All posts tagged: PPD

The Practice of ‘Mindfulness’ for Optimal Performance and Well-being in Sport and Business


 

 

Whenever we evaluate current levels of stress, anxiety, debilitative factors affecting confidence, or blocks to achieving optimal performance in a variety of vocational tasks and domains, whether that be human functioning in operational business, or collective team performance in sport, such conceptions of these barriers are atypically a result of past experiences or future events. Furthermore, from personal experience, within any life domain, when individuals are asked to reflect on their three highest sources of stress,  the responses often related to past experiences or future events. In business this may be hitting weekly/monthly targets, in football, goals per game ratios. To elaborate in more detail, using football as an example, it is a common occurrence to witness  teams ‘crumbling’ under pressure. Whether that be teams in the relegation zone, or underdogs with a shot at the title. What often happens in these situations is rather than being in the present moment and focusing on the tasks and resources needed to complete a specific task or game to the best of their ability, the egoic mind is all too often reliving past experiences or worrying about future outcomes, which reinforces (quite often negatively – due to negative tendencies in though processing) our current levels of self-worth and ability in that present moment.

 

For the individual saleswoman pitching to a CEO, her direction of thoughts on securing the deal (end result) and potential future business generation (future event) from this pitch debilitates her ability to pool resources together for; building high levels of rapport with the CEO in question, focusing on the tonality, language and pace of the pitch, the details and intricacies of the product. For the footballer who is taking a penalty kick in the cup final, he is often distracted by the consequences of success or failure rather than the decisions needed to succeed in the present moment (i.e. target, ball placement, shot choice, pace, power, wind direction, position of the goal keeper). The fear of not attaining the cup, letting down team mates, comparing this situation to the last time he missed and/or scored a penalty, is preventing the individual from optimal headspace needed to achieve success.

 

From my experience of working with business leaders, C-suite, employees, football managers, sport coaches, and athletes/players, what separates the best performers in the world, to the average ones, is an ability to recognize the direction of their thoughts, and an even stronger recognition to disassociate specific thoughts, thus allowing them to maintain in the present moment. Sport and business psychology consultants have long dedicated time to helping individuals change such thought processes, their attention, focus and direction, and the direct and indirect influences on performance and well-being. Traditionally, this has been addressed through models of practice such as CBT (thought stopping, cognitive reframing) NPL (reducing the impact of thoughts and feelings) and PST (increasing the use and applicability of psychological strategy).

 

A more contemporary approach which has aimed to help individuals with such thought processes relating to their well-being, is mindfulness. Practitioners are now incorporating such models of practice across a range of performance domains. For those that may not yet be fully aware of the way in which mindfulness works, Buddhism (the origins of mindful meditation) places emphasises on ‘being’ in the present moment. However, by identifying with the egoic mind, an illusory distinction is made with our past experiences and future events. Such identifications are the difference between being mindful or mindFULL. That’s not to say that we can not recognize our past, as inevitably it has made us who we are today, but continual recognition of past mistakes, missed opportunities, broken relationships etc., or conversely, solely focusing on future opportunities, and promotions, and living the future significantly impacts upon well-being by not allowing us to recognize the present moment for what it is.

Mindfullness

It is not surprising to know that through clinical research and reports, looking back is directly associated with depression, whilst looking forward (for some) is directly related to anxiousness.  Having worked with individuals with such tendencies, I feel that ultimately what causes such performance decrements and well-being issues (depression, anxiety, anger) is the lack of control which we have over events which have happened, or going to happen in the future. Mindfulness recognizes that all we can control is the present, by not evaluating thoughts of previous or upcoming events, we allow ourselves the freedom to enjoy the present moment. It is in this moment we see people flourish in performance and they experience feelings of content (not happiness – dictated by external sources). It is also during these episodes, elite athletes report being ‘in the zone’. With the ‘quiet mind’ being reported time and time again as a characteristic during such peak performance. Through neuroscientific evidence, we know this not to be 100% accurate. Whilst there is a significant reduction in brain activity, what actually is happening during such episodes is that the individual does not directly associate with his/her thoughts. He/she actively becomes an observer of thoughts through non-evaluative means. This allows him/her to be truly present in the moment.

A great example of someone who currently lives in the present moment is Claudio Ranieri – Leicester City FC Manager. His ability to not focus on the outcome of the season and to approach performance on a game-by-game basis, he is a prime ambassador for advocating the positive effects of being mindful (as opposed to mindFULL). Through a deep understanding that team performance will be dictated by the resources he has at any given moment in time, through his language, communication and actions, he instills a positive mentality in players, whereby their focus is intensely on the present moment for the following 90 minutes, and nothing else. Though we cannot examine brain activity and recall accurately during a football match, it could be assumed that players mindfulness on the pitch is exemplified in their behaviours i.e. logical as opposed to emotional reactions,  verbal and non-verbal communication and body language after successful and unsuccessful outcomes.

 

To illustrate this through a practical example (and in an attempt for you to understand your current levels of mindfulness, or mindFULLness) if you took your dog for a walk this morning, ate breakfast with your family, or grabbed a take-out coffee on your way to work, take time to relate back to the direction of your thoughts. Were you thinking about upcoming bills at the end of the month, the potential promotion at work? Or, were they solely focused on experiencing that laughter of your two year old son as he dribbled porridge down his chin, or the fresh crisp air at 6am when you walked your dog through the park, with the trees damp with the thaw of overnight frost? The layman will often volitionally accept the direct relationships between thought, feeling and behaviour without conscious attention. As a result, this lack of self-awareness often necessitates living (not being) in the present moment through thoughts of past circumstances or future events.

 

Being a Mindfulness Practitioner, I am fully aware and endorsing of the many ways that mindfulness could assist the well-being of the general population (feel free to ask me any questions you may have), but for the purpose of this article we will focus on the holistic benefits for individuals and teams in both sport and business.

 

By combining Mindfulness Diploma training with clinical, business and sport psychology education, practicum knowledge and experience, I have devised a mindfulness strategy (applied through either individual consultations and/or groups workshops), which follows the three stage process of; recognition, observation and acceptance.

 

This first step to becoming more mindful (as opposed to mindFULL) is understanding the cognitive behavioural hypothesis. By comprehending the cyclical relationship between thoughts, feeling and behaviours, we become more self-aware of the direction and intent of our thoughts, and the resultant impact on feelings, emotions and subsequent behaviours. If we relate this to business, as another example, due to the cut-throat nature of sales in high performance environments, a salesman’s typical response to each and every telesales call may be “I need to hit my target” (which could be a result of self-worth, paying bills, evaluation apprehension or all of these factors). This thought directly results in feelings of nervousness and tension, and the subsequent unconscious (sometimes conscious) behaviour of pressurized selling, not accurately listening to the customers queries and demands, poor memory of product features and applications etc. By focusing on future events (outside of his control at this present moment) he is unable to be in the present moment, resulting in a whole host of debilitative factors. From my own consultancy experience, when individuals who understand (even at a low level) such relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviours, this recognition is a powerful enough tool for initiating change.

 

Through intense self-refection and analysis, individuals will become more aware of both positive and negative cyclical relationships through the cognitive behavioural hypothesis. It is here (or should be) where CBT therapists may use thought blocking or cognitive reframing for changing faulty thinking processes. At this stage, mindfulness opposes traditional therapies by allowing thoughts to be (as opposed to controlling them) which results in reduced association with such thoughts, removing the negative impact on feelings and behaviours. Using quicksand as an analogy, this approach frees individuals from identifying and wrestling with their thoughts (sometimes debilitative, sometimes facilitative). For visual representation of this process, please refer back to the figure above.

 

For this to be achieved successfully, I have developed a bespoke introductory mindful meditation, which supports individuals and groups to become mere observers (and not evaluators) of their thoughts. This practice to the layman may seem ambiguous, however mindfulness is an art form that needs to be practiced practically. Once doing so, the self-awareness individuals experience will far supersede any retrospective reflections. Not only does this process support individuals to disembody thoughts and the typical volitional relationships with feelings/emotions and behaviours, it actively promotes individuals to experience ‘being’ in the present moment.

 

Finally, once an individual has experienced and achieved observing thoughts in the present moment, positive behaviour change will become both conscious and unconscious. Subsequent mindfulness sessions with clients are therefore aimed at further disassociating with the egoic mind, allowing thoughts to be just thoughts (and not subsequent feelings and actions) through objectification and non-evaluation, resulting in acceptance of thoughts and intense focus upon the present moment. For the salesman with the recurring thought of “I need to hit my sales target”, whose typical responses are nervousness and debilitative behaviours, he has now become consciously aware that he is not controlled by his thoughts and as such can actively be in the present moment. Not only will this transpire to more effecting performance (asking the right questions, listening to the wants and needs of the client, recalling the product features and applicability) and well-being (confidence, recognition of character strengths, presence) in this specific sales pitch, a significant positive shift will occurs across all contextual domains of the individuals life.

 

By Luke Whiting

Elite Mindset Coach at Norwich City FC, Life Coach and Mindfulness Practitioner

 

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PPD MagThe Practice of ‘Mindfulness’ for Optimal Performance and Well-being in Sport and Business
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Stephen A. Smith, Hearts and Souls of Men in Sports

Stephen A. Smith recently discussed his feelings and thoughts regarding the Rooney Rule.  For those that don’t know, the Rooney Rule requires National Football League teams interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs. It is sometimes cited as an example of affirmative action, though there is no quota or preference given to minorities in the hiring of candidates. It was established in 2003.

Although the rule has been in place for 13 years, many argue the rule, has not had the intended effect on hiring minorities.

What does this have to do with Personal Player Development?  Simple, the urgency to provide training and development for professional athletes and helping professionals in the personal development arena has lagged, just as hiring practices have.  Stephen A. explains why…

 

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Kristy Belden, The Reality of Athletics

“Here today.  Gone tomorrow”

Today you are a key part of an athletics department staff.  Your cell phone doesn’t stop ringing. Your inbox is forever full.  To put it simply, you are getting things done and the program can’t run successfully without you.  In a blink of an eye, you have been replaced.  And just like that, your student-athletes are depending on someone else and you’re left questioning, what just happened?!?  This, my friends is the reality of athletics.  As professionals in this ever-changing field, we are often the ones preaching to our student-athletes to get their degrees because their athletic careers won’t last forever; to select a school based on everything BUT the coach because we know all too well that those change like the wind.  Yet, here we are in the same boat having to take our own advice.

“The reality of athletics is that often change comes swiftly with lots of collateral damage”

The nature of athletics is that EVERYONE is replaceable, from the Athletic Director, to the Coaches, to the Staff, the Graduate Assistants, the Student-Athletes, and EVERYONE in between.  In many cases, change in athletics often is a trickle down effect and has little to do with YOU (or your résumé, your accolades, and how long you’ve been at Athletic University College).  The reality of athletics is that often change comes swiftly with lots of collateral damage.  In the high-profile sport of football alone, a head coaching change can immediately effect upwards of 100 lives, when you add in support staff, spouses and children.

The business side of athletics encourages change in many regards.  The myth is that a shiny new coach fixes everything…the “boo bird” fans are excited again, donations start rolling back in, there’s a ton of media coverage.  It’s a win-win for everyone except the old staff.  In many, many cases, any and everyone associated with the previous regime is let go.  It’s not personal, and you’re fooling yourself if you think it is.  Why do you think turnover in athletics is as high as it is?  People try to move up, move out before they end up unemployed when the writing is on the wall that change is inevitable. Nowadays, spending more than five years with the same program is an anomaly.  An old coach once told me, “if you haven’t been fired, you haven’t been in coaching long enough.”  As the pressure to win gets higher and unreasonably higher, the reality is that you will be fired.  Just as our current student-athletes get replaced by the latest 5-star stud, the sad truth is you will be replaced at some point in your career as well.   You can pout about it or you can be prepared.

” You will not be the Senior Associate of ABC’s at Athletic University College forever”

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times…”it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  This too is the reality of athletics.  The best advice I can offer is to stay connected with as many professionals (coaches, administrators, support staff, etc) as you can on multiple levels (high school, collegiate, professional). You never know when your guy knows a gal who knows a guy that might need a gal like you.  And just as we teach our student-athletes to not be tied to their identity as a student-athlete, we must take heed to that advice as well.  You will not be the Senior Associate of ABC’s at Athletic University College forever.  The blunt truth is that if you plan to have a long, successful career in sports, then you must understand that change is the Reality of Athletics.  Embrace it and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

“Kristy Belden is currently the Dean of Students at Bishop Moore Catholic High School and spent 5 years as the Director of Player Development with the UCF Football program.  She was one of the first female full-time player development directors for a NCAA Division IA football program.  Prior to that role, Belden spent 9 years as the Associate Director for Multicultural and Academic Support Services, and Academic Services for Student-Athletes at the University of Central Florida.  She is a former collegiate track athlete and has her Masters degree in Educational Psychology-Sport Psychology.  

Follow Kristy on twitter @KristyBelden

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Notre Dame College, Humiliation, Pt 3

How did you go from being a division one quarterback to a division two punter and not even a quarterback?

It is hard to revisit my experience at Notre Dame College. For a while I would refuse to revisit it, I could not do so without feeling bitterness or extreme pain that tainted the overall experience. Ultimately, the feelings evolved into numbness and a sense of not being able to acknowledge the fact that the experience occurred. It was the only way possible that I could move on and live. I am grateful that today, I am able to speak of the experience in terms not tainted by feelings or numbness.

Commitment is something that must be fulfilled to preserve friendship and relationships. The impact friends have on our everyday life can be so great that decisions are often made out of obligation. Unfortunately, decisions made out of obligation to our friends can lead to a traumatic experience and or humiliation. However, adversity even of the worst kind leaves one with a lesson to grow from and become a better person.

Before graduating from high school and upon committing to Miami University, I gave my word to four friends/teammates/brothers who were going to be student-athletes at Notre Dame College. I gave them my word that if things didn’t work out at Miami I would join them at NDC and once again play football with them. January 2011, I committed to Notre Dame College accepting a full ride scholarship. Once again, I had a duty to fulfill and a commitment to something much bigger than myself. I can recall my best friend who I also happened to room with stating, “man I didn’t think you were serious about the promise you made last year”. Of course when I made the promise I wasn’t planning on a time where I had to follow through with it but when the time came I did and was glad…. At first.

 At the time I felt nothing more than excitement and a sense of happiness. I thought to myself “this is like a home away from home”. I had anything and everything a collegiate student-athlete could ask for. I felt like I not only belonged but more importantly I felt like I was wanted and needed. All was good. I was the big man on campus, only an hour away from my family and hometown, classes were manageable, and I was more than happy with my decision. The first year had a couple of bumps in the road but nothing that couldn’t be overcome by persistence and sticking to the commitment of the process for success.

Entering into the 2011 football season I was in a quarterback battle with a talented returner. Eventually I would not be chosen as the starting quarterback for the first two games, however, this would soon change during halftime of our second game. I became the full time starting quarterback and one of the team captains after leading the team to victory the second game. As the season progressed, I became more comfortable as a student-athlete and leader at Notre Dame College. We ended the season with a better record than the previous year and had a lot to look forward to going into the offseason. Still, things were going well and I was a happy or as the saying goes at NDC “Falcon for Life.”

Spring 2012 was what I have previously labeled the beginning of the end. My best friend had decided to leave the school for personal reasons. This crushed me and at the time I considered it betrayal and selfish. I recall thinking, “how could you leave when I came here because of you?” After that I was never the same. You see, he was the person who I could always count on whenever I needed anything. When times were hard and I felt the weigh of the world on my shoulders, he would make sure I didn’t falter. He never allowed me to do anything stupid or reckless. He cared about me more than I cared about myself. To sum it up in a word, he was my brother, and when he left a part of me left with him.

A couple of weeks before spring practice was to begin, I was punished for breaking team rules. Allow me to explain… One night my suitemates and I decided to host a little get together in our suite involving refreshments of a kind that weren’t permitted on campus. But we were too cool and too much of a big deal around campus to ever get caught, let alone written up. Well, we got caught. When the time of confession came my new roommate and I took all the blame. If I hadn’t then a few guys in the room would have been caught, they would have been immediately dismissed from the team and possibly school. So, knowing this and being a team captain I decided to take the blame.

A captain goes down with his ship. Our team policy was that if at any time a player got in trouble with the school or team, that player would automatically be moved down the depth chart at the start of spring ball. As always the first string gets more reps than the backups, this is a fact even if coaches preach otherwise. Accordingly, as the spring season progressed coach and I became more and more hostile. It seemed as if I was not getting a fair shot to compete for the position. Many Teammates including the three teammates I had made the promise to, saw and felt this was the case. Often times behind closed doors where they could not be heard by anyone of authority who could punish them, my teammates would say, “Rob I know how they are treating you and it is wrong, but things will get better.”

Things never got better, only worse and worse. At the end of spring ball and the semester before summer, Coach called me into his office and told me I was being moved to wide receiver but still staying as the punter. I wasn’t going to be given a chance to compete over the summer and into fall camp. The decision was made that my days of being the starting quarterback were over and done. So began the summer of 2012, I came home and broke the news to my family. Upon hearing the news and thinking about what comes next, my parents pushed me to transfer elsewhere and that I didn’t come there to be treated in such a way. Most of the summer I spent weighing out options and trying to decide what I should do.

Eventually I would return to Notre Dame College as a “full ride” student athlete. I put emphasis on “full ride” because this was the main reason I decided to go back. How could one not turn down a full ride scholarship being a student-athlete? Everything was paid for which meant upon graduation I had no student loans to pay back. Common sense would tell anyone to not pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. However, the price I had to pay for this decision was something that would become a lifelong lesson. A lesson that not many people consider as a good lesson because the impact it has on the heart and psyche of a person.

Humiliation has such a stinging ring to it when spoken. Try feeling it and experiencing it even just a little, I promise you or whoever experiences being humiliated that it will change your life and the outlook you have on life. Throughout the 2012 season at Notre Dame College there were times that I thought about getting in my car and just driving away to somewhere far away from there. But I didn’t, for some reason I was meant to be there at that time. I was meant to be that guy who transferred from a division 1 school where he won a championship, who then transferred down a division to become the quarterback of Notre Dame College, who then was knocked off his pedestal and brought down to become not even a quarterback let alone the starting quarterback at a school who couldn’t even break the five hundred mark of a football season. It was humiliating to show my face in public and know that everyone knew what happened to the once “big man on campus.” It was humiliating to be the starting punter every single game that season and after the game shake hands with our opponent and be asked by players and coaches “what happened to you being the starting quarterback” or “how did you go from being a division one quarterback to a division two punter and not even a quarterback?” Such questions at first angered and hurt me to the point of tears flowing down my face. Eventually the tears subsided as did the anger and hurt. What they became was nothing or a sense of numbness with no feeling at all. I had reached a point of no return and kind of died inside.

Friends, teammates, coaches, fellow students, etc. felt bad but did nothing to help. Not even those I made that promise and commitment to in high school, they knew and felt the position and psyche I was in but did or said nothing to me or anyone because they feared that what happened to me would happen to them. And so there I was humiliated and miserable. I needed some type of release from the hell I was in.

A week after the season I received a call from a past teammate and friend who had transferred from Notre Dame College (NDC) to Hiram College the summer of 2012. We talked for a bit just catching up on each other’s lives asking how things are going, then he asked if I would come down and visit him at Hiram College. I figured sure why not, it was somewhere away from NDC. So I visited him. We had a great time and I met a lot of good people… different people than what I was used to at NDC. People who acknowledged me and said hello and asked how I was. During the day we ate in the dining hall where I ran into a football recruit, he immediately recognized me and began talking to me. He asked questions about my experiences at Miami and NDC, then he asked my opinion on several matters. Of course I gave him my opinion, why not, what did it matter? It was just my opinion about what he asked me. Or so I thought…. Little did I know this conversation would cost me a full ride scholarship leading to my dismissal from NDC.

After the weekend on Monday coach called me into his office saying he needed to speak with me. Our meeting lasted for fifteen minutes and consisted of him asking if I visited Hiram College over the weekend, If I spoke to a recruit and what I said, and then my scholarship being pulled. That was the last straw, I was completely humiliated and a fool in most people’s eyes. However, a sense of relief and hope came over me as soon as I walked out of his office. I remember thinking, “its over… I was free.” At the end of the semester I left the place I once called home, my three teammates I made that promise to, and the worst experience of my life. I had been humiliated and broken. However, the lesson of humiliation and being humiliated was something that would be vital to me becoming a better person, a better student-athlete, and the leader Hiram College needed.

To be continued…

Written by Robert Partridge, follow Robert on twitter

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Ronnie Stokes, Former Ohio State Buckeye Standout

Ron Stokes has been the expert analyst on the radio broadcasts of Ohio State basketball. Stokes also is the CEO and president of Three Leaf Productions, a Columbus-based printing, marketing, and advertising business. Mr. Stokes played basketball for Ohio State from 1981-85, served as a captain for two seasons, and was the team MVP and all-Big Ten as a senior. He ranks among the top six all-time for the Buckeyes in assists and steals, and in the top 25 in scoring.  PPD Mag caught up with Mr. Stokes to talk about athletes and personal development.

PPD Mag: Why are athletes getting into so much trouble outside of sports?

Mr. Stokes: I quantify that things today were not around when I played.  Social media and cell phones are a big issue.  This generation of opposing fans has much more access to student athletes as well as professional athletes.  The athletes personal business is more exposed and socially, the general public  are now noticing a lot of the negative behavior athletes are exhibiting away from the sport.

Dr. Mark:  How important is the male influence for the athlete?

Mr. Stokes: Having a positive influence during the developmental stages at home especially having the male influence or lack of influence plays a major role.  I would add, not having a male in the household is an issue.  Mom and grandma are great but having a male involved in the developmental process is in some ways a separator.  Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of athletes getting into trouble and they happen to be African American athletes.

PPD Mag: What core element is missing from college and professional athletics?

Mr. Stokes: A person who is dedicated and focusing on working with athletes in an area of personal growth.  At the moment we could see this person as a mentor.  I think a mentor is someone that can give the kids something that they need, if someone who has had similar life experience that they can share with athletes, it can be useful to a kid.  However, it is important to understand that, mentorship has a lot of responsibility and people attempting to fill that role need to understand all the components involved.  More importantly, the mentee has to be able to accept the information and help which the mentor is providing.  Its a two way street.

PPD Mag: Do you see a need for transitional support services for athletes? 

Mr. Stokes: Yes, transitional support services are vitally important, unfortunately kids leave college ill-equipped in certain areas, they are thrown out and expected to survive in a number of areas and the transition is an ongoing process.  I know some coaches help athletes but I also know some coaches that just don’t.  I had mentors who taught me and prepared me for life.  These were things that I couldn’t learn on the basketball court.

During a four or five year process it would be an extra bonus for the school to provide pre-transitional services.  Once they leave the university, student athletes do not engage with the institution.  Services should be in place allowing athletes to engage with the university.  By that I mean, the institutions should have programs in place to support former athletes once they have completed or exhausted their eligibility, due to the amount of issues former athletes encounter.

 

PPD Mag: What are your three suggestions for student athletes?

  1. Write down your goals, short, medium and long term.
  2. Find 2 or 3 people in your goal areas and identify someone to include in your circle.
  3. Find mentors you can trust and believe in, stay close to them and act on what they tell you.

 

You can find Mr. Stokes on twitter 

This interview was arranged by Jay Keys

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The Joe Asberry Project 

Joe Asberry left the USA in 1991 to play international basketball and has not been back since.  He has played in Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Finland and Luxembourg and to this day lives in Berlin.  He is currently a social worker, who is an international guest speaker on drug prevention and sports motivation.

Dr. Mark: Why are your youtube videos so Hard Core?

Mr. Asberry: I try and just keep it real and its a rage.  I really felt I was not treated fairly in the college system.  I also think it stems from my experience at Pepperdine University where I was redshirted and then the next year they shipped me out!  Now, I made mistakes, but I think they could have had someone on campus working with me on the issues I had.  It was clear that I had a substance abuse problem back then as well as a lot of other guys on the team. I won’t name names, lol.  The reason I am speaking after years is to show them they did not stop me from achieving my goal. I also want to help educate and inspire the next generation of ballers.

Dr. Mark: Playing basketball in Europe, what are the key issues athletes need to understand?

Mr. Asberry: One, off the court issues

Financial Issues:  are you going to get your money on time or at all and most often players money is late.

Health Issues:  Most teams have health coverage but I have heard too many stories of guys getting hurt and soon after, they are released from the club.

Social Issues: The club life will kill you and the women really, really are interested in you and I have seen guys get caught up in that and I was one of them but the social seen didn’t dictate my success.  Some guys can handle it but some guys can’t.

Cultural Issues: Athletes coming abroad have to be willing to embrace the culture.  The American culture is something they should leave in the USA, if not players never last on the international level.

Mr. Asberry: Two, on the court issues

Coaching and communication: some coaches don’t speak english and so it makes it tough to communicate in games.

Knowledge of the game of basketball:  Many of the coaches don’t understand the game in the same manner that US coaches do.

Teammates: Most of the teammates will be envious of your journey through basketball development and the major factor is your American and most Americans playing abroad get all the attention.

Knowledge of the game of basketball: the international rules are different and the style of play is a bit more technical from a fundamental stand point.  The USA has athletes on the court but many cant think the game.  The international game involves a lot more thinking while playing as oppose to just playing.

Dr. Mark: Can we expect more, of Joe’s Basketball Diary in 2016?

Bet on it, LoL…..

Click here to listen to Joe’s Basketball Diary 

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Gregg Simmons of Hire Ethics

Hire Ethics was created to support underrepresented college students. The majority of these students were completing their education but lacked the skills to obtain employment.  Hire Ethics became that bridge between education and employment.  After a few years in business, they realized that other populations were also lacking these same career management skills, particularly athletes.  In 2016, a new division of Hire Ethics will be launched, “Hire Ethics Pro” dedicated to career, education & employment services for elite & professional athletes. Gregg Simmons is the Executive Director of Hire Ethics and agreed to talk to PPD Mag.

Dr. Mark: Is it difficult to prepare athletes for a career outside of athletics?

Mr. Simmons: I don’t believe it is difficult.  I believe it becomes difficult when information is not available, when the discussion happens toward the end of their athletic career, and when there is a lack of support from their immediate circle.

Dr. Mark: Why is the transition to the career world difficult for athletes?

Mr. Simmons: Transition / change is difficult for most people, it becomes increasingly difficult for athletes because no one wants to talk about or plan for the inevitable, retiring or leaving their sport.

Dr. Mark: Can you tell us your thoughts on campus speakers who are former athletes?

Mr. Simmons: Athletes, like most people, like hearing from their own, so athletes are most receptive to listen to what former athletes have to say.  The benefits occur when the message or the story is so unique or special that the athlete gain empathy or not a sense of “I can do that too.”  The bigger issue is when a former athlete provides a good message but fails to provide or articulate a way for current athletes to be successful too (If that is the message from a former athlete).  There should be next steps or “how to” incorporated within any presentation to benefit or help the athlete.

Dr. Mark: Why is personal development important to the athlete?

Mr. Simmons: The main reason is in the title of the question “Personal.”  It has to be personal and athletes have to own it and be actively involved with their growth & development.  The same effort and time they put into being the best athletes has to go into their personal development.  Transition is inevitable, so preparing, training and getting ready for life after sports is important.

Dr. Mark: Do you believe people currently working with athletes have been properly trained to help athletes in the area of personal growth?

Mr. Simmons: I believe the majority of these people have not been trained properly.  It’s widely believed that being a former athlete is the main criteria to work with or speak to other athletes, this should not be the case.  A perfect example is when sport teams hire an All-World athlete as a head coach mainly due to their athletic success and they turn out to be an awful coach.  Being a former athlete or an athletic administrator is a great hire if they have been properly trained.

Dr. Mark: How does the family effect the personal development of the athlete?

Mr. Simmons: Family and individuals in their immediate circle influence, shapes and effects the athlete’s decisions, reality, direction and growth.  When an elite athlete transitions from sport so does everyone else in their family and immediate circle.

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Miami University 2010: Commitment and Paying the Price for Success Pt 2

December 7, 2010, I committed to Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) accepting a full ride academic/athletic scholarship. Upon committing I didn’t know how much of an impact on my life this would make. While a student-athlete at Miami University, I was part of a team that made history by winning the Mid-American Conference championship and finishing the 2010 season with a record of 10-4. A substantial improvement from the year before where the football team finished the season 1-11. However, what is less known or advertised was the price that had to be paid by each team member individually. At the base of success is a degree of commitment to an idea or goal. It is often that the slogan/motto “there is no ‘I’ in team” is shouted among teams and organizations. Selfishness serves as a monkey wrench in the operation of collective actions. Individual commitment to the team is a necessity to success.

As I reminisce and think back five years ago, I cannot help but come to the realization that the overarching theme for my experience at Miami University surmounts to one thing. Commitment. Not only commitment to the institution and its football program but also and more importantly, commitment to the process of success while paying the price for success.

I understood as an eighteen year old freshman what it meant to be committed to goals/aspirations, the process of success, and the price for success. However, the commitment I was previously responsible to fulfilling was something I had rooted and engrained throughout childhood. In fact, this commitment only added to the childhood dream. College was an entirely different animal. An animal that I knew had to be confronted and dealt with accordingly. For though I made the decision and commitment to Miami University, I did so naïve/ignorant to the process and price that came along with success. I committed to being a student-athlete because that was what I was good at and that was what those around me expected of me.

 I was a collegiate student-athlete at Miami University for six months. During this time, I, like any and all college freshman, evolved in many aspects of life both positively and negatively. At the time my major or field of study was undecided, however, I did find a course or two interesting. Throughout my time at Miami I struggled academically. I continually asked for tutors and or academic coaches, never was I granted one. Nonetheless, I made it through the season and did what was asked.

Athletically, I competed every morning during practice at five a.m. I was privileged enough to travel with the team for away games and sometimes having the chance to play. Additionally, I was voted by teammates to be a member of the Redhawk leadership council, which was a group of guys who met weekly to discuss team issues and come up with solutions to produce positive outcomes for the program. These weekly meetings were the highlight of my week. I had the opportunity to get to know my teammates on a different level. Without the once a week leadership sessions I would not have made it through the season and semester. The lessons I would learn from those meetings I would carry  throughout college and still carry with me today.

I mentioned previously how I evolved while at Miami University academically and athletically, but I did not touch on how I evolved personally. The purpose of the next section is to speak of this subject. And so let us begin…

Academically, I was scratching the surface of becoming a student. Athletically, I was learning the intangibles and sharpening the skills needed to lead a program. However, though both academics and athletics are key subjects in a collegiate student-athletes life, one subject that is often times forgotten is personal development. While at Miami I failed to grow as a person and think about who I was becoming. Never did I tell myself “one day your football career will end and you will have to enter into real life”. Never did I question who I was as a person and what I wanted to become. While I was living the life of a student-athlete, I failed to embrace who I was as an individual. This was the something that was swept under the rug along the process of success. This was the price that I paid for success. Yes, I went out after games, hung out with friends, and tried to “live it up”, but not without second-guessing myself thinking “how could what I am currently doing effect the team and disappoint those who trust me to represent the program? ”.

Coach always told us that we as athletes (football players) have a duty to be great ambassadors for the athletic program and football team. Every action anyone or I committed either on or off the field was a representation of the team NOT JUST YOURSELF. Coach made this very clear by demanding before practices and every game that we “look around, to our left/right/front/behind, and say to our brother I TRUST IN YOU”. As a team leader (leadership council member), quarterback, and varsity player, I had an obligation to the team, both on and off the field. I assumed this duty upon committing to the institution whether knowingly or unknowingly.

            As the semester and season came closer to ending, as did my time at Miami University. And so upon the semester ending I made the decision to leave Oxford, Ohio. I would close a chapter in my life and begin anew. Though I would depart Miami, the lessons I learned while there wouldn’t depart me. Above other lessons, I learned what it meant to be committed and the price that came with it. I would carry this lesson with me to Notre Dame College.

To be continued…

Written by Robert Partridge, follow Robert on twitter

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The Bob Knight Experience with Mr. Bill Cook

My rock star attitude took a toll on the IU assistant coaches at the time. Dan Dakich and Joby Wright both challenged me with intense verbal confrontations on separate occasions. Ron Felling simply ignored me most of the time unless I humored his jokes. Tates Locke, on the other hand, was the one coach who was able to relate to me. One day Coach Locke and I sat high in the stands in Assembly Hall, and he asked me why I was attending IU? I think he expected me to say something along the lines of “to become a professional basketball player” or “to earn a degree.” My reply was one in which I stood by: “to experience all that college has to offer.” Coach Locke laughed, and as the conversation continued, he gave me much needed insight on how college coaching is designed and how the system was affecting my playing time as well as basketball players just like me all over the country.

Coach Locke quickly began to explain his view of coaching at the division 1 level. He said that every student athlete has an advocate on staff trying to get their player minutes on the court. They do this because in most cases they recruited that player. When a player does not perform to expectations on and off the court, the head coach usually blames the assistant coach who was responsible for the recruitment process.

When that assistant coach gives up on the athlete, dealing with that player becomes the responsibility of another assistant coach. The process continues until the team runs out of assistant coaches.

Then a decision is made to either encourage the player to leave or to let the athlete ride the scholarship out. When I said I understood, he said, “I am the last assistant coach on the list to deal with Mark Robinson.” Whether this was true or he was just trying to get me to leave the rock star mode, based off the behavior of the other assistant coaches, his reasoning made complete sense. We I left Assembly Hall, I felt much better about my interactions with Coach Wright and Coach Dakich. I understood that these assistant coaches were under extreme pressure, and it is sometimes easy to forget that the players dealt with are 18-21 year old kids. I also came to understand that as a player, once practice was over I could go back to my rock star world, and they had to continue to stay in the world of Bob Knight.

While at IU, Buzz Kurpius was the team’s academic advisor, and she did a wonderful job of keeping the team eligible. I majored in General Studies, but I had no clue what I could do with a degree in General Studies and neither did anyone else. Buzz was a sincere person, and most of the time it was clear that she wanted the best for the guys on the team. Her job was to make sure players attended class and passed classes. However, her oversight did not extend beyond our class work. At the time, everyone assumed athletes were gaining the necessary personal development and becoming better people through the basketball experience. Understanding the personal needs of the athletes on the basketball team was not a high priority, and the importance of personal development was unknown. I would argue that many academic advisors today are still unaware of the needs and benefits of personal development for athletes.

Bill Cook

Bill and Gayle Cook

During the spring semester of 1988 my GPA did not meet the standard that Coach Knight believed to be acceptable. As a punishment, he assigned me to work during that summer at a company called Cook Group Incorporated. I did not know much about the company or what I would be doing, but since the work assigned was a punishment, I assumed it would not be pleasant. I reported to work and sat with Mr. Bill Cook, the CEO. I remember seeing Mr. Cook around Assembly Hall from time to time and had exchanged pleasantries with him and his wife, Gayle, on several occasions without ever realizing he was the CEO of a major company. On my first day we talked and laughed for a little over an hour while watching his marching band on tape. While I was enjoying this opportunity, Mr. Cook received a call from Coach Knight asking what job I would be doing? Mr. Cook replied to Coach that we had not yet begun that discussion. Coach Knight asked Mr. Cook to give me the dirtiest job he could find. I ended up cleaning bathrooms, maintaining a bird pool in front of the office, and sand blasting vents on the roof of the building all summer. However, every time Mr. Cook and I had an opportunity to chat, we would. After the summer job, I did not see much of Mr. Cook until I finished my degree……

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The Bob Knight Experience

Playing for Bob Knight at Indiana elevated one’s status in the community and on campus, and no one loved the recognition more than myself. This was the first time I truly felt entitled as a result of the hard work and commitment I made at the high school and community college level. Now this might sound silly, but the fact that people recognized me and wanted my autograph, fed into my ego. The social life of an Indiana basketball player could take one of two courses. You could a: take the student athlete route and focus on academics and basketball, or b: take the rock star route while focusing on academics and basketball. Most of my teammates took route A. I, however, took route B. Yes, the rock star route. I think my decision was due to my ignorance regarding what IU basketball was all about. I did not grow up in basketball culture like most of my teammates, and I suspect they knew what signing up for IU basketball entailed. I had no clue.

The College Basketball Rock Star

Taking the rock star route had serious consequences because Coach Knight and his staff knew everything players did after practice and games. Some students would even call the basketball office and leave messages for coaches alerting them that some of the basketball players were out at a party. My social life affected my playing time. Although the consequences frustrated me at times, I still made my choice. Once I was able to accept the coach’s decision, it did not matter how much I played during games. I believed my personal time existed before or after the games, and I loved each and every minute of that lifestyle. My job was to give 100% on the basketball court in practice and in games, and I did that without question. However, I felt once basketball was over, my time was available to do as I pleased. If IU granted a degree in the area of being a socialite, I would have not only made the honor roll, but I would have been the valedictorian of my class.

The College Basketball Luxuries

As part of a nationally recognized athletic program, athletes are afforded certain luxuries, and one extravagance was having team managers around. Many on the outside do not realize the difficulty involved with being a team manager nor do they see the long-term benefits. Lawrence Frank, who would later become an NBA coach, and I established a great relationship. He was a guy who would tell you how he felt in a joking, yet sarcastic way and did not care about who you were and how many minutes you were playing. I enjoyed laughing and talking to “L,” as we called him, because he could put a tough practice or loss in a humorous perspective even when you did not want to laugh. He would also give you a certain look at times to alert you that Coach Knight was not in the mood for playing around and that locker room jokes needed to be shut down.

The Bob Knight Relationship

My relationship with Coach Knight was not like the relationship I had with my previous two coaches to say the least. Coach Knight would often ask me to just leave and go back to California. Although I gave that option some thought, I enjoyed being in the Rock Star mode way too much and going back to California was not an option. During my tenure, players like Rick Calloway, Dave Minor, Chuck White, and Lawrence Funderburke transferred for a variety of reasons. At the time, I could not understand why a player in his right mind would leave Bloomington Indiana. I developed a relationship with all of these guys and each time one of them transferred, I was hurt in the same way a person feels the loss of a family member.

Coach Knight, while misunderstood by many on the outside world, treated all players, starters, and reserves the same. His methods of motivation were nothing like I had ever seen. He placed a big emphasis on diversity and would often go into a rage if he walked into a pre-game meal and the room was segregated. No table with black-only players was allowed, and vise versa. Additionally, there were two issues that were not debatable with Coach Knight: alcohol & drugs and academics. Players would simply no longer be at IU if they had trouble in either of these two areas.

As players transferred from the team, my compassion for them and my curiosity in athletic behavior began to grow. The one thing I noticed when these athletes left IU was the amount of isolation the institution quickly, yet unknowingly placed them in. Once a player made the decision to leave IU, they were on their own and kept a distance between themselves and former teammates. None of the players’ departure hurt me more than when Jay Edwards left IU and entered the NBA draft after his sophomore season. Jay Edwards had the best jump shot and highest basketball IQ of any player I had ever worked with, but when he decided to turn professional, I questioned the rationale for his decision. He and I spent two years together regularly, and we never discussed the possibility of him playing in the NBA. I believe playing in the NBA was one of his long-term goals, but leaving after his sophomore year was the result of his family’s expectation. Once the decision was made, the IU basketball community turned on Jay and he was placed in isolation..

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