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Boston strong & Monday Motivation

First & foremost, I’ve been a little quiet since this all went down, but I want to just take a few moments to thank the first responders and all the unlikely heroes that helped take down the Boston bombing suspects. It frustrates and saddens me that we can’t even enjoy an athletic event – and one of the most historical, at that – without worrying about safety and security. But, on a positive note, Boston is definitely not a city that will stay down for long, and if anything, I know next year’s marathon will probably be bigger, better and more emotional than ever before. I might even have to make a trip just to witness it myself. And even though any other day it would pain me to say this, this week we are definitely all Boston fans.

On a related note, because of everything my little mini trip to Boston got canceled since I was going to drive out there on Friday and spend the weekend. I am fairly certain the conference went on anyway, but I just wasn’t able to get out there. I’m bummed but I know I’ll get to CP performance one of these days.

So today, instead of recapping some knowledge bombs, I am lucky enough to still have a gem to share withe everyone. I have an awesome little post from Juliet at Hey Joob! that really struck a chord with me, so I hope she doesn’t mind me throwing in my 2 cents (Check it out here )

I posted something a few months back that kind of referred to the hard work & dedication it takes to get to a certain level of fitness (or anything, really) and how it frustrates me when people shy away from wanting to learn from me or work out with me because I’m “intimidating”. First and foremost, I was in your shoes once. In fact, dramatically so, since I once spent an entire summer bedridden recovering from major knee surgery. Talk about starting from square 1. I also didn’t just hit the ground running with an abundance of fitness knowledge. I tried things, I learned, I failed, I succeeded, I did things that didn’t work, I did things that did, I mixed and matched and ultimately changed. The main thing, though, is that I was out of my comfort zone and still went for it….and I still do.

I love this part in Juliet’s post:

“I’m sorry, I can’t write because I’m not as good as JK Rowling.”

“I don’t want to snowboard because I’m not as good as Shawn White.”

“Nooooo, it’s okay. I’m not Gordon Ramsey so I’ll order a pizza.”

I’m not even competing in lifting or doing anything remotely competitive other than being a bad ass… but that’s the beauty of it all. You don’t HAVE to be the LeBron James of fitness in order to achieve personal goals.

I think this is a great kick in the pants for a Monday so whatever it is that you’re going after today, leave caution to the wind and attack it. You don’t have to be elite, you just have to try to be better than you were yesterday.

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Growing the game: how we took our talents to south beach

Despite my love of all things strength & conditioning, I’m also preparing for the high school lacrosse season that starts next week.  I’m a ball of anxious/excited/crazy and I’ve got that kid-on-Christmas feeling.  I miss being out there playing, but after having a few years of coaching under my belt, I’ve really gotten into what it means to prepare, train and lead a team.  I also really enjoy the group of girls I get to work with and I’m just looking forward to finally getting started.

How I'm Feeling

Why lacrosse?  From a coaching/fitness perspective, it is my absolute favorite because it is a cross of so many sports.  It combines the agility/speed & offensive/defensive concepts from basketball, with the endurance and quickness of soccer, tossed with the fast pace of hockey.  It is the ultimate hybrid sport, and therefore, athletes of all backgrounds are usually very successful with it.

A brief background for those not really familiar: lacrosse is HUGE up north, particularly in Maryland and New York.  In upstate NY where I went to high school, there is no shortage of lacrosse teams/camps/clinics – almost every high school has a lacrosse team and most of the major colleges offer lacrosse as a D1, 2 or 3 option.  Kids are able to start playing as early as 5 years old in some places, just like soccer in most states.  Suffice it to say, the game is pretty well established up there.  Despite all that, I wanted to head south for college.  So, I left the lacrosse mecca for sunshine & beaches [and for the record, I haven’t regretted that decision for a second].

Can you blame me?

When I moved to Coral Gables in 2006 the lacrosse scene = not so much.  Fortunately, however, the University of Miami had added a women’s club team just a year or 2 earlier – one of the first in the state to do so.  Comprised of girls mainly from the Maryland/NJ/NY area, we brought our talents to South Beach and attempted to grow the game.  With some hard work, a few hot mess (but really.) road trips to play teams out of state, and some donation letters begging for funding, the UMiami team managed to get off the ground.  Around the same time, a few of the high schools (including the one I currently coach at) added club lacrosse teams to their extra-curricular options.  This was a major break – despite lacking numbers & experience, the interest was definitely there.  6 years later, I can proudly say that Miami-Dade county has its own high school DISTRICT of varsity teams and a few travel club teams.  Even a few of the major colleges (UF, Jacksonville) have added women’s lacrosse as a varsity D1 sport. I’d say its catching on.

I’m sharing all of that because I think its awesome to be part of a pioneering effort that brings a new opportunity to kids that might have never seen this sport before.  It would have been really cool to stick around New York and get some coaching options up there with teams that are already on a really high level, but being part of an effort to establish something has forced the lacrosse community down here to really take pride in what we’ve got.  But why put so much effort into something that won’t result in an endorsement deal?

Maybe one day....

The girls that decided to play at UM definitely didn’t do it because they wanted notoriety or money – they just did it because they loved the game.  They did it because at some point in their life, they had a positive experience with the sport that made them want to share it with others.  Considering that I primarily work with high school girls, I feel that the scope of my job goes beyond beyond the win/loss column. I think using lacrosse (or any sport for that matter) as a tool to teach young women about leadership, confidence, teamwork and competition is a valuable endeavor.  Don’t get me wrong: I love competition and always push for more from my athletes, but at the end of the day, there is more to this experience than winning a district title.  Some of the girls will go on to play college lacrosse (I already have one signed to play D1 next year), but we have to be realistic: for the most part, a lot of them are using this experience as a way to stay active, learn a new sport, and hopefully gain the confidence they need to pursue whatever goals they want to later on.

It sounds sappy, but none of the strong, inspirational and confident women I call my best friends would be where they are today without someone leading by example.  So to me, if I can help one more girl get motivated to go after her dreams, then I’ve done my job pretty well.  If I get just one more girl to to turn around and decide to teach and motivate others, then I’ve REALLY succeeded.

Anyway, we have our first team meeting on Friday and one of the new things I’m doing this year is really focusing on CONSTRUCTIVE comments.  I feel like its very easy to get caught up saying “good job” or “you’ll get it!” – which is positive, but not very specific.  This year I’m having the girls fill out notecards that are going to have them pinpoint their specific strengths and weaknesses, as well as their individual and team goals.  Girls are typically really quick to list 432432 weaknesses and .5 strengths, so I’m forcing them to come up with an even number of both.  I’m also having them list some of their random favorite things, (music, food, activities outside of lacrosse) just because I think its a good way to get to know them a bit better.  Then as the season goes on, I can actually look at the cards and offer more constructive feedback in an effort to help them improve their weaknesses and achieve their written goals.  What are some things you guys do with your clients/athletes or even just coworkers that help you stay on track or keep up with them? I’d love some more ideas.

In conjunction with the fitness posts I’ll keep you guys posted with what’s happening with the team, some of the cool (in my opinion haha) conditioning drills we do, and just random coaching tidbits.

Mid-week MOTIVATION

This is going to be a quick (hopefully motivational) post that was inspired by a conversation with one of my lacrosse girls earlier last semester, when we began our conditioning practices.

 

Essentially last semester we had 2 days a week in the weight room and 2 days outside where we focused on conditioning.  In the weight room, I had the girls learn some movement assessments (quadruped reaches, plank variations, overhead movements and balance) and I taught them things to look for when they assessed their partner.  I told them what we were going to see in most of them (knees falling in on the squats, pelvic tilt, lateral shifts, etc) but that it was to be expected and that we would be working on it all semester.  I had them learn the movements then assess each other and write down comments.  When I went home that night I was laughing hysterically at what some of them had written.

Instead of just writing simple “knees collapsed in” or “pelvic tilt” they wrote things like “lateral shift: NEED TO GET BETTER AT THIS!” and “pelvic tilt: unable to succeed” 😦

It made me laugh because I can’t even tell you how many of my training notebooks have little comments in them JUST LIKE THOSE.  I know for myself, when I’m starting a new program or a new goal, I look like I’ve never trained before.  I have to stop short of the reps, I’m gasping for breath, I don’t complete in the time I’ve given myself.  Each time that happens, I write little notes – just like they did – that make it clear I didn’t succeed, but not in a “you suck” way.  I try to keep it light, but I still write it down so I know what I need to do for next time.  Does it piss me off to no end?  You bet it does.  No one likes to fall short – but the BEST feeling is going back and conquering it the second (or third, or fourth…) time around.

 

actual excerpt from my notebook - NOT modified for this post

 

When I went back the next day, I asked one of my girls about the comments.  She was like, “well I know we’re going to work on it, so its important to see what the problems are, but it wasn’t meant to make anyone feel bad.  Its just hard to start from the beginning.”

These kids I tell ya. Wise beyond their years.

I try really hard to relate to my athletes & my clients because I’ve been – and I’m STILL – in their shoes when it comes to training.  I’ve had MANY my fair share of vomit-inducing workouts that shouldn’t have made me sick; bad days in the gym; weight gain for no reason; and injuries.  I don’t go around bragging about THOSE sessions too often, because its much more fun to share the workout you just beasted – but I think its important to convey that we ALL start somewhere.  In fact, if you’re really motivated, you are constantly starting over.  If I just worked out so it was easy, I wouldn’t get anywhere.

Trainers/coaches/teachers – none of us are on pedestals because if we do our jobs correctly, we are still “students” of our profession – and sometimes it is valuable to show that to the people we are trying to coach because it helps them relate. Its funny because we are all so used to seeing people post workouts on their blog/twitter/facebook that they’ve completed.  I love seeing it because I use it as motivation, and I love surrounding myself with positivity.  But we also have to be real here.  They don’t usually include their side comments like “yup almost died during set 2” and “took a 5 minute break between rounds to cry in the corner”.  But for anyone that is discouraged about their training – TRUST ME – that kind of stuff happens, even to the most trained individual.  We all fall short of our goals at some point.  The important thing to remember is that you’re not the only one.  So write it down, rest up, and try it again.