Welcome to The Forza Athletics Life & Coaching Podcast!
The purpose of this podcast will be to interview strength athletes from an array of disciplines to get a closer look at how they prepare for competition, their mindset, routines/rituals, how they got their start in their respective sport, and the work/life/sport balance. This podcast is will give the listener a behind-the-scenes look at how athletes and coaches alike achieved their success, what they did to get there, and how they compete at that level over a period of time.
New interviews will drop at 9am EST on Monday mornings.
This week I had to catch up with world class Triathlete and super mom Kristen Lipscomb. Kristen and I were teammates in high school (track and field). We both competed in the throwing events, with some shorter races sprinkled in. Since graduating from high school, Kristen has become a world class Triathlete, having qualified for the 70.3 world championships in 2020. Besides being a world class athlete, Kristen is a wife and mom of two little ones. Even after our interview, I still struggle with figuring out how she is able to balance a career, family, and training all through a world-wide pandemic.
In this episode, Kristen and I discussed:
1. All things Webster
2. Competing in high school track and field
3. Overcoming injuries in high school
4. Making the transition to Triathlon
5. When she realized she might be a "good" Triathlete
6. Racing for two
7. Managing a work-life balance
8. The mental conditioning required to race longer distances (half and full Ironman races)
9. What goes into the physical preparation of competing in longer distances
10. Advice for those interested in competing in Triathlon
This week I got the chance to catch up with Pan American Games Gold Medalist Olympic Weightlifter Alyssa Ritchey. I was so pumped to conduct this interview that we just kept on talking! Alyssa's weightlifting credentials are amazing:
2019 Pan American Championship 2019; 1st for snatch, Clean & jerk, and total
Strongest athlete pound for pound in the history of the USA for the clean and jerk at 107kg made at Pan Americans in 2019
Pan American record holder for clean & jerk
12th at World Championships in 2018
4th at the Pan American Championships in 2018
7th at World Championship in 2017
Medalist at the 2017 Pan American Championships
3rd in total & 2nd in snatch
5th USA woman to ever clean & jerk double bodyweight in the history of the USA made Pan Americans in 2017
Alyssa is also a 4x Regional Crossfit Games competitor. In this interview Alyssa and I discussed:
1. Her childhood and how she got her start in athletics
2. Her introduction to Olympic Weightlifting
3. Competing in Crossfit
4. Qualifying for Crossfit Regionals
5. Making the transition to only Olympic Weightlifting
6. Qualifying for her first international Olympic Weightlifting Team
8. Cutting weight
9. The USA Olympic Weightlifting International Team selection process
This week I got the chance to catch up with USC graduate and all-round badass thrower Nick Ponzio. It was great conversation, one in which I realized that we have more in common besides throwing. Nick's family came to the United States from Italy shortly after the conclusion to World War I, settled on the East Coast before finally settling in Southern California.
In this episode, Nick and I discussed:
1. Growing up Italian-American
2. Picking up the shot as a junior in high school
3. Selecting Florida
4. Making the transition to USC
5. How his family encouraged him to continue throwing post-collegiately
6. Training in Arizona with Ryan Whiting
7. Competing on the international stage
8. Finishing 4th in the world
9. Training for the 2021 season and Olympic Trials
10. Advice for others stuck at a crossroads in their lives
This week I got the chance to catch up with master's world champion Olympic weightlifter Kristi Brewer. Besides being a world champion lifter, Kristi is also a world record holder and all world wife and mom. In this episode Kristi and I discussed:
1. Her introduction to Olympic weightlifting
2. When she realized she could be a "good" lifter
3. Qualifying for USA Nationals in her first competition
4. Competing internationally
5. Managing a home/training balance with her family
6. Advice for new Olympic weightlifters
7. Making the decision to train full-time and get away from the corporate world
8. Next competition steps
In this episode I answered questions I received on Instagram.
1. How did you end up at Alfred St.?
2. How do you set up your practice schedule through COVID restrictions?
3. Best ways to keep kids engaged
4. Thoughts on missing the indoor season
5. Keeping athletes motivated with the potential loss of the indoor and outdoor season
In this episode I discuss how I got back into collegiate coaching by becoming the throwing coach of the Alfred State Pioneers. I also share my thoughts about coaching through restrictions, quarantine, and limited schedules.
This week I got the chance to catch up with All American thrower Megan Tomei. Megan is the current throwing coach at YSU. In her brief stint as throwing coach, Megan has already led one YSU thrower to compete on the international stage. Megan is a graduate of Ashland University where she threw under the watchful eye of Jud Logan.
In this episode, Megan and I discussed:
1. How she first got involved in throwing
2. Why she decided to take her throwing talents to Ashland University
3. Overcoming injury and adversity at Ashland
4. The transition to a new coach and post-collegiate throwing
5. Maintaining a successful throwing/coach/life balance at YSU
6. Taking advantage of opportunities presented
7. What to make of training towards the 2020 Olympic Trials, now the 2021 Olympic Trials
8. Finding purpose in throwing
9. Establishing buy in with her athletes at YSU
It took us about five years, but we finally scheduled this interview and got it recorded. I've known Dom for over 10 years. We competed against each other. We also coached against each other.
In this episode, Dom and I discussed:
1. Competing at the collegiate level
2. Throwing in the SUNY Brockport system
3. Post-collegiate throwing
4. Coaching at the collegiate level
5. Starting a business
6. Training philosophies
7. Training with a family
8. Putting together a garage (barn) gym
This week I got the chance to catch up with Olympic Weightlifter Noel Leka. Noel is a certified USAW-Level 2 coach as well as a CrossFit L1 coach. He is also one of the top Olympic weightlifters in the United States, having competed at the previous two Arnold Classics. In 2019, Noel earned the silver medal in the Snatch at the US Championships.
In this episode, Noel and I discussed:
1. His introduction to Olympic Weightlifting
2. Moving to the United States at an early age
3. Playing high school sports
4. When he began taking Olympic Weightlifting seriously
5. How coaching has helped him become a better lifter
6. Competing at the Arnold Classic
7. Expectations vs. the realities of Olympic Weightlifting
8. Advice for new lifters and coaches
9. The goal-setting process for each competition
10. How to pick the right competition for you
11. What he is focused on for the remainder of 2020
This week I got the chance to catch up with Hillsdale College throwing coach Jessica Bridenthal. Jessica competed at Ashland University during her throwing career, racking up an incredible 12 All-American awards and a National Championship in the 20lb. weight throw. After her collegiate throwing career ended, Jess set her sights on the Highland Games. During her career as a Highland athlete, Jess won multiple world championships.
In this interview, Jess and I discussed;
1. How she got into throwing at Ashland
2. Her transition from Basketball to thrower
3. Competing for Ashland University
4. Calling Adriane Blewitt Wilson
5. Taking advantage of opportunities
6. Throwing in the Highland Games
7. Coaching and throwing
8. Traveling around the world
9. How Highland Games competition have helped with coaching throwers
10. Coaching at the collegiate level
11. Next endeavors
This week I had the chance to catch up with multiple time Highland Games World Champion Daniel McKim. In this candid and humorous interview, Dan and I spoke at great length about:
1. How he began throwing in high school
2. Making the transition to collegiate thrower
3. Not living up to expectations as a collegiate thrower (multiple nationals trips with one All-American award earned)
4. Transitioning to Highland Games
5. Realizing I might be good at this
6. How an injury helped him focus more on competition
7. What it is like to trade world championships with Matt Vincent
8. Throwing with ghosts
9. His last season as a thrower
10. Advice for new Highland Games athletes
In this episode of the Forza Athletics Life and Coaching Podcast I got the chance to catch up with my long time friend and new Director of Track & Field and Head S & C Coach at Alfred State Tim Giagios. I've known Tim for 20 years, dating back to our high school days in Rochester, NY. Tim and I also competed against each other in college, Tim as an athlete at Buffalo State and myself a member of the Fredonia State Blue Devils.
In this episode Tim discusses the crazy path he has taken to secure his first head coaching position, first full time strength and conditioning position, what he has learned on the job the past couple of months, how to communicate with athletes, and what he has taken from his competing career and applied to his coaching one. Tim joined Alfred State last January, 2019 as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. In January, 2020 he was hired as Alfred State's director of track & field and head strength and conditioning coach. Before joining Alfred State Tim and I were both assistant coaches at Nazareth College. Tim began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Gates-Chili High School and as a member of the SUNY Brockport track & field coaching staff. Tim has over 15 years of coaching and strength and conditioning experience, has coached multiple conference champions, All-Americans, and one National Champion.
Adriane (Blewitt) Wilson graduated from Ashland University (Ashland, Ohio) in 2004 with a degree in Physical Education and Health. As an NCAA Division II track and field athlete, she is a 13 time All-American in the shot put, discus, hammer and 20lb. weight throw. Adriane earned 7 NCAA Div II National titles and 6 Runner Up honors. She is the former NCAA Division II record holder in the discus and still owns the national indoor and outdoor shot put NCAA Div II records. As a professional track and field thrower, Adriane competed in three US Olympic Trials (’04, ’08, ’12) in the shot put. She is the 13th American woman to throw over 60’ in the shot put.
Adriane also trains for the Scottish Highland Games. She is a five-time Women’s World Champion and previously owned two world records in the 28lb. weight for height (19’ spinning) and 28lb. weight for distance (53’4”). Adriane is a PICP Level 1 coach and a certified Poliquin BioSignature practitioner. She is a Level 1 Sports Performance coach for USA Weightlifting and also a Level 1 Coach for USATF and USA Paralympics. In the past, Adriane was an Assistant Track and Field coach for the multi-events and throws and concurrently served as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator at Tiffin University.
Most recently, Adriane has been chosen to coach adapted sport for our wounded, ill, and injured soldiers with Team Army at the Warrior Games (’16, ’17, ’18) and Team USA for the Invictus Games (’17, ’18). She has traveled all over the United States and internationally coaching Track and Field and Para Powerlifting.
This week I got the chance to catch up with fellow SUNY Fredonia alum Kelly Vincent. Kelly was a standout distance runner as a student-athlete at SUNY Fredonia. She is on multiple all-time top 10 lists across the many distance events she competed in. After a brief stint as the recruiting coordinator at St. John Fisher College, Kelly returned to Fredonia as a full-time assistant coach in the summer of 2019.
In this episode Kelly and I talked about:
1. Competing at SUNY Fredonia
2. Making the transition to coaching
3. The dynamics between her former coach with whom she is now on the same staff with
5. The relationship between COVID-19 and recruiting
6. The differences between recruiting at state schools vs. private schools
7. Steele Hall
This week I caught up with Wisconsin-Oshkosh throwing coach Mary Theisen-Lappen.
In our interview this week, Mary and I discussed:
1. Her high school throwing career
2. Making the decision to throw in college
3. Why she choose one college over another
4. Post-collegiate throwing
5. The importance of making connections in the throwing world
6. Taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves
7. The positive turn her weightlifting career has taken
8. Competing at the 2020 Arnold Classic
9. Her outlook/philosophy on coaching
10. Advice for new throwing coaches
11. Advice for individuals interested in taking up the sport of Olympic Weightlifting
This week I got the chance to catch up with 2x IPF World Powerlifting Champion Jen Millican.
In this episode Jen and I discuss how:
1. She manages a work/life balance between training
2. Working from home due to the COVID-19 virus
3. The importance of having a support system
4. Her approach to competing at the world championships
5. How visualization has positively impacted her powerlifting performances
6. The influence of social media on the world of powerlifting
7. How life changed after coming home a world champion, and;
8. Advice she has for today's powerlifters.
In this week's Forza Athletics Life & Coaching Podcast I spent some time catching up with National Champion and 4x All-American thrower Luis Rivera.
I've known Luis for over 8 years and even I learned some new things about Luis from our chat. In this video we discussed his story on first coming to the United States in 9th grade, how he made the decision to attend Nazareth College, being discovered, dropping a class, his collegiate career, graduate school, and finally making the decision to move to Ashland to train with Jud Logan.
In this week's episode of the Forza Athletics Life & Coaching Podcast I got the chance to speak with the 2018 Olympic Weightlifting Jr. Female Lifter of the Year Juliana (Jules) Riotto. Julia is also the 2018 Jr. World Silver Medalist, as well as the 2018 Jr. Pan American Champion.
Juliana began her weightlifting career about 6 years ago when she won the teenage division power clean event of the Crossfit Games a few years ago. From there she began to focus more on Olympic Weightlifting where she took the world by storm in 2018 as a junior lifter. Now at 21, Juliana has her sights set on the 2024 Olympic Games.
In this episode Juliana shares how she got into Olympic Weightlifting, what happened with the Crossfit Open power clean competition, her initial contact with USA Weightlifting, training with Dane Miller and Garage Strength, making the decision to put college on hold, traveling all over the world to compete, how she mentally prepares for competition, and the advice she has for people who want to pursue their passions.
Juliana competes under the watchful eye of Aimee Everett and the Catalyst Athletics team.
You can learn more about Catalyst Athletics
You can learn more about Garage Strength
You can learn more about Earth Fed Muscle
In this week's episode of the Forza Athletics Life and Coaching Podcast I had the chance to interview Mental Performance Coach and Owner of Delta Mentality Liz Brookhouse.
In this episode Liz provides us with some great examples of how to build effective relationships with our athletes, how to better keep athletes engaged, what it means to focus, mindfulness implementation, and what the future might hold for mental performance coaches interested in working with high school athletes.
Liz Brookhouse, M.S. is a Mental Performance Coach and the Founder of Delta Mentality. She has worked with athletes, coaches, and teams in various sports across all levels of competition as well as tactical populations to help build the mental toughness and resilience skills necessary for high performance. She has training in sport and performance psychology, positive psychology, mindfulness, and exercise physiology which she integrates to provide a holistic, innovative approach to empower change and push the limit of human potential.
In this episode of the Forza Athletics Life and Coaching Podcast I caught up with Akron Zip and New York State Champion thrower William Gross IV. I had the opportunity to work with William the summer before his senior year of high school through the indoor track & field season as William prepared for a run at winning a New York State Championship in the 25# weight throw.
William and I discussed his high school career, what it meant to win a New York State Championship, the recruiting process, selecting a college, and making the transition to Division I thrower. William gives some great advice for up and coming throwers about being focused, having a plan, and what to look for when making the decision to select the college/university you want to attend after high school.
William is one of 6 male throwers in New York State history to throw the 25# weight over 70' and throw the 12# shot-put 50' in the same season. William accomplished this feat in the same meet, his New York State Championship qualifier meet.
William is now completing his freshman year at Akron University. He is a Chemical Engineering major.
Click here to watch our interview on our Forza Athletics YouTube channel.
We came back for a second interview with Highland Games professional thrower Matt Hand. Matt is a graduate of SUNY Brockport that has made a successful transition to the world of Highland Games.
In this episode Matt and I discuss:
Nutrition for Highland competitors,
Meet preparation, and;
How the Corona virus has impacted his season and that other Highland athletes
This past weekend I attended a Division III track & field meet at Nazareth College. While I was sitting in the bleachers, two coaches standing in front of me had this conversation:
Coach 1-How was conference last week?
Coach 2-Not that good. We should have won, but didn't.
Coach 1-What happened?
Coach 2-Our best athlete didn't perform as well as he should have. His girlfriend of 7 years broke up with him the week before and he didn't compete well.
Coach 2-Yeah, he competed really (insert four letter word here). I didn't find out about his girlfriend breaking up with him until after the meet.
For all the coaches out there, should this particular athlete's heartache affect his athletic performance? If you were his coach, how would you have handled this. First, as this athlete's coach, do you think you should have been aware of this situation ahead of time? Second, how would you have handled the situation if you learned about it before the conference championships? Learning about this after the conference meet was over, would you approach the athlete and engage him in a conversation about this situation?
In this episode I continue to conversation from last week about re-evaluating expectations and the work it truly takes in order to move forward in a positive manner throughout your throwing journey.
I do want to revisit this topic again because I think it is important to provide coaches out there with some strategies and tools they can implement when encountering situations like this. First off, I’d like to share some feedback I received when I was working on a project a couple of years ago.
The scope of my project was to ask post-collegiate throwers why they continued throwing after graduating from college. I was really fortunate to interview three American Olympians for the project. I cannot share their names or the events they competed in because it would give away their anonymity (and would show poor ethics on my part).
While I was conducting the interviews, I asked everyone the same follow-up question about how much time each individual spent training per week and season. When I interviewed the Olympians, I asked them how much time they spent training for the respective event per Olympic quad.
In re-evaluating expectations after break with my athletes, I would; 1) review their goals with them, 2) develop an action plan with them on how to get back on track, 3) input accountability metrics along the way, and 4) share with them that at least for the first couple of meets (usually through the beginning of February) to focus on the process of getting back into throwing shape and not stress or feel anxious about the distances they thought they should be throwing at this point in the season and weren’t.
Last week I got a swim session in at the local YMCA with my dad. After my swim, I sat down in the sauna. There was a gentleman sitting there. After a few moments we started talking about training, life, and inspiration. I usually get anxious after sitting in the sauna at around the 30 minute mark, but on this day the time was flying by. Before he left the sauna, he asked me what gave me the inspiration to train as much as I do at my age. Earlier in the conversation I told him I was going to turn 38 in February and that I had three little boys. I said to him, “What inspires me to train as much as I do?” He said, “Yes.” Without hesitation I told him about my friend Adriane (Blewitt) Wilson.
In this week's episode I thought it would be fitting to discuss the summer of 2004. I had just graduated from college, was enrolled in graduate school, and I was beginning my teaching career that fall. With all the positive opportunities in my life at that time, I reflect back on how fearful and apprehensive I was to follow my dreams. Rather than try to continue pursing my passion of throwing, I reluctantly made the decisions that everyone in my life expected of me, and here we are almost 16 years later.
This episode shares my early post-collegiate throwing story, how I got there, but more importantly where I really wanted to go. Sitting here now and looking back to that summer, I wish I wasn't as fearful and scared to follow my dream.
As a coach at Forza Athletics for the past three years, I can honestly say that I have been truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of post-collegiate and high-school throwers! This past year saw our athletes grow by leaps and bounds in the circle. It marked the 3rd year in a row we have had a thrower accept a Division I scholarship and the 2nd year in a row we have had a male thrower in New York State join the 70' weight and 50' shot-put club during a season. This year William was able to accomplish the feat in the same meet. On the women's high school side, Monique Hardy won the 2019 New Balance Indoor National Championship in the 20lb. weight throw with a distance of 64'7", moving her up to 6th all-time among high school female throwers and 2nd all-time in New York State. I appreciate everyone that has taken the time to engage with me here on social media. It means a lot to mean that you have taken the time to watch a video, leave a comment here and on Instagram, and engage with our Forza Friday series. I hope that the content shared with everyone is helpful, meaningful, but most importantly that you are able to apply the concepts, thoughts, and ideas discussed within your own throwing world. Thank you!
I asked our social media friends on Tuesday if they had any ideas about podcast episodes. I received two great ideas from a graduate assistant throwing coach in the Mid-West. Her first question was about making the transition to post-collegiate throwing. In this episode, I discuss three facets I think are important when making a successful transition to post-collegiate throwing.
1. Why do you want to continue throwing post-collegiately
2. What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to achieve your goal(s)
3. Do you have a support system that is as enthusiastic about you achieving your goal(s) as you are
Thank you Liz and Sean for asking great questions yesterday that I could answer on today's episode about goal setting.
Liz's question was-What's a process that actually works? SMART seems superficial/not always helpful
Sean asked-When looking long term, how many short term goals are necessary to achieve your long term goal
I tried my best to answer these two questions by reviewing what the SMART goal template looks like, the process I've incorporated with my collegiate and post-collegiate athletes, how I'm planning my half ironman training, and how focus plays a key factor in achieving your goals.
I've written about goal setting before. You can click the following link to read more about how I've incorporated Lou Holtz's process with my collegiate athletes https://www.forzathletics.com/docs-thoughts/a-letter-to-my-collegiate-athletes
I've also incorporated Jon Gordon's message about telescopes and microscopes as well. You can read more about that by clicking here
In this brief episode I ramble about coaching, expectations and professional goals for the upcoming year. If you haven't had the chance to read Jon Gordon's book One Word, you can purchase his book by clicking this link
You read other articles I've written about being focused by clicking here and here
You can learn more about Forza Athletics by visiting www.forzathletics.com
Use code "throw" to save on my latest book Thrower: Propelling Towards Greatness - 2nd Edition
You can purchase the pdf version by clicking here
We began this season by looking at our vision as a coach, why we coach, and how we want to be remembered. Looking at Episode 3, the focus was on the end of our career's. In this episode, I wanted to spend some time discussing how to develop your coaching philosophy. Our philosophy will change a little bit as we move along with our coaching journey, but some of our core values will remain the same.
My philosophy is to illuminate a path for my athlete's that helps them achieve their goals. I'm ashamed to say that it wasn't always as such. When I first began coaching my philosophy was "coach-centered". I was more concerned with what my peers would think of me and how far my athletes threw. That was pretty much it. As I have traveled along in my coaching journey, I've had a paradigm shift in the way I coach. My focus is now "athlete-centered". I provide my athletes a lot of autonomy in regards to their training, goals, meet selection, etc. When I first began coaching, I didn't feel comfortable with athlete input. Now I thrive upon learning more about myself as a coach and most importantly what my athletes think and how I can better coach my athletes throughout the course of a season and their careers!
What is your coaching philosophy? Has it changed since you began coaching? Why or why not?
It probably isn't something we think about often, but do you ever wonder what people will say about you at your 80th birthday party? Or, has the thought of what will people say about me at my funeral come across your mind? If you answered no, you are probably in the majority. I'm not sure how many people think about these two questions on a daily or even regular basis, but I think about it quite often.
In one of my doctorate courses we were asked to present our future legacy to the class. We were instructed to think about the two questions above, and to provide examples of how we think we had left or would leave our legacy. We had 30 minutes to give our presentation. It was a surreal presentation to say the least. My presentation was filled with tears. Not of sadness, but of joy. I asked four former athletes to send me a 30 second video explaining to the class the legacy they think I left upon them. I didn't watch the video's until class that night. It was a big chance, but I wanted my expression to be genuine. I think we all do, don't we?
My homework for those of you that listened to this episode. On a 3x5 index card, write down what you think your coaching legacy will be. Be as detailed as possible. Second, after you have written down your legacy thoughts, under each one provide an example or two that suggests you might really be left with this legacy. This is your opportunity to share all the good things you perceive to have done during your time as a coach. You don't need to show anyone anything, but be honest with yourself. How do you think people will remember you? They may forget all about the awards and championships, but I'm positive they won't forget how you made them feel.
In our first episode of Season 2020 I discussed what it means to find your purpose, North Star, or why. There are many terms used by many different social influencers out there, so you can decipher for yourself which term you most prefer.
When you understand your purpose for doing what you do, it'll make doing your What so much more rewarding for you. In my example, my purpose is to propel athletes into leaving their positive mark on the world. I am able to guide and mentor athletes by meeting them at speaking engagements, via social media (on-line coaching), and in person coaching.
My what is the coaching itself! It is one of the most rewarding experiences I get to enjoy everyday. I don't consider coaching a job. It is a passion of mine that I have had for a very long time. In some cases, the two hours I spend coaching my collegiate and high school athletes is the best part of my day (on-top of the time I get to spend with my family at home).
Now the question is up to you, how does your passion and why fuel your what? If those two elements don't line up, what can you do about that? In this episode I provide some tips and suggestions for you that are easily transferable to other parts of your life besides just coaching and working with high school, collegiate, and post-collegiate athletes.
If you are a coach or athlete, deep down we all have a reason or purpose for doing the things we do. Some may be fueled by external validation or acknowledgement. Others may coach or compete for the love of it. All of us have a reason why we do what we do. What is your why? Why do you coach? Why do you compete?
It has been quite a long time since I last recorded a podcast! What better way to come back into the fold by sharing some information about the release of my second book Thrower: Propelling Towards Greatness - 2nd Edition. I've included two traits in this edition that really provide some perspective on what it really means to take your throwing to the next level; being able to seize the moment and what it means to be mentally tough. Proceeds from book purchases help support our post-collegiate throwers making the push to qualify for and compete in the 2020 Olympic Trials. You can purchase your copy by clicking the following link https://www.forzathletics.com/store/p27/Thrower%3A_Propelling_Towards_Greatness_2nd_Edition_%28PDF_Version%29.html
Mel Herl is a 2x Division II National Champion and multiple time All-American. Not only is she a decorated thrower, but an exceptional Olympic weightlifter as well. In our 3rd interview, Mel discussed;
1. Her late start to throwing at the high school level
2. The transition to collegiate throwing at the Division II level
3. How the relationship with her coach played a role in her throwing performance(s)
4. Graduating from college and figuring out what to do next
5. Throwing at the USA Indoor and Outdoor National Championships
6. Making the transition to post-collegiate throwing
7. Finding a new coach
8. Trying Olympic weightlifting
9. Moving across the country multiple times
10. Making the transition to coaching, and;
11. Advice for post-collegiate athletes
I had the honor to spend some time discussing throwing, training, and the work/life balance with Highland Games Professional Thrower Matt Hand. Matt has been involved with the Highland Games for over 15 years. In this episode he discusses how he got into throwing, training at two different colleges, making the transition to the Highland Games, turning pro, competing around the world, while balancing everything will a full-time job. Matt lives in Corning, NY, and offers coaching and clinics throughout the year. You can contact Matt directly through social media on Twitter and Instagram @MattHandThrows. Even though I've known Matt for a very long time, I learned some new things today about him, how he plans his programming, and what he 5-15 year plan is for growing the Highland Games.
I had the great pleasure and honor to spend some time speaking with Sean Foulkes. He is an amazing throwing coach at Portage Northern High School located in Michigan. In his brief time there, he has coached a multitude of great shot-put, discus, hammer, and weight throwers.
In this episode we spend some time discussing how he got into coaching, what it's like to coach 30-40 throwers in one session, bringing kids together, culture, buy-in, and his coaching philosophy. I learned a lot from Sean. I know you will as well!
I had the opportunity to speak to student-athletes at SUNY Fredonia on Sunday, February 17th. During my presentation, one of the students asked me a question about how I had got to where I was in my professional life. I thought for a moment, and it ultimately came down to one decision I made while I was in graduate school. I received a phone call while I was working from our then current athletic director at SUNY Fredonia. The decision I made on the phone with him has led me to where I am today. Be sure to listen and find out what that decision was.
Everyone once in awhile I'll get asked by another coach how we 'do' things at Nazareth College. Up until a couple of years ago, I never gave that much thought. Unfortunately, I didn't realize the importance of having a strong team culture was until we didn't have one.
Looking for a fresh start with my group of throwers this season, I wrote them all a letter in July. In that letter, I asked them to think about three things:
1. What their expectations of themselves were going to be for the season
2. What their expectations of me as their coach were, and;
3. What their expectations of their teammates were going to be
Those three questions helped establish our team's culture. Take a listen as I go into much more detail about our three questions and how they have helped shape the group of throwers we have at Nazareth College.
In this episode of the Forza Athletics Life & Coaching podcast I share my thoughts of what our throwers expect to learn and be able to do by our first meet in December. At practice yesterday I asked each thrower to share their thoughts about what they hope to be able to do by our first meet, which is on December 6th. Not one thrower made reference to a specific distance they wanted to throw. This is a proud coach moment for me because in the past athletes would solely focus on outcomes, rather than process. A common theme that my throwers shared was about developing a pre-meet routine that would help them stay more focused and in the moment. I share some tips that I shared with my throwers yesterday.
In this episode, I discuss deliberate practice. You may have heard the term in the past, but do you really know what it means?
In her book Grit, Angela Duckworth goes into great detail sharing her research about the topic and how it can be applied to pretty much any endeavor you wish to get more proficient in.
The cycle of deliberate practice has four steps. They are:
1. Set a goal
2. Put forth 100% focus on that goal
3. Get feedback from your coach, and;
4. Implement that feedback until you reach your goal
It sounds pretty simple, but how often do we as coaches give our athletes 101 cues or things to focus on during a throw? I've been guilty of that in the past as well. What Angela's research suggests is that focusing on one thing at a time will help us achieve our goals sooner and more efficiently.
It is important for coaches and athletes to spend time and discuss individual goals, specific things to focus on during practice, and how we can become more efficient throwers. Spending time on one aspect of the throw at a time will help us get there faster than worrying about 10 facets of the throw at a time.
In episode 22 of the Forza Athletics Life and Coaching Podcast I review the 4 yearly expectations I discuss with my collegiate throwers to ensure us the best possible opportunity to have a safe, successful, and rewarding season.
The 4 expectations I review with my throwers on a daily/weekly basis are:
1. Everyone will give their best effort everyday
2. We will support each other throughout the season
3. Hold yourself and your teammates accountable, and;
4. Always represent yourself and Nazareth College with respect and dignity (Do what is right, avoid what is wrong – Lou Holtz)
As a whole track & field program at Nazareth, we have 9 team expectations that we discuss with all of our athletes at the beginning of the season. We revert back to our team expectations if as a coaching staff we feel someone is not meeting them. I focus on the 4 above because I feel those are the one's that have the most direct relationship with throwing.
In this episode of the Forza Athletics Life and Coaching Podcast I discuss a few ways coaches can better involve athletes in the yearly goal-setting process. Engagement is paramount. As coaches, we need to be able to engage our athletes, especially in long track & field seasons. It's important for us to engage our athletes as best we can to give them ownership in the yearly process.
In this episode of our podcast, I review the contents of my latest book release-Thrower: Propelling Towards Greatness. My intention behind this book is to help coaches and athletes bridge the gap between goals, accountability, and expectations.
For coaches, this book will assist you in creating a culture and environment that will provide your athletes the best opportunity to be successful. You will be able to better communicate and engage your athletes in devising plans that will propel them towards realizing their vision(s). Athletes, this book will help you be more accountable to your commitments and vision. Everyone wants to throw far, but what are you willing to do and sacrifice in order to reach your goals. This book will act as a guide that you will be able to follow throughout this season, and be able to reflect back on in the future.
I provide a recap of the:
2. 7 Traits and Activities
3. Practice Log, and;
4. Competition Journey
You can purchase a copy of Thrower by visiting www.forzathletics.com.
On our latest episode, I introduce the first trait that the best of the best throwers possess - a vision. They have a vision and plan set out for themselves. In some instances, the vision may be to accomplish a shorter-term goal, like qualify for a conference championship.
For others, however, the vision may be to one day become a national champion. When we are able to see see or visualize where we want to be in one, five, or ten years, we are then able to define our commitments and how we will hold ourselves accountable to achieving that goal and realizing our vision. A vision without a plan to get there is still just a vision.
Over the course of the next few weeks I'm going to spend more time discussing my thoughts about what it takes to be a great thrower. I'm going to be speaking from my experiences as a coach and what I've learned from Olympic throwers, their coaches, and their support systems.
In this episode I ask the question, what makes great throwers?
As with any new season, coaches and athletes alike are filled with hope, new goals, and expectations. In this episode I discuss how coaches and athletes need to hold each other accountable to their expectations.
In this brief episode, I speak about the notion of cultivating athletes at the collegiate level. When selecting a college to attend, one of the topics worth looking into would be how much better do athletes get while enrolled at that college. Are coaches developing athletes and making them considerably better, or are they maintaining those athletes?