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Sports and Life

Years ago, in my sports writing days, a softball coach told me something that changed my life. “If someone is lazy on the field, they’ll be lazy in the office, too,” he said. “If someone is a team player on the field, they’ll be a team player in the office as well.” Those words came [...]

Coaching Tips

  • Three factors -- the NHL’s recent Winter Classic, the cold wave in the Northeast, and a conversation with mental toughness guru Craig Sigl -- made me think of the Canadian game of shinny. Shinny is a simple variation of ice hockey in which one player tries to keep the puck, and all the others try to get it away from him. There was a time when all Canadian boys played it because it was so easy to start a game. All you needed was ice, a puck and sticks. Nowadays, I’m not so sure how many people play it, because organized leagues start at such a young age. Sigl and I were talking about practice, and how important it is to make sure that athletes compete not only in games but in the hours that lead up to it. Shinny is a simple form of competition: you have to learn to keep the puck or you will lose it. In trying to hold the puck or capture it, players are developing their skills and their competitive instincts. It's a basic form of deliberate practice. While waiting to give a talk in Minnesota last summer, I was two athletes practicing on a basketball court. Each player would shoot a three-point shot and a layup. If both shots went in, the player got to try again. If one shot missed, it was the other player’s turn. It was a brilliantly designed practice in which both players got to work on important skills. On the playgrounds of New York, this principle is on display in the simple basketball ritual of “I’ve got winner.” If you win, you stay. If you lose, you leave the court and wait the next turn. It’s a way to force people to either improve or leave the court all the time. Whatever sport you’re coaching, work hard to use competition in practice. It will help develop what North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance calls that “wonderful practice intensity.” I wonder how many of the players in the Winter Classic ever played shinny. And I wonder, with the temperature at 13 degrees while I write this, how many young people are playing it right now! *** *** *** *** TotalGamePlan offers Winner’s Workshops for schools, sports teams and businesses. The emphasis is on motivation, skill-building and teamwork. To bring a Winner’s Workshop to your group, just email coachtully@totalgameplan.com or call (973) 800-5836. #
  • Former NFL player and coach Tony Dungy has a son playing in college. He discusses the experience in this video. #
  • Here’s one of the better articles I’ve seen on leadership. It comes from Forbes and, among other things, it has valuable things to say on what goes into creating a cohesive unit and making each person feel valued. It makes the point that leadership isn't about the leader, it's about the people on the team! Maybe one of these tips will resonate with you and turn into a New Year's Resolution. It could help make for a better 2012! *** *** *** *** TotalGamePlan offers Winner’s Workshops for schools, sports teams and businesses. The emphasis is on motivation, skill-building and teamwork. To bring a Winner’s Workshop to your group, just email coachtully@totalgameplan.com or call (973) 800-5836. #
  • Whether you’re a coach, a teacher, a boss or a parent, you’re in the business of molding the future. How do you help people improve? How do you help others become all they can be? There’s great advice in this article. It's the Management Tip of the Day from the Harvard Business Review. “Research shows that identifying and building strengths produces better results than focusing on faults,” the article says. This sounds very much like two other pieces of wisdom. There’s the best management strategy in the world: Catch someone doing something right. Then there’s the Golden Ratio: Give five compliments for every criticism. But of all these pieces of advice, I like the phrase “identifying and building strengths” best. It’s more specific, and requires more effort and involvement from the coach, parent, teacher or boss. Bobby Hurley, renowned basketball coach at St. Anthony in Jersey City, N.J., advises coaches to compliment each athlete in the first 20 minutes of practice. This forces the coach to find something worth mentioning. The compliment must have substance, and be related to some specific behavior or progress that the athlete is demonstrating. It is difficult to do, especially with all the needs and distractions that arise in practice. But coaches who set aside the time and energy to do it will be “identifying and building strengths.” #
  • Well, it’s headed for 100 degrees here in New Jersey, USA. The heat wave led one radio announcer to say, “It was a rough winter and a very wet spring. No reason to think the summer won’t be extreme, too.” One of my favorite quotes came from the world-class instruction at the Gold Medal Squared volleyball camps. It goes like this: "The essence of boredom is to be found in the endless search for novelty.” It doesn’t take any talent to be fascinated by extremes. Things like tornadoes will surely get your attention. But the real greatness comes from day-to-day fascination with the commonplace. Look at the ancient astronomers, who, using only their eyes as equipment, painstakingly looked to the sky, and recorded what they saw. Or at the weather observers, who chart the conditions by the hour. This is where real knowledge of systems and patterns comes from. It's the same way with building any skill. Anyone can get excited about the first day of practice, or the first day of a new workout program. The real genius, the real achiever, is one who can keep this fascination day to day. Look at the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Red Sox have dominated the Yankees this season, yet they lead them by only a slim margin in the standings. That’s because in games against other teams, the Yankees have a better record than the Sox do. It’s easy for anyone to get excited about playing a rival; the trick is to stay excited about playing everyone. Eddie Murray, a Hall of Fame baseball player, often said he approached every at-bat the same way. It didn’t matter what the score was, who the opponent was, whether it was early in the game or late. He saw fascination in every trip to the plate. If you want to be great, you must find fascination in the commonplace. *** *** *** *** *** Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” click here. You can follow Coach Tully on Twitter at coachtully@twitter.com #

Welcome to Total Game Plan

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10 Things Great Coaches Know by Mike Tully
10 Things Great Coaches Know by Mike Tully
10 Things Great Coaches Know by Mike Tully
About Mike Tully

Coach Mike Tully has studied peak performance for three decades, first as an international sports writer and then as a championship coach. Coach Tully covered Olympic Games in Lake Placid, Los Angeles, Sarajevo and Seoul, as well as more than 100 consecutive World Series games. Now he takes the insights gained from the greatest athletes in the world and brings them into high school and college gyms.

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