We’re hearing a lot these days about how busy players, parents and coaches are … and how tired. They are feeling more stretched than focused and more stressed than productive. If that happens to you here’s something you can try.
One of the first things we do with our athletes is ask them to pay attention. For example, I f we’re learning to stop we ask them to notice where they land and finish on the foot – heel, mid-foot, whole foot? Before we ask them to fix, or change or adjust anything we simply ask them to notice. A lot of self correction happens just by paying attention to the right things. Focus helps … a lot.
Here’s a simple tool for you. Its a framework we use with our players and in our own planning and preparation. We call it the Four Circles. It helps provide focus and balance when we’re working with athletes or coaches making choices about where to invest time and energy.
You’ll see there are four overlapping circles. Each one expands and / or limits the others. In the physical circle are things like movement skills, balance, speed, strength, stamina, and general health. The technical circle is about sport skills, the technical skills you need to play or perform; shooting or dribbling for a basketball player or carving a turn for a skier. The tactical circle is how we apply and integrate those skills to play or compete. We go from passing and catching to running a give and go for example. It’s also about learning to see the game or race unfold and respond to it. The mental circle includes skills like relaxation, concentration, emotional regulation. We could go into more detail, for example rest and recovery, sleep, nutrition and relaxation are part of the physical circle but , for now it’s enough to know that each of these elements influences the others.
Think of it this way, the problem with a player’s jump shot may not be the shot. If I can’t control my posture, squat, jump and land it doesn’t matter how good me release is. The physical skills and qualities are needed to support the technical. They are all a part of an athlete’s development.
So now, here’s the task. Draw four columns on a piece of paper, one for each circle. Then just make a list of what you’re currently doing in each area. Don’t worry about what you should be doing or what other people are doing or what someone else says you need to be doing. What are you or your players doing now? When you’re done listing it out, take a look. What are you noticing? Where is most of your effort going? What’s guiding those choices? Does the balance feel right?
This quick exercise might give you some insight and clarity. The purpose here is simply to get a picture of what’s happening. You don’t need to evaluate or judge it. Remember, a lot of self correction happens just by noticing.
This framework can be applied in a number of ways to help be intentional and focused with an athlete’s development. We use it with college athletes as well as middle schoolers. A healthy and effective approach to athletic development is focused, balanced and intentional. If you’d like to know more check out our training programs or contact us.