A while ago I wrote about purposeful practice and had some great feedback in terms of how to share this information with youth athletes. At the beginning of February, I had the unique opportunity to put it to the test when I joined a local swim team at their yearly training camp in Maui. It was a privilege to work along side a younger, driven coach and 10 passionate and committed youth athletes. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog on “Putting the Mental Training into Training Camps”.
Over the course of the week, there was a detailed plan in place that was shared with the athletes for each training session. I took this one step further in my role and chose to engage with the athletes on an individual level for each session. Even though I was on the pool deck with them, often observing and working particularly close with the coach for 6 days straight, I made a commitment to this task and was able to spend two minutes and ask the ever so important question, “what do YOU want to get out of practice today”, encouraging my athletes to take time for their own self-reflection. Some of the responses varied in technical capacities, motivational responses and even in the manner of trying new things in relation to stroke and tactical race planning. Interestingly enough, by the end of the week, their responses were thoughtful, precise in what they were trying to achieve and explained the significance as to why their focus needed to be on the task at hand. It was a proud moment to see and witness from my end!
In the last blog and video, I encourage the theme of “personal dialogue with the coach” as one of the most important aspects in order to acquire the most out of purposeful practice. Not only does it guide your training but boosts further technical and tactical feedback for YOUR specific training and athletic development. Whether you are on the court, field or in the water, the intention you set now can become a collaboration, and moreover an opportunity for learning for both of you!
Lastly, I want to highlight the importance of CUE WORDS! It is easy to get distracted in long practices and lose focus in drills. There are a few things to consider when creating cue words: they need to be individualistic (meaningful to you), both short and concise, and provide direction. E.g. Breathe, Strong In, Smooth Out, and Fast!
Don’t underestimate the value of cue words - especially when staying motivated in that really hard drill at the end of practice!
For more information on Cue Words – head over to the website and sign up for our free cue words program!
Athlete Reflection: For your next training session, how might you use cue words to set the direction of your focus in each drill?
Coach Reflection: How might you include cue words as part of your feedback for the technical focus of each drill for your athletes?