One Athlete's Mind
Well it's that time of year again. The time to scroll through social media and be envious of all those people who live in snowy areas of the world where they are already skiing... #ontarioproblems.. But anyway, back to the blog..
Today I started writing a new assignment for a Coaching course I am taking and I thought I'd share an excerpt from my notes that I thought could be useful to some athletes and coaches out there. The assignment has me coming up with my own coaching philosophy, so as you can imagine I've been doing a great deal of reflecting today on my own past experiences as an athlete in sport.
Maybe once the project is finished I will post the final product on here for people to check out, but for now I'll just share my thoughts on the importance of enjoying the process of being an athlete...
In competitive sport, it is easy and often encouraged to become extremely invested in your training. While the extensive training is necessary to reach a certain level of expertise in a sport, the emphasis on life balance becomes more and more important the more devoted an athlete becomes to their sport. Without the presence of social supports and non-sport related intellectual stimulation, the athlete’s risk of burnout will increase. It is important to be able to draw happiness and stimulation from a variety of sources in one’s life so that if one aspect of one’s life is going poorly, they can draw positive feelings from another avenue. This was a contributing factor to my own experience with burnout, having isolated myself so much to my training that when racing was not going well, I could not find happiness anywhere. It is from this experience that I will work towards promoting balance in the lives of all of the athletes with whom I work.
Being able to experience positive stimuli outside of sport is important, and so too is enjoying the process of all of the hours spent training. Having reasons for being involved in sport outside of winning is extremely important to ensuring you can enjoy the process. These reasons can be anything from loving the way engaging in the sport makes you feel, to using it as a means to see different parts of the world, to expanding networks and meeting new people. As a coach, I would encourage athletes to reflect on what their reasons are for being in their respective sport, and writing them down somewhere that they can come back to whenever they are feeling any sport related anxiety or stress.
That's all I've got for today, but I hope you found something in there to be useful, or at the very least, thought-provoking.
Until next time,
Happy October 23rd
As a young or new athlete, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a training program. And when we think about the athletes we see on TV winning Olympic medals, a lot of people just think about how much training it took for them to get there. Sure the training is a huge part of their success, but the little things that can easily go unnoticed are often what separate the good from the great. Here are a few quick tips for getting everything you can out of each workout you do:
This list could go on and on, but these are a few things I’ve found to be really helpful in being a successful athlete. And if I missed anything that you feel needs to be on this list, please comment below!
Until next time,
Last week I threw around some ideas to think about in regards to being in control of your nerves around races. Today I thought I’d share some more thoughts along the same lines, but with a bit of a different perspective.
Back in my NDC days I was lucky enough to travel to Europe for a 3 week training camp, with the first two weeks focused on big volume on snow, and the third week being more intensity based. By the middle of the third week I was exhausted, physically and mentally, and was having a hard time staying positive in the hard workouts. So in my downtime I decided to surf the web and do some reading in sport psychology, and what I learned turned my week right around, and I was able to finish out the camp strong.
I read about a lot of things that really sparked my interest, but the biggest takeaway for me was the idea of 'controlling the controllables'. This could be another way of describing what I wrote about last week, but with this broader wording I find it to be extremely useful both in sport and everyday life.
The idea is exactly what it sounds like; concern yourself with those things that are in your control, and you will always be prepared for whatever you are trying to do. As for the things that are not in your control, you have no power to influence them, so why bother worrying about them? Instead you can use that time and energy to enjoy what you are actually doing.
One of the things I have always loved about competitive sport is its ability to teach me lessons that will make me successful on and off the race course, and this is a perfect example of that for me. I’ll admit I still have hard times when I am letting myself stress out unnecessarily, but before I started reading about sport psychology, I had no control over my stress levels and things could get pretty ugly. So at least now if things are starting to go south in mind, I have the tools to reset and see whatever the situation may be in a more productive and enjoyable way. And if you’re someone who’s always feeling stressed, I hope this can be helpful for you too!
Until next week,
In sitting here prepping for some athlete meetings this afternoon, I had an idea. Obviously I enjoy skiing as an athlete, but I've been testing the waters of coaching for the past couple years now and thought I'd start sharing some ideas through this handy blog of mine.
In an individual sport like cross country skiing it's easy to let your nerves get the better of you before a race. Sometimes you're lucky to have teammates around you who can help keep you in a good head space, but the reality is once your race has started, you really need to be able to keep your mind in check on your own. So I devised this short list for athletes to keep in mind if they are ever starting to feel their nerves take over leading up to a race/event.
- Training: Everything you've done in your training season
- Equipment: Making sure your equipment is in the best shape possible
- Mindset: Embracing the enjoyment that your sport brings you
- Preparation: Giving your body adequate sleep and nutrition, and being ready on the start line
(I was hoping it would make a cooler acronym than "TEMP", but it'll have to do for now)
At a race, regardless of the level of competition or what the stakes are, we are always trying to do the same thing: make our way around the course as fast as we possibly can. And as intimidating as our opponents can be, or as high as the stakes may be, those things have absolutely no bearing on our own performance, unless we let them. So instead of stressing about all that scary stuff, if an athlete takes care of their TEMP (crappy acronym, but I'm going with it) and feels good about it, they can feel nothing but ease and excitement for the chance to see what they are really capable of.
With the frequency that ski/running racing and coaching cross my mind these days (as an athlete/coach/student in a coaching course), I'm hopeful that this will be the first of many athlete tip posts!
Until next time,
Jordan Cascagnette, Student-Athlete, Ski Coach