New to our spring curriculum will be short Play Beyond the Game warm up drills. The Role of our Play Beyond the Game warm ups are to get you thinking about ways you can be a Triple Impact Competitor every week. The warm up will either be a scenario or a short question for you to answer and then hand in the HARD COPY to your coach (or assistant coach). Sometimes we will have time to discuss them as a group in practice, sometimes not, but you and your coaches can use the warm up as a jumping off point to make you a better athlete and a more confident leader for yourself and your team. Coaches will be keeping track of this for us, so we can make sure you are growing as a player physically, mentally and emotionally. On Monday I will be sending through some “Food for Thought” relating to the last weeks warm up drill. Parents, feel free to have a conversation with your daughter about this drill, but they alone should complete it. Have fun!
Week 8: Dealing with Unsportsmanlike Behavior
As a Positive Coaching Alliance partner, we encourage all our players to respect their ROOTS. ROOTS stands for:
Read more about the ROOTs and their importance here. We are proud when we hear from our spring coaches that our players have done an outstanding job honoring the ROOTS. Still, even if we do our best to honor these ROOTS, two big components of them are out of our control: Opponents and Officials. Although we honor the game, it doesn’t mean others will.
Have you ever had an opponent or an official who made you so frustrated to the point that it negatively affected your play? …an opponent or official who demonstrated unsportsmanlike behavior? …an official that always called against you? … an opponent who disregarded the rules and got away with it?
If you haven’t, it is only a matter of time before you see something, from a team slaughtering another team in an unsportsmanlike manner, to a coach yelling terrible things, to a ref that seems to have it out for a player. What is important is to PREPARE for these moments so they negatively impact you and your team as little as possible. Just as we have a mistake ritual to not let errors hinder our play, we need to have a fall back self-control routine for those times when things outside of our control threaten our mental game.
When was an instance where something outside your control negatively affected your play (official made a terrible call, player pushed me, the field was terrible, etc)? How did you react?
At Beyond Sticks, we want to minimize the influence of negative outside forces with a 4 Step Re-framing Routine.
- Mentally rehearse the bad situation. Before competition even starts, play out a situation in your head you think may happen – a call goes against you, an opponent pushes you and calls you names – and then visualize yourself ignoring it and continuing to play at your best. Work through the negative emotions you feel now, so it won’t hold you back during competition.
- Acknowledge that your emotions are valid. You are human! During play, when something frustrating happens, it is OK to be upset when you encounter unsportsmanlike behavior. Bottling it up can lead to a situation where YOU get thrown out of the game for retaliating, so sub yourself out to talk to your coach or tell a teammate about it to let off some steam.
- Reinforce who you are. Preferably, say it out loud. Taking a deep breath and repeat a phrase like, “I am not the kind of person who gives up!” Often in college, I would make a joke with my teammates to reinforce that I don’t take myself too seriously and my teammates were there to support me.
- Focus on the next play. Just like the mistake ritual, we don’t want the last play or the last call to determine what is happening right now. Have a physical motion that “shakes off” the frustration (I liked to shrug my shoulders take a final swig of water). Focus on the awesome thing your team is going to do next.
Come up with your own Re-framing Routine.
- What is a bad situation you want to prepare for?
- What will you do to “release” your emotions if you do get frustrated or overwhelmed?
- What phrase will you use that can help you re-center yourself?
- What will your physical “shake it off” action be?
Week 7 : Pre-game Routines and Rituals
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” -Aristotle
I once knew an amazing football player that watched the Little Mermaid before games. I’m also sure you know some player that always wears the same pair of socks (or maybe underwear!) to every game. I bet you also know the player that listens to the same song while changing into her uniform. Although it can sound silly, a good pre-game ritual and routine, no matter how quirky, can settle your mind, warm up your body and is proven to make you perform better.
Although, there is no magic routine that will make you beat the competition or play better. The magic comes from simply making sure you have something you know you’ll do every time. If you do something different or wing it before every game, it is hard to let those pre-game jitters disappear and clear your mind so you can be present and give your best self to the game and to your team.
Do you have a pre-game routine? What is it?
If you answered no, don’t worry, we are going to help you make a great one! Even if you answered yes it is always good to look at what you do to ensure it makes you are ready as you can be. A pre-game warm up is about much more than just getting stretched. There are 5 parts that can be standardized to help your develop a winning routine.
Answer all five parts or think about what you would like the answer to be and build it into your pre-game routine!
- How do you fuel your body? Is it the same every time? How much and when do you need to eat before competition? What is your pre-game/practice meal or snack?
- How to do you warm up your body? If it is not the same every time consider talking with your team to plan a consistent warm up with the same stretches, same drills, and same flow. By having the same physical warm up, your brain can calm down and focus on the game, rather than what stretch you’ll do next.
- How do you warm up your emotions? What emotional state is best for your play? A lot of players use visualization to capture something positive they want to do and how they will feel while they are doing it-focused and with a calm intensity. Other players need to clear their heads before they play. This is where joking with a teammate might work, or maybe listening to music. Some players like to be really hyped up, while others like to be calmer when they play.
- How do you warm up your mind? While you get your emotions lined up, it is important to also focus on what you will accomplish. We learned earlier about effort goals, and these are a powerful tool to focus your mind. Often stating and repeating to yourself and to your teammates what your goals are can get you thinking about the game in a positive way. If you have an outcome goal-always make sure you have an effort goal or two to back it up so you can measure your development as a player.
- How do you finish your pre-game routine to get your “game face” on? The last step, when you purposefully combine it all-your body, your feelings and your thoughts, is often overlooked. Maybe you get game ready in the final huddle before you take the field or perhaps you repeat a word under your breath before the whistle blows. Whatever it is, make sure you have a sharp, clear end to your pre-game routine.
Week 6: Filling Emotional Tanks
This week’s Play Beyond the Game drill would be a great one to do with your whole family!
Last week we thought about filling people’s emotional tanks. Before you can fill other’s tanks, it’s important to fill your own or let those around you know if you need some filling up. Although we can’t always say positive things as constructive critism is crucial to improving. If we aren’t in the right positive state of mind, feedback can simply make us feel bad about yourself. There is a research backed ratio between positive and negative feedback that can help you coach yourself, be better at receiving feedback, and help you encourage improvement with your teammates.
Before you read further-just off the top of your head, how many positive things do you think should be said before you give constructive feedback or criticism?
For every ____ negative or constructive feedback people should receive ____ pieces of positive feedback.
Did you guess 3 to 1? or the sandwich technique- a positive followed by a piece of feedback followed by another positive?
or 1: 1. The bad news first, good news last approach?
NOPE! Surprisingly, the ideal ratio of positive to negative feedback is one to five. Does this sound like a lot? It did to us…at first? Before your jaw drops, realize that this doesn’t mean you need to use 5 full sentences to fill up your teammates emotional tank. As we discussed, there is a lot of ways to fill an emotional tank.
See the chart below from the Positive Coaching Alliance for a full list of emotional tank fillers.
Before practice, make sure you take time to fill your emotional tank! Before your practice or game this weekend, write down 5 things about you that make you a valuable player for your team. Remember these when you start practice and see if it makes a difference in your play.
Why are you valuable? (feel free to ask your coach, parent, or teammate for help!)
What is something I want to work on to make me an even better teammate?
What will I do this weekend to be a tank-filler at practice or a tournament?
Week 5: Treat others as THEY want to be Treated
You know the phrase, “treat others as you would like to be treated?” At Beyond Sticks, we believe you should treat others as they want to be treated. This doesn’t mean there is not a lot of overlap between all people, but as we started to think about last week, some people respond and react differently. Just as having a team made up of all forwards wouldn’t help the team be successful, having a team made up of athletes with the exact same emotional strengths and weaknesses wouldn’t help the team either.
First, let’s think about how people responds in similar ways. At the Positive Coaching Alliance, they talk about filling people’s emotional tanks. “Each one of us has an Emotional tank like the gas tank in a car. If our tank is empty, we can’t expect to drive across the country. If our tank is full, we can go a long way.”
As you can guess, we perform better when our emotional tanks are full or when we know people are filling it, especially at the end of those tough games. We can help fill our own tanks and fill our teammates’ tanks. Even a crowd can fill a tank – think about cheering on your friends during an exciting game and how it impacts their play! The reason the home team wins 60% of the time is that they have a big crowd of emotional tank fillers! Also, when our tanks are full, we are more open to feedback because we know that although we might need to work on a few things, we are valued overall.
A way to fill anyone’s tank can be with specific praise. Not just “great job” but “you were awesome to sprint for that give and go with me.” Following up praise with a “thank you for…” can also go a long way.
Another way can be with non-verbal tank filling. A thumbs up, a pat on the back, or even a smile. Also, asking good questions and just listening to an upset teammate can fill people’s tanks.
Now, let’s think about how the gas needed can differ based on WHO needs their tank filled. For some players, saying “You were a great teammate” means a lot while another player would respond positively to “you showed great leadership in the huddle,” while another would appreciate you noticing how they helped to organize the corner plays.
Of course no one fits into any clean personality “type,” but thinking about different types can be a good tool to help us understand ourselves and others. Most importantly, it can help us understand the best way to make a positive impact on ourselves and our teammates.
Let’s look at your answers from last week and “grade it” (there are no wrong answers though). Keep a tally of how many times your answer has the following letters. Each set of responses has TWO letters – make sure you tally both (for instance, if you chose “Learn better when I can read it or receive written feedback” for the first question below, you should count 1 “D” and 1 “S” response.) You should have 20 marks total.
|Circle or Underline the set of words most describes you (sometime both describe you, but still pick one): Start each phrase with “I…” (ex: I learn better when…)|
|D, SLearn better when I can read it or receive written feedback||OR||I, CLearn better when I listen and have a conversation|
|D, IAm usually quick to act on an idea||OR||S, CLike to think things through before you act|
|D, INever seem to stop moving||OR||S, CDon’t mind slowing things down sometimes|
|D, IOften speak up when a group wants to makes a decision||OR||S, CAm often content seeing where the situation takes you|
|D, SLike to always ask “WHY?” when I am learn something new||OR||I, Cgenerally assume my coach is telling me something for a reason and don’t question her|
|D, SAm skeptical of new things||OR||I, CAm excited about new things quickly|
|D, SLike logic and am generally think with my head||OR||I, CEnjoy figuring people out and think often with my heart|
|D, SSometimes (maybe secretly) like having tough arguments or discussions||OR||I, CTry to avoid arguments or conflict|
|S, CWorry about losing before going into games||OR||D, IDon’t really worry about anything before you play|
|D, IBelieve I can almost always find a way to overcome obstacles||OR||C, SNeed to know the obstacle before deciding if I can overcome it|
Take a look at this (very simplified chart) of 4 different types of personality, D, I, S, and C. Which type had the most tally’s for you? What was second?
Do your “letters” reflect you? Why or why not?
What would be the best things for your teammates (or parents or coach) to say or do to fill your emotional tank?
Week 4: Having a Teachable Spirit
Coach K, one of the greatest coaches of all time (sorry Wisconsin Fans!), has a phrase, “Next Play”. It relates closely to our drill last week about finding a way to flush your mistakes, but it goes beyond that. “Next play” it is about not letting your last play- good or bad – dictate how you play RIGHT NOW. It is about looking forward and not backwards. This is a great philosophy for games, and maybe you and your team can decide to even adopt this in your upcoming games.
BUTTTT….practice is a great time to actually think about “Last Play”. Practice is a time to reflect, look at those mistakes you flushed away or parked in a game, and learn how to get better. In order to have practices be a time of growth, players (and coaches) need to foster a teachable spirit. But what is the best way to learn? PCA adopts the term “WAG” to help you learn: Watch, Ask, and Get Coaching.”
As PCA states, “Some things we just can’t learn on our own…we need a coach who can get us to new levels of performance.”
First watch someone on your team to try to see how you can replicate it. Or watch yourself and think about how you could modify your behavior (physical or emotional). Did I stand up at the end of my drive? Was I distracted when I started the game? Sometimes this is all it takes.
If watching won’t cut it, and it often doesn’t, coaches LOVE when you ask for feedback. There are better ways to ask for feedback than others though. Instead of demanding, make sure you are actually asking. Asking “how can I improve and get more time in the game?” is VERY different than telling, “I want to go in, why didn’t you put me in?”
At Beyond Sticks, your weekly questions will give your coach a better sense of what type of feedback will make the most impact and help you improve. Not only will it help us – it helps you! Some people always need to know WHY we do something. Others just want to know how. Some processes are better when things are written down, while some need to be spoken and others need to be shown. Some players need to feel their team supporting them, while others like to work on skills alone. Feel free to enlist your parents for help!
|Circle or Underline the set of words that most describes you (sometimes both describe you, but still pick one): Start each phrase with “I…” (ex: I learn better when…)|
|Learn better when I can read it or receive written feedback||OR||Learn better when I listen and have a conversation|
|Am usually quick to act on an idea||OR||Like to think things through before I act|
|Never seem to stop moving||OR||Don’t mind slowing things down sometimes|
|Often speak up when a group wants to make a decision||OR||Am often content seeing where the situation takes me|
|Like to always ask “WHY?” when I am learn something new||OR||generally assume my coach is telling me something for a reason and don’t question her|
|Am skeptical of new things||OR||Am excited about new things|
|Like logic and generally think with my head||OR||enjoy figuring people out and often think with my heart|
|Sometimes (maybe secretly) like having tough arguments or discussions||OR||Try to avoid arguments or conflict|
|Worry about losing before going into games||OR||Don’t really worry about anything before I play|
|Believe I can almost always find a way to overcome obstacles||OR||Need to know the obstacle before deciding if I can overcome it|
Get Coaching! We will dig a little bit deeper into these sets of words next week. But for now, how does this exercise help you think about how you should ask for feedback and how can you use this knowledge to make your play better?
What do you think your coach needs to know about you to give you great feedback?
What do you think you need to know about your coach?
Week 3: Mistake Rituals and Rejecting Perfection
“The master has failed more times that the beginner has even tried.” –Stephen McCranie
After a game in college, a dad came up my teammate and said, “Did you know they blew the whistle 111 times!?!?” Maybe not all of those whistles mean a mistake, but in field hockey at least that many mis-steps are made in a game. Plus, the whistle doesn’t blow when a player mis-tackles, didn’t cover a zone correctly, or another person lost the ball. Although baseball pitchers can actually achieve a “perfect game”, perfect players or games will never exist in field hockey.
What does exist though, are different versions of you as an athlete. You could be a confident you, open to feedback and able to recover from your individual and team setbacks and mistakes. You could also be a nervous you, who second guesses her decisions, doesn’t ask questions, and allows both herself and the team to spiral into mistake after mistake (we call it the carrousel of mistakes). Often it’s something in between, and a big mistake can push you into a less confident version of yourself, making your play suffer.
Mistakes are inevitable. How you respond to them is not. PCA’s Book Triple Impact Competitor describes a mistake ritual as “something you do and say to transform your fear of mistakes so you don’t play timidly. It helps you quickly reset so you can focus on the next play rather than beating yourself up for making a mistake.” In the past, our teams have used the phrase “Park it!” to park our mistakes in a mental garage. We can deal with it later if it something we can fix in practice, or we just send that mistake to the compactor and move on. We also make a motion with our hands on a car wheel, like driving the car into the garage. The physical and verbal ritual together help us move on, know our team is supporting us, and realize a mistake doesn’t mean we are destined to make the same mistake again. It’s fun and it helps us build the mental toughness to let our best self shine through. If you use your mistake ritual consistently, it can really make a difference in helping you brush off mistakes and build mental toughness. Finally, by openly acknowledging a mistake, it isn’t something to fear, but something we face to either eliminate later or learn from to get better.
We want you and your team to come up with your own “Park it!” ritual. It needs to have a phrase and a physical motion. It can also have a call and response-like your teammate give you the flush it motion and you give it back.
How do you feel after mistakes?
How do you want to ideally feel?
What could be a potential mistake ritual for you or your team? (Remember, keep it fun and have both a physical motion and something you say!)
Week 2: Having learning conversations
Some conversations will be more important than others during the season and in life. Asking for honest feedback, letting someone know bad news, or even talks with parents about privacy are important, but they often also seem hard, very hard. But WHY exactly are they so hard?
Conversations (or the silent void of no conversation) are often hard because:
- We assume what others are thinking and try to change them without listening (“Mom, you just don’t trust me!”).
- We are afraid of what the other person might say. (“maybe I’m not as strong of a hockey player as I thought…”).
At Beyond Sticks, we believe if you aren’t having these conversations with your team, your coach, yourself and your parents, you are limiting your ability to grow as a player and a person.
Here are few examples of tough situations:
- You’re team lost AGAIN and you believe it was your fault/ the coach’s fault/ another player’s fault.
- You got pulled from a game and are suddenly getting less playing time and want to know why.
- You lost your love of the game and are thinking of quitting.
- You don’t like the way your coach coaches. (They are too hard on you, too soft on you, too technical, not specific enough…)
- You don’t like how your parents are too involved with the ins and outs of the game on the car ride home e or you they don’t seem to care you because they never ask or talk about hockey.
Whether you approach these situations as difficult conversations to dread or learning opportunities to look forward to depends a lot on your mindset.
This mindset will make it very difficult for you to learn during a conversation:
- you are certain about your own stance and already know what they are thinking
- you believe you are right and they are wrong
- you blame the other person for the situation
- your (usually hurt) feelings are their fault, and you should let them have it (or keep quiet since they won’t listen anyways)
- the other person will attack you or your play and they don’t even know you
You can change difficult conversations into learning conversations when you shift your mindset:
- You are curious how the other person sees the situation. You come to the conversation to LISTEN and LEARN first and foremost.
- Asking Why they are acting like this? What is their intention? Maybe it is not even be about me? (your coach was trying to play others, the coach was being tough on the whole team, not just you)
- Ask how you contributed to a result or action. Blame is NEVER exclusive.
- Try to figure out why your feelings are hurt without blaming them. (“I know you didn’t mean it, but…”)
- Realize who you are is not set in stone; it can and should change and improve. Being defense is a great way to prevent growth. Acknowledging blame doesn’t mean you are a failure, it means you are human!
If you shift to a learning mindset you can actually be excited by the opportunity to understand why others act the way they act so you can work together to make you the best player you can be!
What are some learning conversations you could have with each of the following (relating to field hockey preferably)?
When did you last have a difficult conversation (maybe it was difficult because you simply avoided it and didn’t have it)? How could you approach it differently to make it a learning conversation?
Week 1: Goals
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
It is important to set goals and to share them so you are held accountable. Also, it is much easier to accomplish your goals when your team, coach and program are supporting you. When making a goal, make sure it is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive. (see an example HERE). Also realize that outcome goals are at least in part out of your control. Try setting an effort goal, or an outcome goal that entails effort goals to get there.
See a ONE MINUTE VIDEO explaining effort vs outcome goals.
You have about two and half months until the summertime. What is your personal SMART goal for this season? What steps will you take to get there?
How is it
|Time Bound||I will accomplish this by the end of the season!|