An incredible video by Pesic talking about the mentality that is needed by coaches (and players) related to practice. Being able to hear him speak on my computer is why technology is changing coaching. No longer are only a privileged few able to have access to great basketball minds like Pesic.
“A big difference between wanting to win and being willing to practice.”
“We need to teach our players to recognize HOW they practiced.”
“Motivational Styles: Examining the Impact of Personality on hte Self-Talk Patterns of Adolescent Female Soccer Players” by Burton, Fillham and Glen 2011.
What is self talk and why does it matter?
Self-talk is the way an athlete talks to himself/herself. Self-talk has been proven to have strong effects and ability to enhance: (a) motivation, (b) self-confidence, (c) energy management, (d) attention, (e) stress management, (f) skill development and performance. Ulmer (2010) found that self-talk was the most effective mental training tool for enhancing performance.
In other words self-talk goes hand in hand with everything related to motivation and performance in sports. That being said it is
something that we should be aware of while coaching, how does this player talk to themselves?
One of the key indicators of self talk identified in the article was the motivational style of the athlete. In other words, in order to understand how an athlete talks to himself it is important to understand first why that athlete participates in sports. There are three main motivational styles in athletes that we will go over.
Mastery-Oriented (MO) Athletes focus on the process more than the product
Self-Talk-Positive, encouraging and corrective
Competitions-Opportunities to improve
Goal Setting-They set difficult goals to maximize learning and improvement
Performance-Optimal because their focus is on constant improvement
These are the players that come to practice and want to get better and in the games they play well and are constantly pushing themselves to new heights. Even when they are facing a superior opponent they give it 100%
Success-Oriented (SO) Athletes base their success on the competetive outcome, driven by winning. They believe talent is fixed.
Self-Talk- positive, encouraging, and task- focused when winning and encountering few problems, but they may become more negative, critical, outcome-focused and self-destructive when losing and encountering adversity. Focuses on winning or appearing superior to the competition.
Competitions-Opportunities to show supremacy compared to competitors.
Goal Setting-Prefer to set moderate goals which they know they will be successful
Performance-Good in situations of low to moderate difficulty but below that of MO athletes in situations of high difficulty
These are the players who are always trying to win and come in first. They play great against weaker competition but are quick to find excuses when they are faced with real adversity. They are talented but never quite reach their potential.
Failure-Oriented (FO) Athletes also define success in terms of social comparison. However FO athletes have low percieved ability.
Self-Talk-Decrease the risk of failure or providing an excuse in the event of failure. Negative, critical and counterproductive.
Competition-Lots of anxiety
Goal Setting- Avoid failure
These are the players who practice great but struggle in games because they don’t have much self-confidence. They remember their failures much more than they remember their successes.
And even if it is not realistic to try and change every athelete to be an MO athlete as coaches it should help us in dealing with our players to be aware of these different motivational profiles to try and help our players to overcome the challenges that they face. But not as we see those challenges…as they see those challenges.
Although it is difficult to try and change the motivational style of a given athlete I think that it is possible to influence the motivational style of the team. As a coach you can define the success to the team based on what you express to them on a daily basis and what you reward the team for. This article really just solidifies from a more academic point of view all of the things that the great John Wooden preached: It’s all about the process. He said that he didn’t coach in the games, he coached in practice and the games were a direct result of wether or not the team was working well in practice.
As this article suggests. The way to achieve your potential is to focus on the process and not the product. The road to winning is a road where you do not spend alot of time thinking about winning, you spend alot of time thinking about how to get better. How to improve, how to maximize the talents that I have in the situation that I am in…not think about the talents that I don’t have or the great situation that the other guys is in. That brings to mind only one person:
Process over Product was one of Wooden's keys to success
“Realizing our strengths is the smallest thing we can do to make the biggest difference” (P.A. Linley, 2008)
These are my reflections and some comments from the article “A Strength-Based Approach to Coaching Mental Toughness” by Gordon & Gucciardi, 2011.
Last week I went to a psychology seminar/clinic by Joan Vives Ribo where he presented his new book about Communication in addition to a couple of guest speakers (including Manresa Head Coach Jaume Ponsarnau). I found the experience productive, useful and motivating. A psychology major in University, sitting there made me realize the importance of psychology in coaching and the fact that it was something I had been neglecting since my first year here in Spain. (My first year coaching I think I did a good job of incorporating psychology into the planification of the season. As a result I have a renewed dedication to improving this aspect as a coach…and I will share my commentaries.
What is mental toughness?
Or maybe a better question is how would you describe mentally tough athletes: “Mentally tough athletes believe in their abilities, effectively manage their attentional focus, persevere through tough times, desire success, expect positive outcomes, effectively manage their emotions…” (Gucciardi & Gordon, 2011)
If that quote right there describes your team then I think you’re doing a pretty damn good job. And if not it is something to work for. When you talk about mental toughness, for me only one person comes to my head:
Build organizations around what works rather than fix what doesn’t
This may seem obvious but I find myself many times as a coach trying to “fix our weaknesses.” Both on a personal level and a collective level trying to improve players and our team by working on the things that we struggle with as opposed to building on our strengths. There is a very fine line between the two but there is a difference, especially in the way we approach this situation as coaches.
-You aren’t good at finishing with your left hand so we’re going to work on finishing with the left.
-You are a great finisher around the hoop. If we can get you to be able to finish with both hands you will be unstoppable.
In both situations we are working on the same thing, but how we approach it as coaches and how we communicate this to our players changes, and these changes are important and I think very significant in the environment that we are creating. In the first example we are fixing a weakness, in the second example we are expanding a strength.
It is also worth noting that a strength is not only something that we are good at, it is also something that we have energy doing. I think every coach has had a 4 man who is good playing inside but hates playing with his back to the basket and always wants to play on the perimeter. Playing inside isn’t his strength, it doesn’t give him energy, he isn’t “in the zone” when he’s doing it. (It would be categorized as an “unrealized strength” but that is for another day).
Historically, human endeavors have been characterized as “fixing weaknesses,” and we believe the coaching process in sport is no exception.” (Maslow, 1954)
But as they discussed in the article, “our greatest potential is in the area of our greatest strengths.” Imagine the best science teacher you ever had and all of a sudden he changes to a math teacher. He doesn’t become a bad teacher but he is not nearly as good as when he was teaching science, his specialty.
What about our weaknesses as a team and as a player?
Great question and has to be addressed when talking about coaching basketball. Rather than “fixing our weaknesses” there are a couple of options when it comes to dealing with our weaknesses (individual and collective).
Develop a strategy so that your weaknesses are no longer relevant If your team is no good in the half court then find ways to keep the tempo up.
Redefine your role to play to the strengths – If a certain player is not good with the ball in his hand then redefine his role so that he is setting more screens and creating shots for his teammates. Define roles based on strengths
Training – As a last resort train your weaknesses so that they are not relevant.
Useful Questions for Coaches to ask Players:
Could you reshape your role on the team so that you are playing to your strenths more often?
What is the difference between having self-belief and not having self-belief?
Tomorrow you wake up and you have full self-belief in yourself. What has changed? What would be the first thing that other people notice?
This also creates something that Joan talked about as being fundamental in the success of the team: Communication between 2 people. Not us as coaches telling the players, but us creating meaningful dialogue and guiding the group to places that we can’t get by ourselves.
In every team, and for every player, something works. We need to find that something.
As the last moments of 2011 count down and we bring in 2012 it’s important to take a moment and reflect. One of the things I love about coaching and teaching is the cycles of a season. There is a natural time for reflection and adjustments that many other professions don’t allow. As coaches and teachers we constantly need to reflect and make adjustments on the go and when the year finishes we have some time to take a step back and then try to take a couple steps forward.
New Year’s is one of those times when most people do some reflecting and make some New Year’s Resolutions, some they stick to, others don’t see February. I am very thankful for all of the people who I have had relationships with in 2011 (both in basketball and outside of it). Happy New Year to everybody and if there is one thing I am looking forward to in 2012 it would have to be the 2012 London Olympics. Feliz año nuevo!
The other day I substituted a class for a former co-worker and it was my first time back in the classroom since last June. After being warned extensively about the bad behavior of the class I went into there with a clear objective of establishing order from the very first moment. With a very serious face and attitude from the first moment they came into the class I was in charge, they were the students and we were going to be productive. And it worked.
It starts with minute 1. What are you going to do with your team or your class the first minute you are with them and in charge? I am convinced this is the most important moment and will be a very determining factor for the team’s work ethic and attutude for the rest of the time you are together. And one thing is a guaruntee, you can’t go back and redo minute 1.
The other day I was talking to a coaching friend about different hypothetical situations and it came up if one was coaching the Lakers and the problems that could arise if from the first moment you demand things from Kobe Bryant or other star players. But I think the problem isn’t if you demand things the first moment, the problem is if you don’t make demands in the first minute but gradually make more and more demands as the time goes on.
In terms of effort and energy, it’s necessary to mark the line in the sand from the first moment. Not on day 1, but in minute 1, what are you going to do?
From day 1 Mike Brown has not been afraid to coach any and all of the Lakers, including Kobe Bryant.
RIP Steve Jobs. If you haven’t seen this speech it is a must. Especially in light of last weeks passing of Steve Jobs. For me personally Steve Jobs inspires me to be innovative in what I do. Not to be afraid to try things just because other people aren’t doing them.
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
Sometimes your nightmares become a reality and you can’t control it. It happens to everybody all the time, especially in sports.
Right now at 0-3 and cancerous growths in the locker room this isn’t the ideal situation. It is a “nightmare” of sorts (in terms of sports). Can’t change anything that has happened. But we can do is change how we respond. Use this difficult experience to learn and get stronger.
Last night we had a tough game and I didn’t sleep much. But I woke up and realized this is true for me:
Coming back on the plane from Europe I sat next to a middle aged woman who had worked various jobs during her life: personal trainer, actress, and personal assistant are the ones that I remember. She also competed at a high level as an ironman triathlete.
As our discussions rambled from one topic to another I began to hear ideas and activities that I could use with my team on the basketball court. Activities she had practiced while recovering from injury to try and overcome the fear of failure and others to help actors focus on the moment were a couple of topics that I played with in my head as to how to incoporate those things with my team to help them become mentally tough, a major objective heading into next season.
But the thing that was most clear was that we must learn from everyone, not only when talking to a top level coach or while sitting in the classroom as a student.
With so much around us we must learn how to learn from everyone and at the time the opportunity presents itself.
Yesterday I arrived back to Barcelona from a fantastic week in a town outside of Cadiz in the South of Spain. A beautiful place and an even more beautiful experience. It was a basketball and surf camp and I just really enjoyed myself both on the court teaching and off the court hanging out with the kids and Jose who is a coaching friend from the Curso Superior last summer in San Sebastian. We went beyond basketball and really tried to provide a positive all around experience for the kids and everyone up to the bus driver became completely immersed in this extremely positive environment we created.
We were successful in creating a team atmosphere in a very short time.
We were up at about 7 each day and starting basketball @ 9. Jose and I began preparing the on court sessions a couple months ago and the planning paid off as I think the kids learned alot on the court and I learned alot from the kids off of the court. Everyone involved in the camp gave it 100% and the camp was a big success. Just want to say thank you to everyone involved and hopefully everyone took as much away from the camp as I did and I look forward to more experiences like this in the future.
Kevin Eastman said in one of his podcasts to never turn down a basketball opportunity and that was the thought process for agreeing to do this small summer camp. And I have no doubt in my mind that that is some great advice for a coach to follow and this last week was proof.