Introducing the 3rd Edition of “The Battle Plan for Athletes”


Just in time for the Holidays comes the 3rd Edition of “The Battle Plan for Athletes”. The Battle Plan is a Goal Tracking and Management system with a Daily Journal that provides a comprehensive, yet easy-to-follow process for Planning Goals, Checking in against those goals, and creating adjustments or corrections to the plan and process as needed.

There are 3 parts to the Battle Plan.

Set Goals:

The Battle Plan gives you a place to track your goals.  Select personal and team goals for the full year or for specific parts of the year.

While your goals should be realistic, you should also have some aspirational goals as well because what is the point if they are too easy.  The goals should be your goals and you should shoot for the stars.  Get feedback from peers and coaches but ultimately, the Goals should be yours, therefore, take the feedback but try not to be too influenced by your coaches, parents, etc.

Pro Tip – Goals Should Be:

  • Actionable
  • Measurable
  • Specific
  • Challenging

Be sure to capture the “What, Why, How, and When”

What -The Goal

Why – Purpose

How – Actions to Take

When – Target Date

Daily Journal

Use the Daily Journal to capture your thoughts, plans, dreams, or whatever you want.  Keeping track of how a training session went whether with your team or outside training.

Keep track of what you did, how you felt, what you ate, or even the weather.

This is your journal and your place to write your thoughts and feelings, track performance, and manage and measure your goals.

These will be helpful for doing a self-assessment at different times of the year or you can keep them and look back in them in future years for inspiration and motivation.

Pro Tip -Journal Topics

•           Injury

•           School Conflicts

•           Social Conflicts

•           Highlight Moments

•           Food, Water and Sleep

Hit Your Targets

When you combine written goals and daily journaling, you now have what you need to assess your progress.

Establish Checkpoints where you can return and report on your progress.  If you have achieved your goals, you can set new goals or new targets that you want to hit.  If you are not progressing, you can do a course correction to modify the goals or modify the plan to get there.

Pro Tip – Ideas on Timing

•           Preseason

•           After Fall Season

•           Mid-Winter

•           Pre – Spring Season

•           Year – end

•           Off Season Training

Each week should be a reflection on the previous week with a check-in on your goals and an opportunity to outline and plan the week ahead.  This is a great time to establish tweaks to the process as needed if the pathway to the goal is not optimal.

The 3rd Edition of the Battle Plan comes in 2 sizes, each with a unique cover design.

Cover 1 is 5 x 8 inches.

Cover 2 is 6.9 x 9.6 inches

Available on

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Practice Gratitude Daily – Thanksgiving Lessons for Everyday – The Secret Sauce for Youth Athletes


On this Thanksgiving Day in the USA, I am reminded of the importance of giving thanks and showing appreciation for what I have, for my health, relationships, basically everything. This was an article that was published in the Spring that I felt compelled to re-share given that today is a day that youth athletes will be practicing Gratitude. Why not use this day and this practice as a starting point to bring the practice of showing gratitude on a daily or weekly basis?

Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in our lives. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the positive impact that the community that supports youth athletes has on our children. Here are some ways that youth athletes can show gratitude this Thanksgiving:

  1. Write a thank-you note: A heartfelt note of appreciation can go a long way in making a coach or trainer of young athletes feel valued and recognized for their hard work and dedication.
  2. Volunteer at a local sports event: Consider volunteering at a local sports event to show your support for other young athletes. You can help with setup, cleanup, or even coaching.
  3. Donate to a youth sports organization: Many youth sports organizations rely on donations to provide equipment, uniforms, and other resources to young athletes. Consider making a donation of extra equipment or gear to support these organizations and the young athletes they serve.
  4. Express gratitude: Get in the habit of sharing what they are thankful for. This can be done through a team gratitude board or by having athletes share their thoughts out loud. It can also be shared on social media or in private via meditation, journaling, etc.

Let’s take this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to show our appreciation for those who support you as a youth athlete. Beyond Thanksgiving, follow these practical tips and guidelines to make Gratitude a part of your routine as a young athlete and into adulthood.

On Gratitude (as posted April 18, 2023)

Gratitude is an essential quality that can bring immense benefits to our lives. It is the act of feeling thankful and appreciative of what we have and the people around us. As a teenager, and competitive athlete, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, school, friends, and family drama, and forget to be grateful. Add the constant pressure of performance and it is easy to see how an athlete could get caught up in a lot of the negative stimuli.  In this article, we will explore the importance of gratitude and ways that an athlete can begin to add the practice into their lives.

Why Practice Gratitude?

Gratitude has been proven to have a positive impact on our mental health and overall well-being. When we are grateful, we tend to focus on the good things in our lives, which helps us feel happier and more content. It can also help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Gratitude can improve our relationships with others by strengthening bonds and increasing empathy and kindness. Practicing gratitude can also lead to better physical health, including improved sleep and reduced inflammation.

Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

One of the easiest ways to cultivate gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. You can start by writing down three things you are thankful for each day. It can be anything from a good grade on a test to a kind gesture from a friend or family member. By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you can increase your overall sense of gratitude.

  1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts and emotions. By practicing mindfulness, you can become more aware of the good things in your life and appreciate them more. Take a few moments each day to focus on your breathing and be present in the moment.

  1. Express Gratitude to Others

Expressing gratitude to others can be a powerful way to cultivate gratitude in your own life. You can start by thanking someone for something they did for you, or simply telling them how much you appreciate them. You can also write a thank you note or send a message of gratitude to someone who has made a positive impact on your life. There is no limit and no right or wrong answer, it could be a friend, a teammate, a coach, teacher, Starbucks barista, you name it and you decide.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is an excellent way to cultivate gratitude by helping others. By giving your time and energy to a cause or organization, you can gain a sense of perspective and appreciation for what you have. You can volunteer at a local charity or organization, or even help out a friend or family member in need. Not only is volunteer work rewarding, but it is also often required by schools and an important attribute in college acceptance criteria. Volunteering as a way of cultivating gratitude may help an athlete have a better overall experience than volunteering out of a sense or requirement.

  1. Focus on the Positive

Finally, it is important to focus on the positive aspects of your life, even during difficult times. By focusing on the good things in your life, you can increase your overall sense of gratitude and happiness. You can do this by creating a gratitude list, reminding yourself of what you are grateful for, and focusing on the positive aspects of challenging situations.

In conclusion, cultivating gratitude can bring many benefits to our lives, including increased happiness, better mental and physical health, and stronger relationships. By practicing gratitude regularly, we can increase our overall sense of well-being and appreciation for what we have. As a teenager, it is important to prioritize gratitude and make it a part of our daily life.

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The Secret Sauce For Youth Athletes: Getting Recruited – Practical Tips and Guidelines to get Started


Getting recruited for college athletics is a competitive and challenging process that requires careful planning, hard work, and persistence. Here are some of the current steps that aspiring student-athletes should follow to increase their chances of getting noticed by college coaches and potentially earning a scholarship.

Research potential colleges and programs. The first step is to identify which colleges and programs match your academic and athletic interests, goals, and abilities. You can use online databases, such as the NCAA Eligibility Center or the NAIA Eligibility Center, to search for schools by division, sport, location, size, tuition, and other criteria. You should also consider factors such as the coach’s style, the team’s culture, the facilities, the graduation rate, and the alumni network.

Create a sports resume and highlight video. The next step is to showcase your athletic achievements, skills, and potential to college coaches. You can create a sports resume that includes your personal information, academic records, test scores, athletic awards, statistics, references, and contact details. You should also create a highlight video that demonstrates your best plays, techniques, and abilities in your sport. You can upload your resume and video to online platforms, such as BeRecruited or NCSA, or send them directly to coaches via email or social media.

Register with the NCAA or NAIA. Depending on which division you want to play in, you may need to register with the NCAA or NAIA to be eligible for college athletics. The NCAA has three divisions (I, II, and III), while the NAIA has two divisions (I and II). Each division has different academic and amateurism requirements that you must meet to be cleared for recruitment. You can register online through the NCAA Eligibility Center or the NAIA Eligibility Center and submit your transcripts, test scores, and proof of amateur status.

Attend camps, showcases, and tournaments. One of the best ways to get exposure and feedback from college coaches is to attend camps, showcases, and tournaments that are relevant to your sport and level. These events allow you to demonstrate your skills, learn new techniques, network with coaches and peers, and compare yourself with other athletes. You can find out about upcoming events through your high school coach, online directories, such as Sports Camps USA or College Sports Evaluation, or by contacting college coaches directly.

Communicate with college coaches. The final step is to communicate with college coaches regularly and effectively throughout the recruitment process. You should initiate contact with coaches as early as possible, preferably in your sophomore or junior year of high school, and follow up with them periodically until you make a decision. You should express your interest in their program, ask questions about their expectations and requirements, update them on your progress and achievements, and request feedback on your performance. You should also respond to any inquiries or offers from coaches promptly and professionally.

Prepare for official and unofficial visits to college campuses. An official visit is when a coach invites you to visit their school for a maximum of 48 hours and covers some or all of your expenses. An unofficial visit is when you visit a school on your own initiative and pay for your own expenses. You should plan ahead and schedule your visits with coaches. You should also prepare questions to ask coaches, players, professors, and admissions officers. You should dress appropriately and be respectful and enthusiastic.

Next, compare offers and make a decision. You should evaluate each offer based on the academic, athletic, financial, and personal aspects. You should also consider the pros and cons of each school and program. You should communicate with coaches and let them know your timeline and preferences. You should also consult with your family, mentors, counselors, and coaches for guidance. You should sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) or a financial aid agreement when you are ready to commit to a school.

Here are the key steps and timeframes:

  1. Research and Evaluation (As Early as Eighth Grade):
    • Families begin researching colleges and evaluating which division level (D1, D2, or D3) is the best fit for their athlete.
    • They ensure that the athlete is on the path to NCAA eligibility.
    • Families may proactively reach out to college coaches.
  2. High School Years:
    • Sophomore Year (Starting January 1):
      • College coaches can begin contacting recruits.
      • Recruits can take unofficial visits.
    • Junior Year (Starting August 1):
      • Recruits can take official visits and receive verbal scholarship offers.
      • Coaches actively reach out to recruits.
      • Athletes should continue meeting eligibility requirements (core courses and GPA standards).
  3. Verbal Commitment:
    • The athlete verbally commits to a college or university.
  4. Official Offer:
    • The college coach extends an official written offer to the athlete.
  5. Signing the Offer:
    • The athlete signs the official offer.
  6. Continued Eligibility:
    • The athlete must continue to meet the requirements for admission to the specified program. This includes completing core courses and maintaining the required GPA.

Remember that while the NCAA recruiting calendars outline when coaches can proactively start recruiting athletes, you, as a student-athlete, can always initiate contact with a coach.

These are some of the steps that you need to take to get recruited for college athletics. It is a long and challenging process that requires dedication, patience, and perseverance. However, it is also a rewarding and exciting journey that can lead you to fulfilling your dreams and goals.

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The Secret Sauce for Youth Athletes: The Current Landscape of College Recruiting


College recruiting is the process of attracting and signing college athletes for various sports teams. It is a competitive and dynamic market that involves various stakeholders, such as coaches, athletic directors, students, and parents. College recruiting has been affected by several factors in recent years, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of social media, the changes in student preferences and expectations, and the new rules on name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights. In this article, we will examine the current state of college recruiting and its implications for the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted college recruiting in many ways. It has forced coaches and athletic directors to shift from in-person to online visits and evaluations. It has also reduced the number of scholarships and offers in some sports while increasing them in others. According to a survey by Next College Student Athlete, a leading online platform for college recruiting, 35% of coaches reported offering fewer scholarships in 2020, compared to 13% in 2019. The same survey also found that 42% of coaches reported offering more scholarships in 2020 than in 2019. The most affected sports were football, basketball, and baseball, while the least affected were soccer, volleyball, and lacrosse.

The rise of social media has also created new opportunities and challenges for college recruiting. On one hand, it has enabled coaches and students to connect more easily and effectively across geographic boundaries and time zones. It has also allowed coaches to access a larger and more diverse pool of candidates, and students to showcase their skills and personalities. On the other hand, it has also increased the competition and complexity of the market. It has made it harder for coaches and students to stand out and to maintain ethical and professional standards and build rapport in a crowded and impersonal online environment. It has also raised concerns about privacy, security, and accessibility for both parties.

Student Preferences and Expectations in College Recruiting

In the dynamic landscape of college recruiting, student-athletes, their parents or those supporting them should also consider broader factors that shape their overall college experience. Here are some key aspects influenced by student preferences:

  1. Career Advancement Opportunities: Student-athletes should seek programs that not only excel in their sport but also provide a solid foundation for their future careers. They should look for institutions that offer robust academic support, networking opportunities, and connections to potential employers.
  2. Work-Life Balance: Balancing academics, athletics, and personal life is crucial. Student-athletes should evaluate programs that understand this delicate balance and provide resources to manage their time effectively.
  3. Culture: Just as in the corporate world, college athletic programs have distinct cultures. Student-athletes ought to consider factors like coaching philosophy, team dynamics, and the overall environment. A positive and supportive culture can significantly impact their experience.
  4. Social Impact: Many student-athletes want to make a difference beyond the field. If that is of interest, they should seek programs that engage in community service, social justice initiatives, and advocacy. Thusm that student athlete may thrive in a program that contributes positively to society and social issues.
  5. Compensation and NIL Rights: With the recent changes in name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules, student-athletes now have opportunities to earn compensation through endorsements, sponsorships, and social media. Programs that support and educate athletes on leveraging their NIL rights are becoming increasingly attractive.
  6. Flexibility and Autonomy: Student-athletes schedules are often managed for them, in some conferences particularly in Division, there is not a lot of flexibility in a student athletes schedule.  If you or your prospective student athlete value flexibility in their schedules, you may consider understanding and searching for Divisions, conferences and programs that allow them to explore other interests, pursue internships, or engage in extracurricular activities beyond sports.
  7. Diversity and Inclusion: Collegiate athletics is a wonderful environment to expose students to diverse and inclusive environments. Student-athletes will most likely experience fellow athletes from different parts of the world, different ethnicities, cultures, languages, and the like.  Some programs and sports are more diverse than others and athletes should seek to understand that aspect if they desire to be part of programs that celebrate different backgrounds, perspectives, and identities.
  8. Alternative Career Paths: While some aspire to professional sports, only a very small percentage achieve that dream.  The majority of athletes others are interested in and planning a career path or area of study while others may pursue entrepreneurial ventures, coaching, or non-traditional career paths. If programs that nurture these aspirations are appealing, it is important to investigate and consider as part of the selection process.

Challenges for Athletic Programs

These evolving preferences present challenges for athletic programs:

  1. Adaptation: Coaches and recruiters must adapt their strategies to align with student expectations. This includes tailoring communication, emphasizing holistic development, and showcasing the program’s unique features.
  2. Value Proposition: Programs need a compelling value proposition beyond athletic success. Highlighting academic support, life skills training, and character development becomes crucial.
  3. Ethical Recruiting: Balancing recruitment efforts while maintaining ethical standards is essential. Coaches must build genuine relationships and avoid undue pressure.

In summary, college athletic recruiting is no longer solely about wins and losses. It’s about creating an enriching experience that aligns with student-athletes’ aspirations and values. Programs that understand and embrace these shifts will thrive in the competitive recruiting landscape.

The new rules on NIL rights have also impacted college recruiting. NIL rights allow college athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness through endorsements, sponsorships, or other ventures. The NCAA adopted these rules in July 2021 after several states passed laws allowing NIL rights for college athletes. The rules have created new opportunities and challenges for college athletes, coaches, schools, and employers. College athletes can now leverage their personal brand and influence to generate income and exposure. Coaches and schools can use NIL rights as a recruiting tool or incentive for athletes. Employers can partner with or hire college athletes as ambassadors or influencers for their products or services.

The current state of college recruiting is characterized by uncertainty and opportunity. It is uncertain how the pandemic will continue to affect the market and how the virtual platforms will evolve. It is also uncertain how the student preferences and expectations will change over time and how the NIL rights will play out in practice. However, it is also an opportunity for innovation and collaboration. It is an opportunity for employers and career centers to leverage technology and data to enhance their outreach and engagement with students. It is also an opportunity for students to explore their options and interests and pursue their goals with more agency and support.

Stay tuned for the next article offering practical tips and guidelines on how to get started.

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The Secret Sauce for Youth Athletes: Starting with the End in Mind – Work Back Planning for Youth Athletes


Begin with the end in mind… The work back plan.

As a youth athlete, it can be challenging to know where to start when it comes to setting goals and developing a plan to achieve them. One effective strategy is to start with the end in mind and work backwards from there. By creating a work back plan, youth athletes can break down their goals into manageable steps and track their progress towards achieving them. In this article, we will explore the benefits of work back planning for youth athletes and provide a practical guide on how to get started. Understanding Goal Setting and the purpose of goal management will be an important foundation upon which to build a work back plan. This article will start with a high level overview of Goals to provide a primer on Goal Setting and Goal Management to create an optimal work back plan.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is the process of defining what you want to achieve and creating a roadmap to reach those targets. Setting goals helps you focus on what is important, develop a sense of purpose, and ultimately leads to personal and professional success.

Step 1: Define your goals The first step in the goal setting process is to clearly define what it is you want to achieve. This can be in any area of your life, such as personal development, academic, relationships, fitness and absolutely sport/performance specific. Consider what is truly important to you and write down your goals in a clear and concise manner.

Step 2: Make your goals SMART -Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This means that your goals should be defined in a way that allows you to track progress and determine when you have reached them.

Step 3: Create a plan – Once you have defined your goals, it is important to create a plan for achieving them. This can include creating smaller, manageable steps that build towards your bigger goal, setting deadlines, and determining what resources or support you will need along the way.

Step 4: Stay motivated – Staying motivated can be a challenge, especially when faced with obstacles or setbacks. To stay motivated, it is important to stay focused on your reasons for setting the goals in the first place, and to celebrate your progress along the way.

Step 5: Review and adjust – Regularly reviewing your goals and progress is an important part of the goal setting process. This will help you stay on track and make any necessary adjustments to your plan.

Goal setting is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth as athletes enter adulthood. By applying the steps, you can set achievable and meaningful goals and take control of your future. Remember to stay focused, stay motivated, and stay committed to your goals. With persistence and hard work, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. This understanding and discipline is a critical component if a work back plan.

Benefits of Work Back Planning

  1. Clarify Goals

One of the primary benefits of work back planning is that it helps clarify goals. By starting with the end in mind, athletes can identify their ultimate goal and then break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. This process can help athletes identify what they need to do to achieve their goal and develop a clearer understanding of what success will look like.

  1. Develop a Timeline

Another benefit of work back planning is that it helps athletes develop a timeline for achieving their goals. By breaking down their goal into smaller steps, athletes can identify when they need to achieve each step in order to reach their ultimate goal. This process can help athletes stay on track and avoid becoming overwhelmed by the larger goal. Goals can be daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, etc.

  1. Track Progress

Finally, work back planning allows athletes to track their progress towards achieving their goals. By breaking their goal down into smaller steps, athletes can track their progress towards each step and see how they are moving towards their ultimate goal. This process can help athletes stay motivated and adjust their plan as needed.

How to Create a Work Back Plan

  1. Identify the Goal

The first step in creating a work back plan is to identify the ultimate goal. This could be a specific performance goal, such as achieving a certain time in a race, goals, touchdowns, hits, points, assists, rushing yards, receptions which could be steps to achieve a broader goal, such as earning a spot on a team, getting a starting position, even getting recruited to play in college and earning a college scholarship.

  1. Break it Down

Once the ultimate goal has been identified, the next step is to break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if the ultimate goal is to earn a college scholarship, the smaller steps could include improving performance in a specific area, such as running a faster mile time, getting a certain amount of playing time, improving skills or hitting specific statistics for your sport.

  1. Set Deadlines

Once the smaller steps have been identified, it is important to set deadlines for achieving each step. This helps athletes stay on track and ensure that they are making progress towards their ultimate goal.

  1. Track Progress

Finally, it is important to track progress towards each step in the plan. This can be done through regular check-ins or using a tracking tool, such as a spreadsheet or journal. Tracking progress helps athletes stay motivated and make adjustments to their plan as needed. The Battle Plan for Athletes is a Goal Management and Daily Journal that athletes can keep in their backpack, locker, gear bag, etc. There is no shortage of Journals and Apps that are available that can provide a framework to follow to simplify the planing and tracking.


Work back planning is a powerful tool for youth athletes who want to achieve their goals and develop sustainable success. By starting with the end in mind and breaking down their goals into manageable steps, athletes can develop a clearer understanding of what they need to do to achieve success. By setting deadlines and tracking progress, athletes can stay on track and adjust their plan as needed. With a solid work back plan in place, youth athletes can build the skills, habits, and mindset needed to succeed both on and off the field.

Follow this blog and on social media, @coachrich8 on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn critical life skills through youth sports. Stay tuned for more “Secret Sauce” for youth athletes.

Managing Adversity for Youth Athletes: Building Resilience, Adaptability, and Perseverance. The Secret Sauce for Youth Athletes


As an athlete, it is inevitable that you will face adversity at some point in your playing career, in fact, there will be frequent challenges which is simply the nature of sports. As a parent, you must decide at what point you allow your child to manage those trials with on their own (but with your support). It is easy to want to get involved and protect your child(ren). As a parent myself, it is natural to think that you know what is best for your kids. Starting in the teen years, it is important for the player to take ownership and develop skills and experience to speak with teammates, trainers, coaches and administrators both at times of adversity and when times are good. As a youth athlete, developing healthy relationships and building communication skills and coping mechanisms is not only a requirement but a perfect developmental opportunity to prepare you for life.

This article will highlight the benefits of building these skills as well as provide some high-level, yet practical tips and strategies to deal with Adversity. An inevitable part of both life and sports, youth athletes are bound to encounter various challenges and setbacks throughout their athletic journeys. However, these experiences can also present valuable opportunities for growth and development. In this article, we will explore the benefits of managing adversity for youth athletes and provide guidance on effectively navigating these challenges.

Benefits of Managing Adversity:

  1. Resilience: Managing adversity contributes to the development of resilience. Adversity serves as a powerful teacher, enabling athletes to learn how to bounce back from setbacks and become mentally tougher. By effectively managing and overcoming challenges, athletes can enhance their resilience and be better equipped to handle future obstacles.
  2. Adaptability: Adversity helps youth athletes become more adaptable. When faced with unexpected challenges or changes, athletes learn to adjust their approach and discover new solutions. This fosters creativity, and resourcefulness, and equips them to handle the unpredictable nature of sports.
  3. Perseverance: Managing adversity fosters greater perseverance. When confronted with challenges or setbacks, athletes may be tempted to give up or lose motivation. However, by persevering through these difficulties, athletes develop mental toughness and find increased motivation to work towards their goals.

Navigating Adversity:

  1. Stay Positive: Maintaining a positive attitude is crucial in managing adversity. By focusing on the lessons learned and the opportunities for growth, athletes can stay motivated and focused even in the face of setbacks.
  2. Seek Support: Seeking support from coaches, teammates, or family members is an important strategy in managing adversity. It helps athletes feel less alone and more motivated to overcome challenges. Additionally, seeking support provides valuable insights and guidance on how to navigate difficult situations.
  3. Learn from Experience: Instead of simply moving on from challenging experiences, it is important to reflect on what was learned and how those lessons can be applied in the future. By learning from adversity, athletes can develop greater resilience, adaptability, and perseverance.

The strategies and approaches mentioned in the previous sections contribute to the development of important life skills for youth athletes. Let’s explore how each aspect helps in building these skills:

  1. Resilience: Managing and overcoming adversity fosters resilience, which is a crucial life skill. By facing challenges, setbacks, and failures in sports, athletes learn to bounce back, persevere, and maintain a positive attitude in the face of difficulties. This resilience can be transferred to various areas of life, helping individuals navigate personal and professional challenges.
  2. Adaptability: Adversity teaches athletes to adapt their approach and find new solutions. This skill is valuable not only in sports but also in everyday life, where unexpected situations and changes are common. Learning to adjust and be flexible in the face of challenges prepares individuals to handle different circumstances and problem-solve effectively.
  3. Perseverance: Overcoming challenges and setbacks requires perseverance. By staying motivated, pushing through obstacles, and continuing to work towards their goals, athletes develop mental toughness and the ability to persist in the face of adversity. This determination and perseverance can be applied to various aspects of life, helping individuals overcome obstacles and achieve long-term success.
  4. Communication and Assertiveness: Speaking directly to coaches and expressing concerns or conflicts helps youth athletes develop vital communication and assertiveness skills. It teaches them how to articulate their needs, opinions, and feelings in a respectful and assertive manner. These skills are essential for effective communication, building relationships, and advocating for oneself in various personal and professional settings.
  5. Conflict Resolution: Addressing issues with coaches directly promotes conflict resolution skills. By engaging in open and honest communication, athletes learn to navigate disagreements, find common ground, and work towards mutually beneficial solutions. These conflict-resolution skills are applicable in various contexts, such as interpersonal relationships, teamwork, and problem-solving situations.
  6. Independence and Autonomy: Encouraging youth athletes to address concerns with coaches fosters autonomy and self-advocacy skills. It helps athletes develop the ability to take responsibility for their own experiences, make independent decisions, and assert their needs. These skills empower individuals to navigate challenges, make choices aligned with their goals and values, and take ownership of their personal and professional lives.

By actively engaging in managing adversity, speaking directly to coaches, and implementing the strategies mentioned, youth athletes develop a range of life skills that extend beyond the realm of sports. These skills contribute to their personal growth, resilience, effective communication, problem-solving abilities, and overall success in various areas of life.

When faced with challenges, both caregivers and the athlete themselves should discuss what is going on, break it down and develop a plan that puts the athlete in the position to respond and manage that challenge. Stay tuned for the next article as we dig deeper into the “When, Why, and How” to speak with coaches, teachers, and adminsitrators.

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Getting Started with Mental Rehearsal: Unleashing the Athlete Within – The Secret Sauce


The Secret Sauce series has introduced and explored the practices of meditation, visualization, and the advantages of mindfulness and mental training. In this article, we will dive deeper into the powerful visualization technique of mental rehearsal. Mental rehearsal is an invaluable tool for young athletes before training sessions, games, or significant events. Just like the other practices highlighted in this series, mental rehearsal has the potential to become a lifelong habit, benefiting athletes throughout their entire journey in sports and in life.

In the world of sports, where victory is often determined by the finest margins, athletes continually seek ways to gain a competitive edge. While physical training and skill development are undoubtedly crucial, a hidden gem lies in the realm of the mind: mental rehearsal. This powerful technique harnesses the brain’s capacity to simulate and visualize success, offering athletes an invaluable tool to optimize their performance on the field, court, or track. In this article, we explore the concept of mental rehearsal and uncover its benefits in enhancing athletic performance.

What is Mental Rehearsal?

Mental rehearsal, also known as visualization or imagery, is a cognitive practice where athletes mentally simulate their performance in their chosen sport. Through vivid and detailed imagery, athletes create a virtual reality within their minds, allowing them to envision themselves executing movements, strategies, and techniques flawlessly. This process closely resembles real-life training, as the brain activates the same neural pathways involved during actual physical activity.

The Science Behind Mental Rehearsal

The science behind mental rehearsal lies in the brain’s ability to form new neural connections through repeated mental practice. When an athlete visualizes specific movements, the brain sends signals to the relevant muscle groups, reinforcing the connection between thought and action. This process enhances the brain’s familiarity with the desired performance, leading to improved muscle memory and coordination during actual competition.

Benefits of Mental Rehearsal for Athletes

Enhanced Performance: Numerous studies have shown that athletes who regularly engage in mental rehearsal exhibit improved performance in their respective sports. Visualization helps them build confidence, reduce anxiety, and maintain focus, leading to better execution of skills when it matters most.

Injury Rehabilitation and Prevention: Mental rehearsal plays a vital role in the rehabilitation process for injured athletes. By visualizing themselves performing movements correctly and pain-free, athletes can maintain muscle strength and reduce the time needed for recovery. Additionally, mental rehearsal can aid in injury prevention by identifying risky situations and training the mind to respond optimally in such scenarios.

Goal Setting and Achievement: Mental rehearsal enables athletes to set clear and achievable goals. By visualizing themselves conquering challenges and reaching milestones, athletes are more motivated and committed to their objectives. This, in turn, increases their chances of turning their visions into reality.

Coping with Pressure: High-stakes competitions often come with immense pressure. Mental rehearsal equips athletes with valuable coping mechanisms to handle stress and perform at their best under intense circumstances. By repeatedly experiencing victory mentally, athletes cultivate a winning mindset that persists during actual competitions.

Improved Concentration and Decision-making: Visualization encourages athletes to focus solely on their desired outcomes. This heightened concentration translates into better decision-making during competitions, as athletes are more adept at quickly assessing situations and choosing the most appropriate course of action.

Incorporating Mental Rehearsal into Training

Find a Quiet Space: Athletes should find a quiet and comfortable space where they can relax without distractions. This facilitates a more immersive and focused visualization session.

Be Specific and Vivid: Athletes should be as detailed as possible in their imagery, visualizing the sights, sounds, and feelings associated with their sport. The more vivid the visualization, the more potent its effects on performance.

Repetition is Key: Like physical training, mental rehearsal also requires consistent practice. Athletes should incorporate visualization into their regular training routines to reap its full benefits.

Stay Positive: It’s essential to maintain a positive outlook during mental rehearsal. Focusing on success rather than potential failures reinforces confidence and optimism.


Mental rehearsal is an invaluable tool that empowers athletes to elevate their performance to new heights. By harnessing the power of the mind, athletes can fine-tune their skills, overcome challenges, and achieve their goals with greater ease. As sports continue to evolve and become more competitive, mental rehearsal stands as a potent secret weapon in the pursuit of excellence. With dedication and practice, athletes can unlock the full potential of their minds and become champions in their respective sports.

Give it a try and start to build this practice into your routines. Stay tuned for more “Secret Sauce” for youth athletes.

Rebuilding and Sustaining Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem as an Athlete – The Secret Sauce for Youth Athletes


Shortly after publishing the most recent article on Process, I caught last week’s Ed Mylett show where he and his guest discussed the importance of process for building confidence. As I listened to the rest of the episode on building self-confidence and self-esteem, I was compelled to research and capture some thoughts to create this brief outline on self-confidence related to youth sports.

As a high school or college athlete, self-confidence and self-esteem play a vital role in your performance, growth, and overall well-being. However, there may be times when your confidence takes a hit due to setbacks, injuries, or other challenges. This article will provide you with effective strategies to retain and regain self-confidence and self-esteem, enabling you to excel in your athletic pursuits. Read below for practical guidelines on how to preserve your confidence and avoid the pitfalls of self-doubt.

Acknowledge and Accept Your Emotions: It is important to recognize and accept the negative emotions you may experience when your confidence is low. Denying or suppressing these emotions can hinder your ability to overcome them. Allow yourself to feel disappointed, frustrated, or anxious, but remember that these emotions are temporary and do not define your abilities or worth. 

Reflect on Past Successes: Remind yourself of past accomplishments and successes as an athlete. Recall moments when you performed exceptionally well, overcame obstacles, or received recognition for your skills. Reflecting on these positive experiences can boost your confidence and remind you of your capabilities. 

Set Realistic Goals: Establishing realistic and attainable goals is crucial for rebuilding self-confidence. Break down big goals into smaller, manageable steps that you can work towards. Celebrate each milestone you achieve along the way, as this will reinforce your belief in your abilities. 

Focus on Your Strengths: Identify and emphasize your strengths as an athlete. Everyone has unique talents and abilities that contribute to their success. Recognizing and utilizing these strengths will enhance your confidence and help you make valuable contributions to your team. 

Surround Yourself with Supportive Individuals: Surrounding yourself with a positive and supportive network is essential for regaining self-confidence and self-esteem. Seek the encouragement of coaches, teammates, and friends who believe in your abilities and provide constructive feedback. Their support can inspire you to overcome challenges and maintain a positive mindset. 

Learn from Setbacks and Failure: Accept that setbacks and failures are part of the athletic journey. Instead of viewing them as obstacles, see them as opportunities for growth and learning. Analyze what went wrong, identify areas for improvement, and use this knowledge to become a better athlete. Embrace a growth mindset that thrives on challenges and views setbacks as stepping stones toward success. 

Practice Self-Care: Taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being is crucial for rebuilding self-confidence and self-esteem. Prioritize rest, recovery, and proper nutrition to optimize your performance. Engage in activities outside of sports that bring you joy and relaxation, fostering a well-rounded sense of self. 

Visualize Success: Use visualization techniques to imagine yourself succeeding and excelling in your athletic endeavors. Visualize the specific actions, movements, and outcomes you desire. This practice can enhance your confidence, improve focus, and mentally prepare you for success. 

Seek Professional Guidance: If you find it challenging to rebuild your self-confidence and self-esteem on your own, consider seeking professional guidance. Sports psychologists or counselors can provide valuable tools and strategies tailored to your specific needs. They can help you navigate mental and emotional obstacles, enabling you to regain and sustain your confidence as an athlete. 

Conclusion: Rebuilding and sustaining self-confidence and self-esteem as a high school or college athlete is a continuous journey that requires effort, perseverance, and self-reflection. By implementing the strategies outlined in this chapter, you can overcome setbacks, embrace your strengths, and cultivate an unshakeable belief in your abilities. Remember that confidence comes from within and is within your power to nurture and strengthen. 

The Secret Sauce for Youth Athletes is a series of habits and practices that when adopted by athletes, can help them realize their potential while simultaneously developing important and essential life skills to carry into adulthood. Subscribe or follow for more practical tips and guidelines for unlocking the code for athletic success.

Note: I have zero affiliation with Ed Mylett or his content other than as a consumer of valuable content. To learn more about the episode that stimulated this post, to listen to the episode, click the link below.

Process vs Outcomes – The Secret Sauce for Youth Athletes


Chapter: The Importance of Process for Youth Athletes

In the world of sports, success is often measured by wins and losses, personal records, and other tangible accomplishments. Pressure on results, intentional or not, is a constant reminder for youth athletes. However, focusing solely on outcomes can be limiting and discouraging for youth athletes. Instead, it is important to place greater emphasis on the process – the daily habits, routines, and actions that lead to success. In this article, we will explore the importance of process for youth athletes and how it can help them achieve their goals.

The Importance of Process

  1. Consistency

One of the key benefits of focusing on process is that it promotes consistency. When athletes focus on daily habits and routines, they are more likely to stay motivated and maintain their commitment to their goals. By consistently working towards their goals, athletes can build momentum and achieve greater success over time.

  1. Focus on Development

Another benefit of process is that it encourages athletes to focus on development rather than just outcomes. Rather than simply striving to win or achieve personal bests, athletes can focus on improving their skills and technique, building their endurance, and becoming stronger mentally and physically. This emphasis on development can lead to more sustainable success in the long term.

  1. Reduced Stress and Anxiety

Focusing on process can also help reduce stress and anxiety for youth athletes. When athletes focus solely on outcomes, they may become overly anxious and stressed about their performance. However, by focusing on daily habits and routines, athletes can feel more in control of their performance and less stressed about the outcome of a single event or game.

How to Focus on Process

  1. Set Process Goals

To focus on process, it is important to set process goals. These are goals that focus on daily habits and routines, such as practicing certain skills for a set amount of time each day or committing to a regular exercise routine. By setting and tracking progress towards process goals, athletes can stay motivated and maintain their commitment to their goals.

  1. Emphasize Growth Mindset

Another important aspect of focusing on process is developing a growth mindset. This means viewing setbacks and failures as opportunities for learning and growth, rather than signs of inherent limitations. By adopting a growth mindset, athletes can stay motivated and focused on development, even in the face of challenges.

  1. Track Progress

Finally, it is important to track progress toward process goals. This can help athletes stay motivated and make adjustments to their routines as needed. Tracking progress can also help athletes celebrate their successes and stay motivated, even during periods of slow progress. See the previous post on Journaling and to learn some tips on tools that you can use to track your progress.


Focusing on process is essential for youth athletes who want to achieve their goals and enjoy sustainable success in the long term. By emphasizing daily habits and routines, athletes can develop greater consistency, focus on development, and reduce stress and anxiety. Strategies such as setting process goals, adopting a growth mindset, and tracking progress can help athletes stay motivated and committed to their goals, even during challenging times. The Secret Sauce for Youth Athletes is series of habits and practices that when adopted by athletes, can help then realize their potential while simultaneously developing important and essential life skills to carry into adulthood. Subscribe or follow for more practical tips and guidelines for unlocking the code for athletic success.

Time Management – Essential Skills for Youth Athletes, teen years and beyond. The Secret Sauce


If you are reading this as a youth athlete or parent of a youth athlete, whether new to the experience or a seasoned vet, you have likely experienced a completely crazy schedule. Club training, games, tournaments, private training, fitness, school activities, homework, etc are constantly competing for an athlete’s time. In most cases, parents carry the burden of driving, carpooling and generally racing around to get their student-athletes from activity to activity. It is important for athletes to understand and manage their own schedules starting in their teens at the latest. I can’t tell you how many team talks when asking about upcoming events and participation, where I have had many players look back with a blank stare and an apparent lack of any clue of what their upcoming schedule is. The facts are that many youth athletes are over-scheduled and it is a significant effort for parents to manage all of the commitments.

If you or your athlete is one of the 2% of youth athletes to be fortunate enough to compete at the college level, then you (they) will likely benefit from the regimented schedule that comes with being a collegiate student-athlete. Between team and school standards on academic performance, many universities provide and demand adherence to a strict schedule of classes, workouts, training, competition, study hours, tutoring, etc. I would argue that while busy, student-athletes have an easier time adjusting to academics by virtue of the support they receive compared to non-athletes or those not in specialty programs

Time management is a crucial skill for teenage athletes to develop as they navigate their busy sports lives filled with school, extracurricular activities, social events, and personal responsibilities. Rather than relying on parents to manage their time, athletes will benefit from starting to manage their own time as they become teenagers. Here are some tips for effective time management that can help teenagers make the most of their time.

  1. Set Priorities: It is important for teenagers to identify their priorities and focus on the tasks that are most important. Make a list of tasks for the day or week and prioritize them based on importance and urgency.
  2. Create a Schedule: Creating a schedule is an effective way to manage time. Set aside specific times for schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and personal responsibilities. This can help teenagers stay organized and ensure that they have enough time for everything.
  3. Avoid Procrastination: Procrastination is a common issue among teenagers, but it can be detrimental to effective time management. Encourage teenagers to tackle difficult or unpleasant tasks first, and reward themselves with a break or a fun activity once the task is complete.
  4. Minimize Distractions: social media, television, and other distractions can eat up a lot of time. Encourage teenagers to limit their screen time and minimize distractions while they are working on tasks.
  5. Use Time Efficiently: Time can be wasted if teenagers don’t use it efficiently. Encourage them to use small pockets of time for productive tasks such as reviewing notes, reading, or completing short assignments.
  6. Take Breaks: Taking breaks is important for staying focused and avoiding burnout. Encourage teenagers to take short breaks throughout the day to recharge and refocus.
  7. Get Enough Sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for effective time management. Encourage teenagers to establish a consistent sleep schedule to ensure that they are well-rested and ready to tackle the day’s tasks. More on sleep in an upcoming article.
  8. Learn to Say No: It can be difficult for teenagers to say no to social events or extracurricular activities, but sometimes it is necessary to prioritize responsibilities. Encourage teenagers to be honest with themselves and learn to say no when they need to focus on their priorities.

Effective time management is a skill that can be learned and developed over time. By setting priorities, creating a schedule, avoiding procrastination, minimizing distractions, using time efficiently, taking breaks, getting enough sleep, and learning to say no, teenagers can manage their time effectively and achieve their goals. Time management is another important life skill that youth athletes can leverage now and develop the muscle memory required to carry on that skill as they progress through future stages of their lives. For more on “The Secret Sauce” follow this blog and follow @coachrich8 on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.