Posted in Athletes, Branding, Coaching, Sport

Star Athletes – what keeps them driven

March 11 – International and super-star athletes appeal to us for different kinds of reasons and over the years lots of us have been drawn to specific athletes because of look, performance, personality, teeth, eyes, ears and so many other things.

Most of the athletes we like are also great to watch on the field/court of play and television audiences have largely been affected by that in recent times. However, have you ever stopped to think what drives to perform at the highest level with giving top performances consistently? What really makes them tick?

All great athletes commit themselves by exhibiting dedication, discipline, stick-to-itiveness and even a willingness to compete when the odds are against them and there are times we would really like to get into their heads to know how they think, what motivates them, what are the likes and dislikes and also how do they remain grounded (human).

The psychologists will tell you great athletes are coachable, they have a strong work ethic, they are aware of their work environment, they have composure, presence and poise; they may even be confident. But beyond that, there is always something that touches on the soft side, make them want to quit and also an inner part which want to do what they really want to do like party, drink, smoke, drive fast, put on weight out of season and even not want to train as per a schedule.

It is important for management of these athletes to understand these idiosyncrasies and work on a way to best manage and get the best out of the athlete simultaneously.

  • All world beaters want to always be on top and will want to perform better with each outing
  • All world beaters welcome competition but would prefer to be on top and will work hard at remaining on top
  • All world beaters listen to that ‘little’ voice in the back of their heads or even voices from outside, then do what they want to do. We have to give them choices with consequences so they are better able to make informed decisions
  • They also know when to take a break, even it does not agree with what the coaches/management say, but they take the break anyway. How long they stay on that break is what requires adjustment
  • We sometime spend too much time giving them instructions, as opposed to listening to them to hear their opinions. As the athlete gets older and more mature they too begin to develop a mind of their own and will require guidance and not instructions
  • They dream and if they share their dream with you, take that as your template to make the dream happen. There are times however, when you can be honest to say the dream cannot happen. Be gentle.
  • Be aware of the friends they have and be aware of the other instructions they get. Be positive in telling them the realities.
  • Listen more and talk less sometimes
  • For those who are close to their immediate family, embrace that, you may pick up a few ideas which could prove valuable in the near future
  • Talk to them not at them

Bill Cole, a mental game coach, out of California has written on the topic Championship Athletes – what makes them tick? Take a read sometimes.
In one of his columns he said “they learn from themselves, from those around them and from their environment. They embrace winning, competition and reaching their potential as athletes and as individuals. We can also learn a tremendous amount from them.”

 

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Sport Academy – is really a concept, not a physical space

November 26 – Sport Academies have become popular globally. Since the 1970s, some societies deemed it important to balance the lives of youngsters who were choosing sport as a career. Since then, some of those have morphed into what we call High Performance Centers.

We can define a sport academy as a talent development program designed to create the best athletes in any sport; using specific techniques and a system to create excellence. The academy concept has the capacity to zone in on preparation, execution and after care.

Here is an example of why an Academy worked back in the 1970s. The Americans thought the team’s performance at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games was below par and Dr Carl Blyth and Dr Frederick Muller of the University of North Carolina in a report established a link that showed that preparation was lacking. The need for a sport institute (Academy) was revealed.

Since then the Academy concept has gone through several revisions. The Global Sports Academy, based in Alberta, Canada, has as its 2nd approach – we develop physical, mental and social growth. What I also realized, they “move students out of their comfort zone and into their learning and panic zones” – in other words, they prepare athletes to compete.

The High Performance Center today, does that and more. But what has also happened, is the HPC has developed into a concept which focuses on excellence, in some cases, specialization and the mental and social. What has changed though is the developing nations, largely with great talent, have been beaten in intense competitions and there was need for teams/athletes to learn how to finish. The Academy in its concept helps athletes develop the ‘competitive edge’.

The Academy concept caught on in the Caribbean region in the late 90s. The formation and standardized operations of track and field clubs based in the region; the HPC for cricket and academic institutions with curricula focused on preparation – became a thing.

We have seen the results of home trained athletes across the sporting disciplines and the medal table at the Olympic Games for the Caribbean shows the kind of growth which has taken place.

Fast forward to 2017, with developing economies unable to find budgets to fund programs of national priority; it has created the call for sporting federations to be more creative and the role of technical experts now got a chance to show their worth.

The experiment with cricket worked and to its credit did include some of the current members of the Test team. The center, based in Barbados (at the time) was officially opened in 2010 and was a partnership with the University of the West Indies. The center targeted players between the ages of 19 to 27. The first group of players were Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Shane Dowrich (Barbados), Kyle Corbin, Kevin McClean (Combined Campuses & Colleges), Brandon Bess, Ravindra Chandrika, Veerasammy Permaul (Guyana), Nkrumah Bonner, Andre Creary (Jamaica), Kieran Powell, Devon Thomas (Leeward Islands), Shannon Gabriel (Trinidad and Tobago) Keron Cottoy, Delorn Johnson (Windward Islands).

The HPC in its original form has been discontinued. Since then, the franchise system has been developed. New systems have been in place and the results/records have a lot to tell the discerning public.

After four years of the Professional Cricket League (PCL) system with 10 rounds of 4-day cricket; two zones of 50-overs cricket with ten played within 30 days and a 6-weeks’ T20, regional cricketers have more than a fair chance to excel. What exists now in each region is a list of professional and coaching staff with upgraded skills sets (in two years, there has been two Level 3 coaches courses). The A Team has assembled for tours in and out of the region and the player pathway seems clearer. Selection remains subjective to the biased onlooker, but there are merits to the system, now in place.

I wanted to make the point though, HPCs in 2017 are but a concept, one which is determined by its focus on excellence, specialization and results; one supported by its participants committed to doing the tasks and programs required to compete. That I think, can be done in a physical space, but with things the way they are, can be done from anywhere, once the mindset of those involved are all on the same page.

High Performance

The ideal Caribbean would want a physical space; but with limitations, we must consider the options. Also it is an opportunity for teams and clubs within the region, while adopting in principle, the HPC plan, upgrade its facilities while finding ways and means to attract more participants to its programs.

I would want to suggest that in five years if the plans are adopted to fit each program in each territory, with decent facilities and more technically prepared officials; the HPC model would continue to create cricketers that can adapt to global demands; while importantly, earn enough to take care of their families.

Sporting federations today facilitate growth in key areas for its athletes by ensuring its stakeholders are given the chance to be up skilled to meet the dynamic global demands. They do this by creating an environment where this is possible. The HPC forms just one part of the ever changing cricket culture and market.

The challenge is therefore for the regional bodies to make this change and in their daily operations, surround themselves with the HPC focus and mentality. Cricket will win!

#StayInTheGame

Posted in Athletes, Caribbean, Coaching, Football, Jamaica, Leadership, Management, Sport

Football in Jamaica – the preferred pathway

November 12 – Even before the 2017 version of the Manning, DaCosta, Ben Francis, Walker and Flow Super Cup competitions end, I would like to make some suggestions to the folks who manage football in Jamaica. This includes all the organizations with Prep, Primary, High, Club and Elite football under its purview.

The traditional competitions all together have brought us to the ultimate in 1998, when Jamaica participated in the World Cup of Football. That is what all countries dream of.

What has happened since? And what will happen now? I have suggested over and over that Jamaica needs the football program. It is the sport that will bring the best opportunity for investment and the sport that is likely to attract the greatest level of support in sponsorship, if shown to be well-organized and bearing fruit.

What does this mean?

  1. Prepare a plan that speaks to the pathway to achieve the ultimate (another appearance in World Cup)
  2. Invest in the technical development of all those involved – coaches, officials, strength and conditioning experts, academicians, analysts, other support teams
  3. Improve the facilities – for competition, for training and preparation
  4. ISSA and the JFF must sit together and figure out how the schools’ program feed into the professional/elite program, and what if any adjustments are required     Team-Building       This system then has to match what our competitors are doing globally in this particular age group. We will match the outputs to see what adjustment may be necessary to ensure that the Under 17, Under 23 and Senior levels of football are on par. In the meantime, the academic development  of the athletes must also be comparable. ISSA as a governing body for school sports require a research unit to assemble this information and put a strategic plan to share with its stakeholders for 1. Buy-in 2. Delivery and ultimately for results. Development takes time and we have to be prepared to do the work.

For Jamaica to get back to the World Cup, the timeframe for this cycle, 2017 – 2022, must be in planning stage now and I would hope that this planning in happening behind the scenes. Remember now, sport is judged (ultimately) by Olympic medals, appearances in World Cup/Championship and athletes being able to the among those with the biggest pay checks and endorsement packages.

Is our system ready to absorb this? If so, it is time. So whether the remedy is to reorganize school football, club football and senior program, then now is as good a time. We can acknowledge our traditions by maintaining names of competitions etc, but we must embrace a new way of thinking and approach the sport as a business to meet the goal as required.

The 17-year old in Germany, England, Australia and Brazil is on a path to World Cup…are our players at the same age at the same point? We can no longer depend on talent, as we have seen where that has placed us. We need strategy at all levels to compete.

You may refer to this column I wrote July this year, http://web.jamaica-gleaner.com/article/sports/20170724/carole-beckford-jamaica-and-football-leadership

Or you can go back to October 2012 http://carolebeckford.blogspot.com/2012/10/jamaica-needs-football-programme.html

#GetinTheGame

 

 

 

Posted in Advertising, Athletes, Branding, Caribbean, Coaching, Cricket, Jamaica, Sports, Track and Field

Caribbean is ready for the Business of Sport

On an island, October 10 – The call for a Caribbean Sport Summit has not gone unnoticed. The Caribbean has over the last decade experienced significant exposure for its elite athletes in the sporting areas of track and field, basketball, NFL, netball, cricket and swimming. Football has received considerable exposure with players competing for several professional teams worldwide, but no team from this region has been to the World Cup.

There are direct results which can be used to measure success in sporting terms

  1. How many medals has the Caribbean won at the Summer Olympic Games since 2004 in Athens?
  2. How many countries’ teams have gone to the World Cup Football since 2006?
  3. How many other teams have been ranked in the top three in the world in any sport?
  4. How many more tourists are coming to the region because of sport?
  5. How have media earnings increased because of well negotiated media rights?

The answer to these questions can provide a general status of the Caribbean Sport Economy. There are some additional factors which we can use to judge success or maybe in this case progress. For example, a number of universities have added a comprehensive sport curriculum to their academic calendar. That is indeed a positive signal as it indicates a strong intention to train people to support the growth and further development of the sport industry.

The global sporting picture looks great with an estimated value of US$504 million. The alarming sport betting figure is over a trillion dollars. And the USA with a considerable sport market share will, according to Forbes, grow to $73.5 million by 2019. Those are all great signs. How then can the Caribbean capitalise and maximise its earnings from this industry?

Five years ago, a group of professionals – attorneys, business planner and a sport management expert joined forces to create The Business of Sport. The business, based in Jamaica hosted conferences and workshops which focused on dialog and results on issues relating to

  • Branding
    • Companies and Athletes
  • Marketing
  • Event planning
  • Media Rights
  • Use of Social media
  • Social issues in Sport
  • Use of Technology in Sport
  • Athlete Management
  • Intellectual Property
  • Role of Athletes

Since then many federations have changed formats of their competitions; changed approach to their programmes and consulted with varying performance programmes aimed at attracting more investment and better athletes. That discussion continues.

What should now happen is, as we approach 20 years after the start of the millennium, all concerned should be reorganising policies and programmes while maintaining contact with resources which can help to maintain and improve standards all around.

The Summits are sometimes largely a “talk shop” however, there are relationships that can be strengthened to bring a greater focus on sport as a tool for economic development for the Caribbean. The 2017 version of The Business of Sport is scheduled for Kingston, May 18 & 19. Information on the schedule will be out soon where you can register to participate. In the meantime, follow us on https://www.facebook.com/businessofsport/

Posted in Athletes, Coaching, Sport, Uncategorized

Coaching in 2016 and beyond

May 29 – Elite athletes should have access to the best technical expertise available.  

“Coaching is the universal language of change and learning.”

Coaching1

One of the missions of any sporting organisation must be to prepare its coaches to be the best. And while it is doing that ensure that the sport also has access to its best athletes. That relationship, if well organised is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship for the specific sport to maximise its economic activity.

The history of coaching does not meet the traditional skill set where the roles of purpose, knowledge base, organisation and ethics are clearly outlined; however, over the last two decades there has been an increase in who we classify as “elite coaches” – those who are considered as being the best; transforms the best and gets the best out of any category of athlete.

Sport more than ever now plays a significant role in income generation and a well-coached   fully focused winning team provide entertainment to spectators, communities, sponsors, athletes, coaches and administrators.

Coaching has therefore moved from the largely volunteer role it had been to the more sophisticated and competitive profession where institutions and organisations go after the “best” coaches for a multiplicity of reasons.

Coaching2

The National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) and the English Premier League (EPL) are three organisations which move around coaches based on a projected number of wins within a season or a contract term. These organisations essentially work with the saying “you are as good as your last win.”

I reflect on the roles of Don Nelson and Phil Jackson two NBA coaches were both successful as players and coaches. Both have philosophies they have used to their advantage. Nelson masterminded the concept of a power forward, while Jackson perfected the triangle offense; but also his use of Zen techniques to assemble some of USA’s best basketballers while getting them to win. I look at football in the EPL and Alex Ferguson’s record speaks for itself.

Today, an elite coach is not who is simply technically strong, but instead one who designs and uses philosophies to achieve the ultimate gain of converting his/her team to win over a sustained period.

The training of coaches is available at several levels

  • Teacher-training institutions
  • Sport Colleges and Universities
  • Olympic Federations through the IOC’s programmes
    • Other sporting Federations have accredited levels of courses which are applicable for its different categories of athletes
  • Other supplementary short courses are available on several platforms

Standards have been and continue to be set and more and more sporting franchises and organisations go after the most qualified. The coaching situation has evolved.

The profession, coaching, has to first of all look at reinforcing education, deployment of those resources while regulating rules to engage the wide variety of skills on offer, but the ultimate is to get a winning formula of winning team and coach.

Coaching along age-group teams moves from getting players/athletes to enjoy their game (children) and to compete fiercely for titles and in recent years attract a substantial salary package. Sport also influences social and cultural boundaries and the value of those factors, while immeasurable, have an important place in the sporting model of any organisation.

The European Coaching Council in 2007 proposed a paper which suggested that coaching roles and qualifications be separated, but cited the need to map what is considered competencies for specific coaching roles. The coaching role is defined whether you are one of the following:

  • Apprentice coach
  • Coach
  • Senior Coach
  • Master Coach

Some regions including USA, Europe, Australia have established professional associations for coaching ensuring the profession is fiercely protected and where only members of the profession can practice. Some sporting federations have a similar model where coaches have to achieve a certain level of qualification and accreditation to coach at a particular level.

In the coaching environment these days there is a variety of qualifications, accreditation and opportunities for coaches at every level to gain the requisite training and exposure to make it to the top. These days you are either a pre-coach, volunteer coach or a professional coach. Coaching like so many other professions, have become competitive and attracts good pay packages. It is therefore important that organisations prepare its technical teams to get the best out of its athletes/players.