PERSONAL BRANDING - GETTING PAST A 'FAN BRAND'

If an athlete’s social media profile or CV is based solely on athletic accomplishments, they are missing a massive opportunity by only having what I call a ‘fan brand.’  Yes, similar to George Costanza claiming that he coined the phrase ‘pardon my french,’ I am claiming the phrase ‘Fan Brand.’

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John Hierlihy
No Time For The Future

It dawns on players (in most cases) that spending all their downtime watching movies, shopping at the mall, playing video games, going to the mall, playing cards, hanging out at the mall or just driving around isn't necessarily the most productive use of one's time.  As one player once noted, 'There really are only so many times you can go to the mall or watch Sports Center."

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Duncan Fletcher
An Aussie and a Canuck walk into a bar...

Athlete development seeks to address the development of the athlete as a holistic person. The objective with athlete development is to not only better prepare the individual athlete to compete but also assist the athlete in addressing the other areas of his life which can impact athletic performance and personal self-efficacy. We did a Q & A with our two resident athletes, Jay and Dan, to discuss athlete development topics both narrow and broad.

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Dan Jackson
Meditation and Mindfulness

Finding time within an athlete’s schedule may seem like a challenge but the results can be worth it. For athlete’s such as Humana-Paredes it can be just a minute or two a day. Other people may prefer a longer practice. There are many resources out there to guide you through the meditation process, you just have to look! Discover some mental practices compatible to you, a quiet place and a few spare minutes to get started.

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Kelsey Puckett
FOCUS on Being Enterprising Pt. 1

Not dissimilar to being an enterprising entrepreneur, we all need a strategy.  Effective strategies all start with Foresight. For athletes, many times they can be lured into a false sense of security after reaching the elite levels.  They reach the summit and then, through no fault of their own, forget about the principles that got them there. They stop looking ahead and dreaming, stop evolving their brand, stop connecting with people that can help them reach their dreams, stop looking for opportunities and narrow their views on ways to improve performance.  

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John Hierlihy
Discontinuous Change in Pro Sport

Incrementally, as athletes become more comfortable in their respective athletic roles, they learn to deal with the familial challenges, media glare and how to prepare to perform at their peak on a consistent basis (the big caveat being they figure this out before they are released, cut, injured, etc., but in this instance, let’s assume best case scenario).  In essence, this is the rookie athlete learning the ropes early in his career and evolving both as an athlete and a person.

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Duncan Fletcher
Celebrating Women's History Month!

Athlete development is often perceived as just helping athletes with career transition. This viewpoint leaves out all of the successes that athletes are having during their athletic career. It’s Women’s History Month so let’s look at a few of the female athletes who have used sport to achieve excellence on and off the playing surface.

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Kelsey Puckett
Reactions to my Retirement

There is no doubt the underlying intention from all these people was meant to be positive, but to the athlete in me, all I heard was: “it was good while it lasted, but the best is behind you, it’s all downhill from here.” Despite a part of me that disagreed and was angered by the responses to my retirement news, I couldn’t help but 'overvalue' and internalize what others were implying about my future, and left me to consider, 'Am I worth anything to anyone anymore?'  

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Jay Harrison
Engaging in Athlete Development Resources

Anyone who works in or around elite and pro sport will understand how it is an all-consuming industry. Whenever I talk to young aspiring athletes I always tell them that being a professional athlete is not a job, it's a lifestyle, everything you do - 24 hours a day 365 days a year - impacts how you perform on game-day. Some athletes thrive in this whilst others struggle with it. I was in the struggle camp. When I was training or playing it was my aim to always give 110% effort to both what I was doing and to my team-mates, however, once I stepped out of the football club I needed to disconnect from 'footy' and focus on something completely different.

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Dan Jackson
More Bridge Building. This time to Norway.

At the Youth levels, a holistic and balanced approach should unequivocally be the focus.  The overwhelmingly vast majority of athletes will not become pros and the true purpose of youth sports is teaching life lessons for kids to apply in all aspects of their lives.  Teaching values, character and integrity through their passions is by far, the sole purpose.  However, from my observation and experience, it is sadly the opposite.  

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John Hierlihy
Crossing the Bridge

“My thought process is to just educate athletes and people around you about what is really going on, especially basketball players,” Jaylen Brown said. “A lot of people wait until the end of their careers to really get things going. I thought it would be more beneficial to start early, put your foot in the door and start educating yourself, because technology investments are where the real money is at.”

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John Hierlihy
All In

I am all in. I am an athlete.  I eat, breath, bleed and sleep my sport.  I block out all extraneous distractions.  I don't need or even speak to people unrelated to my sport or training.  All activities that don't directly or even indirectly impact how I perform on the playing surface get excluded from my life.  I am all in.  I am an athlete.

Is this a recipe for sustained elite athletic performance or a human train-wreck?

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Duncan Fletcher
Mental Conditioning

Where is your game mentally? Is your mind conditioned to provide direction and control over those polished physical skills when it’s time to perform? The mind is the link between preparation and performance, and it is essential to have adaptive and effective mental conditioning in order to achieve peak performance. Mental conditioning is a process that can be developed, refined, and shaped over time. Incorporate these strategies to develop a strongly conditioned mind that is primed to empower your best performance.

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Jay Harrison
Mindfulness For Performance

Not too long ago, if you'd mentioned the words mindfulness or meditation in a sporting locker room, you would have been laughed out the door. 

Mindfulness and meditation are not yet buzz-words. However, stories of individuals and teams successfully applying the techniques for improvements in both performance and resilience are becoming much more common. 

Whilst many of the anecdotes you have heard as to the benefits of mindfulness are likely based on personal, subjective stories; there are numerous substantive studies backing the claims of the benefits of mindfulness for athletes.  These benefits include increased composure, greater reaction speed, improved concentration and focus, and a higher potential to reach a state of ‘flow.'

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Dan Jackson
Strategic Transition

We think of transitions as times we made big changes- Moving away from home, leaving a team and starting with a new one, graduating from school, job restructuring, and retirement.  But in reality, we are always making transitions, some are big, some are small.  The small ones prepare us for the big ones.  The process can be the same.  And if you keep the process the same, then the big, sometimes intimidating, transitions, can be managed more effectively.  To the point where transition isn’t a negative experience, but a very positive experience.

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John Hierlihy
Broke and Divorced

News flash! All professional athletes are going broke and getting divorced!  78% of NFL'ers.  60% of NBA athletes.  And it happens fast! Within 2 to 5 years of your last game.  If you are athlete, hunker down. If you are fan, think to yourself, ‘these athletes are so stupid, how can they lose all that money’.

These were claims made in Pablo S. Torre Sports Illustrated article titled, 'How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke', published in 2009, almost 10 years ago. As outlined in a previous post you can read here; these numbers are utterly false.  They were made up. They were pulled out of someone's (if charitably described) hat. They have no basis in fact.  In my post, I cite research that directly contradicts the 'facts' outlined in Torre’s article.

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Duncan Fletcher
Self-Insight to Enhance Athletic Performance:

Enshrined above the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi reads, “Above all else, know thyself”. Considering that Apollo was the Greek god associated with great feats of athleticism, one can’t help but consider the role self-awareness contributes to athletic performance. In my experience as a professional athlete, the greatest performers tended to exhibit high levels of self-awareness in many facets of their life

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Jay Harrison
MENTAL REPS: TRAINING RESILIENT MINDS IN ATHLETES

The life of an elite athlete is a stressful one both physically and mentally. The physical stressors associated are addressed but the mental stressors aren’t often given much credence at all.

It begs the question, where’s the ‘injury prevention’ program for the mental side of the game? What are athletes being provided by way of a mental strength and conditioning program so they are put in position to thrive and enjoy the unique experience of being an elite athlete?

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Dan Jackson