Saturday, March 19, 2011

Great Coaching Books

Two different states of H2O, two great coaches, and two great coaching books.

These are a couple of the better (excellent) coaching books I have read in the last 6 months. I highly recommend them to any coach.

Dick Hannula's "Coaching Swimming Successfully" was a recommendation from Carl Valle. Carl recommended it to me last summer, which I finally picked up this past fall and smoked through in just a few days. The first few chapters on team and athlete management are good enough to be published alone in a book titled, "Coaching Successfully".

Anatoly Tarasov's "Tarasov: The Father of Russian Hockey",which I came across researching into the history of hockey from the 'miracle on ice' and Herb Brooks to the great tradition and history of hockey in Canada. Tarasov was assigned the role to develop Russia's hockey program (from scratch) shortly after World War II and develop a system to surpass the Canadians. A great book into the mind of a brilliant coach. The last chapter, 'Love for the Whole Life', is pure gold from just a general coaching perspective.

An excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Anatoly Tarasov:

Tarasov was the biggest factor in the development of this goalie, Tretiak, who would be destined to become the most skillful and cherished in international history. In the earliest days of his career, Tarasov had him doing three practices a day as hard as possible while using the maximum consumption of oxygen (MCO). In one instance a Swede player came to practice in the USSR with Tarasov, but he couldn't last. He reportedly said, "We Swedes don't' grow up to practice like this. I don't want to die."

According to Tretiak, "If I let in just one puck, Tarasov would ask me the next day "What's the matter?" If it was my fault (and it usually appears to be the goalkeeper's fault), my punishment would follow immediately. After everybody else had gone home I had to do hundreds of lunges and somersaults. I could have cheated and not done them at all, since nobody was watching me- the coaches had gone home too! But I wouldn't even have considered doing one less lunge or somersault. I trusted Tarasov, trusted his every word, even when he criticized me for letting the pucks in my net during practice."

... that's buy in. Those words might make Tarasov sound like a drill sergeant/dictator, and he certainly had the ability to use those qualities, but if you read the book you'll understand that he was much more than that; a coach who loved what he did and loved the athletes he worked with... and most importantly the athletes knew that.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Play Again

Some may call me a tree hugger, but I spent a lot of time (still do when I get the chance) in nature as a young kid, and it scares me to see the 'limited' time, possibly access, for people young and old to be out in the more natural world. Rarely, if ever, does true nature give rise to obesity, depression, or any other common chronic illness. Play Again looks to carry a very important and timely message.

Thanks to Frank Forencich for pointing this movie out. Frank makes some very compelling points,

"Some readers may wonder what such a film has to do with matters of fitness, athletic training and health, but really, it should all be clear enough by now: The condition of our bodies is completely, utterly dependent on habitat and in turn on our knowledge and appreciation for habitat. If you’re a health and fitness enthusiast, you’ve got to have at least one foot planted in your local bioregion. Every physical trainer who’s a health activist must also be an environmental activist. Increasingly, a big part of our job description will be to get our students and clients out of the office and out of the gym and back in touch with the land that gives us life. See the film."

Yours truly, a couple weeks ago. My attempt at a smile while the bitter wind bit at my face. Haha!! Although it was a rather nice day for early spring in northern Minnesota/North Dakota; sunny, a high of 13F +/-, a slight northern breeze of 10 +/- mph. Ok, so it wasn't that nice but the sun made all the difference.

My kids were with their grandparents for the weekend, and I had some unusual 'freedom' on a Saturday with no coaching or parenting responsibilities; taking the time for a hike in the woods and to climb some trees (I suppose at times it looked like tree hugs, sickos). Unfortunately, it had been a while since I've had the time to get out for a day, but this is something I used to do alot as a young kid, spending many hours 'out in nature'... the MovNat group would be proud. Although I do have to apologize... I had shoes on and, sorry again, they weren't Vibram Fivefingers, they were a pair of Nike Free's to be exact. (geez enough with the advertising already).

... and I'll have you know, I got some all-out sprinting in as soon as I got the text from my wife, "where the hell are you?". Oops, I forgot to tell her where I was going and time escapes in nature as it had been hours since I left the house. Unfortunately, it was back to modern reality.

"In nature we never repeat the same motion. In captivity (office, gym, commute, sports), life is just repetitive stress injury. No randomness" -Nassim Taleb

*Bryce and Clint, I should have given you a call, but this was spontaneous and you know the benefits of a little randomness.