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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Posted in Advertising, Athletes, Branding, Management, Media, Sport, Track and Field

Star athletes and Social Media

Saturday, January 27 – Elite and star-athletes have way more opportunities in 2018 and beyond; but they also have way more responsibilities. In every corner of the globe there is an athlete that is or on their way to “stardom”.

The star effect has number of situations to consider

  • Performance on the field/court/ring should always be on top
  • Performance off the field/in the boardroom/bank should also always be on top
  • Performance on social media platforms better be on top

The salary disparity continues; and while some sporting bodies have made an effort to level the playing field there is still a wide gap. The sport that still attract the top salaries are football (soccer), basketball, golf, tennis and the NFL. Formula One, Boxing and track and field have quality representation over quantity.

Forbes in mid year, 2017, released the top paid athletes https://nypost.com/2017/06/07/the-top-25-highest-paid-athletes-in-the-world-for-2017-are/ – occupying the top five spots were soccer, basketball and golf.

The top ten however identifies the variety in endorsements which ranges from 3m – 58 million dollars; salaries ran from 6m to 58 million dollars. Tennis (Roger Federer has prize money); he won 6m for the period under review and topped the endorsement with 58 million.

The top ten athletes also dominate social media with Cristiano Ronaldo sharing with 188 million between Twitter and Instagram. While we are on the matter of social media, this is an important method of communicating today and what is posted can be considered news, views and for the sponsor partners, endorsements.

That brings me to the point the appropriateness of the use of social media which the stars can be judged harshly for sharing a view on anything from their latest shoes, shirt to politics. More and more social media is the place where it all happens. This means though that the philosophy, brand and values, beliefs of the super star must come through.

We have seen recently where a male tennis player in the Australian Open was offensive with him having to delete tweets. One headline read – Tennys Sandgren defends tweets again at Australian Open; while this happened Tennys Sandgren deletes tweets after denying far-right sympathies at Australian Open https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/jan/22/tennys-sandgren-alt-right-australian-open-twitter

Here are some tips that could be useful

  • Establish a presence on social media
  • Be professional
  • Develop a daily/weekly routine
  • You may even consider scheduling posts (Have a team to manage as your audience grows)
  • The ball is always in your court
  • Always maintain your brand philosophy
  • Keep your posts short and simple
  • Use what is called rich media (videos, audio, pictures and related links)
  • Develop a bank of stories
  • Never feel entitled

The demand for content has grown. Social media can play a massive role. Use it to help your brand.

#StayInTheGame

Sports Marketing

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, Jamaica, Leadership, Sport

Sport in Jamaica deserves better…

Sunday, November 5 – Next year, Jamaica’s name would have been in world sporting news consistently for 70 years. Since the 1948 Summer Olympic Games the country’s athletes have maintained steady and improved global ranking in several disciplines and at times even beating the world. The athletes and administrators deserve all the praise.

The country’s brand positioning has been significantly enhanced by the global appeal of its athletes and as we close in on 2017, there is so much more to look forward to.

Jamaica boasts a solid high school sport program. The governing body for school sport, Inter Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) has managed over several sporting disciplines out of which a significant portion of the country’s stars used as a platform to grow. Over the years, institutions, clubs and other privately run teams have managed to heighten the county’s solid achievements by forming and maintaining programs for the post-high-school era enabling the athletes not to be over dependent on international preparation. That continues.

What has not happened as consistently is the role of the policy leaders in their ability to facilitate the continued development, by putting in policies to encourage steady/continued growth in the sport sector. The institutions still struggle to find solid footing in creating a more sustainable path towards wealth creation, better facilities, a wider range of service providers which will ultimately earn the island more medals at the global level.

The suggestion that the island is poor is an excuse in my opinion. So much research has been done to show the benefits of sport and how it can change a country’s economic activities if organized, managed and facilitated in a way to bring great return on investment.

This process must look at a path which looks at the link along the lines of education, training, development, research, marketing and how those key areas can earn the most bucks; while doing that should address social inclusion for balance.

Sport in Jamaica deserves better. Better is available. Again, it is time the folks who know better can make that change.

Posted in Athletes, Football, Jamaica, Leadership, Management, politics, Sport

Jamaica and Football Leadership

Football, potentially the sport to bring biggest economic returns to Jamaica is searching for a new President. Since Jamaica’s qualification to the World Cup in 1998, successes have been intermittent.

Football is the richest sport globally. Football also has the biggest television audience globally. Outside of the National Basketball Association (NBA), USA-based, football players combined represent the highest paid athletes in the world. That says a lot; but doesn’t quite add up for Jamaica.

Read here for reference http://www.totalsportek.com/most-popular-sports/

The search for a new President to lead Jamaica into the 2022 and 2026 World Cups (which should be the aim); must be based on a number of things. I will attempt to highlight some qualities, skill-sets and maybe even personality traits of who I think the leader should have most if not all.

The person should be

  • A Leader
  • A Manager
  • A mobilizer
  • A doer
  • A visionary

That leader should be a contemporary leader, one who can take us from vision to reality. There are some key success factors that this leader should be able to manage in the vision to reality road. He/She must be aware of the:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Technological

…impact the sport has to offer and therefore requires a team that can deliver with all this in mind. I know some of you are reading this and saying, but that is storybook type leadership. True, these things are written in books, but having worked in a few sporting organizations, I can tell you of the value of these factors.

In plain language though…it is important to have someone who knows the lay of the land; but should possess the pizzazz needed to transform national expectations to international goals, while attending to the needs of the boardroom.

The business of football is massive and with so many options to choose from in terms of income stream for athletes; income stream for countries via hosting of events and just the networking opportunities; Jamaica must seek to mobilize the best sporting mind to lead what could one of the biggest decisions we are due to take in Jamaica in a long time.

My suggestion is: go rational and not emotional; think with your head and not your heart. At the risk of sounding cold, pick the person who can transform the football in Jamaica into the most successful sporting bodies.

I won’t use this article to pick who I think is best to lead, but what I can say is the person exists in Jamaica.

What this means therefore is

  • Fix the schools’ programme (Manning and Dacosta Cups)
  • Fix the club system (make it more manageable and meaningful)
  • Prepare an international calendar
  • Host more matches at home (the office is a great location)
  • Negotiate good deals for broadcast
  • Expand your manager roles in your clubs. Have people who know the business manage players for the best results
  • Grow the business so experts/employees get paid competitive salaries

Nationally, we need to:

  • Improve playing facilities
    • Only use certified grounds
  • Review roster of officials
  • Have a better mix of experts at the top

Football globally has enough politics…so I say “stay away from the politicians.”

Jamaica needs a well-run football programme to sustain its stay as a sporting brand with all the returns necessary. Choose wisely!

#StayInTheGame

Posted in Athletes, Branding, Caribbean, Jamaica, Management, Sport

Modernizing Sport in Jamaica

July 1 – With the guard changing on and off the field of play for athletes and administrators in Jamaica; there is a glorious now opportunity to modernize and look at new and innovative ways to manage sport in Jamaica.

Also, maybe it is time we look away from volunteerism at some levels and pay those with the expertise to run sport in a way that is professional. What is expected from sport in terms of results is not sustainable if at all levels, experts aren’t paid for their services.

That said, the industry now has to place sharp focus on prioritizing its assets and point itself towards achieving the best return on investment and by extension, while meeting the other aims of:

  • creating the best environment for athletes to perform at a maximum
  • consolidating the technical expertise to ensure all athletes benefit from the best
  • focus on care – pre, during and post
  • partnerships that will offer the athletes income that is on par with what is happening globally
  • partnering with academic institutions to provide the research necessary to prepare for the next generation
  • providing and upgrading facilities for athletes
  • fan engagement for events
  • being considered a more serious seat at the table of the Tourism product.

We are way ahead of just the feel good moments which we get when our teams/athletes win; but those of us in the know should look at the more knowledge-based approach to offer solutions for the athletes, management and eventually the country to benefit from earnings from events; an industry that employs people and one that also balances people’s lives.

We cannot be satisfied with what we have now. When we look at what athletes, brands and media rights contribute to an overall pot, it must be disheartening to see that as an island, Jamaica has the talent, technical expertise and business expertise to have a sporting industry that is making a greater contribution to its GDP.

We all know the sport we should do well at to attract the big bucks, but as it is a diverse sector, we depend on those that is of great networking value, attracts the biggest crowds, has the greatest social appeal; we therefore should combine these for a successful model.

As the organizations meet in the upcoming months, a Think Tank must be a priority to look at a strategic plan for the next five to ten years for sport. My only request, is leave the politicians out of the mix. Following the strategic plan completion, we then put the cards on the table; show them the figures and negotiate waivers, support and legislation which will help to grow the industry.

Let’s Stay in the Game!