X is for X's and O's.

        X is for X's and O's.  The fundamentals.  Doing things the way they are supposed to be done.  Although the mental side of sports can do a lot, it isn't a replacement for the physical skills necessary for performance.  For whatever reason, my mind floated to a food analogy for this one.  Bear with me, and let's see where we end up.  Some see the mental side as something "we already do."  They view it almost like salting french fries.  It's not that important.  You just kind of throw some on there.  That might mean simply talking to players.  Fries are good, but you can't really live on french fries.  Others view it as a sort of supplement to the physical training.  The physical is the steak, and the mental is the side of your choosing.  You want it, but you can do without it.  Maybe you'll get fries or a baked potato.  Maybe you'll play for the tie and get broccoli or a side salad.  This may be reading a book or implementing a little something you read here or there.  Done well, mental and physical preparation should be more like the surf and turf option.  You can't have one without the other and get the full effect.  Time needs to be spent on each.  They're both good on their own, but the mix of the foods together is what makes them what they are.  In a way this falls in line with what one of my mentors, Geoff Miller, says about the breakdown of the role the physical and mental play in baseball.  You've likely heard the Yogi Berra quote, "Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical."  G likes to say, "Baseball is 100% physical and 100% mental."  Ignoring the math, the idea is clear.  Both are extremely important.

        The point being made here is that to be as good as you can possibility be there needs to be an investment in both the mental and physical side of the game.  That is hard to do at first when your focus has likely been skewed in the direction of physical.  Dedication to the mental side doesn't always look exactly the same either.  It can come in classroom sessions, it can come in one on ones, it can come in coach training, and it can come in every word spoken by a coach.  People within the profession have differing views on what it should look like, but most would agree is it is purposeful.  The mental side isn't just the salt you throw on fries.  It isn't a random side dependent on what's available like seasonal veggies.  It's the surf or the turf made to precision.  The physical is still important.  Mentality isn't a replacement for physical skill.  I can remember being a coach as I started to read and acquire knowledge about sport psyc.  It is difficult to be skilled in teaching both the physical and mental side of the game.  The easy way out is to focus on one or the other rather than find the balance that works.  I did this with largely forgetting about the physical and going heavy mental at one point.  I'd gone all broccoli!  My point is whenever we neglect one for the sake of the other the development of the player (which is the meal itself) isn't balanced.

        Luckily, like chefs in the kitchen of a restaurant, you are not left to cook the meal on the own.  Great restaurants have sous chefs, line cooks, prep cooks, pastry chefs, and many other positions that don't work as well as possible without all being in it together.  As a coach, you have your assistant coaches to help.  They are your support staff, and great coaches give responsibility to their assistants.  You also have others out there who are willing to be a part of the kitchen too.  Maybe you might even call in a guest chef from time to time to mix things up.  If you're a player, you are the customer in charge of ordering the meal.  Look for ways to get both surf and turf.  Look to your coaches, and take it upon yourself to learn what works for you.  Read, watch, and do.  Don't be afraid to ask for help as a coach or player.  It's what makes a great meal.



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