Tag Archives: Training

Your Purpose 2Q

“Great dreams aren’t just visions, they are visions coupled to strategies for making them real.” – Astro Teller, X (formerly Google X)

Early in my football coaching career, probably my second or third year, I did one of the most asinine things I ever did as a coach. It was the first week of summer conditioning. A good part of the CCCHS summer conditioning program was my baby. It was a huge responsibility. It was a responsibility I did not take lightly. It was my primary purpose.

I did the work. All year. Researched, read papers, visited K-State Strength Coach Rod Cole, watched videos, etc. ad nauseum to 99.99% of the population. I tried to put together the best program for our kids with the equipment we had or what could be scrounged up or made by the wizard-skills of Coach Lane. It was, a vision coupled with a strategy.

  • Our purpose was to physically hit the opponent like a cannon shot every, single play.
  • Our strategy was to develop the explosive power necessary to generate the force to hit the opponent hard every, single play. In a nutshell, F = ma.

So, the plan was set. We had a good start to the first week. The kids had listened well and picked up on the plan. Sure, there was whining and moaning and even some groaning, but if you’re a coach and you’re not getting some of that appropriately directed complaining, you may reevaluate how you are challenging your kids. I was feeling good. I was riding high.

We show up for the Thursday workout. 6:30 AM. We go through warm-ups. The kids come into the weight room, split off in their Bullets, Bricks, and Bubbas groups, and get to work. Next came the asinine, Coach Hays incident. It started with an innocent tap on my shoulder. I turn and there stands an innocent, young freshman holding a half-inch stack of dot-matrix printer paper and looking down at the ground to avoid all eye contact.

“Yes?” I ask the young man.

He pushes the stack of papers toward me and mutters, “My mom told me I need to do this workout.”

“Oh, really.”

“Yeah, she found it on the internet.”

I nod and take the papers. With the young man still standing there, I take one step forward and ceremoniously drop the internet-found road to athletic glory into the trash receptacle. I then address the bug-eyed, jaw dropped to his navel, freshman.

“Tell your mother where your workout ended up”

He had that distinct look of someone who was about to pee their pants.

“Also, tell her we know what we’re doing. Now go get to work.”

He released a slow sigh of relief, smiled, and joined his workout group. Not a word was heard on that issue again.

Take-home lesson:

  • Have a purpose that is backed up by a solid plan.
  • TRUST the plan.
  • SELL the plan to your people.

Also, don’t be a jackass in the process…unless it’s totally necessary.

Great dreams need a vision.

Plate

Note: That young freshman turned out a pretty damn good athlete in the long run—even without the collective intellect of internet weightlifting workouts. Excellent football player, state-caliber wrestler, all-around good (and ornery) guy, and very successful adult family man/businessman.

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Your Purpose?

“Dreams aren’t just visions, they’re visions coupled to strategies for making them real.” -Astro Teller

Purpose sounds like something so, so simple. It seems like common sense to have a defined purpose when one takes on an endeavor. Especially in a sports endeavor, you would think approaching that sport with a purpose and a systematic plan would come natural, right? It seems purpose should be one of the necessities of sports coaching, don’t you think?

Truth is, it’s not.

Wanting to win is not a purpose. Everybody wants to win. It’s human nature to want to succeed; it’s written in our DNA. But what sets coaches and programs apart from one another often starts with purpose. Effort and hard work are essential but without a purpose effort and work are wasted.

I used to see this lack of purpose, or more accurately a lack of defined purpose, quite often in the coaching world. There are two types of purposeful coaches. The first are the ones who just copy or borrow a purpose. You see this type a lot at coaching clinics. They hear a talk or see a workout or scheme program and take it lock, stock, and barrel back to their kids and try to make their kids fit into it.

The other type of purposeful coach—the ones I think are generally more successful in their programs—take the same information as the first type of coach but they pick, choose, and mold those ideas to fit their athletes. They know their purpose and know how to mesh information to support their purpose.

In high school sports, a coach must lead with a purpose. Every day and with everything you ask kids to do must be done for a reason. You can’t throw a blanket idea out there expecting the kids to see the purpose and commit to it. That is not what a leader does.

A leader leads.

A leader has a defined purpose.

A defined purpose that is custom fit for his or her athletes.

A purpose that gives the athletes the best chance at success. A purpose they also can envision. A purpose they willingly dedicate themselves to attain.

Everybody wants to win. They just need guidance and need to be shown the way.

The answer is not simply in a book. The answer is not simply in a purchased training program. The answer is not what Coach X does at X College.

The answer is defining a purpose that your people can buy into. A purpose that does not waste their time and not wasting kids’ time is VERY IMPORTANT in today’s culture. A coach is competing with all kinds of pretty damn fun and cool alternatives to working your ass off for three hours a day every day, you better make your time with them worth THEIR time.

Whatever the endeavor, if you’re not happy with the results you are getting, try redefining your PURPOSE. You and your people may find you like the results.

Rings

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Under Your Skin

(This is my 350th post on The Coach Hays blog since I first started this dog and pony show in 2009. To celebrate, I thought a proper rant would be fitting. Thanks for reading and I hope I can keep going for at least 350 more.)

What makes a good athlete? What makes a team successful?

It’s about commitment. It’s about grinding through the work and the repetition. It’s the footwork drills. It’s the extra swings. It’s taking the shots after practice or perfecting your jump technique.

It’s going beyond what the practice and game plans say you should do. It is going beyond what your supporters say and further than your biggest detractors could ever dream was possible.

It’s the competitor’s mark to be permanently worn under your skin.

It’s a mark you wear with pride. As an individual. As a competitor. As a group. As a team. As a family.

  • Not a hashtag.
  • Not a poster hanging on the wall.
  • Not a program t-shirt.

The mark of a winner is burned on your heart. It seeps into every nook and cranny of your competitor spirit.

You do the work necessary. And then you do it again.

Look in the mirror. What do you see? If you don’t like the results you are reaping, look at what you are sowing.

  • Are you putting in the work? Input = Output.
  • Are you blaming instead of improving?
  • Talking instead of performing?
  • Whining instead of winning?

If you don’t like where you’re at, then take the steps to move forward. Sow the good seed.

Ask yourself, “Am I along for the ride or am I going to put this team on my shoulders and rise to the top?”

Commit. Improve. Do the work.

Hard work is the magic.

Wear the mark of a competitor. Decide if your mark is a temporary tattoo or if is it written in your marrow.

Be dependable. Be consistent. Be a rock.

Wear your commitment under your skin. As I’ve said before, Be Indelible.

Permanent and unshakeable. 

TLWtattoo

Photo used with permission. #TLW13

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The Jack-In-The-Box

The jack-in-the-box.

You turn the crank slowly. Nothing happens.

You turn slower and slower and slower in anticipation of the freaky clown popping out when the lid springs open. With every turn, your heart beats faster and your eyes get a little wider. The chime rings out the tune one slow note at a time as you get closer and closer to the always surprising endgame and then…

POP!

Jack-in-the-box

Developing athletes is similar to a jack-in-the-box. The athlete cranks the handle by practicing and training. When the time is right, the breakthrough comes, and the performance “pops” for all to see.

I saw this with several of the baseball kids we coached this summer (I know, I know, I retired. Insert Mrs. Hays laughing). Starting this spring, these particular players worked and worked to become better hitters. We worked with them on staying vertical and using their tall, lanky frames to generate angular force through a short, compact swing.

These players slowly cranked the handle of their athletic jack-in-the-box to get better throughout the season. They put in meaningful time at the batting cages and at practice. Honestly, they hit the crap out of the ball more often than not this summer. Finally, for one of the players, the catch was sprung on the lid and he hit his first home run to seal a victory in our final game of the summer. It was a legit shot that easily cleared the left field fence. I even smiled—during an actual game, if you can believe that.

This is how athletic development works. You work toward a goal. You grind it out day after day to what often seems to no avail. You get frustrated. You despair. Sometimes, you quit. But to those who keep turning that handle on their athletic jack-in-the-box with grit and determination, success will come.

You will improve.

It is inevitable.

So, keep lifting, keep running, keep swinging, and throwing. Practice ball-handling and shooting baskets every day. Continue to work on your technique, your footwork, and your mental game. Just keep cranking and good things will happen.

I’ve said this many times in the past, but one of the most important things a coach or teacher can do is to see the potential in a kid and help them achieve that potential. Teach them to keep working and to keep turning their cranks of improvement until their talent springs forward.

Now, it’s time to shove this old, tired, jack-in-the-box of a coach down, snap the lid shut, and throw him back into the storage closet. I am retiring from active coaching…again.

Maybe (Stop laughing Mrs. Hays.).

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Be Indelible

I used to confuse the word indelible with the word inedible. So when I’d see a permanent marker with “Indelible Ink” printed on it, I’d think, “No $#@!, Sherlock! Who would want to eat a Sharpie anyway?”

Now I’m slightly smarter…well, enough smarter to know that inedible and indelible are completely different things. Indelible means to make a lasting mark—it means that something will not be forgotten or removed.

I like that.

Indelible.

I want to coach and develop indelible athletes.

I want to produce indelible writing.

I want to make an indelible impact on my communities.

I want to be indelible.

MarkerParticipate or Compete?
As an athlete, or as part of any organization, which are you choosing to be?

The participant shows up most of the time and, more often than not, jumps into the wagon to go for the ride.

The competitor is the one who pulls the wagon and makes everyone around them better. The competitor is the very definition of indelible. The competitor is never satisfied with their current efforts and performances. A competitor does the things the participator refuses to do.

What does a competitor do? Well, in high school sports, in my opinion, the competitor is the athlete who puts in the extra offseason work to improve at least 4 or 5 days a week.

  • Baseball – 50 throws & catches, 50 swings, 50 ground balls/pop-ups.
  • Football – Explosive power development, 25 starts and footwork reps, routes, and throws.
  • Basketball – 250+ shots a day, ball-handling skills, explosive power development.
  • Tennis, golf, volleyball, etc. – All need skills reps

All In
I am a firm believer in playing multiple sports and being involved in multiple activities, hobbies, etc. But, the work and the commitment to all these activities requires a monumental effort. The key is to, as the wonderful Mrs. Hays often says about life and work and parenting, “Be present.” Pay attention to the needs of the situation staring you in the face. Focus 100% on the task at hand and not 60% with the other 40% worrying about the next activity on you agenda.

Be Present = Go All In

Whatever you do in life, go all in. Jump into the fray feet first with a fully-focused effort. Don’t straddle the border with one foot in and one foot out. Hit the accelerator and give your drive and desire full throttle to make your world a better place.

That is the very meaning of indelible.

Go all in.

Compete, don’t just participate.

Leave a lasting mark.

Be Indelible

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Finding Their Missing Somethings

“Let me tell you something, Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz was one of the great all-time leaders. She took three people that were missing something and had them look back inside themselves to find something they thought they never had. She wanted to go home, that was mission No.1, but in the end it was all about everyone else.”

I read this quote from Clint Hurdle, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, in Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Major League Baseball Preview. Not only is it a statement about what a good leader does, it is perhaps the best distillation of the very essence of The Wizard of Oz I have ever seen.

wonderful-wizard-oz-l-frank-baum-paperback-cover-art

A leader seeks their own goal by helping everyone around them find what makes them better. A coach needs to pay attention to know what each of his or her players desires or needs and work with that athlete to make them better. When the collective individual goals are met, the team goals often follow for the coach. The devil is in the details. The devil is in making every single individual who walks through your door better on a daily basis.

I saw another fitting quote in a training and conditioning magazine this past week from Coach Mark Morrison, who is Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Hendrick Motorsports. On the subject of training individuals and the myriad of training philosophies/programs available, Coach Morrison said,

“At the end of the day, as long as you are developing happy, healthy, strong, lean, and agile athletes, you have done your job.”

Truth! Write this in stone and live by it. Be the coach who, like Dorothy, finds the missing somethings in your athletes. Be the coach who helps them be happy, healthy, strong, lean, and agile athletes.

You will be a happier (and more successful) coach because of it.

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Coach Hays Rant: Not A Fan

“I’m not going to play this spring (or winter)(or summer) because I’m gonna lift.”

This phrase, when spoken from a high school athlete makes me cringe. I know what it means, I’ve been there. I used this excuse myself as a senior in high school and didn’t go out for wrestling. Here is the interpretation that enters my brain through the coach translation area of my cerebral cortex when I hear that phrase from a high school kid.

I don’t want to play __________ because I really don’t want to work that hard.

95% of the kids I’ve heard the “I’m going to lift” mantra from fail at this goal miserably. Sure, they show up in the weight room, but very little work gets done.

Rings

I admit I’m not a fan of the recent rise in the high school sport of powerlifting. Sure, it’s all pretty cool, but is it doing justice to our athletes? Are we pushing kids into powerlifting participation (even though it’s not a sanctioned competitive sport by the state athletic association) at the expense of other sports they could, and should, be participating in? Is powerlifting becoming the focus over the actual sports a high school offers?

Truth is you get better at sports by playing sports. The training component is vital, but it is still just a component. Playing multiple sports gives one an edge in physicality, in conditioning, and in competitiveness, which is such an important component, yet so overlooked. Give me eleven young, high school men who know how to compete and I will knock the mother-loving socks off your 300 lb. bench pressers who spend 8 months of their year lifting.

Plate

Explosive power development requires speed, agility, quickness, and strength. That strength is a certain type of strength—an explosive strength derived from a specific technical approach. Like I’ve said many times before, I want to develop bullets rather than bowling balls. Powerlifting as the primary focus does not build athletes. Period.

Moral of the story…play a sport whenever you can. It is the best “big picture” thing you can do. Don’t get stuck on the one particular tree and forget all about the forest.

  • The first step is to compete.
  • The second step is to practice with an approach to improve.
  • The third step is to attack a well-rounded physical training program to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  • The fourth step…enjoy the ride.
  • The fifth step is to repeat steps one through four as often as possible.

Time is precious. Make the most of every tick of the clock and work to be the best you that you can be.

Hard work is the magic.

Rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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Fill the Bottle

Your football season is over earlier than everyone wished it would be. A disappointing last loss. These things happen. Only one team per division finishes the season with a significant victory. One. Other than that, the rest of the players and coaches feel the stinging venom of defeat.

For high school football seniors, this pain is sharp. 95% of them will never play football again. 100% will never enjoy the camaraderie and pure joy of playing with their hometown peers, for hometown coaches, in front of hometown fans. Football for the few who are fortunate enough to move on to play collegiately will find it becomes more like a job and the innocence of the game fades.

The emotional aspect of a senior playing his final high school football game may seem petty in importance, but I’ve consoled many 6′ 3″, 250-pound linemen as they sobbed uncontrollably after they lost that final game and the reality of the end hits them like a ton of bricks. For many of these kids, it is the first time they have experienced loss at this level of emotion. If you have a senior, or know a senior, in this position, give them a hug. They deserve it no matter what their won-loss record was.

For the underclassman and for the coaching staff, that final loss also hurts. You are done. After a year of planning and working and practicing and playing, there are no more opportunities until next season. There is a letdown and probably a sense of failure. If the season went better than expected, there’s a consolation of hope. If the season fell below expectations, there’s often a firestorm of distraction.

What comes next?

Coaches and returners need to collect all the disappointment and the sting of failure. They need to collect the venom, that poison which burns your pride/your attitude/your confidence, bottle it up, and then seal it tight with a stopper.

Why?

Because you want to keep that bad taste around as a reminder of how bad this feels right after that final loss. You want to save that feeling to drive you through the next 365 days of preparation for next season.

Coaches need a place that bottle of nasty feelings onto their desk to fuel a deep, top to bottom, and HONEST analysis of every aspect of the program. From the daily approach and philosophy to tweaking the offensive and defensive schemes to best fit the returning roster, all the way to implementing the strength and conditioning programs necessary to physically, mentally, and emotionally develop each player so they will be ready to fill those defined roles to the next season.

Returning players, you have the toughest role. You can’t just forget how bad you feel right now. You can’t forget the pain and disappointment eating away at you after this last loss. You will, though. You are young and you have the ability to turn your back on the reality of what just happen and assume a rosy outlook to the future.

Believe me, you do. In a couple of weeks, you will move forward to the next thing which crosses your path. That’s why you NEED this bottle of nastiness more than anyone. You need to pull that bottle down every day, uncork the bottle, and drink one drop.

Every day, without fail.

You need to feel that drop of disappointment burn as it makes its way to your gut and reminds you of that moment when your season came screeching to a halt. You need that drop to remind you to work harder and to realize changes must be made.

That daily dose of a reminder will help you:

  • Get out of bed and to the weight room on the days you feel like sleeping in.
  • Work harder than everybody else.
  • Accept your role and do it to the best of your ability.
  • Be a leader, every day and in every way.
  • Develop into a player willing and able to carry the team on your shoulders.

Never give up and never give in to the disappointment of a loss. Approach everything with purpose, pride, and passion fueled by the fire of that pain which follows the final loss of the year. The loss pain you probably feel in your gut right now.

To the coaches and players whose football season is finished for 2014, thank you for your efforts this season. Learn from this past year, rethink everything you are doing, and attack next season with a new energy starting right now.

Get better, one day at a time.

Get better, one painful memory sip at a time.

Everybody gets better, every day.

(Coaches included.)

small-round-glass-bottles-with-corks-8-5-oz-pack-of-12-5

 

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Fundamental Differences

One of the joys of being an athlete and a coach is striving for perfection in the fundamental skills of a sport. Technical proficiency was necessary for me to have success in baseball, football, basketball, track & field, and especially in strength & conditioning. Fundamental skill development was a focus of everything I did as a coach and as a player. Getting better every day was at the core of what we did; it was the core of our program philosophy.

Over the years, I found good things happen to those who consistently work to fundamentally improve. These athletes get better while others stagnate; they enjoy more success, and experience more satisfaction in their sport.

What may have been my most embarrassing moment as a coach was not a bad loss or getting ejected from a game (yes, it happened), it came from a TV news spot a local station did on our football team in the second year we coached. The station was doing a piece on the resurgence of the program and they did a few interviews, plus shot some video.

Everyone was excited to watch the actual newscast and I felt a jolt of pride when the story came on the TV. Good interviews, good background info, everything going smooth, and then the bottom dropped out.

They showed our dynamic warm-up routine and the kid closest to the camera, a lineman (which made it hurt even worse) was performing his high-knee skips like he was in the park on a Saturday afternoon carrying a picnic basket and singing “Skip to My Lou”. His technique was horrid and it was right there, in 240 lbs. of offensive lineman glory, skipping like a kindergartener across the TV screen.

I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. It was my own fault as a coach for allowing this lapse of technique to occur. I decided then and there I needed to up my coaching game and teach/demand more from ALL the kids in the program. Fundamental skill development became a challenge I was not going to fail at again.

Do you know why they call the basic skill a fundamental? Fundamental means the most important part of something’s basic structure or function. The fundamentals form the foundation of the skill one wishes to excel at. There are fundamental skills in sports, science, welding, teaching, coaching, electrician, etc. In practically any field, one must learn and master the fundamentals in order to succeed.

Why are fundamentals so important?

Let’s say we’re building a wall, a solid, brick wall. The first step in building our wall is to prepare the ground to give us a flat, stable surface. Maybe we’ll even pour a concrete footing to give our wall the strongest foundation possible. Once this basic foundation level is set, we can add the best bricks or stones to the foundation and bind them into the others to solidify our base.

bricks

The base foundation is stable. Our fundamentals of our wall are solid, so as we add bricks to create the vertical wall it becomes a marvel of strength and can endure an attack or force.

Let’s say you’re in a hurry to build your brick wall. The ground you start with is slightly inclined, with clumps of grass and weeds covering the soft layer of earth. And, you’re going to use those dirt clods and mud pies the kids made this morning as your foundation layer. Now build your brick wall on top of this makeshift foundation.

Which of these walls would you rather have if you’re wearing your bright red jumpsuit and staring down a charging bull just stung by a bee in the pasture on the opposite side of your new wall?

That’s what training is; it is building your best possible wall out of your own body. Mastering the fundamental and techniques of your chosen endeavors is absolutely vital to maximize performance. In sport, the physical movement skills, the combination of strength, speed (quickness) and agility, are the fundamentals one must work to master.

It’s that time of the year where we see a lot of photos, videos, etc. on social media from high school kids participating in powerlifting meets. Often, I see these and cringe. Especially, the young freshmen and sophomore athletes exhibiting technical flaws which make the “Skip to My Lou” high-knee skips look like ballet. These kids, besides risking injury, are not developing the proper fundamental movements skills, the foundation of their wall is shaky, and without intense correction, they may never reach their full potential.

Young lifters should never be given the green light for weighted lifts without showing proficiency in the proper technique. Technique work is the foundation for results. These athletes are wasting precious time with each repetition they perform improperly. Good things will happen in the future if you train by the mantra: “Movement first, then weight.”

A large part of coaching is the development of the talent in your program. In my opinion, it is also one of the most neglected facets of coaching. Player development must be a priority, especially at the high school level where the talent pool consists of the athletes who walk through your door every day.

Teenagers rarely will do this on their own. They need guidance, they need a plan, and sometimes, they need a kick in the rear.

Guidance.

A Plan.

Motivation.

These three things separate the good programs and coaches from the bad.

I would like to ask all athletes, young and old, to remember the importance of doing things right and with fundamental soundness. Focus on technique first and foremost. If you find yourself needing help with technical development, ask for help or contact me and we can find the help you need.

Be safe.

Be strong.

Be your best.

 Hard Work is the Magic

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Step By Step

Everybody wants to win.

It’s human nature.

What distinguishes success from failure if we all initially desire the same thing? In other words, how did we get to the results we got?

It’s the staircase philosophy.

Huh?

Think of a long flight of stairs. My own visual staircase is an isolated utilitarian concrete set of stairs anchored to the ground in the middle of nowhere. Now visualize a shiny, rather gargantuan gold trophy at the top. This is the victory, the goal which is the pinnacle of your chosen endeavor. When you reach that top step, you’ll sit down next to that golden trophy and put your arm around it like it’s your best friend in the whole world. It’s Nirvana.

Here’s the problem that separates the “everybody wants to win” people from the winners. You have to start at the start. You have to start at the bottom of the stairs and work your way up one stair at a time.

The first step is not so bad. It’s usually just a simple hop up.

The second step is a little higher and it takes more skill to climb.

And so on and so on…

Until you get to those final few steps. These steps are the separators, these are the monster steps. Hard work is the magic on these steps. The prize is within reach, you can almost taste it.. One must decide on doing the work and making the sacrifices to make the next level or stay and give up.

PlainStairs

Successful folks understand the staircase philosophy. Constant work builds upon a solid foundation each step of the way. There are no shortcuts. A lot of money is spent on magic bullets and pills and supplements trying to find a shortcut.

There are no shortcuts.

It’s like learning the alphabet. We didn’t learn “A” and jump right to “Z”. Too many people want to make a grab for the “Z” right off the bat. It doesn’t work that way.

It is a methodical learning curve, A to B to C to D…, one letter at a time, all the way to Z. It’s like Mrs. Hays is often (always) saying, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

A wonderful group of local Clay County people are starting a project to bring life back into our baseball field, Kelly Campbell Field. We are going to follow the staircase philosophy. We are going to work our way up to have a playable small town high school baseball field. We are going to follow a staircase philosophy while being extremely financially responsible and respectful.

(So, if you see folks working on Kelly Campbell Field, thank them for their effort. And, if you find yourself with an extra dollar in your pocket, I’m sure the Clay Center Parks & Recreation Committee can find a good use for each dollar designated to Campbell Field.)

Everybody wants to win. Winning is a way of doing business, a way of life.

The joy is in the journey. The joy is climbing one step at a time. The is earning your way to the next step.

Step by step.

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