentially harmful, but I also know that not coming close to the edge leaves me unfulfilled and regretting the moments I’m alive.

I train smart so I can compete hard.

Being Great!!!

Over the past couple months I’ve made myself available as a virtual coach. Providing phone sessions, and posting YouTube video samples of exercise recommendations. This is not a service that I’d ever thought I’d provide, but after being able to change the lives of others from thousands of miles away, I’ve realized that the virtual world has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Now I know that there are people who have been doing this for years, but for me it’s new and exciting.

This new world has given me an opportunity to hone my verbal communication skills. If I am not able to verbally communicate what needs to be done, then I will not have served my client to the best of my ability. The question that pops to mind is; how am I able to deliver what I’m delivering without ever seeing a client in person? Here’s my simple break down!

1. Patience
2. Curiosity
3. Full commitment to the moment
4. Full commitment to my client’s goals
5. Presence to my client
6. Compassion
7. Empathy
8…
9…..

Yes, I know I’m listing qualities about myself that make me the great coach that I am! The same things that make me a great coach in person, are the same qualities that make me a great virtual coach!

What makes you great?!?!?!

 

Seeing the Trail through the Trees

As we learn to focus on our goals, we will get distracted on long the way. This is normal, and it happens to us all.

We can think of our path towards our goals as a trail to success. And most trails are cluttered with obstacles and lined with beautiful distractions. It takes practice to travel a long our paths with focus and determination. Planning and preparation is key. However all the planning and preparation cannot prepare us for the endless possibilities of what could get in our way.

This is not about planning and preparation. It’s about picking ourselves up. Dusting ourselves off. Recollecting ourselves so that we can continue down our path. (This will be discussed more in the second part)

I’m revisiting this after a conversation I had with a dear friend this afternoon about the homeless in downtown Los Angeles, California. The conversation turned from discussing the current state of homeless to potential causes of falling so far from a path that leads to a life of desperate begging. Two words came into play; failure, and embarrassment. And we posed the question, How do we overcome failure, and embarrassment to continue down our path to success after tripping over an obstacle on your path or being distracted by something along side it?

As I see it we have two options: 1) Go at it alone with a feeling of solitude and independence. Leaving it completely up to us as individuals to get back on the trail. And 2) Travel with others who have different destinations, but are still on a path for success. Giving us a support system that encourages, comforts us if we fall down. I’m not saying one is better than the other, what I’m saying is that we have the ability to make choices. That’s what it comes down to! Making the choice to travel alone or with others.

This is part one of a two part series. I’m inviting you to think about the two options. Ask yourself; which way do you travel on your trail? And how do you feel about the other option?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

Either way, travel safely, mindfully. If you get distracted, get back on the trail to success alone or with others.

Back in the Saddle

This weekend was my first weekend back on my dirt bike since I had a minor tumble in January that left me limping away, and kept me off it for several months. That accident also kept me off the ice for several months. As I got back on my bike, started to kick it over, I realized after the 15th kick, it was probably telling me, “ya, you’re not ready to ride me yet.” Once I did get it kicked, It wouldn’t idol unless I kept the choke on. Seriously? This just got irritating, but then I had an epiphany!

How do I improve at something I’m not great at that I do a handful of times a year, but truly love?

The answer is; DO IT MORE!!!!

As a hockey coach, that teaches power skating (ice skating specific to hockey), and instructs off ice strength and conditioning classes, I get asked quite frequently from new skaters, “how do I improve my skating when I’m off the ice?’ The answer is there is no replacement for practicing a specific skill.

My epiphany! When not participating in the skill that needs practice, focus on other aspects of my self that I utilize on a daily basis! My strength, endurance, power, focus… blah blah…. yeah I said blah blah… say it! It puts a smile on your face.

Next time, a student/client asks me what can I do to improve when not practicing, that’s going to be my answer.

This topic can go on forever… so now I want your thoughts!

As a professional in any field, have you experienced something similar with yourself, or a client?

Turning the Day Around

This is about nipping potential disappointment in the bum and creating a day that meets all the criteria for a great ending.

Last week my friend and I planned our Saturday perfectly! Or so we thought. We’d leave LA by 6 AM, be at the foot of the trail by 9:30 AM, and just snowshoe till it was time to turn around. She even made calls to ensure we had the correct permits, and make certain the weather was decent for the adventure we had planned.

When we got the ranger station they informed us the road was closed four miles from the trail head, well, we could drive past the closure, but the risk of anything happening falls on our shoulders. We drove a mile past where the road was closed and realized, that we could make it to the trail head, but with the sun disappearing behind the mountains the drive down was going to be pure ice, not something I really want to deal with while being exhausted from a hike. We decided to turn around, needless to say, my friend was visibly upset by her well made plans not happening according to the agenda.

We returned to the ranger station and found an alternate trail called “The Ashram” outside of Lone Pine, California. Unfortunately, having started our hike late in the day, we were unable to reach the destination, but the day still ended with us smiling, stating our excitement about returning to this spot to reach “The Ashram”.

This is where the lesson started for me…

The question that entered my mind was: How often does this sort of thing happen? And not just with a hike, but with everyday events? I forgot to put my gym shoes in my bag, I don’t have a towel, I forgot to pack my lunch… Each one of these scenarios can leave me feeling frustrated, confused, disappointed, discouraged, and wanting to pack it up and go home! Have you ever found your self in this situation? Did you pack it up and go home, OR persevere so the day ended with a smile?

From this experience I learned that when frustration sets in, take a step back, breath, and look at the situation from the outside. What did we set out to accomplish? What got in the way? If we alter our already “messed up” plans? Can we still accomplish what we set out to do? The answer is yes, we can!

Where have you persevered from frustration to glee? Could you do it again? How did you do it?

Athletic Performance & Breathing

Over the past 20+ years of playing sports and participating in rigorous physical activity, there is a common component that is discussed and taught with each activity: BREATHING! We could jump into the anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system, but you can find that in a text book. What I want us to discuss here is how being mindful of our breath can improve athletic performance.  How do we teach ourselves and our clients to be aware of their breath during training or competition.

Let’s start from the very beginning of learning a skill. We’re so focused on doing it right that we hold our breath, leading to poor execution. As we progress, we begin to be more fluid and precise with our movements. When the basics are learned we begin to add components to make the initial movement more challenging. I’m sure we can come up with a million examples for every sport imaginable, but we’re talking about breathing! Breathing technique needs to be taught at the very beginning of learning a skill in order to incorporate the breathing into the natural progression of skill development.

Teaching ourselves to breath in and breath out. Playing with the length of each breath. The way we bring the air in; through or nose or mouth. How we allow our lungs to fill; does our chest rise or does our diaphragm lower into our abdomen? How does the air leave; through the nose or mouth? Can you feel your breath in your limbs, your head? Following the air as it comes into our bodies feeding us oxygen.

Our bodies are doing what they need to do to stay alive, but are we working with it or against it? Everything we do is in preparation for competition; we practice specific movements, train with special modalities. If you teach your clients/patients/athletes to breath while working (preparation or competition), you’re already ahead of the curve.

I’m inviting you as a facilitator of health, wellness, and athletic performance for your self and others, to pay attention to the way your teaching breathing for the task at hand. My hope is that you’ll find that when you teach breathing throughout skill development, that you’ll see an increase in performance. From my experience I have seen an increase cardiovascular performance during training. An increase in attention span of young athletes  during training and competition. A decrease time to recovery during resistance training sessions, and a decrease of inhaler use by asthmatics during training and competition.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Please share your thoughts and experiences with us.