Daily Dose of Coach #236: Fueling the Basketball Athlete Through AAU Season

Basketball travel season is about to kick into full gear. As travel and tournament schedules get crazy, it's important to understand how to fuel and hydrate the body to maximize performance. This requires high energy output and can be difficult to maintain without proper nutrition.

It's easy to hit fast food joints and make quick decisions about what to eat between games and practices. But understanding how to fuel the body properly can make all the difference in the world.

One problem is matching the need for high levels of energy output with low appetite. I've found this to be a problem with young athletes as they are moving from games to practice to more games. They miss a lot of meals because of this. And having to get up early to eat breakfast and eating dinner late at night doesn't help.

Here are a few ways to combat this balance of high energy needs, little time to eat, unconventional times to eat, and low appetites.

  •    First things first; Do your best to hit three square meals. This means breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Those these may fall at the strange times during a busy AAU schedule, try to eat this at each meal: 1-2 Palm Sizes of Lean Protein, 1-2 Fist Sizes of Vegetables, 1-2 Cupped Handfuls of Carbohydrate dense foods, and 1 Thumb Size of Fat. A typical breakfast could look like an egg omelet with vegetables, potatoes, and fruit. Make sure these larger meals are not eaten right before a game. Try getting them done 1-2 hours before.
  •    Packing snacks. It's understandable that not all meals may be met and met perfectly. So keeping nutritional snacks in your backpack is always a good idea. I remember being at these tournaments at eating skittles and snickers from the concession stand. This is no good. If you want to be a great player, you must learn to prepare at all angles. Pack food like pretzels, nutrition bars, apples, bananas, trail mix or mixed nuts.
  •    Drinking Some of Your Calories: During times of high output, it's never a bad idea to carry a sports drink or two with you. This can help give you a quick boost of carbohydrates, electrolytes and keep you hydrated. If they bother your stomach because of sugar content, I recommend doing half sports drink, half water.
  •    Proper Hydration: Dehydration can do everything from decreasing the speed of your movement to reducing reaction time, to slowing your decision making on the court. And if you are playing major minutes, it's vitally important that you stay hydrated throughout the day. You can drink a combination of sports drinks and plain water throughout the day. I recommend at least 16oz of water with every meal if not more. Also, make sure that you are drinking plenty during the game. In that backpack that holds your snacks carry a refillable water bottle and sip on it throughout the day. You don't want to water-log yourself, but to perform at your best you need to stay hydrated.

Daily Dose of Coach #325: Drinking is Not About Healthy Vs. Non Healthy

I deal with people who enjoy adult beverages. Some are super embarrassed to tell me that they drink two beers a night because they're afraid of looking unhealthy or uncommitted. Some could care less and let me know that Monday will be tough because they usually partake in overindulgence on the weekend.

Either way, I think it's important to understand that alcohol consumption isn't about being healthy or not healthy. I know plenty of "healthy" people who drink in moderation.

Moderation can be defined by the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee as up to seven drinks a week with no more than three drinks per day for women. And for men, fourteen drinks per week with no more than four drinks in a single day. This seems a little aggressive to me for moderation. I'd advise you to maybe not think of yourself as the average American and tone that down a bit.

A drink is defined as 12oz beer, 5oz wine, 3oz of fortified wine, or 1.5oz of liquor.

In an article I read by Camille DePutter at Precision Nutrition; she made the excellent point that alcohol isn't making healthy or unhealthy choices, it's merely about trade-offs. She explained this using the following scenarios:

  •    Saying "yes" to six pack abs might mean saying “no” to a few drinks at the bar.
  •    Saying “yes” to Friday happy hour might mean saying “no” to your Saturday morning workout.
  •    Saying “yes” to marathon training might mean saying “no” to boozy Sunday brunches.
  •    Saying “yes” to better sleep (and focus, and mood) might mean saying “no” to your daily wine with dinner
  •    Saying “yes” to moderate alcohol consumption might mean finding a way to say “no” to stress triggers (or human triggers) that make you want to drink more.

Only you can determine what you're willing to trade. Another option is lowering the amount of alcohol you consume to decrease the consequence of that trade-off. Whatever it is, understand there's always some health trade-off when it comes to alcohol.

Daily Dose of Coach: #324: Technique - The Lunge

The lunge is a staple lower body, unilateral exercise that all healthy athletes and adults should be able to perform.

It can improve strength, range of motion, and enhance performance and activities of daily living.

It's also an exercise that can be quickly eliminated from programming where unilateral dysfunction or pain in the joints of the lower limbs exist. However, many times it's just labeled as an unsafe exercise, which is wacky.

No matter what age, all healthy humans should be able to nail a lunge from the ground up and the top down. It's one of those movements that you'll find yourself in more than you realize and sure helps to be able to get in and out of with some strength and power.

For this post, here's how to perform a top-down forward lunge like a champ. This explanation is the same whether performing with dumbbells in hands, barbell on back, or body weight only.

  •    Begin standing with feet hip-width apart.
  •    Take a step forward with one leg slightly longer than a walking stride
  •    Maintain good posture thinking about driving your head through the ceiling.
  •    Your back heel should naturally come off the ground if you've stepped far enough in front.
  •    Lower your body at the hips until both knees are about a 90-degree angle. This can be accomplished by staying just above the ground (or you can also gently tap your back knee to the ground)
  •    A proper step and keeping good posture will ensure that the front knee stays directly over the ankle joint. In general, you want to avoid letting the knee get too far out in front because of sheer forces that can be placed on the joint.
  •    When returning to starting position, think "push the ground away" with your foot and return to starting position. 
  •    As you drive back to the starting position, do your best to maintain a stiff upper body not allowing your back to go into extension to assist the movement.

Daily Dose of coach #323: Posterize Rejection

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Michael Jordan

When difficulties or unexpected change arrives, our initial response is looking for the easiest solution. This is human nature to choose the path of least resistance. It attempts to regain a place of comfort. The best thing that can happen when thinking like this is rejection. These rejections will hurt. But what you will learn in the process of overcoming is what changes your life.

It reminds me of growing up on the mean streets of Colorado and playing lots of outdoor basketball. I was always one of the smallest kids. I didn’t hit 6 feet until I was in college. I quickly learned taller stronger kids had the advantage in this sport. As a small and skinny kid, I felt like I had two options: learn to shoot from really far away or drive to the lane and pass, or else, get my shot blocked into someone else’s yard. In taking this path of least resistance, this is what I did. The results were, I didn’t grow as a player and limited myself.

It all changed when I decided I wanted an opportunity to keep playing after high school. I set up a meeting with the college coach, and in our 5-minute meeting he told me I was too small, he’d never heard of me and laughed at me out the door. I walked out disappointed but more motivated than I’d ever been in my life.

My assistant high school coach told me if I wanted any chance, I had to be able to get my shot off faster and had to get stronger. I made three focused decisions. 1) I was going work tirelessly to figure out how to get my shot off, whenever I wanted to, against anyone, at any time. 2) I was going to harden and strengthen my body to the point that I was doing the punishing. When I took it to the basket, I wanted my defenders to take the worst part of it. 3) I was going to be the aggressor. I was going to dunk on you if I could.

My focus helped me become good enough where I was eventually asked to walk on my college basketball team. It wasn’t the path of least resistance. I got rejected a lot. I was told to give it up, a lot. It took a concentrated effort of 1000’s of hours in the gym, the weight room and playing with people much better than me. When I made the team the first thing I did was thank the coach for telling me, two years before, that I was too small and unknown to play for him.

Rejection is a great thing. It will help you focus and concentrate your mind on exactly what you need to do. It enables you to realize that nothing in this world can be taken for granted, that you have to work for and fight for what you want. It forces you out of your comfort zone. Not only that, but it motivates you to prove yourself, your abilities and brings out your competitiveness.

As one door slams in your face, it opens up opportunities for so much more. It gives you a chance sharpen your focus but also to prove yourself and other people wrong. As the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, says in the quote above, “If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Or as he did many times in his career, posterize rejection.

Daily Dose of Coach #322: Think on This - Confidence is Earned

“Confidence comes from discipline and training." -Robert Kiyosaki

There's a story I love about the baseball legend, Ty Cobb. When he was seventy years old a journalist was interviewing him for a story.

The journalist asked, "What do you think you'd hit if you were playing these days?"

Keep in mind, Cobb who was as lifetime .367 hitter. Cobb said, "About .290, maybe .300."

The journalist said, " Oh, that's because of the extended travel, the night games, the turf, and new pitches like the slider, right?"

"No," Cobb said, "It's because I'm seventy."

Self confidence is not something we're born with, it's something we earn. The great John Wooden said, "Confidence, like poise, is earned only by tenaciously pursuing and attaining those assets that allow you to reach your own level of competency."

And there will be no greater characteristic that will determine your success, happiness, health and income.

Daily Dose of Coach #321: Try This With Your Hexbar Deadlift

If you work with me (especially athletes) you'll know that the Hexbar deadlift is one of my favorite exercises for building lower body strength and power.

When the concentric (or upward) movement is executed, we are often given cues such as brace the core, keep the back flat and drive through the hips.

All good internally focused cues to remember, but the best one I've found is the simple external cue of "drive the ground away from you."

Next time you step inside the glorious Hexbar, give it a try. I think you'll find the weight moves with a little more speed and even a little less effort.

Daily Dose of Coach #320: Three Daily Supplements

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about not worrying about supplements until you have mastered the basics of your diet.

But even with improving the basics, daily servings of protein, vegetables and fish oils can be challenging to attain.

These supplements, taken daily, will help you accomplish this:

1. A Protein Supplement:  If you've ever noticed it's difficult to get the recommended amount of protein most days. When you are training, it's advised to consume 1g of protein per body weight. However, most males only ingest 110-130, while most females are around 80-110. A good protein supplement can fill the gap. The best way I've found to do this is one to two protein shakes per day.

2. Green Foods Supplement : Fruits and vegetables are another areas where we tend to fall short. On average, only 5% of men and women meet the recommended fruit and vegetable intake of 3-5 servings per day. An excellent green food supplement can help you reach that goal.

3. Fish Oils:  The average American gets only 1/3 of the recommended 900mg of DHA and EPA per day. Fish oils contain DHA and EPA which are healthy fats that are only found in fish oils. Fish oils have been shown to help prevent and manage heart disease, lower blood pressure and reduce chances of heart attack and stroke.

Daily Dose of Coach #319: Technique - Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

The wide grip lat pulldown is a vertical pull exercise that strengthens muscles over multiple joints. These include the shoulder, scapulothoracic, elbow and even through the hip.

Though this exercise seems pretty straightforward, proper form makes all the difference in not only getting the most out of the exercise while keeping it safe.

Here is how to perform the wide grip lat pulldown (settings will vary depending on the type of machine you use):

  •       Adjust the bench so you can grab the bar in an overhead grip from a seated position.
  •    Next, adjust the knee pad so the legs fit securely and knees are positioned at 90 degrees. This is so you don't fly off the seat when the bar moves upward
  •    Grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. For some of you this will be right outside where the bar angles off, but those with narrower shoulders, this will be right on the angle or even slightly inside.
  •    While performing the exercise keep a neutral spine and feet locked into the floor.
  •    Lean back slightly (70-80 degrees of hip flexion), exhale and pull the bar downward in front of the body. There is an old school behind the neck variation. That, however, puts the shoulder joint in a compromised position and isn't the safest option. So let's stick with in front of the body only.
  •    One thing you'll want to be careful of here is internally rotating your shoulders. Avoid this by pulling your scapula down and back and driving your elbows toward the floor.
  •    Pull the bar until it reaches chin level or slightly below
  •    Do not jerk the bar down, throwing your low back into extension. This is a controlled movement, and a stable and neutral spine should be maintained the entire time.
  •    Pause for 1 second at the bottom, inhale and slowly let the bar ascend to the starting position.
  •    Keep the shoulders adducted, and elbows pointing at the floor and avoid shrugging as the bar moves upward.

Daily Dose of Coach #318: A Year From Now

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Perform Better Conference in Orlando.

This is always a fantastic time of learning and seeing many industry friends I've met over the years.

I wanted to share with you one of the questions a presenter asked at the end of his session. This presenter, John Berardi, also happened to be the owner of Precision Nutrition (the nutrition program I use as my coaching platform).

At the end of his session, he called it his, "final thought exercise." He said many times he runs into the same people year after year. They come and speak to him during the conference or after he's done talking.

So he challenged each of us. He said, "If I see you and speak to you a year from today, and I ask you what have you been able to accomplish this past year, would you be proud to tell me that answer?"

This struck a chord with me because in two days is my birthday. Over the last five years, I've taken time to reflect on what I've accomplished in the past year. I ask myself a similar question. Am I happy with what I achieved in the past year? Did I grow as a husband and father? Did I grow spiritually? Did I improve my physical health? Did I become a better friend, mentor, and pupil? Did I develop the skills and knowledge of my craft? Did my business improve? Did I improve financially?

The answers to these questions could make me proud or even disappointed in myself. But I as long as I've clarified those values and keep asking these questions, I may not improve on every category, but I do find myself making significant improvements in some, and small ones in others.

The final thought question is a great way to measure just how well you are improving in all areas of your life. Pick a date; It could be your birthday. I could even be as cliche as December 31st. Have someone close to you ask you, "What did you accomplish in the past year?"

And just for now. I'll ask you the same thing. "What have you been able to accomplish in the past year? Are you proud of it? Or do you still have some commitments to be made and some work to do?"

Daily Dose of Coach #317: Think on This - Stay Ready

“The secret to success in life is to be ready for his opportunity when it comes." -Benjamin Disraeli

It starts with the little things, the details, the fundamentals to build success in anything you do.

Stephen Curry won't stop doing ball handling drill for two hours before every game because he was a 2-time league MVP and world champion.

Most people don't get this. They want the big stage before they have earned it. For some reason they think showing up every day makes them entitled.

I don't get this mentality and never will. I believe in doing the basics at a high level. Things like being on time, willing to do whatever it takes to help your team and being a good teammate are a good place to start.

Then you move to mastering the fundamentals of what you do. You have to be passionate about the details, or you will always be the one who maybe knows "how" but never "why."

To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who knows why will always be the boss."

Once you do this consistently for 10-15 years, then you'll be amazed at the opportunities you will get and more importantly, the opportunities you are prepared to take on.

Any other path, once you reach a certain level, will eventually expose you to how good you aren't.

Daily Dose of Coach #316: 5 Things To Look for When Hiring a Personal Trainer - Part 5

Today is the final 5 things to look for in hiring a personal trainer. The last three posts covered education , professional paperwork and tracking , professional experience, and what your trainer looks like . The conclusive thing to look for when hiring a personal trainer is, solid word of mouth references and track record.

5) Solid word of mouth references and track record

Many of the services we buy come from recommendations from reputable people that we trust.

Hiring a personal trainer is no different. Ask those people who are closest to you. Use social media as a tool to get recommendations from "friends." Talk to other professionals in the health and fitness industry.

There's much more to who you should hire than just asking "who is a good personal trainer?"

Fact is, many people can like their personal trainer and recommend them just because they get along well with them. The other side of it is, does this trainer help people get results?

If you get an opportunity to speak to the trainer, ask about results he or she has obtained in the past. Ask for visuals if possible. Trainers with past success will usually have a website or some other marketing piece that puts on display, past accomplishments, results, and testimonials.

There are a million personal trainers out there willing to take your money. Make sure before hiring to do your research. If you happened to randomly walk into a gym and find a great trainer you're lucky!

 Before going that route, use these 5 posts as a guideline for finding the best match for you.

Daily Dose of Coach #315: The Case for Frozen Fruits and Veggies

In a perfect world, we'd either be able to grow our fruits and vegetables or stock up at our weekly farmer's market.

But, for the most part, that's not reality.

Fresh produce in the grocery store, though chemically sprayed to help it last longer and keep the bugs away, is the best most of us do.

But what about frozen fruits and veggies? Do you get the same nutrient value by trucking over to the frozen food section and tossing in frozen bags of broccoli and blueberries into your cart?

The answer is probably not, but it's never a wrong choice.

Here are a few things to know about our frozen friends.

They are both usually picked at their peak ripeness; this is when they hold their greatest nutritional content.

Research shows that the blanching process of vegetables (boiling in water for a few minutes) increases the loss of water-soluble vitamins such and B and C. This can decrease vitamin C from 10-90%.

Fruits do not go through this blanching process.

Though frozen, fruits and vegetables still have the same fiber content and more than likely their antioxidant capabilities.

Bottom line is this. Though fresh produce is the best choice, don't shy away from stocking up on frozen fruits and vegetables. It's a convenient way to get your required portions of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. I've also found they come in handy as a great ice pack when someone nails their head, elbow or knee while running through the house.

Daily Dose of Coach: #314: Technique - Single Leg Bench Bridge

Two weeks ago I wrote a post on barbell hip thrust technique. Today, is the unilateral or single leg, body weight variation, the Single Leg Bench Bridge.

I love the single leg bench bridge as an exercise to strengthen the glute and hamstring muscles. This exercise also requires isometric core and hip abductor stabilization through execution.

Though this exercise seems straightforward, there are a few key points to get the most out of it. I've found, left to an untrained participants interpretation of this exercise, it's often not done correctly. If you have performed this exercise in the past felt like you haven't got much out of it, that is probably the case.

Here is how to perform the single leg bench bridge:

  •    Start seated on the floor and position your shoulders comfortably on the edge of the bench
  •    You can either extend your arms the length of the bench, place them across your chest or let them hang comfortably at your sides. If you have any balance issues with this exercise, at your side is probably the best option.
  •    Bring your feet closer to your hips so when the hips are raised the lower leg is perpendicular to the ground.
  •    To perform the exercise on the right leg, begin by pushing through the heel of the right foot raising the hips parallel to the ground. At the same, flex the left leg (drive the knee towards your chest.
  •    I see two mistakes often happen during the execution. 1) The participant pushes through the toe, and 2) They do not flex their non-bridging knee toward their chest. Both are decreasing the targeted effectiveness of this exercise.
  •    During the execution, the spine should remain in a relatively neutral position. At the top of the movement, many people extend the spine and go past the parallel position. To avoid this, squeeze the stance side glute, brace the core and exhale. If done correctly, you'll feel this in your glute and hamstring, not your lower back.
  •    Slowly lower your hips back down toward the ground (not all the way to the ground), simultaneously lowing your non-stance side knee and repeat.

Watch the video above done by former LA Lakers strength and conditioning coach, Tim Difrancesco.

Daily Dose of Coach #313: Courage or Crazy?

“It takes courage to know when you ought to be afraid." -James A. Michener-

Many people do not know that in 1971, there was a third partner in the Apple Computer company. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the known founders of Apple had one other partner, Ron Wayne, who Jobs had met while working for Atari

Wayne, a 10% owner, had a short-lived run with Apple. About twelve days. In the book, Steve Jobs , the author describes the resolution.

"Wayne then got cold feet. As Jobs started planning to borrow and spend more money, he recalled the failure of his own company. He didn't want to go through that again.

Jobs and Wozniak had no personal assets, but Wayne, who worried about a global financial Armageddon, kept gold coins hidden in his mattress. Because they'd structured Apple as a simple partnership rather than a corporation, partners would be personally liable for the debts. And Wayne was afraid potential creditors would go after him.

So he returned to the Santa Clara office just eleven days later with a statement of withdrawal. The final document noted that in payment for the 10% of the company he received $800 and shortly afterward $1500 more. Had he stayed on and kept his 10% stake, at the end of 2010, it would have been worth approximately 2.6 billion dollars."

You'd think Wayne would have gone into a great depression when watching the success of a company he was shortly part of. However, he claims to have " no regrets." Wayne said, "They were absolute whirlwinds. I was standing in the shadow of giants. If I stayed at Apple, I would have probably ended up the richest man in the cemetery."

When I first read about Ron Wayne, I thought, "What an idiot!" He backed out because he was scared of creditors coming after his small amount of assets and because he thought Jobs was a madman.

But then as I thought about it, I started to think of it as more honorable. He made a decision to live the life he wanted to. He didn't want to ride the Steve Jobs train. He knew it would have killed him. He didn't care about not becoming a billionaire. He just wanted to make slot machines and be happy.

Knowing who you are and making a decision off that takes more courage than the latter. We all have take different paths. Have the courage to keep moving on yours.

Daily Dose of Coach #312: 5 Things to Look For When Hiring a Personal Trainer - Part 4

Today is the 4th post of 5 things to look for in hiring a personal trainer. The last three posts covered education , professional paperwork and tracking , and professional experience . Today will be about the most obvious thing you'll probably judge your prospective trainer on; looks.

4) What Your Trainer Looks Like

It's impossible not to judge how good your trainer is going to be by the way that they look. It's safe to say a trainer who is in good shape is someone who probably walks their talk, is an excellent example of health and fitness and can be an inspiring figure as your coach.

However, don't just assume because the trainer doesn't have six pack abs and bulging muscles they might not be legit. Some of the greatest trainers I know and even my first mentor did not have the greatest physique.

Instead of judging on how the trainer looks, notice how they present themselves. If your prospective trainer is jacked but shows up to your first meeting in a small tank top, hat on backward, and says "bro" a lot, I would steer clear.

Look for someone who presents themselves and speaks like a professional. Professionalism shows that this person is more interested in serving YOU. Even in gym clothes, trainers can dress, look and appear like they have a career, that this is not just a side hobby.

When you're hiring a trainer think of hiring any other health professional. You're doctor or therapist wouldn't show up to your room looking like they're on their way to a beach concert. And don't always judge your trainer on their physique. I call this the Yoda Principle . Yoda was not physically impressive, in fact, he walked with a cane. But he could yield a lightsaber with the best of them and trained the greatest Jedi's in the galaxy.

Daily Dose of Coach #311: As Far as Supplements Go...

Here's a very typical conversation with a new online or personal client. Their goal could be to lose weight. It could be to get into better shape. Or, it could even be an athlete looking to start a strength program.

New Client:  Now that I'm ready to get started what supplements do I need to take? Protein, that's important, right? Creatine? Should I take a pre-workout? Aren't those bad for you? What about fat burners, my aunt takes those and swears by them?

Me: Unless you have the basics down first, none of them.

My online nutrition coaching calls this mowing the lawn with your house on fire . It's easy to get lost in all the nutrition and supplement information out there and focus on the wrong things. Instead, let's address the most critical issues first.

Precision nutrition suggests these simple things to focus on and get right before you start going down any other route:

-1- If losing weight is your goal: Eat slowly, until 80% full

-2- If gaining weight is your goal: Eat regularly and enough to support your activity, consistently

-3-Learn and follow your body cues, consistently

-4- Eat good quality food, consistently

-5- Be active, regularly

-6- Do the right things, consistently.

So before you go spending a ton of money on supplements because the kid at GNC told you this is the hottest supplement out there, focus on nailing down the basics first.

Daily Dose of Coach #310: Coach, Why Do We Do Farmers Walks?

This is a question I get all too often. "Coach, why do we do farmer walks?"

If you don't know what that is or need a refresher, it's simply when you pick up two heavy dumbbells or kettlebells and walk with good posture for a certain distance.

I'm usually asked why we are doing farmer walks, or what's the point of farmer walks when a person is returning from wherever they're walking from. At this point, they are making different faces, doing their best to maintain posture, trying not to turn it into a fast walk or slow job, and or drop the dumbbells.

My quick response is it's a great exercise for building a strong foundation, core, and shoulder stability, as well as grip strength.

Grey Cook, founder of the functional movement screen, went into a little more detail on the strengthcoach podcast . He shared why farmer walks are great for building full body stability and integrity.

"Loaded carries (Farmer Walks) are one of the best ways to get your stabilizers to listen. What are stabilizers muscles? They are close to the bone, they are slow twitch, but they actually fire before your fast twitch muscles. They hold your skeleton together while your big muscles act as hydraulic levels moving you through space (the prime movers).

In heavy loaded carries, you really have to show us what kind of integrity (or stability) you have. And its a good biomarker of your strength that you have beyond postural integrity, is a bad rep, is loss of technique."

A strong foundation, joint stability, and integrity, capacity, grip strength. Go to my blog post, Technique - Farmer Walks , for a full rundown on how to execute this exercise.

Daily Dose of Coach #309: A Pat on the Back

"The human body is a peculiar devise, pat it on the back and the head swells.” Unknown.

I will never forget my first practice experience as a walk-on for the University of Northern Colorado basketball team. I was on cloud nine, feeling great about myself, knowing how hard I had worked to make the team and was about to start my first drill as a college basketball player.

The drill we were doing was called the shell drill.  It is where five defensive players move into correct zone defensive positions as five offensive players standing outside of the three-point line pass the ball back and forth as quickly as possible. I had done this drill a million times in high school because all we ran was a zone defense.

I was thinking to myself, “this is great,” a drill that I know and can be perfect at on my first day! I guess I was wrong. About 5 seconds into the drill my coach started ripping me a new one, screaming at me to get in the right position. It’s not that I was in the wrong position, I just wasn’t in the right position he wanted me to be in as fast as he wanted me to be in it!

He shouted, “ Higuera! If you don’t pick it up and get your a#$ moving I’m going to ship you back off to the #$%#$@# Puerto Rican league.”

“Whoa! What?,”  Coach Smith just hit me with a racial slur implying I was Puerto Rican!? That was odd since I'm Mexican and nothing besides my last name would give away that I'm even Hispanic.

He continued to rake me over the coals the entire first practice. It was bad enough that afterward, I went up to his office to ask him what I was doing so wrong. You have to understand; my high school coach was the most positive person in the world. I had never been degraded or talked to like that by a coach before in my life.

I walked into the office and said, “Coach, I don’t understand why you gave me such a hard time today. I was the first one to practice, worked hard, and I did every drill just as it was supposed to be done.”

Coach Smith leaned forward in his chair, with his glasses on the bridge of his nose, glaring at me as if I had just called his mother a name and said sternly, “Higuera (mispronounced), you are the 15th guy on a 15-man roster. What do you want a pat on your back every time you do what you are supposed to do? That’s not how it works here, and that’s not how life works. If you want to succeed you have to over-exceed in everything you do. You want to win my trust in you, do that…everyday.”

What a valuable lesson I learned as a young man. There is always a danger with any success we experience. Many times, we expect a pat on the back for a job well done. However, isn't that point of any job or any responsibility that you have? Aren’t you hired, or recruited, or chosen because someone expected you to do your job well?   

It’s our fundamental responsibility to do our job well. What Coach Smith taught me that day is that greatness in anything lies outside of just doing what is expected. You can get away with that at certain levels, but if you plan to do great things, exceeding expectations has to become a daily ritual.

Daily Dose of Coach #308: Think on This - The Greatest Burden

“Courage atrophies from lack of use." -Anonymous-

There's a story of a wealthy young man who inherited all wealth, gifts and comforts life could give. He had even hired an older statesman to mentor him so that he could maintain this comfort for the rest of his life.

One day, as he sat drinking fine wines, eating grapes and speaking philosophy, he asked the elder, "What's life's heaviest burden?"

His response, "Having nothing to carry."

We spend way too much time trying finding ways to ease our life. Instead, go look for a good fight. Problems introduce you to who you really are.

As the great Jim Rohn said, "Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don't wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don't wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom."


Daily Dose of Coach #307: 5 Things to Look For When Hiring a Personal Trainer - Part 3

Today is the 3rd post of 5 things to look for in hiring a personal trainer. The last two posts covered education , professional paperwork, and tracking . Today I'll include what to look for when it comes to your prospective trainer's experience.

3) Professional Experience

In this growing industry, there are going to be trainers at all experience levels. However, because there are no regulations, someone can get a certification over a weekend and call themselves a certified trainer on Monday.

As I covered in part 1, the first thing you should look for is a solid education. An solid educational program begins the experience a trainer will need to be worth hiring.

Next, look for a trainer whose had at least three years experience in a sports club, studio, private studio or as an independent contractor. Many times these types of places will also have internship programs where trainers gain valuable experience before even touching a client.

When it comes to the trainer helping you to achieve your goals, they should not only be able to explain how it will be done but show you results they've had in the past. If you're looking for a weight loss trainer ask to see past results they helped other clients achieve.

For specific areas like sports performance and/or specialties like chronic disease fitness look for trainers with five to ten years in experience. These trainers have probably trained not only a broad range of people but have pointed their expertise into serving a specific population.

Last but not least, all trainers should have some competence on the nutritional side. They should be able to provide you insight and help develop behavioral changes to improve your nutrition. If nutrition is something that you need to improve along with your training, look for trainers who are certified by organizations like Precision Nutrition.

Hiring a trainer with no experience could be a big waste of time and money. It's nice to give people a chance, but the chances are it will be at your own expense. Look for great knowledge, professionalism, and experience before hiring your personal trainer.