NEW!! Whistle and a Clipboard interview with Head Coach John Roy - part 1 & part 2
Former Olympian Jeff Kostoff talks to his alma mater Stanford - added 3/2/12
What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent -- And What Makes A Great One - added 3/2/12
Sticking With Swimming..... What a Parent Can Do? - added 8/24
I Am Not a Victim!
Kevin Brown, Director of Franchise Sales for SERVPRO in Nashville, TN—a QBQ! believer and Miller friend— makes me think when he says, “Life is fair … bad things happen to all of us.”
How often, though, do we think life is not fair? Ever made statements like these?
The bank got us a "no interest" mortgage we now can't afford. It’s not fair.
My kids don’t ever listen to me. It’s not fair.
My retirement account is way down. It’s not fair.
I didn’t get the promotion/I lost my job/I was denied a raise. It’s not fair.
Others don't work as hard as I do. It's not fair.
My boss doesn’t communicate, coach, or seem to care. It’s not fair.
My employer cut our benefits. It’s not fair.
The referees were awful and we lost the game. It's not fair.
My staff doesn't seem to get what we're trying to do here. It's not fair.
I listen to others more than they listen to me. It’s not fair.
I’m buried in high interest credit card debt. It’s not fair.
My home is worth less than I owe on it. It’s not fair.
The neighbors have a new boat/car/pool and we don’t. It’s not fair.
My co-workers are difficult and management doesn't deal with it. It’s not fair.
Professional athletes make more than teachers. It’s not fair.
The government doesn’t exist to take care of me after all. It’s not fair.
Oh, and here’s a bonus one:
We’re going through a ton of change at work. It’s not fair!!!
My wife, Karen, has a favorite phrase. “It just is,” she’ll say. Meaning, sometimes stuff just happens, circumstances just exist, and people simply act like people. The truth is we were never promised “fairness.”
Humans make hurtful comments, accidents occur, events take a turn we don’t expect, others are blessed with talents we lack, things happen out of our control—sometimes way out of our control.
Childhood friend, Philip Foltman, and I were both born May 28, 1958. I, though, am three hours older and never let him forget it. Growing up in Ithaca, N.Y., we graduated from Ithaca High in 1976, were pals during our college years, and he served as my “best man” in 1980. And that he is: the best.
But in comparison to Phil, I am a victim! I have “the right” to be angry, hurt, and bitter. It’s not fair!
How come? Because for over 35 years Philip has had something that I have not: A mom.
In fact, he still has his mom. I can barely remember mine.
I've not had a mother since Gerald Ford was President, the Bee Gees were hot, and Star Wars was only in George Lucas’ imagination. It was May 20, 1975, while attending a “ladies’ meeting,” Mary Miller, age 51, experienced a blinding headache, slumped on a friend’s sofa, and was rushed to the hospital. Two hours later she was gone. A quiet but deadly killer had taken her. “Aneurism” is a word I wished I’d never learned, and certainly not at 16.
It wasn’t fair.
But Philip, my buddy, was there that tragic day in 1975. Within an hour he was at my house and five days later he and his mom—“Mrs. F”—came to my mom’s memorial service.
Three and a half decades later, he still has his mom. Phil is a fortunate man. But so am I, as I have many blessings ...
Karen is still my best friend, there are seven special people ages 27 down to 11 that call me “Dad,” a beautiful baby grandson, Joshua, has joined the Miller clan, and I love what I do.
And just as I certainly would never hold it against Philip for still having his mom, I shouldn’t hold it against anyone for having more of anything than I do. Envy doesn’t wear well. Neither does the It’s not fair!
We're all victims! mentality that pervades our society today.
Now here's what's not fair:
Begrudging people their achievements, success, possessions, financial status, and good fortune.
When I hold it against others that they have more of anything than I do, I have chosen to be a victim.
And victim thinking, self-pity, and envy eat away at my soul, destroy my ability to contribute, and make me a lesser person. Maybe even a small person.
Bottomline, when I play victim, I serve nobody—not even myself. It's far better to flip the switch and completely eliminate victim thinking from my life.
Kevin Brown is right: Bad things happen to all of us. Sometimes those bad things are tragedies beyond our control and sometimes they’re the result of our own mistakes. Either way, the secret to life success is in how I respond, the choices I make, and how I talk to myself.
And I—like you—will engage in healthy, productive, and truth-based self-talk saying:
- Success and happiness are based on choice not chance.
- My decisions have directed me to my destination.
- I am personally accountable for every choice I make.
- I am not a victim!
Thoughts like these enable each of us to be outstanding. It’s just as simple as that!
John G. Miller
Author of ...
Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional
QBQ! The Question Behind the Question®
Flipping the Switch ... Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability
Be Outstanding! show: Download all of them here ... http://outstandingorganization.com/podcasts/
Grab our most recent QuickNote here: http://outstandingorganization.com/blog/
Helping Organizations Make Personal Accountability a Core Value®
Denver, Colorado, USA
HOW TO BE A WINNING PARENT
By Dr. Alan Goldberg, Competitive Advantage
If you want your child to come out of his youth sports experience a winner, (feeling good about himself and having a healthy attitude towards sports) then he needs your help! You are a vital and important part of the coach-athlete-parent team. If you do your job correctly and play YOUR position well, then your child will learn the sport faster, perform better, really have fun and have his self-esteem enhanced as a result. His sport experience will serve as a positive model for him to follow as he approaches other challenges and obstacles throughout life. If you "drop the ball" or run the wrong way with it, your child will stop learning, experience performance difficulties and blocks, and begin to really hate the sport. And that's the GOOD news! Further, your relationship with him will probably suffer significantly. As a result, he will come out of this experience burdened with feelings of failure, inadequacy and low self-esteem, feelings that will general¬ize to other areas in his life. Your child and his coach need you ON the team. They can't win without YOU! The following are a list of useful facts, guidelines and strategies for you to use to make you more skilled in the youth sport game. Remember, no wins unless everyone wins. We need you on the team!
1. When defined the RIGHT way, competition in youth sports is both good and healthy and teaches children a variety of important life skills. The word "compete" comes from the Latin words 'com" and "petere" which mean together and seeking respectively. The true definition of competition is a seeking TOGETHER where your opponent is your partner, NOT the enemy! The better he performs, the more chance you have of having a peak performance. Sport is about learning to deal with challenges and ob¬stacles. Without a worthy opponent, without any challenges sport is not so much fun. The more the challenge the better the opportunity you have to go beyond your limits. World records are consistently broken and set at the Olympics because the best athletes in the world are "seeking together", challenging each other to enhanced performance. Your child should NEVER be taught to view his opponent as the "bad guy", the enemy or someone to be hated and "destroyed". Do NOT model this attitude!! Instead, talk to and make friends with parents of your child's opponent. Root for great performances, good plays, NOT just for the winner!
2. ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO COMPETE AGAINST HIMSELF. The ultimate goal of the sport experience is to challenge oneself and continually improve. Unfortunately, judging improvement by winning and losing is both an unfair and inaccurate measure. Winning in sports is about doing the best YOU can do, SEPARATE from the outcome or the play of your opponent. Children should be encouraged to compete against their own potential, i.e. Peter and Patty Potential. That is, the boys should focus on beating "Peter,” competing against themselves while the girls challenge "Patty.” When your child has this focus and plays to better himself instead of beating someone else, he will be more relaxed, have more fun and therefore perform better.
3. DO NOT DEFINE SUCCESS AND FAILURE IN TERMS OF WINNING AND LOSING. As a corollary to #2, one of the main purposes of the youth sports experience is skill acquisition and mastery. When a child performs to his potential and loses it is criminal to focus on the outcome and become critical. If a child plays his very best and loses, you need to help him feel like a winner! Similarly, when a child or team performs far below their potential but wins, this is NOT cause to feel like a winner. Help your child make this important separation between success and failure and winning and losing. Remember, if you define success and failure in terms of winning and losing, you're playing a losing game with your child!
4. BE SUPPORTIVE, DO NOT COACH! Your role on the parent-coach-athlete team is as a Support player with a capital S!! You need to be your child's best fan. UNCONDITIONALLY!!! Leave the coaching and instruction to the coach. Provide encouragement, support, empathy, transportation, money, help with fund-raisers, etc., BUT...DO NOT COACH! Most parents that get into trouble with their chil¬dren do so because they forget the important position that they play. Coaching interferes with your role as supporter and fan. The last thing your child needs and wants to hear from you after a disap¬pointing performance or loss is what they did technically or strategically wrong. Keep your role as a parent on the team separate from that as coach, and if, by necessity you actually get stuck in the almost no-win position of having to coach your child, try to maintain this separation of roles, ie. on the deck, field or court say, "'Now I'm talking to you as a coach", at home say, "'Now I'm talking to you as a parent". Don't parent when you coach and don't coach at home when you're supposed to be parenting.
5. HELP MAKE THE SPORT FUN FOR YOUR CHILD. It's a time proven principle of peak performance that the more fun an athlete is having, the more he will learn and the better he will per¬form. Fun MUST be present for peak performance to happen at EVERY level of sports from youth to world class competitor! When a child stops having fun and begins to dread practice or competition, it's time for you as a parent to become concerned! When the sport or game becomes too serious, athletes have a ten-dency to burn out and become susceptible to repetitive performance problems. An easy rule of thumb: IF YOUR CHILD IS NOT ENJOYING WHAT HE ARE DOING NOR LOVING THE HECK OUT OF IT, INVESTIGATE!! What is going on that's preventing him from having fun? Is it the coaching? The pressure? Is it YOU??! Keep in mind that being in a highly competitive program does NOT mean that there is no room for fun. The child that continues to play long after the fun is gone will soon become a drop out statistic.
6. WHOSE GOAL IS IT? #5 leads us to a very important question! Why is your child participating in the sport? Is she doing it because she wants to, for herself, or because of you. When an athlete has problems in her sport do you talk about them as "our" problems, "our jump isn't high enough", "we're having trouble with our flip turn,” etc. Are they playing because they don't want to disappoint you, because they know how important the sport is to you? Are they playing for rewards and "bonuses" that you give out? Are their goals and aspirations YOURS or theirs? How invested are you in their success and failure? If they are com¬peting to please you or for your vicarious glory they are in it for the wrong reasons! Further, if they stay involved for you, ultimately everyone loses. It is quite normal and healthy to want your child to excel and be as successful as possible. BUT, you cannot make this happen by pressuring her with your expectations or by using guilt or bribery to keep her involved. If they have their own reasons and own goals for partici¬pating, they will be FAR more motivated to excel and therefore far more successful.
7. YOUR CHILD IS NOT HIS PERFORMANCE. LOVE HIM UNCONDITONALLY. Do NOT equate your child's self-worth and lovability with his performance. The MOST tragic and damaging mistake I see parents continually make is punishing a child for a bad performance by withdrawing emotionally from him. A child loses a race, strikes out or misses an easy shot on goal and the parent responds with disgust, anger and withdrawal of love and approval. CAUTION: Only use this strategy if you want to damage your child emotionally and ruin your relationship with him. In the 88 Olympics, when Greg Louganis needed and got a perfect l0 on his last dive to overtake the Chinese diver for the gold medal, his last thought before he went was, "'If I don't make it, my mother will still love me".
8. REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-ESTEEM IN ALL OF YOUR INTERACTIONS WITH YOUR CHILD-ATHLETE. Athletes of all ages and levels perform in DIRECT relationship to how they feel about themselves. When your child is in an athletic environment that boosts his self-esteem, he will learn faster, enjoy himself more and perform better under competitive pressure. One thing we all want as children and NEVER stop wanting is to be loved and accepted, and to have our parents feel good about what we do. This is how self-esteem gets established. When your interactions with your child make him feel good about himself, he will, in turn, learn to treat himself this very same way. This does NOT mean that you have to incongruently compliment your child for a great effort after he has just performed miserably. In this situation being empathic and sensitive to his feelings is what's called for. Self-esteem makes the world go round. Make your child feel good about himself and you've given him a gift that lasts a lifetime. Do NOT interact with your child in a way that assaults his self-esteem by degrading, embarrassing or humiliating him. If you continually put your child down or minimize his accomplishments not only will he learn to do this to himself throughout his life, but he will also repeat YOUR mistake with HIS children!
9. GIVE YOUR CHILD THE GIFT OF FAILURE. If you really want your child to be as happy and as successful as possible in everything that he does, teach him how to fail! The most successful people in and out of sports do two things differently than everyone else. FIRST, they are more willing to take risks and therefore fail more frequently. SECOND, they use their failures in a positive way as a source of motivation and feedback to improve. Our society is generally negative and teaches us that failure is bad, a cause for humiliation and embarrassment and something to be avoided at all costs. Fear of failure or humiliation causes one to be tentative and non-active. In fact, most performance blocks and poor performances are a direct result of the athlete being preoccupied with failing or messing up. You can't learn to walk without falling enough times. Each time that you fall your body gets valuable information on how to do it better. You can't be successful or have peak performances if you are concerned with losing or failing. Teach your child how to view setbacks, mistakes and risk-taking positively and you'll have given him the key to a lifetime of success. Failure is the PERFECT stepping stone to success.
10. CHALLENGE-DON'T THREATEN. Many parents directly or indirectly use guilt and threats as a way to "motivate" their child to perform better. Performance studies clearly indicate that while threats may provide short term results, the long term costs in terms of psychological health and performance are devastating. Using fear as a motivator is probably one of the worst dynamics you could set up with your child. Threats take the fun out of performance and directly lead to your child performing terribly. IMPLICIT in a threat, (do this or else!) is your OWN anxiety that you do not believe the child is capable. Communicating this lack of belief, even indirectly is further devastating to the child's performance. A challenge does not entail loss or negative consequences should the athlete fail. Further, implicit in a challenge is the empowering belief, “I think that you can do it".
11. STRESS PROCESS (skill acquisition, mastery and having fun), NOT OUTCOME. When athletes choke under pressure and perform far below their potential, a very common cause of this is a focus on the outcome of the performance, i.e. win/lose, instead of the process. In any peak performance, the athlete is totally oblivious to the outcome and instead is completely absorbed in the here and now of the actual performance. An outcome focus will almost always distract and tighten up the athlete insuring a bad performance. Furthermore focusing on the outcome, which is completely out of the athlete's control will raise his anxiety to a performance inhibiting level. So IF you TRULY want your child to win, help get his focus AWAY from how important the contest is and have him focus on the task at hand. Supportive parents de-emphasize winning and instead stress learning the skills and playing the game.
12. AVOID COMPARISONS AND RESPECT DEVELOPMENTAL DIFFERENCES. Supportive parents do not use other athletes that their child competes against to compare and thus evaluate their child's progress. Comparisons are useless, inaccurate and destructive. Each child matures differently and the process of comparison ignores significant distorting effects of developmental differences. For example, two 12 year old boys may only have their age in common! One may physically have the build and perform like a 16 year old while the other, a late developer, may have the physical size and attribute of a 9 year old. Performance comparisons can prematurely turn off otherwise talented athletes on their sport. The only value of comparisons is in teaching. If one child demonstrates proper technique, that child can be used comparatively as a model ONLY! For your child to do his very best he needs to learn to stay within himself. Worrying about how another athlete is doing interferes with him doing this.
13. TEACH YOUR CHILD TO HAVE A PERSPECTIVE ON THE SPORTS EXPERIENCE. The sports media in this country would like you to believe that sports and winning/losing are larger than life. The fact that it is just a game frequently gets lost in translation. This lack of perspective frequently trickles down to the youth sport level and young athletes often come away from competition with a dis¬torted view of themselves and how they performed. Parents need to help their children develop realistic expectations about themselves, their abilities and how they played, without robbing the child of his dreams. Swimming a lifetime best time and coming in dead last is a cause for celebration, not depression. Similarly, losing the conference championships does not mean that the sun will not rise tomorrow.
Competitive Opportunities: Age Group Swimming
One of the benefits of your USA Swimming membership is the privilege of being able to compete in swim meets across the country. When you’re first starting out, though, you will probably participate in competitions a little closer to home.
There are many different kinds of meets you can participate in, but most age groupers will probably be competing in local invitationals. These invitationals are usually held over the weekend and hosted by a nearby club – maybe even your own.
There are typically anywhere between 150 and 1,000 swimmers competing at these invitationals. That’s a lot of people, but there’s no reason to be scared. Your coach will be there with you to make sure you survive the experience, and your parents will probably be there to cheer you on.
With so many swimmers competing, some will be very fast, and some will be beginners like you. Don’t be nervous. These meets are set up so that you are racing against kids your own age and pretty close to the same ability.
At most meets, you’ll have the opportunity to win awards like ribbons or medals. But if you don’t win right away, don’t give up. Remember, some of the USA’s top swimmers like Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin started out swimming at these local invitationals just like you, and they probably didn’t win their first races, either. The great thing about swimming is that you’re competing against yourself more than against anyone else. As long as you keep improving your swimming skills, you’re getting better, and maybe someday it will be you standing on top of the medals podium.
The Big Meets: LSC and Zone Championships
As you get better, you might get good enough to compete at bigger meets with lots of other fast swimmers.
All these bigger meets have time standards or “cuts.” That means you will have to swim a certain time in your event before you will be allowed to compete in these meets. The bigger and more important the meet, the faster you will have to swim.
One of the first big meets you might compete in is your Local Swimming Committee (LSC) age group championships. At these meets, you will still be competing against swimmers in your own age group, but they will be the best in your state or geographic area. It’s easy to get nervous, but keep in mind, if you weren’t fast enough, you wouldn’t be able to compete at this level.
Even faster than your LSC age group championships are the Zone Championships. USA Swimming divides the country into four Zones – Eastern, Western Central and Southern – and each of these Zones holds at least one Zone Championships each year, usually in the summer.
At the Zone Meet, each state or LSC fields a team of its top age group swimmers to compete against the other states or LSCs within that Zone. For example, in the Central Zone, Indiana Swimming will compete against teams from Michigan, Ohio and Illinois Swimming. Instead of competing for your club, you are representing your state or LSC and might find yourself on a relay with other top swimmers from your LSC. Zone meets are the top age group meets you can compete in around the country.
Lowering The Bar - False Praise
Vern Gambetta is a highly regarded, highly sought athletic development coach who has worked with amateur and professional athletes in multiple sports from swimming to soccer, volleyball to baseball. Recently, he wrote a short piece titled "Lowering The Bar - False Praise" which speaks to the direction we are trying to take WAVE Swimming:
"I certainly believe in positive reinforcement and praise for great effort and outcomes. I also understand how important self-esteem and self-image is in teaching and coaching, but we have gone overboard with praise for mediocrity in order to build self-esteem. In every situation there are minimum expectations and standards that must be met to be part of the team. I emphasize minimum standards. Meeting those minimum standards does not warrant praise, those are expectations that everyone must meet. The same is true of effort; everyone is expected to go all out, plain and simple, no exceptions. So to praise someone for going all out is hollow and meaningless.
The touchy, feely, feel good folks who have ruined a generation of kids would not agree, you must praise everything. That is pure bunk. We know from research and from results in front of our eyes everyday, that false praise has the opposite effect; it makes the praise meaningless and ineffective, possibly even lowering self-esteem. Praise those efforts and actions that exceed expectations, not those that just meet expectations. If I see one more bumper sticker proclaiming their kid an honor student I am going scream. Everyone can’t be an honor student, everyone can’t earn a varsity letter, there has to be a high standard to warrant an honor (praise).
Lets raise the bar, not lower it. The level of expectation definitely will determine the level of achievement. Praising average work as great trivializes great. From a coaches perspective it seriously erodes your credibility and soon will render you ineffective. Be a John Wooden, select and measure your words carefully, instruct and teach, praise the extraordinary not the average. Hold yourself and those you teach and coach to a higher standard."
At our competitive levels, being at practice is a minimum expectation; putting forth your best effort is a minimum expectation, going all out is a minimum expectation. For our athletes and our club to reach the next stage of competitive growth, we must strive to exceed minimum expectations every practice session, every day, day in and day out.
That is the challenge we have set for ourselves - to not just do the bare minimum, but to set our standards high and seek to reach them.
To a degree, nervousness is part of the competitive experience and can be used as an opportunity to teach the young athlete specific strategies or skills to help her manage this arousal or nervousness. A simple skill that young athletes can learn to help manage the “butterflies in their stomachs” is belly breathing. The athlete is taught to take slow, deep breaths into her belly, hold it briefly, and then exhale slowly. Words can be included to help the athlete focus her thoughts on something besides worry. This is a quick strategy that helps calm the body and mind and only takes a few seconds to do. Another skill to help the athlete deal with muscular tightness brought on by nervousness is progressive muscle relaxation. In this procedure, the athlete goes through the major muscles in her body and first tenses and then relaxes each muscle. This teaches athletes to learn the difference between a tense and relaxed muscle, to learn where different muscles are located, and to eventually be able to relax specific muscles as necessary. Remember that these skills must be taught and practiced before the athlete will be able to use them effectively. We also know that excessive anxiety can be damaging to both performance and to the athlete's desire to enter such situations in the future. Two factors which have been found to play a role in the level of anxiety experienced are the importance of the event and the uncertainly of the outcome. Greater importance and greater uncertainty lead to increased anxiety. Parents, this suggests that you can play an active role in reducing competition anxiety by de-valuing the outcome of the event and by focusing on the individual performance over which the swimmers have control. Symptoms of anxiety: - increased heart rate - rapid breathing - sweating - negativity - jittery - frequent ‘pit stops’ - excessive worry - doubts - talk of failure - low confidence Strategies to Manage - Deep belly breathing - positive self-talk - relaxation exercises - think of successes - stretching - visualize race - listen to music - focus on goals - light massage - distract by talking with friends, family
6 No-no Phrases for Swimming Parents
A HEALTHY PARENT-COACH RELATIONSHIP
A key component to an athlete's healthy swimming experience is the building of a positive relationship between a parent and a coach. Both the parent and the coach have important roles in supporting a swimmer. A coach is there to teach and judge a swimmer's performance and technique while a parent should love and support the child regardless of the outcome. It's helpful for a parent to realize some key things about a coach.
A lot more comes with coaching than the athletes, practice and competition. Beyond the initial hours at the pool, a coach's time is spent planning for workouts, understanding the long term-term nature of the sport and each individual swimmer's performance, doing key administrative duties, and providing emotional support for many athletes.
Ultimately a coach loves the sport and is willing to make countless sacrifices to foster swimming and its athletes in and out of the pool. Keeping this in mind, there are key things parents can do to support their child's coach and ultimately help their child achieve swimming success.
HOW A PARENT CAN HELP
- Trust and listen to the coach
- Respect and support their decisions
- Stay in the background
- Be there to support your child and not add additional pressure