Keep It Loose!

1 Nov

The last few weeks have had me thinking and opening my eyes to things. I see things on the outside world and then try and think about how to apply and bring it into my own world. All though what I’m going to talk about today I feel is something I have been very good at and do implement well.


As a coach we have many roles it’s not only the science behind writing the proper training plans and having athletes do the right workouts to be physically fit on race day and peaking at the right times for the goal races. We also have to mentally help the athlete stay focused, believe in themselves and build confidence within the athlete. And we need to make it fun and keep things loose.

As a huge Chicago Cubs fan this has been something floating in my head all season and until just recently after another season of watching how my daughter high school cross country coach handles things it did not hit me. Joe Madden the manager of the Cubs brings a fun real loose atmosphere to the Cubs clubhouse and with a team loaded full of talent but young talent that is so crucial to get these guys to perform at the level they are capable of. Sure the old seasoned veterans like John Lester might not need as much of this loose vibe Joe brings but the young guys like Kris Byrant and Javier Baez I bet it helps a lot! The pressures athletes put on themselves and certainly at a Major League baseball level can be un-needed stress that sucks energy from an athlete and has them so nervous that they clam up and can’t perform.

I believe this is where coaches can be set apart. Take out the X’s and O’s so to speak the workouts and look at the little things the X-factors that can make or break a season a performance.  Athletes will put enough pressure on themselves to perform they will be full of nerves and especially in young athletes like high school level this can become too much and really overwhelm them. Sure there is the exception of that athlete that has ice for veins and that killer instinct but even still with those traits that athlete might be even better if they had a bit more of a let it go kind of vibe in them.

How I like to approach things with an athlete is and I guess this hit home this morning when my daughter compared me to her swim coach of many years that she loves. Bella connects very well with Coach Dan her amazing swim coach that gets so much out of his swimmers! But as a runner (and she loves to run) her coach for the last three years is more rigid less fun and more of a put the pressure on the girls instead of keep things fun and loose and show some heart.  So the two coaches have had a major impact on her one in a positive direction, the other in a more negative direction. So when my daughter compared me to Coach Dan and said I’m like the Coach Dan of running it made me smile. I took that as a huge compliment because of how much she respects Dan.

So back to my approach, in training we have to work hard, we have to be focused and we have to be dedicated. Things will be hard and some days I might be a little harsh or firm with the athlete to make them do their best at the workout. But even when I’m on a track with runners doing a hard interval workout and everyone is embracing the pain cave I still bring high energy, fun and some humor to the workout to try and relax the athlete I still try and pump them up with praise even when missing paces but I can see they are working hard. The goal is to keep them feeling positive and having fun! The goal is to try and take their mind off the hard work the pressure of trying to hit certain paces and let them perform a little more; loose.

Yes when an athlete has time goals, etc… certain paces will need to be hit, they will need to be able to step up and perform at a certain level but if you take the pressure off them and just focus them on giving a solid hard effort and keep them positive and believe in themselves you will see that eventually it will all click and that athlete will be crushing it and doing exactly what they need to do and without even knowing it or focusing on it.

So as a coach we train hard and we focus. But come race day we relax we take the pressure off ourselves and we try and just be loose laugh, sing songs and get ready to go race. As a coach you can’t put the pressure on the athlete but you need to take the pressure away from the athlete. This is what Joe Madden has done so well all season for the Cubs. The players know what they need to do to win, the players know they need to win to stay alive and advance and reach the goals they have set so why does the coach have to put extra pressure on them to go do this? Nope the coach needs to try and relieve that pressure and make the athlete loose and relaxed and let them just go out have fun and take what the day gives them.

Stress is such an unhealthy emotion, stress causes so many problems and affects people in negative ways more times than not. So as a coach we need to take that stress away from our athletes and make them smile laugh and go have fun. The results will follow if we do this.

Runners especially can be very type A and want strict plans to follow stare at their watches and if the paces deviate from what the plan say they freak out. This is why come race day I like to give a little direction to the athlete about how to run the race and the paces they need to reach their goal but I also tell them to just relax settle in and embrace the moment run by perceived effort and what the day gives you. This is where shedding that watch and just go for a  run can really come in handy because if you look at the watch during the race and you have one bad mile split it can alter your state of mind make you think too much and then bring on that stress and negative feelings that can destroy your race.

So in the end you need to just let go a little stay loose smile relax and have fun. If you do that thing will work out and the success will happen! The goal is don’t add any extra stress to yourself or an athlete that can suck energy away from what they need to do.


Happy Training, Racing and having fun enjoying your passions!


Coach MB 



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