24 Sep 2000:  Nicola Vizzoni of Italy on his way to silver in the Mens Hammer at the Olympic Stadium on Day Nine of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.  Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt /Allsport

Episode 24: The Coach’s Attitude

I organized a Swiss Hammer fall training kick off event two weeks ago and invited along a special guest Nicola Vizzoni. Vizzoni has impressed many with the longevity of his career, winning major medals a decade apart. But what impresses me more is how he won those medals. At both the 2000 Olympics and 2010 European Championships he was up against a wall. In Sydney he was about to be knocked out of the competition in the third round and then responded with a personal best to take silver. In Barcelona he had been knocked off the podium and responded with a season’s best on his final attempt for a medal. During our Q&A with him he credited his performance under pressure to his coach, whose attitude during the competitions put subtle pressure on him without making him panic. Read more


A Good Coach Knows

Being an athlete is not normal. The lifestyle is not normal. The workload is not normal. The stress is also not normal. From the outside looking in things seem so glamorous. Oh how wonderful it must be to travel the world and compete doing what you love and being paid for it. Media attention. People adore you and aspire to be just like you are. The truth is, the outsider really has no idea. Read more

DANVILLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Professor Atul Gawande, M.D. delivers speech during Geisinger Health System 
A Century of Transformation and Innovation Symposium at Pine Barn Inn on September 25, 2015 in Danville, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Geisinger Health System)

The Coach’s Coach

When I was in Minnesota last month I had a chance to share a beer with former Pan American Games hammer throw champ Jim Driscoll for a great discussion on training and coaching philosophies. At one point the conversation turned to how we can improve our coaching and he mentioned that he recently invited an experienced coaching colleague come and watch him coach. His colleague sat quietly on the side throughout the sessions. After his athletes had left the sat down to discuss what his colleague had observed and where he could improve his coaching and communication. It was a simple and effective idea, but it was the first coach I have ever heard to have implemented this approach. Read more


Episode 21: Great Expectations

We’ve all seen coach-athlete relationships break down, and rarely does it have to do with the abilities of the coach or athlete. Instead it often comes down to expectations not being fulfilled by one party. Nick Garcia discussed this topic in a blog post last week, providing some questions coaches and athletes should address to build a strong relationship. But being a complex topic, it warrants deeper discussion (and my two cents on the topic). So on this week’s episode we discuss what coaches and athletes should expect from each other and how they can both work to improve communication and strengthen the relationship. Read more

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL-MARCH, 11: Rising hurdling star David Oliver, right, shares a laugh with legendary coach Brooks Johnson, during a workout at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. 2011.(Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Coach-Athlete Expectations

Fortunately I am tied into the sport of track and field very tightly, both through my close friends in the sport and because I follow it very closely as a fan. Each year there are a few coaches and athletes who decide to part ways for various reasons. Usually it is due to a difference in philosophy, but not necessarily a training philosophy. Often it is a difference philosophy about how life should be lived. So I began to think about and it gave me a few questions to think about. All of these questions seem very simple but can complicate things a great deal in an athlete/coach relationship. Read more


Situational Practice

This weekend, I witnessed via my television screen one of the biggest blunders in college football. The situation of course was the fumbled snap, the re-fumbled recovery of that snap, and the subsequent recovery of that fumble for a last second touchdown. Michigan State wins and beats Michigan in their big in-state rivalry, and one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the football. The person who fumbled that snap has a name, and his name is Blake O’Neill. After October 17, 2015, every Michigan football fan will know his name. @blakewoneill on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets went crazy! The comparison of this young man’s blunder and Ray Finkle, the fictional character from the Ace Ventura: Pet Detective movie, are alive. I don’t know a lot about Blake O’Neill, but the little that I do know, and the bit of science has grown to help us understand performance, should tell us all he alone is not the only one to blame. Given his lack of situational experience any one of us could do the same thing, and the coaches had the primary responsibility to give him more situational practice. Read more