Your Letters & Pictures
"So you really want to impress the coach? Here's how!" By Dr. Alan Goldberg.
"Taking your training to the next level"
As I watched the first week of practice come to an end, I couldn't help but think about that small group of athletes that I had heard grumbling and mumbling almost daily. The coaches were too hard. It was too hot out! They were too tired and hurting too much to do the wind-sprints at the end of practice. They hated the coaches' drills. They wanted to rest. My word! The season hadn't even started and they were already complaining! Obviously these athletes didn't even have a clue about what a winning attitude was.
It made me think about a question I frequently ask athletes about their training and life: Do you know what road you're on? Imagine that you've been traveling along a road and it suddenly forks left and right. You're standing at the crossroads and you now have an important decision to make. Which road will you take? Imagine that if you took the left fork, you'd end up in "La La Land", a wondrous place where all your minimal efforts will reward you with supreme mediocrity. Should you decide to take the right fork, you'd end up in the Champion's Zone, a place where you will realize your goals and have to contend with a terrible amount of success. Every day in practice, school, work and life you are confronted with this same choice point over and over again. Exactly what do these choices look like?
You have a tough decision to make about staying up late and partying with your friends or going to bed early so you can make an early morning workout. If you party hardy with your buds and blow the work-out off, then you've just chosen the left fork, to "La La Land." If you back down from sprints at the end of practice with the reasoning that the coach isn't looking and it won't hurt anyone, you've just chosen the left fork. If you actively avoid working on your weaknesses and just practice what you're good at, then you've chosen the left fork.
However, if you go to bed early and forget your friends for that evening because it's critical for you to be rested for the next morning's workout, then you've taken the right fork. If you go even harder when your body is begging you to stop, then you've just chosen the right fork. If you continually work on your weaknesses because you understand that you can't really get stronger as an athlete without doing this, then you've taken the right road.
When you continuously find yourself at this crossroads as your new
season begins, understand one thing. Choose the left fork enough times and you'll go absolutely nowhere fast as an athlete and a person. Make a habit of choosing the right fork over and over again and you'll turn all your dreams into a reality.
Obviously you and I know which road of the two is the easiest to take. It doesn't take much will power, character or discipline to choose the left fork. It's easy to skip practice, cheat on drills or break the training diet. Similarly, it's quite clear that the right fork is by far the more difficult one.
So a question may readily pop into your mind. Why bother sacrificing, hurting, pushing your body beyond its limits and passing up on the
opportunities to hang out with your buds? Why would anyone in their right mind consistently take the right road given all the hardship, effort and sacrifice that it entails? Simple answer! You have to want to. You have to have an important reason to. You have to have what I call a "Big Enough WHY."
A "Big Enough Why" is an emotionally compelling reason to do the right thing. It's a goal or dream that is important enough to you, that you not only don't mind sweating, hurting and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, but you choose to.
Dr. Alan Goldberg
As a sports psychology consultant Dr. Goldberg has worked with soccer teams at every level from professional right down to junior club competitors. He is an on-going consultant to the University of Connecticut Men soccer program. In addition, Dr. G has presented at the National Coaching Symposium at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and is a repeat presenter on sports psychology and mental toughness training at the annual meeting of the NSCAA, USYSA, AYSO as well as AGMs around the country. He has worked with US Soccer providing sports psychology training for coaches' licensing courses and has presented at numerous ODP camps nationwide. Dr. G is the author of Playing Out Of Your Mind (Reedswain pubs.)and The Psychology of Winning Soccer (4 tape mental toughness program with Star GoalKeeper's Dan Gaspar) and Sports Slump Busting, (Human Kinetics). In addition Dr. G writes for the NSCAA Soccer Journal and Soccer Jr.
Posted on 15 Aug 2006 by coachgianni