Risk, Failure, and Trust

A few days ago in our Strength and Conditioning classes, we threw a “changeup” at our students… we introduced front squat instead of the normal (back squat) lift we do on our squat emphasis day.   I have documented our philosophy behind these “changeup” days before in this blog, (Throwing a “Changeup”, Jumping Mental Hurdles) essentially forcing the students to adapt and compete when something unexpected is thrown at them.

question mark eye

As I glanced around, looking at a room full of athletes with big question marks in their eyes, I asked them the rhetorical question “would I ever ask you to try something that I thought you couldn’t do?”

Of course, when you teach 7th and 8th grade student there are no rhetorical questions, and immediately a chorus of blurted out answers filled the weight room….

An emphatic “NO” was pretty much the consensus each hour….

But…. in each hour there was also the dissenting vote of “Yes… yes, you would”

When I quizzed those dissenters as to WHY they thought that way… why they thought I would ask them to try something that they may not be able to do, their answers were…

  • “you always want us to push ourselves”
  • “you want us to go to our limit”
  • “you always think we can do more.”
  • “you like for us to do difficult things”

And that is correct… I absolutely would ask them to try things that are difficult … that they may not be able to accomplish.

Now, I understand the thinking of the masses in each class… trusting that ‘ol Coach Floyd wouldn’t put them in harms way by asking them to do something unreasonable… and that is true as well.

But, as I explained to each class, failure is OK… it is an option. In fact, Failure is your ONLY option.

For, until you fail, you really do not know what your limits are…. if you never fail, you probably are not adequately stretching your boundaries… if you fear failure, you continually look to put yourself into situations that success is guaranteed.  When you do that, you are missing out on growth opportunities.

As their teacher and coach it is my responsibility to push them… to challenge them.

It is also equally my responsibility to make sure that they understand that failure (I failed) is an action and not an identity (I am a failure).

I want them to trust that what I ask of them, including their resultant effort, and possible failure, will, in the long run, benefit them as an athlete and/or a human being.

Failure is a learning opportunity.

Related Posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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Power vs Leadership

I recently had the opportunity to be a member of a 4-person crew (a team) that sailed a 53’ Amel sailboat from St. Maarten, in the Caribbean, to Long Island, NY… we traveled about 1400 miles in just over 9 days…

st maarten

Prior to the passage, I wrote about it in this post – Taking my own advice… I Can Do More!

Why did I do this?

VOLUNTEER to do this??

Because… It had an element of excitement…. I wanted to improve my sailing skills… I wanted to challenge myself… I wanted to prove that “I could do it”

Probably many of the same reasons students decide to join your program… most make that decision prior to their 9th grade year… and it is a voluntary proposition for them as well.

Although I came into this “team” with some sailing experience, I was by no means an expert…. I was not ready for “The Bigs

Again, probably akin to 9th graders skill level when they join your high school program.

There were three of us on this team (with various skill levels) and one “coach” (the captain and owner of the boat)… making a total of four crew for the passage to New York.

The “Coach” (our captain) was, of course, by far the most experienced… the most knowledgeable… had the skill… had the “game plan”…

And here is where it gets interesting… he had the POWER.

I would venture to say that, as Coach, you are in a similar position with your squad.

My biggest takeaway from this trip had nothing to do with sailing… it had to do with leadership… specifically leadership from a position of power.

Let me begin by saying that our leader was a good captain. The boat was meticulously maintained… he was very knowledgeable… and very safe. I never once felt at risk during the entire voyage.

But there is a difference between being a good captain and a good teacher/ coach.

The three of us on his team had volunteered for this venture… adventure… to learn and gain experience… that was the bargain… he was getting free crew, and we would benefit from his teaching/ coaching.

I did learn… but lets say the experience of crossing the ocean could have really been enhanced (for me) with a different teaching and coaching style from our captain.

Let me explain.

As I mentioned, I am not an expert sailor… none of were as experienced as he was… he knew that going in… submitting our sailing “resumes” was part of the procedure.

In the same way, none of your young players are as experienced or knowledgeable as you, their teacher and coach… and that is your expectation… that is a given.

What I found out, being on the opposite side of this dynamic, was how much inherent POWER the leader has… and how you use that power can have a tremendous effect on the people you are leading… your team.

I can tell you that for pretty much the entire 1400 nautical miles, I (we) felt pretty inadequate… and I firmly believe that was his intention. He felt the need to be in power… and wanted us to feel dependent on him.

And he did it fairly innocuously but nefariously.

He did not yell, scream, or berate us… but in this type of relationship, it does not take much to rattle your confidence… a roll of the eye… a particular voice inflection… a facial expression… all had the same, calculated effect… conveying (without ever saying) that…

I know more than you…

I will always know more than you…

How can you not know this…

I am better than you…

You have a lot to learn…

I am a pretty confident guy… and have a strong personality.

At the end of this trip, my confidence was shattered… and not just my confidence regarding sailing… I was whipped… and I never have felt whipped… beaten… in my life!

So I started thinking about the kids that I teach… the players that I coach.

They are in the same, subservient role… even more so.

They are kids… young, impressionable, unconfident, gawky, fragile… kids.

I do not ever want any of my students or athletes to feel broken.

I want them to feel the opposite… confident, powerful… STRONG.

I am confident that this experience will help me be a better teacher and coach.

I Can Do More!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

THE Conundrum

Think about this conundrum

coaching puzzleIf, as a coach, you tell a player that doing (X) will make them perform better (X could be anything… fill in the variable)

And they consistently choose not to do (X)

Then either:

A) they do not believe or trust that what you are saying is true…

OR

B) performing better is really not that important to them

As a coach it is probably a good idea to try to figure out the answer to this question, if reaching this player is important.

If the answer is A) then what can you do to improve the trust factor in that player/ coach relationship?

If the answer is B) then what can you do to make that player’s performance more important to him or her?

Most any coach can reach the high achievers… the ones that are easily motivated… the low hanging fruit.

The really good coach tries to reach ALL of their players… even those tough, hard to reach ones… the ones high up in the tree.

You will not reach them all, but in making a great effort you will reach MORE.

As Vince Lombardi said…

“Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”

Related Posts:

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Impact of $4

This semester I started a weekly award … the “Bingham Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Week”. Each week I pick one boy and one girl athlete (students in my class) based on a different set of criteria (some subjective, some objective) such as “best technique”, “highest pound for pound ratio”, “highest power quotient”, or “best teammate”.

For each winner, I blow up a picture of them lifting and put it in a poster frame attached to each door entering the weight room.   I also tweet a picture of each athlete standing by his or her poster. At the end of the week I give the posters to the athletes to keep.IMG_6755

It has become a very popular addition to the class. There is always a buzz on the day the new “Athlete of the Week” poster is unveiled…

  • “who got it this week?”
  • “can you let me in the weight room to see?”
  • “what was it based on?”
  • “what will the criteria be for this next week?”

You would think that I was awarding the Heisman Trophy. You can see the pride on their faces, and admiration from their classmates. The best part is when I am able to give them their poster at the end of the week to take home.

I get the posters printed at Staples. I actually got the idea from my wife who saw it on Pinterest and passed it on to me. They are called “engineer prints” and are 3’ x 2’ black and white prints that cost less than $4.

The process is simple… take a high quality jpeg, convert it to a PDF and upload it to their site… or just take the file on a thumb drive and have them print it while you wait.

But this post isn’t a plug for Staples, or about “engineer prints”.

It is about the impact that $4 can make in your program.

We don’t all have unlimited budgets… many of us are really trying to do more with less… actually on more of a “shoestring” budget than the unlimited variety.

There are many things that can be done… many great ideas out there… that don’t cost a dime (or under $4) than can have a huge impact with your students and with your program.

The thing about the Athlete of the Week posters isn’t how much or how little they cost… it is about stopping everything and making a statement and recognizing someone for doing something right… doing something well.

And the recognition isn’t just a one-time shot…

  • They get recognition when their poster gets “unveiled”,
  • They get recognition when I tweet the picture of them and their poster,
  • They get recognition each day when their classmates see their poster as they enter and leave the weight room
  • They get recognition when I “award” them their poster at the end of the week to take home.

It is just another way of saying “Good Job!” to a student and at the same time reinforcing a component or concept that you feel is important.

Every week I think to myself, “this is the best $4 I have ever spent! 

Related Posts:

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

It is Never Easy

The other day I invited classroom teachers from my school (Bingham Middle School, Independence School District) to come down and visit my students as they worked out.

Actually, I had the students invite their teachers to come down to the weight room… sometimes a scary place for a classroom teacher… lots of noise, metal clanging, occasional shouts, etc… I told my students it was…

National Invite Your Classroom Teachers to the Weight Room to See How Hard You Work on Heavy Squat Day in Strength and Conditioning Class”, day.

OK, I made the day up, but…. we did get a few teachers to venture down to the weight room.

My purpose… I wanted their classroom teachers to see how hard these students work … daily… in this class… and I wanted them (their teachers) to see their students in a different light, and a different setting than they were used to seeing them.

One colleague who came down watched in amazement as the students worked out… and did the little things that they do daily… and do pretty much on their own.

  • Reading their workout cards
  • Calculating the weight needed to be put on the bar
  • Disciplined behavior
  • Putting the weight on the bar
  • Adjusting the rack
  • Spotting
  • Encouraging
  • Laughing
  • Working
  • Transitioning from one lift to the next
  • On task
  • Coaching one another
  • Seriously training!

These are 8th graders.

He asked “How long did it take to get them to this point?

IMG_6514It is an excellent question. At this point in the year, into the 4th quarter… the class is very low maintenance…. I am sure it appears that it is an easy class to teach… and at this point of the year, it is!   I spend very little of my day, and very little of my time each hour babysitting, redirecting, disciplining, or managing behavior. I get to spend the majority of my time teaching, coaching, and motivating.

But as you know, it does not happen all at once, or by magic. The heavy lifting (pun intended) of the class is front-loaded. I spend a great deal of time in the first 6-8 weeks on every small detail including…

After that first couple of months, it just becomes reinforcing the good stuff… fine-tuning a few things each day by constant assessment of where they are with their technique, knowledge and strength level.

At this point of the year, the class is a well-oiled machine.

It is just like the football program that makes reeling off winning seasons, conference championships, and playoff appearances look easy.

It is not easy… it is not ever easy… It is a result of hours, months and years of hard work… concentrating on every bit of minutia… every detail in the program.

Being a good teacher is hard work… being a good coach is hard work

But it is so very worth it.

If you have not had the chance, I hope can read my post from last week, The Case for Middle School Strength and Conditioning. If your District offers this class, kudos… if not, this may persuade you to hop on a soapbox. 

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Case for Middle School Strength and Conditioning

Nearly a year ago I wrote about our school district’s (the Independence School District) decision to add a Strength and Conditioning class to the middle school curriculum (Efficacy and Safety-Middle School Strength Training)

When this decision was made, there were some skeptics… in the community, in the district, even among peers in our department.

Here are the concerns “They” voiced about the class…

  • “They” said that the class wouldn’t “make”… that there would not be enough interest.
  • “They” said that middle school students would get bored with this (a full year) class
  • “They” said that middle school students did not have the attention span needed for this class on a daily basis
  • “They” said that the class would not be safe at the middle school level
  • “They” said that middle school students are not physically ready for a strength and conditioning class
  • “They” said that middle school students are not mentally ready for a strength and conditioning class.

Well, after nearly a year into teaching this class, all I can say is that apparently “They” do not know these 156 students that I have had in class this year.

IMG_6721In my 30+ years of teaching, this has been one of the best, most rewarding years I have had, and it is a credit to the administrators, students and colleagues in our district and our building. These students have been nothing short of AMAZING… pretty much daily.

Regarding the above mentioned concerns… I spoke to most of these in my original post, Efficacy and Safety – Middle School Strength Training.   Regarding the interest level, attention span, or mental readiness questions, here is what I have found.

This, the first year of the class, we offered six sections… two for 7th grade and four for 8th grade… and in order to keep class sizes manageable due to space and equipment limitations, capped each class at 24 students.

IMG_6782We had over 200 7th graders initially sign up for the class, and 180 8th graders, which meant that we had to trim about 2/3 off the 7th grade list and 1/3 off the 8th grade list.   There was more than enough interest.

I ended up allowing a few more students than the capped number in case any student wanted to drop out after seeing what the class was all about… and ended up with 156 students enrolled in my classes.

Out of the 156 students originally enrolled in the class, only 2 dropped out and opted for a different PE course. I also added several students at semester that wanted to get into the course after seeing what it was all about…. The students did not get bored, they have the attention span, and there is an interest.

The nuts and bolts of the class organization can be found in my various posts on the workout program, but in a nutshell, here is some general information:

  • Typically we are in the weight room training Monday and Wednesday and every other Friday.
  • Tuesday we are in the classroom doing the Health part of our curriculum,
  • Thursday we do speed, agility, or functional strength work either outside (weather permitting) or in an area of the gym
  • Every other Friday is “Choice” day where they get to choose an activity along with all the other PE classes.
  • We have 4 “Core” lifts that we have taught and comprise the majority of our workout: Bench, Squat, Hang Clean, and Push Press
  • Each week we include 3 of the 4 lifts in the cycle and eliminate one lift, rotating the omitted lift each week, thereby having 4 different weekly combinations.
  • Each week we normally do a “change up” lift one day… clean from the floor, front squat, hang snatch, clean to push press, etc.
  • Every student has a workout card that is individualized and proscribed to them based on their current strength level… a perfect example of differentiated instruction.

I don’t want to get too long winded with this post and stray from the intent… to write about the merits of this class. If you want more information, details of the program can be found on my various posts regarding the workout program.

I also tweet daily with activities and video from the class (@youcandomore1)

My closing thoughts:

  • Some will use the “readiness” argument… that student are not physically or mentally ready to take a Strength and Conditioning class in middle school… I argue that it probably is the perfect time to introduce elements of this class
  • This class and these students have been nothing short of amazing (and I am usually not prone to hyperbole) … pretty much daily… they have handled everything that has been thrown at them, and are learning how to compete.
  • While the majority of the students in the class are athletes, there are some that are not… and they have responded equally well.
  • I do believe this class will have positive ramifications in our athletic teams at the high school level. Our students will go to high school with a good understanding of strength training concepts, techniques, and a better understanding of what it means to compete.
  • If your district does not offer this class at the middle school level, I would get on the bandwagon and lead the charge… if not it is a missed opportunity.

IMG_6526

If you have specific questions about the program or how to implement, please feel free to contact me… I will respond!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Gift

It is the season of giving.

Here is a gift that costs nothing and will lift the spirits of both you and the recipient.

Try this… tomorrow tell someone…. many people in fact… that they “did a good job.”  

Tell your students, colleagues, custodians, administrators, etc.

Here are some things to consider as you begin your gift-giving extravaganza.

The sentiment has to be sincere… insincerity is obvious and will turn your “gift” into a negative.

All your accolades don’t need to be the same, or given for the same reason.

  • “Good job in PE class today”
  • “I appreciate you dressing out and participating today”
  • “Good effort on your hang clean today”
  • “Thanks for listening while I was explaining the lift today”
  • “Good job of spotting today… it is an important job”
  • “Thanks for helping to clean the table today”
  • “Good hustle last night during your game”

gift givingProbably the most important consideration is this: It doesn’t need to be a “Great job” you are commenting on… just a good job. Those doing great jobs are probably already getting recognition for their accomplishments. If you wait to only “give” the gift of “good job” to those doing a GREAT job, you have limited the amount of recipients. Give this gift… give it freely.

Find the person that is flying under the radar, and make their day.

We are all busy… every minute of the day filled. Here are some great times to give your gift.

  • Before school as the students enter the building
  • During passing time
  • In the cafeteria during lunch
  • In another teacher’s classroom
  • It does not have to be a scripted 20-minute oratory… just a simple “good job”.

Try it… tomorrow. For increased value, add a fist bump!

Related Posts:

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Self Actualized People Need Love, Too!

A few nights ago, I was having a conversation with my wife about motivating team members. She was talking about her team, a sales force of about 25-30 people, and what motivates them. Her conclusion was that, yes, while money (a bonus for reaching a goal) is a factor, often, just recognition for doing good work is motivating in-and-of itself…without the money attached to it.

I asked if the same was true for people in her position, at her level, and she said that,

“Yes, it was true, but the recognition didn’t happen that often… probably because most of the people at her level in the company are pretty self-actualized, and didn’t need to be stroked to perform well.”

My response, jokingly, was that “self-actualized people need love, too!”

I was joking, then after thinking about it for a minute, wrote that phrase (self-actualized people need love, too!) on the chalkboard in our home… the place where I put my ideas for blog posts.

pyramidWe all have these people (assistant coaches and players) in our programs… the people that fly under the radar… that can handle things well…. that are self-starters and self-motivated… that don’t demand a lot of attention… and that consistently perform above expectations.

It is easy to fall into the habit of expending large chunks of your energy dealing with the “needy” folks in your program… knowing that the above mentioned group will be “just fine” because they are self-actualized, self-starters, or self-motivated. And, they will be “just fine”… but probably could be better… maybe even “really good” or “really great” with a few simple, kind words of appreciation and recognition for doing good work.

It really is an easy thing to do that does not take a lot of time or effort or money…. Who are those people in your program, and how can you recognize them?

I can do much better in this area…

I Can Do More!

Related Posts:

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

DI

Good coaches are good teachers.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been listening to someone in education discuss the next “new/ big thing” and think to myself “We (coaches) have been doing that for years

Differentiated Instruction is the new hot topic…. It is a philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues to learning, often in the same classroom. Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. You probably have read about it, or even had a professional development session on the topic.

Differentiated Instruction is often characterized by:

  • Flexible grouping
  • Continual assessment
  • Allowing for different learning styles
  • Understanding and allowing for different readiness levels
  • Independent work or projects
  • Learning Contracts

The more I hear and read about this “new” concept, the more I think that this sounds like my (or a typical) Strength and Conditioning class or practice field.

IMG_4267 2

In the weight room:

I am sure we can all think of the same type of high quality teaching and learning, using Differentiated Instruction techniques, that takes place daily on your practice field.

Good coaches are good teachers.

Always have been… always will be.

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Your Toolbox

My father was many things (US Marine, WWII vet of the Pacific Campaign) but a skilled carpenter, handyman, craftsmen he was NOT. Although he never scrimped on material, his attempts at various projects were usually laughable, amateurish, and cobbled together…. not masterpieces in any sense of the word.

My dad literally had one small toolbox that contained:

toolbox

  • 1 phillips head screwdriver, 1 flat head
  • 1 pair of pliers
  • 1 pair of vice grips (his “go-to” tool)
  • 1 regular (small) hammer, 1 ball peen hammer
  • 1 hand saw for wood, 1 hack saw for metal

And little else.

So while he often courageously attempted ambitious projects, with little or no instructions, and only a meager set of tools at his disposal, the results usually came up far short of his expectations.

When I told a lifelong friend (who knew my father and witnessed his “handiwork”) that I had just finished installing built in cabinets and closets in our bedroom, adding a sliding factory door, and laying hardwood floor in our loft, he looked at me and asked “since when did you become so handy?”

Here is the difference between my father and me… I am not smarter, nor do I use better materials. The main difference is that I have more tools in my toolbox, and availability to better instructions.

I have two large cases full of tools… sets of wrenches, power tools, tools for measuring, cutting, fastening, etc. I also have access to great instructions for any project I tackle via the Internet.

As coaches we all have similar “material” (our squad) but some of us have more tools at our disposal. A craftsman has to have the correct tools to create a masterpiece.

What tools do you have in your coaching “toolbox”?  Here are some that have helped me be a more efficient and effective coach:

All told, the links listed above have been downloaded over 10,000 times by coaches all over the world. I am not suggesting these are all or the best tools out there… but plenty of tools ARE out there… and fairly easy to find.

Create a masterpiece!

You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com