Last night I watched a documentary series on a musician I really enjoy.
His music is world class.
You know what was even better?
The way in which he performed was out of this world.
He made you feel as if you were a part of his journey, he lured you in, he made you comfortable, he made you jump, sing, and dance.
He was the orchestrator of 40,000 people singing his lyrics.
They were bought in.
As Sports Performance Coaches, we need to look at the bigger picture.
We are so concerned with the nitty gritty details (although important) they mean nothing without our foundation.
What is the foundation?
As individuals of authority it is our responsibility to create a positive environment, a culture that fosters long-term athletic development.
I know you’re thinking, that’s obvious.
Culture is everything, we hear it all the time. We see the importance of it, especially in our line of discipline.
I don't want you to think this is some Tony Robbins Positive Thinking bullshit.
I want to peel back the curtain and show you the science behind it. Let's dive deeper to get you to fully understand the bigger picture.
The first step towards long-term athletic development is understanding Neurology, more specifically, neuro-performance.
In order to understand this, we must ask ourselves...
Who is in charge?
What locks us up?
What threatens us?
Athletes experience stress.
Unfortunately, the body processes all external outputs as physiological stress.
As sports performance coaches, our job is to maximize output by manipulating input. A break up with a girlfriend, a long day at school, a teacher giving them a hard time, a hard practice session, the list goes on and on.
From my experience, working with youth, high school, collegiate, and NBA players, stress is NOT processed the same way.
When I worked with NBA players and ESPN's top 100 athletes, it seemed they had not a worry in the world. Lying down on their phone, laughing, not warming up etc.
Through the lens of a traditional sports performance coach, you would think
“I need to get these guys going, and get them serious.”
However, this "carefree" mentality was their BIGGEST asset. These guys were ALWAYS in their flow state. Ready to perform. Contrarily, when working with high school and college athletes, these guys took everything seriously.
Headphones on, warming up an hour early, and making sure they were "over-prepared." You know these guys.
So, what gives?
We need to meet the athletes where they are mentally as well as physically. Understanding, what gets them in their flow state is the foundation of peak performance.
Unfortunately, as humans, we love homeostasis. The body’s ability to reach stabilization for all human systems.
The antithesis of homeostasis is allostasis.
Allostasis is the process in which the body responds to repeated stressors (such as the ones mentioned above).
When an athlete walks into our facility for the first time, a series of processes in the brain begin to happen.
Input comes, athletes get nervous (threat), they get locked up, and the Neural Emergency break locks into place.
What is the Neural E-Break?
Another good question.
Simply put, is the brain telling the body to put your guard up because there is an external stress. Many unsolicited side effects begin to happen when this event takes place.
Lack of proper breathing, the heart pumps faster, they are slower, weaker, and can’t recover.
Training for optimal health and peak performance our mutually exclusive.
It is our primary job to ensure that we create a positive and conducive environment for long-term athletic development.
How can we take away the neural e-break?
- Controllable Actions: Asking questions, playing the right music, building relationships, and establishing rapport.
- Empathy: Putting yourself in the shoes of the athletes. Where are they mentally, what do they like, how can I get more "buy-in."
- Inputs: Managing stress, better recovery, and optimal training
We are the orchestrators, we are the musicians, controlling the room making it comfortable, enjoyable, and fun. Adherence is the ultimate performance enhancer.
Take the neural e-break off and watch the results of your athlete performance program flourish.
- Coach Adam