Win. Or Don’t. Life lessons learned from losing at individual sports.

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 11.37.03 PMMy kids are the best. They are awesome. They are perfect! Let me tell them how wonderful they are 24/7!

If you are a parent, there is no doubt how you FEEL.

But, now we are hearing different messages from psychologists that all this praise isn’t really best for our kids. We are hearing a new message: praise the work, not the kid.

Experts tell how this plays out. When you tell your kid “you are an awesome bagpipe player!” twenty times a day, your child begins to believe it. They begin to link “awesome” with themselves. But they don’t build a framework of why they are awesome, or what it takes to achieve awesome. Anyone ever heard of Justin Bieber? My 2-yr old makes better life decisions than this guy. While he’s been swooned by millions of adolescent girls, he’s completely lost the ability to discriminate feedback between from fans, and who he really is.  Perhaps this is an extreme example, or maybe its not. Experts tell us too much praise breeds a sense of false sense of security. Kids begin to believe what they are told, but they don’t associate the praise with the action required to achieve this praise.

Apparently, what we should be saying is “I’m so proud of all the hard work you put into playing bagpipes.” While some people may view this as trivial, kids appear to get a different message. They hear that you are proud of the WORK they put each day. They associate hard work with  success. And since everyone likes praise, they focus their efforts on the work to earn more praise.

The world of sport is pretty cool: we can learn complex life lessons while doing fun things that we actually enjoy. But team sports and individual sports give us uniquely different experiences.

Think about it. Its the finals. Your team scores the winning touchdown, 3-pointer, or homerun. The crowd rallies. Fans on on their feet. Cheers. Coach gets doused with the water cooler. In fact a lot of people confuse the vibe that these Norman Rockwell images convey with the actual   achievement of winning.

I love team sports (if you are an LSU fan and have seen a home game at Tiger Stadium, its a whole different state of mind) but they can be confusing for young minds. If you win, great. Why did your team win? Did every player on the team carry out each play perfectly? Did you win because 3 starting players are so incredible they made up for deficiencies on the rest of the team?  Or did you win because the other team made error after error, or had 2 of their best players hurt?

Because each of the three scenarios would convey a completely different sense of accomplishment. If YOU or your kid nailed the game – awesome! “I’m so proud of that key penalty kick you blocked” you may say. But maybe your kid didn’t play their best. In fact, maybe they screwed up big time, but the team still won. What kind of lesson does that convey to an 8 yr old? Is everyone on the team still a winner even if some of the kids blew their position that day? Or maybe the opposing team just couldn’t get their act together. does that make your kid a winner? Does being a “winner” really breed positive feedback for individual skill and inner drive?

I’m a firm believer that team sports can teach you a major lesson: sometimes things happen that are beyond your control (other players, other teams, bad calls from the ref). Team sports offer an immersive environment to build relationships and develop trust with others to help work around unique problems you encounter.

But kids can be overwhelmed with the desire to WIN, and lose focus of the process it takes to have a great performance. Individual sports offer the ability to look uniquely at yourself.  And from a developmental standpoint, this is big. The legendary coach Joe Vigil often says “there are few sports more nobel than track and field. Its you a fixed course and a watch. And there is no hiding.”

Let’s think about this. I’m twelve, swimming the 100 meter butterfly at the state meet. I’ve put in tons of work, and show up prepared. The gun fires, and I’m soaring off the block, stroking as hard as I can, only to show up at the finish one tenth of a second out of first. Next up is the 200 fly. Again, I showed up a few hundredths, or maybe a few tenths of a second off the big win. I have no idea how many times I didn’t win, but it was a LOT!

And in these individual events, the hard truth was obvious. The only reason I didn’t win was because I didn’t perform. Maybe I blew my start. Maybe I blew my race strategy. Maybe I showed up less fit than I needed to be. I was 12, and certainly didn’t have a lot of life experience to make sense of all this. But my coaches over the years were beyond incredible. Each and everytime I didn’t win, they helped me reflect on my limits, which motivated me to overcome these limits, and praised me for what I had done to perform. I learned specific lessons – and won – through losing. But each time, they were things I had control over. And when you have control over the situation, you can improve.

The take home from all this? All these “life lessons” obviously didn’t turn me into Michael Phelps. But they helped me grow as a person. I begin to understand what I was good at, and what areas of my training / life I need to work on. As a 12-yr old, I needed direction, and individual sports gave this to me. I learned to look at myself objectively. Oddly, things still happen to me now, that I can compare to experiences and challenges I learned from competing as a young athlete. And guess what? I still screw up in life, and I’m still trying to be a better person.

We all love our kids unconditionally, and win, lose, or tie, they need to know that. But as for lessons learned from the world of sport, Its up to us to help channel these wins and losses within our kids to help them grow.

Because there was another time I dove into the pool. And that time, things clicked. And a state record fell. And so did a spot on the national rankings. And I understood all the work I put in to make that moment come true. I was pretty pumped. Not only did I win, I grew. And I want my kids to know this feeling too.

LAVA Magazine comes to visit

LAVA Magazine came to visit, check out what they had to say, and find some tips to help your knee cap move like it should.

And if you want to read a snippet on the latest with now-local phenom Kate Grace- check this out here!

today, do something that scares you, something that challenges you, and something that makes you laugh. Its how we grow.

THE Textbook of Running Medicine – yup, hot off the presses!

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 2.14.59 AMMany years ago, the first edition of the Textbook of Running Medicine was published. It was an amazing conglomeration of peer-reviewed research to help all clinicians who deal with running athletes in one hard-bound source. It sold out world-wide and was out of print.

Well, over the past 2 years, the team has been hard at it yet again for the second edition. I’m happy to announce that the 2nd edition is now out. If you are a physician, therapist, or trainer, you need this book. Period. Nothing else compares. I’d like to applaud the work of the editors (all of whom I’m proud to call colleagues and friends) Dr. Bob Wilder, Dr Fran O’Connor, and Eric Magrum.  I applaud the work of all the writers who contributed to this amazing work. You just might find a chapter from yours truly in there as well.

Check out this link to order your copy today!

The Dynasty of Running Medicine Continues

photo 1-11The University of Virginia Running Medicine Conference continues to be the premier source of training and applied knowledge for clinicians across the country. I’ve been lucky enough to co-direct this course with my colleagues Dr. Robert Wilder and Eric Magrum for the past twelve years. We assembled an entourage of experts to bring us up to speed on the latest research, and how this applies to our patients.  And this year, we had requests to expand into talks on performance planning and progression, and we delivered.

From the clinical side:
Dr. Fran O’Connor described findings of “Exertional Rhabdomyolysis”. Its great that the endurance community is embracing strength training. However, going to big too soon can lead to some serious health implications. Dr. O’Connor described how to identify these signs and symptoms when people go a little too aggressively in CrossFit and other competitive environments, and how to ensure that you are progressing training appropriately.

Dr. Wilder described “The Runner With Heel Pain.” Sure your plantar fascia can be the driver of your nagging pain, but there are other structures in this area that drive symptoms, and other areas that can refer to the heal. He reviewed what these are, and how to manage them for success. And on Saturday, Dr. Wilder led a water running lab to discuss tips to ensure high physiologic training stress to maintain fitness while placing the body in a reduced training load.

“The Great Toe” was presented by Eric Magrum. Conservative clinical management of the big toe is essential to proper foot stability. We reviewed normal foot function, problematic scenarios, and how to address each. The one-two punch was saturday’s lab session with hands on evaluation and treatment.

But sometimes, the great toe isn’t so great. Dr Joe Park presented “The Not-So-Great Toe” and discussed the skilled surgical management of the foot and lower leg when conservative care hasn’t worked. Dr Park presented the current state of care for foot management, how this impacts the entire lower quarter, presented some case studies to offer real world application, and innovative, outside the box solutions for correction of serious disorders.

Dr. Siobhan Statuta wasn’t stressed out when she presented “You’re Stressing Me Out! – a review of foot stress fractures.” We reviewed the identification, management, and return to play criteria to ensure successful care.

Dr. John McKnight had some great content (and great pictures) of “common skin conditions of the foot” – we discussed everything from blisters to foot fungus to serious infections, and how to treat these from a clinical as well as a practical approach. Yes, make that one more use for duct tape.

Have you ever wondered what happens “inside” the muscle, and why some tissues sustain strain injuries (tears) more than others? Dr. Silvia Blemker presented the engineering side of the equation. She showed her innovative work with real-time MRI and how the shape of the aponeurosis affects the stress and strain of muscular forces, and how we can learn more in the future in our efforts to prevent injury. In short, muscle architecture matters.

Now, we’ve discussed how to get runner’s healthy, let’s look beyond into the world of performance.

Have you ever wondered what type of cutting edge training principles are employed by Olympic athletes? and why this works? Our keynote speaker Dr. Brad DeWesse identified what constitutes successful athletic performance, and how to cycle your training to achieve it. Sure there’s an “art” to coaching, but is’t it nice when you can make things objective? Brad was able to present data points on values they assess on all their athletes, how they implement training for targeted improvements in the lab, and what kind of outcome this has in the real world. Impact? The US has won more medals in the sports Brad is working with. Its the stuff of genius.

With a formula for successful training in front of us, yours truly provided an overview talk called “Run Better: Clinical, Strength, and Power Prep for Strength and Endurance Athletes.” We identified how to put a better body into your overall plan: how to screen for muscle imbalances that restrict optimal physical development, how to fix them, and most importantly, how to integrate these skills into running mechanics. Following this, I presented real world case scenarios (with data) to show how this impacts both quantitive lab values and race times. Result? Pain free runners that are setting good numbers in the lab and PR’s on the course.

I’d like to thank over 230 physicians and therapists who attended, and about 100 of you who return each and every year. This course almost seems like a small family at this point, and we greatly appreciate your support, enthusiasm, ad feedback each year. Dr Wilder, Eric, and myself wish you success in implementing these concepts with your patients and athletes!

 

a new way to train for running. Lava magazine and Linsey Corbin lead the way

Its not all blood, sweat, and grinding to the same ‘ol tune.

Lava magazine spoke to Linsey Corbin to discuss the innovative things we did together to rehab her injury and get her ready to run Kona. Yup, a 9 mile long run, plus some outside the box thinking = a 3:04 marathon at IM world championships.Check out the full article for the story by Lava. 

Training the old way is boring. Training the new way is faster (and fun!)

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 5.08.29 PM

“How to Train Like an Olympian” – NBC finds out!

If you want pull a 1080 Japan air in the half pipe, launch yourself 100 yards on downhill skis, or accelerate a bobsled to peak speed before jumping in, science can help you do what you do, better.

NBC came by our lab for a little demo, you can check it out here. (updated with the video link)

Note:  Just don’t ask me anything about curling…….

Webinar of the month: Running Footwear

USA Triathlon selected my webinar “Running Footwear:  A critical look at what we know about footwear, and how to select the right shoes for your athlete.” as the February spotlight. This presentation is loaded with objective information and references to understand what shoes do (and don’t do) and help you see past the marketing hype to select the right tool for your runs.

Smarter runners make smarter decisions on footwear!

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 11.54.27 PM