The Process

"We focus on the process," has become a popular thing for coaches to say when they want to prove they know something about the mental side of sports.  Unfortunately, I think its meaning is lost on many of the coaches who say it and most definitely lost on many of their players.  It's almost like coaches believe that by saying, "We focus on the process," people are hypnotized.  A simple follow-up question of, "What is the process?" would stump a lot of those coaches.

Saying you focus on the process without being able to explain the process would be like going on a trip without a destination or directions.  Ben, we don't want to get destination disease!  That is great, but without any directions you are just driving around.  Without being able to define your process, you are just moving around aimlessly as a player.  Now, imagine the same travel scenario with one big change.  Instead of one car, imagine a group of 20-30 cars following a car driving around with no directions or destination.  It is a recipe for a disaster.  That is what a team is when there is no definable process from the leader.

Don't get me wrong.  I think it is great that more and more coaches and athletes are showing interest in the mental side of sports.  In my opinion, having an understanding of sport psychology is an invaluable part of the sporting experience that will only increase over the coming year.  What I do think is happening, however, is some people within the field are capitalizing on that interest by giving people very surface level information without the support necessary to use it.  Coaches are "trusting the process" without the preparation necessary to earn the trust.  Instead, there is a blind, false trust emerging that makes people have the wrong idea about the mental part of sports and causes confusion.  

So what is "the process" to me?  The process starts with a clear vision and principles.  This goes for individuals and teams.  The process includes daily preparation that is planned and  purposeful in nature.  Having purpose is as much as you can is a must with the process.  The process involves optimal focus with all of the preparation whether it is lifting, conditioning, or practice.  The process is a commitment to every repetition having equal value.  The process is being as good as you can be every single day.  The process is the teaching and learning of fundamentals and the accountability to use those fundamentals.  The process is focusing on definable, controllable tasks instead of uncontrollable results.  The process has its ups and downs.  You're probably not going to be as good as you can be every single day, but that is okay as long as you learn from it.  Like when driving, sometimes individuals and teams run into traffic or a roadblock and have to adjust.  This is where the process involves coaching (traditional or of one's self) that is able to make changes while holding true to the vision and principles that lay the foundation.

I realize that "the process" described above is very general in nature.  It would be more specific based on whatever is attempting to be accomplished, but I think the components I mentioned are necessary regardless of what you are doing.

So next time someone says "We just trust in the process," I challenge you to follow up with, "What is your process?"  Whether they are able to give you an answer or not will help you decide whether they are truly part of the mental movement or not.

For the record, the guy on the video clip below gets "The Process!" Watch the first minute.


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