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Winning Ways:
Playing With Fire

Wednesday, January 5, 2000

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Physical Fitness Advisor

As a Conditioning Coach, a lot of time and effort goes into creating protocols that will enhance an athlete's ability to perform. None of this will matter if you don't have your athlete's head into it. No matter how well we prepare our athletes physically, optimal performance will not happen if the athlete does not believe in his or her preparation. When this happens, it is safe to assume that the athlete is lacking self-confidence.


When athletes don't believe, there is an air of uncertainty. My job is to help "clear the air." From where I sit, I am in a unique position. I can have a real impact not just physically but also mentally.

Success in the weight room transfers positively to the playing plane. One of the concepts I work to get my athletes to understand is that I will never put them in a position to fail. It is my job to instill a sense of commitment, a sense of purpose. The word "try" is not to be spoken in our weight training facility. We are working to create an atmosphere that will be conducive to helping our athletes believe in themselves.


Dealing with athletes who don't or won't "bring the heat" can be very frustrating. But take heart, motivation can be learned and or improved. Athletes who love their sport can be "reprogrammed" to find and fuel the desire needed to succeed.

When it comes to competing, motivation is generally associated with concentrating, persevering, or just wanting it more than your opponent. These attributes assist coaches in find out who wants to play and who doesn't.

Motivation is a concept, a need from within an athlete that makes the athlete act or not act. The key phrase here is "from within." All motivation comes from within. This drive or "fire" if you will, doesn't come from external sources. It must come from you. Although some coaches have had success in motivating athletes, in the long term this type of motivation generally doesn't last.

In the weight room, it is often up to the Strength Coach to maintain the energy level. We work to make sure that everyone is in the right frame of mind. Once this is done, magic can happen. Creating an atmosphere that is positive and breeds success is what I strive for every day, and depending on whom you ask, I'm doing pretty well.

Photos by Art Redd

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For previous Winning Ways, visit Graig's Archives.

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