The Little Things
You have an athlete with ground to make up, they have goals and direction in training, but you believe these goals are attainable and they have your support as a coach. What must be done to conquer the opposition? What are the LITTLE THINGS that an athlete can do that the more “elite” won’t be doing?
Reality of Ability and Situation
When it comes down to making up ground, there needs to be a CLEAR position of the current scenario. How freakish are the athletes you are chasing down? How committed are those athletes? How “freakish” or committed are you as an athlete?
After the situation is analyzed, the athlete must recognize their physical ability and their mental ability and sadly, they must make a comparison of themselves to the athletes they are attempting to hawk down. This comparison can provide a glimpse of what needs to be done.
When an athlete is not as talented physically, they can make gains through the LITTLE THINGS. They can improve mindset, recovery, technique, positioning and a general competitive edge.
The full situation can provide a perspective of where to build upon. How much technical handling is needed from a coach. How close are you with your coach? Are you on the same page? In that situation, can you get yourself committed to a point where you could look back in a decade and confidently say, “I did everything I possibly could to achieve my goals?”
Commitment to Training
After the reality is established, there needs to be a “real talk,” both internal within the individual and then an external “real talk” with the coach or leadership at hand. This real talk can cover all aspects of working toward that striking ground of the elite.
When the discussion occurs, the challenge of change and structural habits is laid out and put on the table. Are you willing to change? Are you willing to fully commit and chase the dreams in the truest realm based on your own ability or will you continue to live your training life under the misconception that you are in that elite realm?
YOUR COMPETITION WILL NOT PITY YOU.
Commitment to training and the reality of the situation has been understood. The next step is entirely based around resources. How close are you with your coach, both in proximity and through relationship? Generally, athletes that MUST make up big ground are not as talented physically and may need more technical instruction. If this is the case, proximity to the resources of coaching plays a massive role. The more “hands on” contact these athletes get, the quicker they make technical adaptations and thus making greater gains in their respective sport.
Accountability from a technical perspective should be coupled with strength and mobility resources. When proper technical resources are utilized, the individual must then ensure they are in close proximity to the absolute best situation for strength gains AND mobility gains and even nutritional gains. Using these resources daily will ensure a fast track to closing the gap of performance. Each day there will be an optimal focus on technique, strength, mobility and nutritional goals.
External Factors/Mindset and Mentality
Some of the best athletes to ever walk the planet have full control of their own internal factors. They put positive energy toward their own internal improvement and their own internal drive. They simply care about themselves and their own performance.
Athletes like Jordan Burroughs, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Phelps only focused/focus on what they can control. Burroughs is notorious for not caring about any external conditions. When asked about wrestling in an incredibly hot building in Iran without air conditioning Burroughs responded, “I am here to wrestle. I can’t control a building without air conditioning. Everyone else has the same conditions.”
The lesson? He only focused on himself, on his own execution, on his own performance, his own ability to become a champion. He did not complain about a slippery mat, a slippery opponent, cramping muscles, poor recovery, poor conditions. He could have easily altered his mindset but that isn’t what the elite do, the elite focus on their own internal progress and their own execution.
This is where a TREMENDOUS amount of improvement can happen for those athletes looking to track down opponents. External factors should not impact their own training. The mindset must be focused on daily progress. Is the circle wet for a thrower? Then make improvements at throwing on a wet circle. The bar doesn’t spin well in training? Make adjustments at lifting well on an older bar. Look for the realm of positive improvement, do not look for the realm of excuses.
It must be remembered...no one freaking cares about your goals or your situation. In that case, then YOU must take control of your own training and improvement to become a champion in the best means possible.
Technique vs Strength/Mobility/Nutrition/Recovery
The integration of these five factors needs a little more attention. When issues arise in strength/mobility/nutrition/recovery the coach can make an immediate adaptation and even more importantly, the coach can alter the problem almost instantaneously, leading to a compounding improvement in technique.
1. Make technical development a priority with your athlete. This means you need to see them, talk to them, work with them on a daily basis. An in-person relationship is best, but I have had tremendous success with remote athletes who are committed to regular check-ins meetings and evaluations. Constant monitoring can lead to alteration of programming in various ways to ensure positive progression.
2. Every single day is a challenge to close the gap. Technical progress will improve in conjunction with a positive mindset. You can’t miss days because you are tired, you spend the weekend partying, or you are physically there but mentally just going through the motions. Every day of training to a mediocre thrower is imperative to making technical gains
3. Less coordinated athletes need to be stronger. Anyone who is not born with freakish athletic genes needs a greater baseline of strength to increase his or her ability for force production. As the strength improves, so can the endless focus on technical progress with an extra pair of eyes monitoring movement. The athlete that is not as physically talented must make the most out of their own physical ability and their own personal situation.
4. Proper mobility enhances recovery. Lengthening of the muscle increases the ability of the athlete to put out power. A good coach can help recognize a deficit in mobility-based off individual needs.
5. Athletes that prioritize recovery become the athletes that are standing on the podium closing the gap! This includes avoiding extracurricular activities that can impede growth. Athletes need to be eating enough carbs and getting enough protein post-workout. Athletes that gets more sleep, can enhance their strength daily, they can focus on their technique more than their opponent, they have an optimal relationship with their resources, and they alter their mindset to ignore negative external factors.
Do you need help putting your career in perspective?
My athletes are just like yours. Sometimes they don’t take care of the little things and they need a nudge (or a loud f#$king reminder) to get back on track. If you are looking for a coach that cares about your goals and knows how to help you accomplish them, check out the programming at Garage Strength.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.
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