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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dignity and Respect

The Palace

Basketball resembles a great palace, an abundance of rooms, residents, and visitors. We coaches are not the masters but the servants, passing through its many chambers. 

We serve in many areas, offensive and defensive. Sometimes the guests don't enjoy our entrees or desserts. Some visitors complain about the service, the food, the accommodations...sometimes without even tasting. Others feast, then complain about the quantity. 

Look and see the incubators, the nursery, elementary and higher learning rooms, film rooms, weight rooms, training rooms, library and archives...even a porch for old men and women to rock and tell tales of past glories, what was or could have been. 

There are even urns where legendary figures' ashes oversee the palace activities. 

Some laugh and play, some lament, some cry. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish who won and who lost. 

Each room is special with meanings far beyond the people or the photographs. 

There are characters and character...sometimes blended, sometimes distinct. 


We can find giants from Olympus and Lilliputians. Like at Alice's Restaurant, "you can get anything you want." 


You find (Swin) Cash or Carrie (Graf). 


We can see the Bird and the Worm. 

You can even find Love. 

With so much to see, to do, to happy. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

My Favorite Martin (Frank): Defensive Concepts (Annotated)

Some posts are so terrific they demand wider distribution...the share on Frank Martin defensive concepts is one. 

Here are some excepts (with annotations):
    • Don’t cheat your kids. It’s the reason you coach. Someone kicked your butt into doing it right. Don’t allow your kids to slide. (Find balance. We can be demanding without being demeaning. We can use the "sandwich technique" with criticism in the middle. "Way to work hard. Gotta see the ball AND your man. Way to sprint back on defense.") 
    • Communication, “If you care about winning, you talk to your
      teammates!” ("Silent teams lose." "Communication is sharing.")
    • Teams don’t get easy baskets against set defenses that are back and ready to guard. (Transition defense isn't just running back. It encompasses purposeful play, focus, protecting the basket and the perimeter. Force the offense to make the extra pass to allow your teammates to get back into the play.)
    • Re: Wing Denial Backdoor Cuts, On-ball defender responsible for the lob (ball pressure will eliminate easy look as well as make the pass longer, higher, slower). 1 pass away (deny position) is responsible for taking away the bounce pass. (All excellent defense starts with ball pressure. Ball pressure means to attack the ballhandler's space without fouling.)
    • Teaching point: On ball defense – “Crawl up in him.” [I like this terminology. Creates an image of a low stance] (Consider substituting out defenders in practice who don't pressure the ball. Ball pressure will sometimes get beat. Defense must help and recover. As coaches, the court is our classroom, our laboratory, our world. We define the rules. Excellence comes from discomfort.)
    • Basic philosophy: No layups. No 3’s. Hard 2’s (No easy baskets. All players must understand your defensive first priority.)
    • Hands off the offense and eliminate hand checking. ("Hand discipline; show your hands.")
    • 1 pass away – “Shrink the gap.” On the line, up the line. (Get in the passing lane. Deflections matter.)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Using Task Conflict

Emotion, isolated, isn't positive or negative. Emotion is another tool in the warrior's toolkit. Years ago I witnessed a talented athlete kick an opponent in the head in the middle of the field during a rivalry game. Naturally, his team was penalized and he was ejected. I never found out what led to that total disinhibition and loss of control. 

Sam Walker discusses researcher Karen Jehn's work in The Captain Class. He summarizes her observations that team conflict divides into two basic categories, relationship and task conflict. Relationship conflict, often based on anger, pettiness, and personal attacks is almost universally negative. Task conflict, disagreements about how to complete tasks is more likely neutral, with the exception of easily measured outcomes (finance, sports), where performance improved (about forty percent). 

Walker cites two examples, Valeri Vasiliev and Philipp Lahm, captains of the 1980 Russian hockey team and recent German national soccer team. After the humiliating defeat to the US in Lake Placid in 1980, Vasiliev confronted his coach Viktor Tikhonov on the plane trip home, threatening to "throw him off the plane." The Russians went on to win or tie 96 percent of their games during the next four years as teammates rallied around Vasiliev. Lahm broke tradition and publicly questioned management's tactics, in essence suggesting "misfit toys" in personnel and strategy. The team responded to his censure and fine winning 9 of 10, four consecutive league titles, a Champions Cup and World Cup defeating Brazil. 

It reminds me of Schumpeter's "creative destruction." 

"Creative destruction refers to the incessant product and process innovation mechanism by which new production units replace outdated ones. This restructuring process permeates major aspects of macroeconomic performance, not only long-run growth but also economic fluctuations, structural adjustment and the functioning of factor markets. Over the long run, the process of creative destruction accounts for over 50 per cent of productivity growth."

Teams function best when working together with shared goals, sacrifice, and Anson Dorrance's "competitive fury." Dissent is inevitable within groups, but when channeled into improved process, it can enhance quality. 

But our leadership shapes whether teams can "get on the same page," embrace roles, and overcome egocentric beliefs in favor of team play. 

We have the power to transform group conflict into better processes affecting outcomes. In Blais' seminal book*, In These Girls Hope Is a Muscle, she describes how two elite high school players resolved their personal conflict to lead their team to a championship. But Blais also discussed sport and society. "This is just one team in one season, It alone cannot change the discrimination against girls and their bodies through out history. But here in these girls, hope is a muscle."

I believe the overarching determinant of a team's success is how leadership forges the combination of skill and will into shared sacrifice. The ability to overcome tactical and emotional pressure defines us. Understanding the game isn't enough; understanding individual and group needs and finding conflict resolution in roles and goals informs our success in teaching life skills. 

*Mens Journal included "Hope Is a Muscle" in their 64 best sports books of all time...the story and prose are exceptional...

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Hidden Opponent: Mental Health Issues in Athletes

Cross-posted from my local volleyball site

Surveys of Division 1 college athletes show frequently neglected symptoms of mental health problems. Athletes and coaches need to be aware of 'The Hidden Opponent'. 

Eye Candy (It's Not What You Think)

"Jane Goodall needed to go to Africa to study apes. I just needed to go to dinner." - Young Sheldon

Key point #1: Sam Walker (The Captain Class) shares vital information about communication within great teams. He discusses champion captains Yogi Berra, Didier Deschamps, Tim Duncan and others. An MIT study explains, "whether a team was packed with talented, intelligent, and highly motivated individuals, or whether it had achieved solid results in the past, its communication style on any given day was still the best indicator of its performance." 

You've interacted with players and coaches who barely needed words. Walker emphasizes Duncan's range of expressions - wide-eyed questioning of a call, narrowed eyes with chin dipping to reprimand a teammate's error, darting eyes probing for a solution. His vision and expressions commanded respect. 

Key point twoGreat communication is "practical, physical, and consistent". "Energy and engagement" defined positive results. Most coaches preach, "early, loud, and often." 

We recognize effective communication WITHOUT WORDS. Studies of 10 second clips of teachers, with the SOUND OFF yield ratings of effectiveness converging with their audio counterparts. Our body language informs our Emotional Intelligence. 

Kevin Eastman points out, "silent teams lose." Not only what we say, but how we deliver messages determines their impact. Anson Dorrance argues for constant positivity with girls and women. He believes that negativity and film of errors undermines player confidence. 

Key point threeReach out and touch. Walker describes Duncan's willingness to put an arm around a teammate, give an enthusiastic back or butt slap, or support with a gentle palm on the chest. "Teams who touch the most win the most." This releases the hormone oxytocin, also called the "cuddle hormone". Touch facilitates bonding. Coaching girls, we give out fist bumps or a rare head tap...

We need to be aware of what we say, how we say it, what we communicate non-verbally, and what we don't say...successful relationships have at least 3:1 positive to negative perception, but for marriage it has to be at least 5:1 positive! 

Use communication science to improve our coaching. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fast Five: The Servant

"The easiest way to lead, it turns out, is to serve." - Sam Walker, in The Captain Class

From "Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership" 

Move from selfishness to service. To lead, we need keen powers of observation and listening. We must be willing listeners; listen by design

Become indispensable by creating interdependence. The 'transcendent player' needs teammates to get her open with the ball intelligently via defense, rebounding, screening, and passing. 

The more we serve, the more we receive in return. Brad Stevens notes, "we get more than we give." 
"Extreme complementary players" who excel at defense or rebounding become irreplaceable, while getting opportunities to grow as more complete players. Pele' was never the captain of his legendary Brazilian soccer teams. The burden of stardom and on-field leadership can be too great. 

Leadership is a skill. Toughness is a skill. Service is a skill. Recognize value in players who make our teams more complete.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Worst Words, Basketball Anathema

We invest time praising players and teams for playing "the right way". Conversations encompass, "this is who we are and this is who we are not." Do "more of what is working and less of what is not." 

But some words assault character and competitiveness...labels we never want.

"Selfish." Basketball is a game where letters (W's and L's) dominate numbers. Players who won't pass, worry about the scorebook more than the scoreboard, and take "My turn" shots earn the "Night at the Opera" (mi-mi-mi) Award. We don't need you. We don't want you. 

"Quitter". We can't control many life situations. But how we respond to adversity speaks volumes about us. Urban Meyer talks about "crossing the line". He means that when we step onto the field, we must be ready to go.  

"Soft". In Toughness, Jay Bilas talks about not going to the floor early in his Duke career. It didn't happen again. We want competitors, players who are alert and aware, who get the 50-50 balls. No "alligator arms" rebounding, no "bailing on layups", no "buddy running" on transition defense... 

"Disengaged". CARE - concentrate, anticipate, react, execute. When you're not in the game, study what's happening. We learn much from watching players on the bench. Some coaches (Pat Summitt, as I recall) would film players on the bench. 

"Bad Teammate". Coach Auriemma addresses this in his interview above. In another, he says, "we put a huge premium on body language...I'm checking what's going on on the bench." Most of our communication is non-verbal. Coach Wooden said, "Don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses." Coach Urban Meyer describes, "above the line" behavior. Don't make negative comments about your teammates. Ever. 

"Loser". Being branded a loser isn't about results; it's about your process. "Losers" are low character players whose ethos embodies many of the above negative qualities. Our team had a bad record last season, but we practiced hard, played hard, supported each other, and didn't quit. I see life success for last year's team (two are on a top-ranked volleyball team this fall as freshmen). Many are performing well on other teams.  

"Uncoachable". Uncoachable players have an agenda, usually their "numbers"...but not always. Coachability is dynamic, because it's about attitude. I had an 'uncoachable' player a few years ago, but I kept working with her, and the light went on. She was named most valuable player for her school last season (in a private school) and will be an excellent high school player. Coachable players don't complain about playing time; they ask what they can do to improve and contribute more. 

Coach Wooden and others remind us, "sports doesn't build character, it reveals character." UNC Women's Soccer coach Anson Dorrance looks for "competitive fury" in players. That doesn't mean uncontrolled rage, it captures skill and will. Every player must ask herself, "what kind of player, what kind of person am I?" 


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fast Five: Captains

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

- Walt Whitman

Sam Walker's The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Team explores the makeup of the most elite teams in history. Unsurprisingly, he uncovers the leadership role of captains. Astonishingly, he reveals that during Derek Jeter's twelve years as captain, the Yankees won one championship. 

He includes the following:  


  1. Extreme doggedness and focus in competition 
  2. Aggressive play that tests the limits of the rules
  3. A willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadows
  4. A low-key, practical, and democratic communication style 
  5. Motivates others with passionate nonverbal displays 
  6. Strong convictions and the courage to stand apart 
  7. Ironclad emotional control
How do we 'select' captains? Let's survey the Net. 

Leadership expert Jeff Janssen discusses three options with pros and cons: 
  • Team vote
  • Coaches selection
  • Team Nominates and coaches select 
Functional Basketball Coaching stratifies into the first two, with the salient point: 

"No matter what strategy chosen selecting a team captain can be a very good opportunity to build relationships amongst the group."

Daniel Benjamin at Breakthrough Basketball shares captain qualities. Here are a few:

  • "Team captains firmly believe that the best interest of the team always comes first."
  • "Team captains expect and demand the best from themselves and their teammates."
  • "Encourages teammates. A good leader keeps the team upbeat and positive."
Jeff Janssen shares another article from Power Basketball:

I see this frequently..."Seniors automatically named captains. 
This option puts the leadership responsibility on the veterans of the group by automatically naming the seniors as captains." Janssen wrote that six percent of teams used this method. 

Stephanie Zonars shares a comprehensive selection model from FastModelSports. Our local volleyball coach uses something similar, with an application model. He then confers with fellow teaches for input about character and leadership. A vote ultimately ensues. 

My comments...

I was voted "Captain" on a high school basketball team a lifetime ago (1972-1973). We had a talented, mature, motivated senior-laden team (eight seniors) with multiple leaders. Leadership was plentiful and diffuse. I chose the title, "Team Representative" instead of Captain. I was more surprised by the vote than any other emotion. 

It worked out thanks to great coaches and terrific teammates.

My sense is that for some, Captaincy has become 'an entitlement' or 'resume builder'. Captaincy has to be about the team, not the captain. Captains should be "like Caesar's wife", communicators, and lead by example, not by decree. 

Because I coach middle school, I do not elect or select captains. Our values include teamwork, improvement, and accountability. Middle school girls don't need another reason for pettiness, jealousy, or cliques. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Composing Great Teams

We have ideas about the composition of 'great' teams, greatness without hyperbole. Consider greatness over a season, achievement consistency over time, extended winning streaks, championship runs. 

The elements of team greatness might include leadership, talent, perseverance, chemistry, and sometimes luck. 

Consider the recent Cleveland Indians winning streak of twenty-two consecutive games. 

If we consider that a "strong" team wins sixty percent of its games (below are the top eight records in MLB), then we could postulate the random chance of winning one at 0.6.

Multiply that by itself 22 times (correct to a percentage by multiplying by 100) and we arrive at 0.0013 percent. 1 in 1000 is 0.1 percent, 1 in 10,000 is 0.01 percent, and 1 in 100,000 is 0.001 percent. The Streak tramples the peculiar English that "slim chance, fat chance, and no chance all mean the same." 

Authors and poets write of greatness. 

And yet we know that problems accompany greatness. 
Leadership. Jim Collins wrote Good to Great. He discussed Level 5 leadership as an ingredient for transcendent businesses. Level 5 leadership blended humility with fierce ambition. Bad intent leads to heinous results. 

Talent. Great talent doesn't guarantee a great team. According to Sam Walker in The Captain Class, the New York Yankees outspent every team in MLB in the decade from 2002 by at least 1.2 billion dollars. That yielded one championship. "Money can't play." But the Golden State Warriors assembled a "superteam" of scorers and won two NBA championships in three years even with a "salary cap". 

With fewer players on the 'field' and payroll disparity, the talent levels are unequal. 

Perseverance. How can we measure perseverance, resilience, or "doggedness"? The 'go-to' metrics for perseverance or 'grit' have origins in Carol Dweck's "mindset" where students were challenged with standardized tests and complemented on either being 'smart' or 'hard-working'. Under repeated challenge with harder tests, the 'smart' group tended to quit and those labeled 'hard-working' equalled or exceeded previous efforts. But as for measuring the grit of teams, do we examine come-from-behind wins, success in close games, wins in overtime or extra innings? 

Angela Duckworth's "Grit" questionnaire helps discriminate individual attitudes correlating with persistence, but it seems as though we know 'gritty teams' when we see them.

Chemistry. We value 'team chemistry' but how do we measure it. Walker argues the theory of social loafing. "Social loafing describes the phenomenon that occurs when individuals exert less effort when working as a group than when working independently. Research indicates that there is some degree of social loafing within every group, whether high-functioning or dysfunctional." This has been called the "Ringlemann Effect", initially measuring individual effort alone versus during a team 'rope pull'. Individuals exerted less effort as part of a team. Can we get each team member to work 'closer' to maximal effort? Kentucky's John Calipari tries by heart rate monitoring. "The monitoring system doesn't lie.

We might consider chemistry a subset of culture. At the extreme of culture, we see the Navy SEALs, where "two is one and one is none." Yet we see have seen teams that won, e.g. the Yankees of the Bronx Zoo, with open revolt. 

Luck. Even great teams have the benefit of luck. Pasteur argued that "chance favors the prepared mind." 

The 1969 NBA finals saw Don Nelson make a key shot to help defeat the Lakers. As John Havlicek has the ball knocked away, the fortuitous bounce goes to Nelson who gets the favorable bounce. How many times have we seen teams get the 'lucky bounce' and wonder about the basketball gods. 

The Steelers had the "Immaculate Reception" and Doug Flutie had "The Hail Mary". 

Branch Rickey noted, "luck is the residue of design."  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Separating Sports and Society

Sports is a microcosm of society - winners and losers, emotion, cost-benefit, money, passion, and compassion (JJ Watt raising over 37 million for hurricane relief). 

We analyze and overanalyze what cements team greatness - GOATs, talent, money, culture, and coaching. We bolster opinion with facts, sculpting the facts to suit our needs. 

We argue the merits of players, teams, coaches, ownership, and the interface between technique and tactics. Is the analysis of the Dallas Cowboys so different than how investors choose Home Depot and Lowes or Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts? 

We question whether college athletes should be paid and how much assistant coaches deserve to be paid. 

We ask how concerned professional sports are about their athletes' health (e.g. CTE) while celebrating sports where the goal is to concuss your opponent (boxing, MMA). A previously convicted murderer, NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez, is found to have severe (Grade 3) CTE at autopsy. Should high school players' parents be concerned? 

A major college football program is rocked by a sexual abuse scandal. Years later the family drops a lawsuit over the use of the Freeh report. 

We see ads where athletes shill for copper-infused braces and sell books about diet and stretching. Then we shake our heads as they decline to want to speak about merchandising and commercialism. 

Players are told not to compromise the integrity of the game. One calls out the NFL about the hypocrisy, citing injury reports and gambling. "Daily fantasy sports appeared to be a virtual cash machine. The companies were valued at more than $1 billion each. Their investors included Major League Baseball and the N.B.A.; the Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the New England Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft; and major media companies like NBC."

A girl is expelled from school for wanting to play for the boys' team where there is no girls' team. A high school baseball player sues a coach for benching and harassment. Fewer than half of women's college basketball players strongly trust their coach. 

Some fans protest players for standing up for social justice by not standing. And the NFL defends an athlete, guilty of nothing but fleeing a club for HIS safety. 

We hear talk about "black quarterback" as though it's a separate and unequal position on the field. Who talks about "white linebackers"? A Korean-born kicker makes the NFL and struggles early. What does that all mean? 

We hear about how college coaches make too much money and how one (Geno Auriemma) offered to forego his salary. 

We can go on and on and on. Donald Sterling. Mike Rice. Ray Rice. Ray Carruth. Alan Eagleson. Expecting a firewall between sports and society seems arbitrary and capricious. 
Life is messy, beautiful, and corrupt. So are sports. We cannot turn our eyes away. 


You may have never heard of "mana". Mana is used by Pacific Islanders, encapsulating strength, purpose, and presence. You can't buy it; you have it, but can lose it.  

Mana encompasses your ethos, persistence, your inner being. But it also has meaning as energy, status, and prestige. 

Mana reminds me of the legendary Boston Globe columnist George Frazier, linked to 'duende', "that special force or characteristic that makes someone or something irresistibly attractive." Frazier wrote, “So difficult to define, but when it is there it is unmistakable, inspiring our awe, quickening our memory." David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez had duende. 

Mana has a parallel in the Star Wars saga, 'The Force'. Mana inspires. Like other Maori concepts, it paints. In sport, the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team describes offense by paoa (to strike) and defense by tainui (surging tide). Players translate words into action. 

You may have been introduced to mana as a child via the children's novel, Charlotte's Web. Wilbur, the runt of the litter, is spared through the clever intervention of his spider protector, weaving messages into her "some pig", "radiant", or "terrific". Author E.B. White reminds us about personalization, “Don't write about Man; write about a man.” Charlotte bestows mana upon the humble pig. 

Mana extends far beyond Polynesia under other names. In Japan it's known as 'ki' and Taoists call it chi or qi. India yoga refers to it as Prana and there's are Christian parallels in the Holy Spirit, "Ruach" in Hebrew, and "Baraka" in Islam.

Mankind shares this need for an overarching energy or force. Bring mana to your game. Call upon your mana as individuals and as a team

What Keeps You Awake at Night?

What keeps coaches awake at night? Coaches have a better idea (than players) of what we know and what we don't. And yet I have no idea of whom I will coach this season, how receptive they will be to coaching, whether they can or will listen. Discover some of the monsters in the coaching closet or under the bed. 

Coaches worry about what we can't control. That might include talent (not everyone can recruit), health (my best player missed the last season), and players' choices. High school and college coaches lose players to academic ineligibility, alcohol and drug abuse, and varieties of misconduct. Trying to be players' keepers can be a fool's errand. 

Coaches worry about what we CAN control. We choose when to practice, how to practice, style of play, the technique and tactics (strategy) implemented. Will the players have the will and the skill to represent the program well?  

But we can't worry enough about the relationships on the team - player to player, player-coach, and coach-coach. And we may not worry enough about how coaching impacts our families and our health. We can't take care of our teams if we aren't personally well and grounded at home. 

Coaches worry about social media, the courage of anonymity willing to second guess and third guess every action. We worry about players using "Snapface" inappropriately. We concern ourselves with online bullying. 

Some coaches worry about poachers, the unseen and unheard predators using influence and money to siphon talented young people from our program to theirs. It happens all the time. "Why play for them when you can play for us?" 

Coaches are itinerant workers. "Job security" has the permanence of dry ice. The Japanese have an expression, "ladders against the clouds". 

Then why coach? Because it's the greatest job in the world...teacher, student, mentor, sin-eater, leader, competitor. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Coaching ,Gender Identity, and Hazing

Basketball coaching ad (I withhold the name)...

_________________  is an equal opportunity employer. It is the College's policy to evaluate qualified applicants without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical and/or mental disability, age, religion, medical condition, veteran status, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by institutional policy or state, local, or federal law.

You ask "why should we care about gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation of our players?" Because we live in 2017 and how we treat players, how they see and treat each other, and how communities respect each other matters. 

We had a medical 'Grand Rounds' discussing affirming and respectful treatment of patients, recognizing differing gender identities, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Why should coaches care? We care for young people, some of whom are in the LGBTQ community. 

The CDC recognizes the high prevalence of violence against LGB youth. "‘Violence’ can include behaviors such as bullying, teasing, harassment, and physical assault."

We want our players protected from all forms of violence and teach that all forms of violence toward others (including those above) are unacceptable. 

Violence against transgender people is common. 2016 set the record for murders of transgender Americans, soon to be eclipsed in 2017. 

Suicides and suicide attempts are overrepresented in the LGBT community. Some of this links to bullying. Bullying (sometimes in the form of hazing) is common according to Coach's Guide to Bullying in Sports. "A recent survey of 22,000 high school students across the U.S. found that 48 percent of the respondents had been targets of hazing--a form of bullying in which kids are humiliated or required to take part in dangerous activities." Bullying can result in lowered self-esteem, impaired sport and school performance, suicide attempts and suicides. The article suggests how athletes, parents, and coaches should respond. Coaches should make it clear that there is zero tolerance and that bullying/hazing results in benching and that bullying impacts the entire team

Hazing also is real as are the punishments to both players and coaches. It happens in all sports, including basketball. "The team participated in an activity they called “racking in” before the Gatlinburg incident. They said upperclassmen would turn out the lights in the locker room, grab a freshman and punch him from the neck down, without the intent to cause injury." 

And affluent communities are not immune. "We constantly hear how important hazing is to building camaraderie on a team or in a fraternity. Would someone please explain to me how forcing someone to eat a semen-covered cookie, having one teammate flee the school, and having nine members of the team either suspended or expelled builds camaraderie?"

Coaches are teachers, helping young people navigate the difficult transition of adolescence. We may believe, "that doesn't happen with my players in my school." Are we sure? Teaching respect, common sense, and boundaries is part of our job, unpleasant or not. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Win the Day: "An Indulgence not a Chore"

We must earn a living, pay the bills, take out the trash. But we choose how we invest our time or spend it. 

We embrace or ignore physical and mental training at our peril. Make investing in ourselves "an indulgence not a chore." 

We know that better diet (e.g. Mediterranean diet) reduces cardiovascular and all-cause deaths, as well as cancer and Alzheimer's disease. This is not fake news. 

Reading has health benefits including stress and depression reduction, the possible lowering of Alzheimer's disease risk, better sleep, and increased empathy. I'm reading Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki and Altruism by Matthieu Ricard.  

Journaling helps imprint thoughts into permanence. Journaling helps stretch creativity, confidence, communication skills, IQ, and emotional intelligence. I use both blogs and pocket-sized notebook to record thoughts, ideas, and lessons. For example, a patient shared information about the 1917 Halifax explosion, a maritime disaster of epic proportion. Wartime catastrophes occur far from battlefields, with unintended consequences affecting real people. 

A mere 4 weeks of mindfulness training changed brain structure (neuroplasticity). 

Win the day by starting with a winning routine. Find what works for you. Free UCLA guided meditations help inform a successful start. Need a better brain? Who doesn't? Mindfulness improves our focus, self-awareness, and confidence. And yes, it remodels brain structure, increasing density in memory centers and attenuating brain density in the amygdala, a stress locus.