Monday, October 25, 2010

get motivated before its two late

What:  Stew is a 55 year old man who has a history of heart and vascular disease. He asked me for advice about starting a workout program to improve his quality of life.  He believes that working out will help him to live a longer life.  We are going to sit down and find what he is capable of doing so he can get started.  After his assessment I would like to get him started on a light cardiovascular workout combined with a resistance workout.
So what: Stew is scared that if he doesn’t start building some cardiovascular endurance his health will simply continue to decline.  He currently is not exercising and has led a sedentary life for some time now.  He is currently in the contemplation phase, he knows he needs to get in shape but hasn’t started working out yet.  Due to his life style he is overweight which is making his heart work harder to move the extra weight.  Due to his heart and weight he is not able to even walk long distance.
                At this point the fear of dying is more than his dislike of exercise.  At this point we need to set some goals for him to achieve in the future.  I have to be realistic with him his goal should not be to run the Boston marathon next month.  His goals need to start small and get bigger until he reaches his final goal.  His first goal needs to be taking the step from planning to get in shape to going to the gym.  Because if he doesn’t commit to that one there is nothing I can do for him.
Now what:  Stew has decided to to come into the gym when he does he will leave contemplation and is entering the action phase.  ‘’The action phase is when someone works out more than 20 min a day five days a week. I set him to workout three times a week. First due to his weight, and cardiovascular problems.”pg155  I need to be careful not to over train him because he will have a low tolerance.  I will not train him to failure due to his health risks.  “An 8-wk linear periodized concurrent strength and endurance training program using a moderate number of repetitions not to failure (4NRF group) provides a favorable environment for achieving greater enhancements in strength, muscle power.” (Object ) I want to start him by walking in the pool it’s low impact and it should be low to moderate intensity for him.  For resistance training I would start him with elastic bands.  He just needs to try to show up every day and put for the effort to get better.  
As his trainer I need to provide as much positive reinforcement as I can to support him and to help him reach his goals. He should be able to progress from walking in the pool to riding a stationary bike, and advance to free weights.  His final goal should be able to get to a point when he is maintaining his fitness level.  But first he needs to overcome his disabilities to get to a normal fitness level
Conclusion: .Stew is desperate to get into shape to improve his quality of life.  He finally decided to go from the planning stage to finally commit to getting into shape.  He should be able to get acclimated to working out with the lower stress activities.  If he can master the stationary bike and free weights he should be able to increase his cardiovascular threshold.
Object, . (2010). Concurrent endurance and strength training not to failure optimizes performance gains. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise V. 42 No. 6 (June 2010) P. 1191-9, 42(6), 1191-1199.
References:  Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008) Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise . Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics pg155

Monday, October 11, 2010

finding flow (chapter11)

What:  Chris is an excellent high school football player; in fact he is one of the best running backs in the state.  He always put up great stats agents lesser teams, but his problems seem to start when he plays in big games.  In the big games he makes uncharacteristic mistakes, and turns the ball over more often.  Chris has gotten a reputation as a good player, but one who folds in big games, or situations. I know Chris can get into his flow (zone) when it seems he can do anything he wants to do, but for the team to win big games he has to find his flow when it matters.
So What:  Chris’s problems seem to arise when he is over aroused do to the increased pressure to win agents the better teams. This increased arousal seems to be preventing him from reaching his flow state which will let him perform at his optimum level.  One of the leading models for gauging arousal vs. performance is the inverted U.  Gill, Williams (2008) The inverted U proposes that performance is optimal at a moderate level of arousal and it declines as arousal increases or decreases from that optimal level. (pg.181) 
The key will be to manipulate Chris to keep his arousal level moderate so he can have a chance to enter a flow state.  The actual flow state is hard to define but how the player feels is easier.  Basically flow is when everything works out right players sometimes say time slows down, and they can just do whatever they want to .  Csikszentmhalyi (1990) Flow is clearly a positive emotional state for an athlete it is a time when everything comes together.  By putting Chris at his optimal arousal state it will give him the best chance to go into a flow state.  Once he learns how to get to his flow state he will be able to get there more often, but now it is a hit and miss situation.
Now What:  As his coach I need to help him to moderate his arousal so he can perform at his best this will intern give the team the best chance to win.  First I can train him in a higher stress practices by putting him through more arousal during practice over time he may develop better coping mechanisms to deal with stress. I can also try to limit the arousal during the pre-game worm up, and limit speeches so Chris and the others will remain relaxed.  As his coach my biggest focus is to watch and see if he is either under or over aroused and to either amp him up or slow him down.
                Some of the things I can teach him to help himself to regulate his arousal.  First I need to get him to recognize when he is over aroused, then to react accordingly to slow down.  For this simple breathing exercises will do, by just taking a few slow deep breaths Chris can slow his heart rate and begin to feel more comfortable.  If he is not aroused enough he can use self talk to convince himself that the team needs him to produce to win. There is no garuntee that Chris will go into a flow state if the arousal state even if he is in a optimal arousal level, but it is less likely to happen if he is not in that frame of mind
Conclusion:  Chris is a good player he just needs to learn how to play at his best more often.  By learning what his optimal arousal level is he can try to control it to give himself the best chance for success.. By using the breathing exercises, and self talk he should be able to regulate his arousal to some degree.  As his coach I need to try to monitor his arousal so I can try to help him.  If all of these things are done he will have the best chance of reaching his flow state.
References:  Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008) Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise pg181. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
Csikszentnihalyi, M. (1990).Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.  New York Harper & Row.

You need positive reinforcement (chaper 7)

What:  Stew is a Junior Varsity Football Coach he is trying to prove to the varsity coaches that he is a good coach but his players do not respond well to him.  He has a talented group of players, but his methods have turned the team away from him.  He needs to do something fast to regain the trust of his team or he will embarrass himself in front of the other coaches.   He has come to me for advice to help him improve his coaching style for the benefit of the team, and for his own benefit.
So What:  I went to Stew’s practice to see if I could find some of the things that he could improve on to make him a better coach. The things I found were as follows.  Stew has not been spending enough time in his initial instruction, so the team doesn’t understand how to run the plays in the to begin with, and then they don’t run the plays right.  He compounds the problem by yelling at the team when they run he plays wrong.  He ends up having to show them how to run the plays again, and again which takes up to much of his practice time.  He is always punishing the players who don’t run the plays correctly, by making them run laps during practice.
Now What:  Stew needs spend more time on his initial instruction; it is the most important part of running a play.  If the team doesn’t know what to do they cannot do their jobs and execute the play.  The coach needs to spend the most amount of time making sure the team understands what they need to do.  This is important because the plays are the foundation if they don’t understand them in practice then in the games the players will not be able to adjust to the changes that come up in competition.   In a study of Coach John Wooden by Smith, Smoll (1997) they found that Despite the UCLA teams experience and high skill level, more than 50% of Coach Wooden’s behaviors were specific instructions to players.               
                Stew’s next problem is that he is yelling at his players and yelling without providing instruction is just taking the self-esteem from the players.  By lowering the self-esteem of the players Stew is making them have less confidence in the team, and him.  Instead of yelling Stew needs to use positive reinforcement to encourage the players to do better.  Smith, Smoll (1997) also discuss the Feedback Sandwich.  In this three-step approach, a positive action orientated instruction is sandwiched between two encouraging statements.  Stew is also punishing his players by making them run in practice for their mistakes.  This is counterproductive for him; first if the player is running he is not getting the repetitions wile he is running around the field.  This also hurts the self-esteem of the player running, because he was embarrassed in front of his peers.  With his use of positive reinforcement the running should stop.  The fact the players are not forced to run laps will be a negative reinforcement.  Gill & Williams  (2008)  Behaviors can also be strengthened by eliminating something negative or adverse; this is called negative reinforcement.              
Conclusion:  Stew is a coach who is trying to improve his coaching style, but he needed a little help.  By observing practice I saw that he spent too much time yelling at his players instead of instructing them on how to do things the right way.  He was punishing his players arbitrarily when they failed instead of reinforcing the positive things they did do.  By spending more of his time instructing on how he wants the players to run the plays the players should make fewer mistakes do to the fact that they will actually understand their roles in the plays.  Positive reinforcement will help with the players self esteem.  With the punishment laps taken away the players should feel better, and they won’t miss as much practice just running laps.  I hope Stew will take this advice to heart because I believe it will make him a better coach, and it will lead to more success for his team.
Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008) Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise pg100. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
Smith,R.E.,&SmollF.L. (1997). Coaching the Coaches: Youth Sports as a Scientific and applied behavioral setting. Current Directions  in Psychological Science, pg 6,16-21.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Controlling emotions takes a lot of work

James is a youth tennis player who is under a lot of pressure to succeed.  He is being pressured by his parents to do well so that he will get accepted to get into a tennis academy for the gifted.  While James is supremely talented all of the stress is starting to affect his play.  If James doesn’t get help he will burn out if he doesn’t get a hold of his repeated stresses. He needs to learn how to control his emotions, and manage the stress in his life.   As his coach I need to help him, not just on the court to be a better player, I also need to help him to enjoy the game and to relax so he will continue to play later on in life.
The problems James is facing are that his parents are putting undue stress on a child to perform so that he can be sent to a private tennis school.  This extra pressure to succeed razes his arousal during competition pushing it past his optimal level, this then leads to a decrease in performance.  Since James is talented he needs to be challenged, but not at the expense of his enjoyment of the game especially at his age.  Pressure to perform will take the focus away from a good goal of quality practice and good performance that will lead to victories for James.
James needs to learn how to manage all the stress he is undergoing, this will not only make him a better player but it will also help to prepare him for later in life.  First I will try to limit some stress by asking his parents to try to back off some on the must win attitude.  Next I will have James meditate before every practice to help him to let go of some of the extra pressure.  Meditation is a metal exercise to relax the mind so the body can perform at its best.  My goal is that by doing this he can let go of all outside pressures and get back to his normal level of arousal.  Gill & Williams (2008) suggests finding a quit place and relaxing focus on breathing, and wile exhaling to repeat a non stimulating word to stay focused.   
Another way to help James to not get over aroused is to work with breathing exercises.  As with anyone when James gets aroused there are several physical signs including increased heart rate and breathing rate.  While it is difficult to slow the heart rate directly a trained person can easily slow their breathing pattern.  This will help James when he is feeling over aroused to slow down and perform better.  By just taking the time to take a few slow deep breaths he will slow his breathing pattern and perform better.  I would suggest that he do this before every serve because he has both time and it is the time that he needs to be his most focused. Gill&Williams (2008)  Many performers mistakenly believe that high arousal is necessary, but the optimal state for most sport and exercise activities is one of relaxed concentration.
My biggest concern as a coach is that James is having fun and that he performs up o his expectations, however as the coach of a young child other people also have expectations.  My worry is that his parents push him to hard and he burns out.  Burnout is the result of stress over a prolonged period of time.  I fear James is at risk do to the amount of stress he is under, but with these stress management techniques hopefully he can continue to enjoy tennis.
                James has problems with stress it is causing him to be over aroused during competition.  Hopefully by adding meditating and breathing exercises will help him to control his arousal.  With these strategies I hope that James can cope with the stress he encounters and he will not burn out.  Stress will be a part of his life forever but by using these aids he should be able to deal with stress for the rest of his life
Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008) Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008) Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise pg196. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics