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I had a conversation with a coach over the weekend who told me a wonderful story about what makes coaches good teachers. He was working with one particular kid in the pool who just didn't seem to be getting the technique changes that this coach wanted her to make in her strokes. No matter what he said to her, or how he said it, nothing seemed to click. Then the coach remembered that she was "an artsy" kid so he decided to take a risk and say something very different. He told her, "I want you to just paint me a picture with your strokes."

Based on what the coach and swimmer had been...

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It's really tough to be a loving, supportive parent and to also coach your child. This is why I suggested that when your child-athlete plays for a team where there are already coaches, that you want to refrain from coaching. However, what are you supposed to do when YOU are the coach?

Many parents end up coaching their own kids on travel, club and/or high school teams. It is not an ideal situation but oftentimes it can't be helped. The best advice I have for you if you are currently in this position is to sit down with your child before the season, and as often as you need...

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One of the bigger traps that parents fall into which inadvertently contributes to their child's performance problems and much unhappiness is to COACH. As a parent you want your child to be both happy and successful. However, when you "help" them by coaching, (i.e. pre-competition motivation, suggestions about technique and strategies, goal setting, after competition critiquing, pushing extra cross training on them, etc.) your "helpful" efforts will almost always backfire.

If you want your child to be happy and go as far as possible in his/her sport, then you need to play your role...

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Psych-outs and intimidation! You know, that awful nervous feeling in your gut...the dread going into the performance....those overwhelming feelings of doubt and worry....and the belief that your opponent is so much bigger, faster and stronger than you. You try to "think positive" and tell yourself that you're just as good, have worked just as hard and that you deserve to win just as much...but it seems to fall on deaf ears. The fact of the matter is that deep down, as much as you'd like to, you don't believe a word of that positive junk!

What causes athletes and teams to get psyched...

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Athletes are continually asking me, "How come I regularly tend to fall apart in all of my bigger games? You know, I do just fine in practice but then I go into those more important competitions, the ones where I really want to do well, where there's more at stake, and my performances are just plain awful. I'm nervous, have no confidence in myself and am like a shell of my normal self. What gives?"

What gives is this: If you do better in practice than competition or in less important games than the big ones, then chances are really good that you are making a very common mental...

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Want an absolutely great way to sabotage your performance? A surefire way to help you choke under pressure and steal defeat from the closing jaws of victory? If so, then try THINKING while you perform!

One of the biggest performance mistakes athletes at every level make is to think too much right before and during their performances. The thinking can have to do with technique and mechanics. You can be coaching yourself to do the right things with your timing and execution. The thinking can have to do with game strategy or your position/role on the team and...

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