I am reading the book, InsideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann, as recommended by Coach Mike Boyle. The excerpt makes you think about how we are peceived as leaders, coaches and parents.

Michael Boyle's Strengthcoach.com Blog

I have posted at least five lessons from a book that is my favorite of this year, Inside Out Coaching. The following is Joe Ehrmann’s  adaptation of a poem I have blogged about before called Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte

Players Learn By How I Coach

If I coach with hostility- my players learn to be hostile

If I coach with ridicule- my players learn to disengage

If I coach with shame- my players learn to be ashamed

If I coach with sarcasm- my players learn to hide

If I coach with love- my players learn how to be loved

If I coach with tolerance- my players learn how to be patient

If I coach with encouragement- my players learn how to encourage

If I coach with empathy- my players learn to express their feelings

If I coach with compassion- my players learn to care…

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My Top 10 Tips To Improve Your Sport Performance

My Top 10 Tips To Improve Your Sport Performance

I have put a spin on the title of each tip to keep you interested. This is not your average top 10. You might expect eat cabbage as it is the best food or do 5 metre sprints as this has shown to produce the most improvement in speed. NO. This is not what this post is about.

Here are my top 10 tips below. They are in no particular order.

1. A-Tish-U regularly

This has got nothing to do with sneezing or getting a cold. Caught you out with that one eh! Do tissue work regularly. Do Self Myofascial Release using a foam roller, golf ball, med ball, tennis ball, pvc pipe, rumble roller. It is hard to give a recommendation as to how often. Doing this every day would be a good start. Use a good deep tissue therapist on a regular basis.

2. Don’t be a sheep 

I like to see leaders on the field, in practice and when you are socialising. Speak up if you have a point, don’t be afraid. Everyone can lead and don’t do what someone else does just because they were doing it. Ask ‘Why?’. This does not mean to ignore another leader. Don’t be awkward by doing the opposite. There is a right and wrong time to question someone’s leadership. Speak to someone in a position of authority first.

3. Be a sponge

Listen to your Manager, coaches, physiotherapists, experienced professionals. Absorb and take it on-board. Applying yourself will help you get further in your career.


Keep It Simple Stupid. How many times have we heard and/or used this acronym. How true it is. The good players do the simple things well.

5. Read

In my profession not many people actually read. This might sound daft. They can read but don’t bother. Read whatever interests you.

6. Practice Purposefully

Practice regularly, practice consistently, it should be hard work, it might not always be fun and it can be easily repeated.

7. Feedback

Having a mentor or having somebody with experience to provide you with feedback about your performance, practices and efforts will help guide you to improvement. This can be tough and your mindset is crucial

8. Mistakes

Make mistakes. We should try and learn from our mistakes. You may make the same mistake twice, three times. The point is to eradicate the mistake piece by piece.

9. Mindset

Develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset will help you achieve a greater outlook, inspire others, help in your personal relationships and help to bring up your children.

10. Moderation 

If you do too much of one thing it can become a bad thing. This may decrease your performance and maybe increase your risk of injury. My advice is all things in moderation: Strength & Conditioning, practice, rest & recover, meditate, have fun, drink, eat bad things. Whatever you do, do in moderation.

The Answers

My top 10 tips are based on my experiences. They are definitely not all of them.

Let me know what your top tips might be.

Lucky or Unlucky – Which One Are You?


Luck is something we either get or receive. Being unlucky is something that happens or doesn’t happen. In a sports setting who tends to get lucky and who gets unlucky?

Gary Player, famous golfer, once said “The harder I try the luckier I get”. This is a statement jesting the concept that luck has either got nothing to do with it or luck can be influenced.


Manchester United Football Club are lucky?

When we watch a football match do we often see a team get “lucky” with a goal to win or draw a match when perhaps to the football fan they didn’t deserve it. For those that follow the English Premier Football League know that Manchester United have dominated the premiership over the past 20 years. How many times have they won a match when not performing that well. Who can be that lucky for that long?

Its the deep, deliberate or purposeful practice concept that springs to my mind. Gary player agrees. Here is another example. When Eric Cantona made his debut for Manchester United in 1992 he brought a different concept to training. He continued to practise after the others went. This philosophy had an effect on the other players at the club. They stayed and purposefully practised. Let’s get this straight, Eric Cantona was not the catalyst for Manchester United’s success. It is Sir Alex Ferguson’s. The point I am making is the correlation of purposeful practise and luck. There is another point to my post. Feedback.

Collingham Football Club

When coaching and playing for Collingham Reserves Football Club, I have been trying to make a point of not saying unlucky when a player misses the target. This phrase is used a lot. Look at the situation this way. A player shoots and puts the ball over the bar. Someone says unlucky. Is that a question of luck when giving feedback. It doesn’t matter whether coaching children, adolescents or adults the message we convey by saying unlucky is that shooting is a question of luck. Is that how we should advocate success?

LogoAgree with me or not but I believe it is down to a growth mindset and quality coaching not luck. Feedback might be “Well done for getting into that position. However, you must hit the target”. This player will strive to hit the target. The next time he hits the target and the keeper has to make a save. The ball could go anywhere afterwards. A deflection, a ricochet or out for a corner. The feedback initially might be “Great effort. Let’s work on making the Goal keeper work hard to make a save by perhaps shooting towards the far post”. This will give the player confidence and the understanding that hard work and effort will lead to success.

The Answers

Some might think this topic or my point is just semantics. I feel it is not a question of being lucky or unlucky. The message here is practice purposefully and develop a growth mindset by providing the right feedback.

How A Growth Mindset Can Develop Your Athletic Potential


What we say is extremely important in creating a positive mindset. The feedback we give as parents and coaches can influence a positive reaction. Even if we fail at something e.g. lose a football match, a positive mindset can make you feel like this loss was a learning experience.

The Two Mindsets

According to Carol Dweck, Psychologist at Stanford University and author of ‘Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential’, she states that there are two types of mindset. A fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset might be described as:

“Your qualities are carved in stone. You create an urgency to prove yourself over and over. You have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character” Carol Dweck (2006).

A growth mindset might be described as:

“The Intelligence, personality and character you have is just the starting point for development. The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts”.

A practical example and the effects on both mindsets

Here is an example where the two mindsets differ. Imagine you are a football player who has just played the away first leg of a quarter final football match that meant a lot to you. You lose the match 2-0 and you personally missed 2 or 3 good scoring opportunities. On the way back to your car you find that you have a parking ticket. Being really frustrated you call your best friend to share your experience but are sort of brushed off.

What would you think? What would you feel? What would you do?

Those with the fixed mindset might say: “I’d feel like a reject”, “I’m a total failure”, “I’m an idiot”, “I’m a loser”, “I’d feel worthless and dumb-everyone’s better than me”. In other words they’d see what happened as a direct measure of their competence and worth.

This is what they might think about their lives: “Somebody upstairs doesn’t like me”, “The world is out to get me”, “life is unfair and all efforts are useless” or “I’m the most unlucky person on earth”.

Are these just people with low self esteem? Or pessimists? No. When they aren’t coping with failure, they feel just as worthy and optimistic as people with the growth mindset.

So how do the fixed mindset cope? “I wouldn’t bother to put so much time and effort into doing well in anything”. “Pick a fight with somebody” or “break something”.

The original statement was intentionally written that was nothing catastrophic or irreversible. It was not a cup final match but the first leg of a quarter final cup match so there is chance to win the second leg. You were away and will have the home advantage next leg. It was a parking ticket not a car accident. They were sort of brushed off not rejected outright. From this statement the fixed mindset created the feeling of utter failure and paralysis.

When giving this information to someone with a growth mindset, here is what they might say: “I need to try harder and take my chances in front of goal, be more careful when parking my car and wonder if my friend had a bad day”.

How would they cope? They’d start thinking about practising harder or more specifically i.e. shooting and finishing ready for the 2nd leg. They would pay the parking ticket and find out if there was anything wrong with their best friend.

You don’t have to be one mindset or the other to be upset. Those with a growth mindset would not label themselves or throw their arms in the air. Even though they were distressed they were ready to take the risks, confront the challenge and keep working at them.

The Answers

Scientists are learning that people have more capacity for lifelong learning and brain development than they ever thought. Each person has a unique genetic endowment. People may start with different temperaments and different aptitudes, it is clear that experience, training and personal effort take them the rest of the way. Everyone can develop a growth mindset through application and experience.

Robert Sternberg, the present day expert on intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement”. 

I have been employing a growth mindset with a men’s football team I coach and play for. They do not know I have done this. I have praised effort and encouraged to meet a challenge. This football team is progressing. We started out as a new team at the start of the season falling to bottom of the league. We are now mid table and have recently beaten 3rd and top of the league.

This mindset works with children, personal relationships, in business, and of course on yourself. My advice to you is to read this book and apply a growth mindset as this will develop you and your athletic potential.

*** Update on the football team ***

At the end of the 2012/2013 season the football team finished 4th in the league, made it to the cup final and we had the best run of form throughout all teams in all divisions.

Welcome To The Guaranteed Road To Superstardom

Welcome To The Guaranteed Road To Superstardom

How do we become talented? Some people Talent booksmight say we need to show a natural talent for the activity, encouraging parents, lots of practising or luck. These are the kind of comments I have heard and used myself in the past until I read quite a few books on the subject of Talent. Talent is perhaps a word that should seldom be used when labelling or describing young athletes. To become a Talent involves something that we can all do and does not require being a natural or a talent. It is called practice.

Having read these books I discovered the 10,000 hour theory. I knew then how important my role was to help others become a professional sports person and how much I could have an impact on our next generation of athletes.

I want to discuss the 10,000 hour theory and late specialisation specific to team sports that will propel you to superstardom. I will explain how deep practice relates to Strength & Conditioning and its fundamental role in developing athletes.

10,000 Hour Theory

Theorists believe that it takes 10,000 hours of deep, deliberate or purposeful practise to become an expert. In real terms that many hours would equate to 4 hours of practice 5 days a week for 10 years. A challenging route for many aspiring athletes. Before you send your child or footballers off to regular daily practices, children at the age of 6 years would practice for less hours in comparison to a 14 year old. Let’s go into a bit of detail about deep practice.

deep practice picDeep practise, researched by Anders Ericsson and colleagues, is quite specific. Deep practise is characterised by several elements:

1. Deep practice is an activity designed specifically to improve performance
2. Often with a teachers help
3. It can be repeated a lot
4. Feedback on results is continuously available
5. It is highly demanding mentally, physically or both
6. It isn’t much fun

This is true, not all exercise is fun. Let’s move on before you chastise me!

According to a panel of experts on youth training, exercises such as hopping, throwing, jumping, catching, sprinting are key areas for athletic development and are considered deep or purposeful practice.

Late specialisation vs. Early specialisation

There are possible problems associated with starting children at a young age solely in one sport – Early Specialisation. Early specialisation in a team sport might lead to injury and dropping out of the sport.

Too many athletes, coaches and parents have taken the 10,000 hour theory and ran with it. I read a blog by Mike Boyle (a very well respected Strength & Conditioning Coach. Follow him at http://www.strengthcoach.com) and he wrote that young athletes should develop overall athleticism by playing a variety of sports and perhaps athletes should specialise in their teens – Late Specialisation. Participating In different sports throughout the year motivates athletes and reduces their chances of developing injuries by playing the same sport performing the same movements all year round.

Early Specialisation In Individual and Team Sports

In my experience as a Strength & Conditioning

Open your eyes...

Open your eyes…

Coach I hear with regularity that athletes needed to commit to 16 hours per week. I was curious to why this figure was being employed? Finding this information on the 10,000 hours theory made sense as to why children were being encouraged to commit that many hours per week. Mark Cavendish spoke about this hourly commitment in his book ‘Boy Racer’ whilst he was a junior training with the national squad. I have worked with several national junior swimmers and tennis players who also spoke of similar hours. Here comes the bad news – they had many dysfunctions.

I also experienced a specific mentality whilst working with professional football players, they believed to get better they needed to practice more. They had many dysfunctions. This is the same with runners. They believe to get faster you need to run more. Runners also had many dysfunctions. Within the wide range of sports people I have trained, dysfunctions are common.

Do you know what happens to the majority of athletes who practice without participating in a Strength & Conditioning programme? Fatigue, overtraining, a decrease in performance and more often than not injury occurs.

“Performance enhancement is always second to injury reduction” Mike Boyle (2010).

What I did with these athletes was to reduce their hours training in their sport and use that time to do Strength & Conditioning. We can never tell how quickly an improvement in performance may happen but the important point here is that a structured and comprehensive Strength & Conditioning programme should form an essential part of an athletes training regime whether they participate in a team or individual sport.

The Answers

If we provide Strength & Conditioning to individual and team sports starting at a young age and at grass roots level we could perhaps see an increase in athletes and prolong athletic careers.

Strength & Conditioning is deep practice. Deep practice is the road to superstardom.

My post does not go into depth about the 10,000 hour theory. There are many factors for an athlete to be a success. I would advise you read a few of the books I have listed preferably one of the first three books.




1. Bounce by Mathew Syed
2. Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
3. Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
4. The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley
5. Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
6. Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential by Carol Dweck
7. What Makes An Olympic Champion? Gold Rush by Michael Johnson
8. Jonny My Autobiography by Jonny Wilkinson
9. Size Doesn’t Matter by Neil Back
10. Red by Gary Neville
11. Gerrard My Autobiography by Steven Gerrard
12. Advances In Functional Training by Mike Boyle