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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Would you make the team ?

When I was a teenager I played a lot of team sports - specifically cricket.  The cricket season meant a consistent pattern each week - practise with the team 2-3 times, practise by myself and then play both days on the weekend.

Practise with the team meant a couple of things but one of the main goals was quite simple - impress the coach enough to get selected for the team.  Show them not only your technical skill but your attitude and enthusiasm.  I used to look for Friday's paper excited to see whether I had been selected.

After cricket I moved to martial arts.  Martial arts is much more like triathlon - you train each week and then periodically there is a test of what you had learnt.  These tests for the higher ranks could be years apart.  There was no weekly team, no one really cared if you turned up or not.  Training was more about the process (and perfection) and is why I have the Japanese symbol Keizen on my left ankle.  Keizen means "Always Moving Forward" and the left side of the body, in Martial Arts, is the spiritual side.

For some people that come from team sports this difference in mentality - of not being 'selected' each week is a very different mindset.  The triathlon equivalent of a Martial Arts grading is obviously a race but these can seem a long way off (fortunately not years like in Martial Arts but in the case of a bad injury this may even be the case).

The trick is to treat each training week as a match week.  Have you done enough so that the coach will 'select' you ?.  Have you trained consistently - have you demonstrated the right attitude and enthusiasm for the game that would make the coach want you on the team.  Think back to your team sport and remember the feeling of making the team or missing out.

For people coming from team sports like Cricket and Football this change of mindset can make a big difference.  Make one day of the week 'selection day' - take a step back and give your training week a score out of 10 and ask yourself...

Would you make the team this week ?.  

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Pick out the Brown Smarties.

We've all heard the stories of demands 'Divas' make - Mariah Carey demanding 2 dozen white roses and no patterns on the couches in her dressing room, Jennifer Lopez demanding an all white dressing room, Madonna demanding a brand new toilet seat..  But maybe there is more to it than just being a tad eccentric..

For those that grew up in the 80's you will remember David Lee Roth.  He was the lead singer of Van Halen and also had a successful solo career.  In his contract conditions he demanded a bowl of smarties with all of the brown smarties removed.

Diva right ?

When asked recently about this he explained it was actually a quality control check.  What he meant was that if he walked into his dressing room and found a bowl of smarties without brown ones he knew that someone had read his contract in detail and that he didnt need to worry about as much about all the important requirements he had around staging, water, security etc.  If he found brown smarties he knew that the quality of everything else would also need to be checked to make sure nothing impacted the standard of the show.

You may train, you may watch what you eat, you may look after your equipment - but do you pick out the brown smarties ?  Do you make sure, when you go into a session, that the little details are right to get the most 'quality' out of the session ?  In some sessions the duration of the interval and the recovery time is critical to get the best bang for buck out of the session.  Mucking around with shoe laces, watch settings, chatting to your mates can all mess up these timings meaning the metabolic goal of the session cannot be met - it is a wasted session purely through lack of attention to detail.

In business there is an expression called The Six P's.  Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Next time you are heading to the track, the pool, the gym ask whether you have picked out the brown smarties - have you done those small things that mean that you get the best out of the session.