Same Goal, Different Road

Same Goal, Different Road
I was talking with a coach yesterday and (as usual) the talk turned to football and training.  He too played football (and works with athletes) and as veteran players like to do, we talked about The Past.

And no one can talk about The Past without shitting on The Present, right?

Stories of brutal practices, training and an unrelenting and unforgiving coach.  We all know the drill and there is nothing wrong with remembering old/good times.  However, I do have a problem with people dropping deuces on the current generation of People Actually Doing Shit.  Don't get this confused with People Who Talk About Doing Shit.  One is movement and action. The other is weak and impotent.  However, there are some harsh truths about the athletes (and kids) of today.

Kids aren't as physically prepared as they once were. This is not up for debate.  The average kid today, athlete or not, is approximately 1% of the average kid 30 years ago (physically).  Yes, that is a made up %.  Why or who we should blame is irrelevant; it does nothing to rectify the situation we are currently in.  The top echelon athletes are getting better/bigger/faster but the average player/kid is falling way behind.

Athletes from The Past talk brazenly about their conditioning and workouts; all done supposedly to get them in great shape and turn them into stronger players (physically and mentally). There seems to be a premium on Mental Toughness among people from The Past.  Although I'm not sure what the real story is if we could go back in time and observe them.  I'd be willing to bet there are many more Conditioning Cowards than the stories let on.  

Obviously, every coach wants a strong, conditioning and mentally tough athlete.  And while training stories of The Past are fun to revisit, let's remember these two things:

1. Just because we did it doesn't mean it was correct.
2. Expecting a kid today to do the exact same thing is ridiculous.

We all want the same goal only we need to take a slightly different road.

First, we build toughness by building confidence, strength and achieving goals. Years ago, the military adage of "break them down and build them up" was used in training athletes.  Today, this doesn't work very well.  Instead, we build this toughness by physically building the athlete.  A stronger kid feels tougher.  A stronger kid is more confident.  And when you give the kids small achievable goals, they feel unstoppable. I talk about how we do this at London in the seminars I've given the last few years.  Set the kids up for success every day - I cannot think of any qualified coach that cannot assess the readiness of their athletes and make the changes needed for this to happen.  If you don't, you are either unqualified or, even worse, you just don't care.  

Second, you hold the athletes to a extremely high standard.  You cannot, I repeat, cannot have loose and shitty standards. This includes:

  • Always being on time.
  • Always doing exactly what you are told.
  • Always doing every single lift/rep/drill with 100% effort.
  • Listening/learning not talking/gossiping.  There is nothing worse than gossip.
  • Understanding that everything is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.  As I always say, "It may not be your fault but it is your responsibility."
  • Only once you grasp and practice the above can you expect (and hold) your teammates to the same level. This is how you build leaders. You teach them first how to be disciplined and own all the problems that come at them.

I have no problems with the athletes joking around and being loud -  but only if they have the discipline and focus when the time comes.  Older athletes have this button PROVIDED they are taught the above.  Younger, less mature athletes haven't learned how to separate ass kicking and ass grabbing so for them, less is more.

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