5 Steps To Motivate Adolescents

One of the biggest challenges for educators and coaches over the past several years has been finding proven methods for engaging young people in creating self-direction, and empowering them to overcome the obstacles in their lives. In other words, how can we get students, and student-athletes to be more intrinsically engaged in their endeavors, and best manage their emotions and behaviors? There is a difference between motivation and self-regulation. Students, and athletes, can be motivated to succeed yet lack the necessary regulatory skills to get started, or to complete the task. While some are able to see the end goal, and take initiative, others have difficulty generating momentum, or find themselves disengaging when the going gets tough. While there are a myriad of explanations for this reality ( a topic for another article!) the central question remains; How do we help these students, and student-athletes, progress? Self-Regulation Theory (Zimmerman), Self-Theories (Dweck), and Flow Theory (Csikszentmihalyi) all speak to strategies that help individuals exert more control over their thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to best optimize their performance. Unfortunately, many young folks are taught to focus only on outcomes (grades, test scores, time standards, winning, etc…) without looking at the involved process required in order to get there. Again, what can coaches and educators do? Help them access their strengths Teach them to monitor their thoughts and feelings; In many ways learning and achievement is an emotional construct. When we do not feel good about our ability to fully understand, or engage, or reach a prescribed outcome, we feel badly about ourselves, and therefore lose our initiative. Provide constant...

5 Ways to Maximize Sport Performance

By establishing and connecting with your personal preparation (mental and physical), understanding and acknowledging your unique qualities, and celebrating with the people who believe in you, you begin to embrace improvement and feel good about your effort and progress. This creates a cycle of success! When we experience any degree of success, we learn to look for, and expect, good things to happen. You begin to feel in control of your life, and your sport. You might consider the following techniques to get you on a roll. Develop an awareness of your intentions. Knowing what it is that you want sets in motion creative energy that merges with your potential. Remember, you are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. When you discover this synergy, you are well on your way. Be willing to accept the challenge of the task. We may be given wishes, but they do require work to make them come true. Celebrate your desire to create your future in advance. Place attention on your intentions When we place attention on what it is that we want, it allows us to bring ourselves fully to our training opportunities, commitment to nutrition, our rest and sleep, and our sense of joy, passion, and fun. Consider a growth mindset. When we focus on our growth, we allow ourselves to we open to mistakes and setbacks. When we expect ourselves to be perfect, or think that we absolutely must make a time standard right now!, we create a fixed mindset that creates a good/bad, talented/not talented approach. If you have ever...

Academic Coaching to learn the most in the least amount of time

What the Best Students Do Learning is much more than simply memorizing facts and spitting them back out on a multiple choice or short answer exam. In fact, students whose main goal is to simply get through the assignment, miss out on the joy of learning that particular subject, and decrease their passion for learning in general. We start our work with students by examining the areas that they are already “experts” in. These topics range from sports, to video games, to technological puzzles, the arts, music, television show characters, etc…The list is virtually endless, and everyone is an expert in something! By tying together the attitudes and behaviors that lead to deep learning, we begin to examine the concepts of best practices in learning and memory storage. We call this step; “Moving to Greatness.” From here we support our students to maximize their learning in the shortest period of time by utilizing empirically based strategies for moving new knowledge into long-term memory. These steps are short in duration, thus enabling our students to self-regulate their actions, leading to more success and more confidence. Finally, we follow our student’s lead in determining what subject areas, and pieces of knowledge, that resonate most deeply for them, and then challenge them to make connections and expand their horizons! Once accomplished, all learning is FUN, and...

Positive Psychology Coaching for Enhanced Performance

Unpleasant emotions (anger, fear, sadness) outnumber pleasant ones (happiness) by a ratio of 3:1. Convincing empirical evidence indicates the evolutionary progression of our brain’s development trends negatively, suggesting that our reptilian brains were formed for the sole purpose of avoiding threats to survival, thus creating an inherent fight, flight, or freeze response. This unavoidable and integrated relationship with negativity has been with human beings ever since. As a result, we tend to view setbacks and difficulties as either a comment on our character, or as a problem to be fixed. Sound familiar? Interestingly, when viewed from this lens, very little ever really changes. We chastise ourselves, our mate, our children, or our organization for things we do not like, and lo and behold, years later, these same traits still exist. Why? According to positive psychology, we need to view these beliefs and circumstances from the other side of the perceived lack. That is, by recognizing and utilizing our gifts and strengths to move forward in our lives, problems notwithstanding. Research on this approach is quite convincing. In fact, not only do positive interventions (see below) lead to increased happiness and well-being, the resulting positive emotions lead to future success. In fact, people in positive emotional states are more likely to take on challenges and to exert power and volition in the face of adversity. Consider the following theories, and try one or two of them on for size. I am willing to bet these strategies will change your perspective, and your sense of well-being: Remember past successes. Better known as mastery experiences, these remembrances create an increase in positive...

Neuroplasticity and Sports Performance

The mind (energy and information flow in the brain) is created by the brain. Our brains learn mostly by what the mind attends to, and what we attend to necessarily change’s our brain. For example, when we remember a joyful occasion, we are more prone to be playful and creative in the present moment. It follows that how we choose to focus our attention (how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information) alters our brain chemistry, and literally changes our mind, which then changes our brain! As a result of any mental activity our neurons begin to make connections, and the longer we attend to a thought or experience, the deeper those connections become, and the more likely we are to re-experience them again. This impacts the following: Stress levels Kinesthetic awareness Personality tendencies Our interpretations of what happens to us, or what is said to us Sense of optimism and hope What we have learned from neuroplasticity studies is that the more we can integrate the positive aspects of our experiences into our mental awareness the more frequently our neurons will fire differently. We can therefore manage our stress level (emotional vs. calm; distractible vs. mindful), how we move through the water, how we interpret obstacles, and how we manage our relationships. Success Strategies to Change Your Brain Reinforce and internalize every positive experience, no matter how small. Remember, in detail, the best performances you have ever had. Intentionally call up your strengths and focus on how good it is to feel strong, confident, prepared, intelligent, etc… Engage powerful, relaxed, at-one-with-the-circumstance muscle/brain/visual memory. Set goals (intentions)...

5 Acacemic Coaching Strategies for Deep Learning

Subconscious Learning – Distribute your study time throughout the day. Block out study sessions into 2, 3, and 4 sessions each day. Why? Learning occurs constantly. Blocking out segments allows you to re-engage the material, dig up what you already know, and re-store it. For example, one four hour study session is not as beneficial as 2×2 hour sessions, or 3×90 minute sessions. Rest or sleep at some point during the day. Why? Learning occurs constantly. Study every subject every day! Context Effect – Vary your routine and study locations. Knowledge therefore becomes independent of surroundings, time, etc…This allows your brain to engage the material in several contexts, enabling it to process the material more effectively. The more environments in which you rehearse the sharper and longer lasting the memory will become. Following each study session, quiz yourself (quizzing yourself is the most effective mode of long-term learning and retention). Make your learning independent of surroundings, time of day, etc… Learning Styles – Engage every learning style as often as possible. Why? See context effect. Listen, read, write (type and by hand), recite, teach, quiz yourself all the time, make charts, maps, spider diagrams, Cornell notes, etc…Then, immediately go for a walk or a workout while quizzing yourself. Why? The brain engages material more effectively when the body is moving. Study standing up, lying down, sitting, while listening to soft music, in different environments. Active Learning – Verbatim copying of notes does very little. You must engage the material deeply. Re-write your notes without looking, or simply glancing, and be sure to put them in your own words. Own...