A Championship Game by James Leath

I don't get it...a team spends season long preparing, working hard, playing through injuries, going to practice, sacrificing family time and time with friends, only to get to the championship game and not be excited. It is the last game of the year, yet I see teams show up with an entitlement attitude only to lose to a team with less talent but wanted it more. J. Maxwell was tight when he claimed talent is never enough. Its about attitude, its about mental toughness. Its about going out there and playing your heart out for 4 quarters and giving the other team a challenge. This year, my Stallions had a great season, yet the championship lacked greatness. There were a few setbacks that week in practice with two players quitting then coming back, plus my QB was sick on Monday and Tuesday, but when we got to the game there was just no fight in them! I could see it in their eyes. Playing a sport is very physical, I agree. But the mental aspect must be considered and intentionally included if an athlete is going to be victorious.

This past weekend I attended the 7th grade championship in Madera. Like I have seen before in other teams, Rio was just not in it. No celebration after a TD, no hustle in their step. It was a sad game with a predictable outcome.

Life is about being mentally strong. Be mentally strong and be able to adapt to your surroundings and you will go far in this life.

Rules: Golden vs. Platinum by James Leath

In my readings of John Maxwell and Zig Ziglar, I have come across a disagreement in how to treat others. The former says to use the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. The latter preaches the platinum rule: Treat others as they would like to be treated. I tend to see the world as black and white with gray in the middle. I think these rules fall into the gray category. It is important to treat others with the respect you would want, but it is also important to remember that we tell people how to treat us by the clothes we wear, the things we say, and the people we hang out with. For example, An older gentleman who is reading the paper and smiling at passersby and a young man wearing black clothes and makeup while starring you down while you walk by are not sending the same message, The old man is inviting, while the young man is saying something completely different.  My point is this: Be educated, be well read, get to know many different kinds of people. In doing this, you will better understand how to treat anyone you come in contact with.

What makes one guy a champion and the other one not? by James Leath

Good quote from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a seven-time Mr. Olympia, in Barbara Walters' autobiography: "What makes one guy a champion and the other one not?" [Walters] asked. Schwarzenegger: "It's drive. It's the will. There are certain people that grow up with a tremendous hunger and it's usually kids that have struggled when they were young. When you grow up comfortable and in peace and happiness, all those things will produce a very balanced person and a good person, but it will not create the will and determination and hunger that you need to be the best in the world."

Graduation shouldn't stop you from learning! by James Leath

When was the last time you picked up a book on your profession? A pastor in Denton, TX is well known for saying,"If your output exceeds your input, your upkeep will be your downfall." In other words, if you are teaching more than you are learning, it won't be long until your competition leaves you in the dust. This is true for any profession, not just the Fitness and Nutrition domain. Read good books. Get involved with other people in your profession. Exchange ideas. Learn from mistakes. The days of keeping good ideas to yourself are over. I promise, if you help enough other people get what they want, you'll soon have everything you want!

Your Poise as a coach in pressure situations by James Leath

I often go through my library randomly and spend an hour or two in a book I have previously read. 100% of the time I find something valuable to implement or mention to other coaches. In Developing an Offensive Game Plan, written by Brian Billick, he mentions how a change in your demeanor during pressure situations could be misinterpreted by your players as you "losing your cool." Instead, warn your players that the game situation may change you a little but that doesn't mean the situation has gone desperate. If your athletes know ahead of time that you anticipate a little more "crazy" in your voice at certain points of the game, they are less likely to lose faith in your play calling abilities.

Did you want to be like your coach? by James Leath

I grew up idolizing two certain coaches from pop warner to high school. I was fortunate to have them for more than one year as a coach and teacher.  They were both  faithful family men, loved their athletes, and showed everyone respect (at least the ones that showed them respect). Now that I am a coach I have reached out to them for advice and I don't think I can ever express how important they were to me growing up. (Thank you, Gene Gabriel and Mike Nolte.) Here is the rub: Your athletes are going to imitate you, whether you are good or bad. You habits, mannerisms, and attitude will be reflected in your students. They are ALWAYS watching. Be the man you would want your athletes to one day be. The world is running out of heroes. Don't miss out on the great opportunity you have to shape the men of the future.

Playing v Coaching by James Leath

Thought this was a wonderful excerpt from the late Jim Valvano's autobiography.[Here's Jimmy V's bio.] ~~~~~~~~~~ When I switched from playing to coaching at Rutgers, it didn't take more than a few losses to figure out the difference. Let's get that one out of the way real fast. There is positively no comparison between being a player and a coach. The animals aren't even in the same kingdom. Forget it.

Playing the game is easy. Playing is putting your sneakers on and answering intros and running and jumping and shouting and getting it on. If you play great, you feel great. If you win, you feel great. If you lose, you still feel great. Oh, you might put on a long face after a defeat, but if you've had a good game individually, it doesn't bother you that much.

As a player, the way you play affects how you feel more than winning or losing. That's why on a losing-team bus I've never insisted players show remorse and don't talk. Don't give me that silent, sad act.

Fans take the losses harder than players. I don't care what anybody says; the player who goes for 40 big ones in a one-point loss and says he's crushed -- hey, take that outta here. And, even if you win big, the players who didn't get into the game aren't going to be happy, either.

As a coach, it's a different mind-set. You can't coach well and lose and still feel good. You win, you lose. The preparation in coaching is a hundredfold greater than in playing. I didn't get nervous before I played. Playing was an absolute joy. Coaching was like giving birth. It's labor, it's work.

The thing is -- unlike being a player -- as a coach, that game is yours, win or lose, comedy or tragedy. It belongs to you. In that way, a coach is an artist. When you make a beautiful canvas, you're proud. When you don't, all the work and energy and effort is for naught. You've failed. You feel that failure deep inside your every bone.

Playing and coaching have so little to do with each other that it should come as no suprise how few players enjoy coaching when they've finished their active careers. They think they'll like it because they want to stay "close to the game." Then they find out it isn't a game anymore.

It's a total business at this level. On the one hand, it's a discipline; on the other, it's art. But it's a discipline first, and a lot of people don't like that: the hours in the tape room, the schmoozing with the media, the practices, the road trips, the X's and O's. What they see on TV is the nice suits and the guys in control; immediately they want to turn in their uniforms and move down to the business end of the pine.

Motivation through Fear by James Leath

"Motivating through fear may work in the short term to get people to do something, but over the long run I believe personal pride is a much greater motivator. It produces far better results that last for a much longer time." John Wooden

In my experience he is completely right. A coach can instill fear in his or her players, but their actions wont be sincere. It makes good for the moment, but not for the long haul. If an athlete takes pride in their work habits they will find themselves in successful situations some people would attribute to luck. Isn't it amazing that luck comes more often to those that work hard!