While most posts that I write are pretty planned out, today I am doing some improvisation. The other night while finishing my book “Chop Wood Carry Water” there was a chapter called “Be Where Your Feet Are”. It did not hit me at the moment but this morning it was in my mind and I thought that this is a perfect topic to share my thoughts!
In this post I will be sharing some points from two great sports psychologists that I have taken a liking to, Graham Betchart and Ken Ravizza. I highly recommend reading their work and watching any videos you can find on these two.
Graham Betchart- Play Present
Graham Betchart is known for working with great NBA players such as Aaron Gordon, Ben Simmons, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. Play Present is a book that is a mental skills training program for basketball players. While I have yet to read it, it is on my list (along with another 100 or more books!). One common thing that I have seen when reviewing this book is that many players never come to their full potential as they never play present. Instead these players are more concerned with the past or the future and they end up feeling excessive pressure.
As coaches we are always getting on our players to be more oriented with “the process” instead of the “results”. That is a great way of getting our players to be more in the present. I want to take that a different direction and raise the question to all of us “are we, as coaches, playing in the present?”. I know from my own experience that I am either looking too far ahead or dwelling on the past. The result of this is the players following your example. We end up limiting our teams potential because we are not where are feet are.
So how can we make sure to always coach in the present? Well, I here is what I do. Let’s set the example of being in a season and a situation happens, such as a player injury, a bad loss, or even a big win! Our mind set may be filled with a lot of “what ifs”. There is a process that I have created that I use to get my teams back to being where there feet are.
“The ACT” or Acknowledge, Challenge, Train
- Acknowledge- During practice or a team meeting, I air out what is on everyone’s mind. I say it how it is, not trying to sugar coat anything or under value something good. By acknowledging either the good or the bad we can all see it together for what the situation really is.
- Challenge- Once we have acknowledged the situation among us (either past or future) I then challenge my team to overcome the obstacle or to rise above the expectation. We will not succumb to the pressure of what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. We will focus on the now, we will play present!
- Train- Now that we have set the challenge for the group it is our job as the coach to train them to overcome or rise above the situations. By us as coaches seeing the bigger picture we have the ability to train the team to play in the present. We can manipulate practices or training sessions to be focused on only what is happening at the current moment.
When I follow this “ACT” I not only help my team to play present but I help my self as a coach. My focus is more on keeping my team on track rather than being distracted those “what ifs”. This process is a great guideline for multiple situations and what is great about it is the ability to repeat it daily, weekly, or how ever often you need to!
Ken Ravizza- Be Present, Not Perfect
Ken Ravizza is a legendary sports psychologist who was well known in the MLB community! He has many great teachings that all coaches can use and I highly recommend following his teachings! Ken has many great “Ravizza’isms” or sayings that he is known for using. The one that goes perfect with this article is “Be Present, Not Perfect”.
“Be Present, Not Perfect” is something that we can all do in coaching, or better yet life! When ever we start a season with a new team there are great aspirations to be the best or to be number 1! There is always the thought in our mind that this will be a perfect season! Well as most of us know, the perfect season is rare, seasons or teams usually rarely go as planned!
Instead of us trying to make sure everything in the season, in the practice, or in a game/match goes perfectly, we must focus on the present! Let’s look at a practice, we may come up with what we think is the best drill ever and as we begin the team just does not perform it to expectation. Most coaches will probably get upset and keep trying the drill until the team gets it, but what if you can accept that the drill isn’t making any progress, swallow your pride, and move on! We can look at it from the other direction as well. You may be doing a drill that you have always done but for some reason your team seems to be playing the best ever! As a coach you must realize this, be in the present and keep the ball rolling! Even if we have something else in mind that we want to get to it can wait!
No matter what the situation you, your team, or an individual is going through we can always make our way through it. The important thing though is to never over look that situation and ignore the present! The best thing that you can always do in life is “Be Where Your Feet Are”