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My high school baseball coach once praised me behind closed doors but criticized me in front of my teammates. I think he had it backward, but I wasn’t mentally tough at the time. He served as a huge external motivator to prove him wrong later in life.

My junior varsity soccer coach taught me the most. He would run us for miles and miles and throw in sprints along the way. We had a massive hill that we would run. The day before games, whoever we were playing, we had to sprint 50 yards while shouting out each letter of the team! North Hagerstown was a tough one. He taught me that it was a privilege to train.

Coaches are the most important person in today’s society. It doesn’t matter if you have a poor coach either. All coaches teach us something, either how to do things, or how not to do things.

Top 10 things I’ve learned from coaches

  1. You are paid to read-

I read about 15 books one year and felt pretty good. Except, when Tim Roberts told me that he read 93 books that year, he added why, “You are PAID to read.” The knowledge is out there, but it’s a coach’s job to sift through everything and communicate the main thing, whatever the main thing is.

  1. Create an environment that you are missed if you are not there-

Lou Holtz was a genius. He knew that the best place to work was determined by the environment that we created. I was a professor at a University and was no longer living my passion of working with teams and athletes. My work and attitude suffered. I had to leave because I couldn’t foster an environment where I wanted to be. Maybe some people missed me, but the school didn’t stop, and I didn’t get too many calls begging for me to come back.

  1. Listen-

The first time I met head coach Chuck Pagano was at the NFL combine. I introduced myself and told him my profession. What he did next was amazing. He asked me a question. “Hey, what’s the one thing you stress to your athletes?” I answered it well I thought, but what struck me as odd is why he asked me a question. Head NFL coaches usually don’t do that. But that is exactly how he got to where he is. He listens. Asking questions is the best straw to stir the drink of listening.

  1. Sit in front- 

Hall Of Fame baseball coaches Tommy Pharr and Tim Corbin seemed to race to see who got the closest seat at any conference session. That’s all the proof I needed.

  1. It doesn’t matter what you know- 

What matters more is what they learn. Can you communicate it and keep it simple? Great coaches master the simple. As Coach Herb Sendek said  “Simplicity is the room I want to live in.”

  1. Themes instead of absolutes-

They always seem to stress that what we do is not as important as how we do it. We want to trust our constituents to do what they do; take risks, play free, and utilize their strengths. The best coaches have principles in place, but allow freedom to work within a framework. They make adjustments and aren’t married to only one style.

  1. You’ll get fired-

There are two types of coaches, those that have been fired and those that will be fired. I was fired twice after two of my athletes had career changing wins. I thought I would have been fired after they lost. But after they won, they actually didn’t need me anymore. My job is to build capacity, not dependency. There is only a handful of coaches in any sport that haven’t been fired at some point.

  1. Be the coach you always wanted-

Everyone is a coach and we are always communicating. A coach is someone that takes you somewhere you want to go.

  1. Thank the coach- 

Coaches Mark James and Brian Satterfield end practice the same way, they shake each player’s hand. Simple, yet powerful. No matter the type of practice or outcome of a game, the ending is the same. It was created as a way to put a type of positive closure on a poor day, a way to END it positively.

  1. A better you makes a better us- 

And a better us makes a better you. We need to root for those around us to get better. Too often we look at others as competition and a threat, rather than an opportunity to improve. Frankly, it’s the only way to improve.

 

 

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

                                      How to End Practice


I would never said goodbye at any party or wedding. I always left exactly the same way.  I hated giving the formal goodbye, because people never let you leave  without some sort of guilt play.

So, I would duck out the door.  No goodbye. Like ripping off a band-aid.

It’s probably how most people do it today in real life. No two-weeks notice, no official break-up, and especially not face to face. Just a text. Here’s how to end practice.

My daughter hates that I’ve implemented the principle of how we end everything. We Thank the Coach! She is six and gets it.

Coaches and mentors are the most important person in our lives. Everyone needs a coach!

Coaches Mark James and Brain Satterfield end practice the same way, they shake each player’s hand. Simple, yet powerful. NO matter the type of practice or outcome of game, the ending is the same. It was created as a way to put any type of closure to a good or poor day, a way to END it positive. 

Players even started looking forward to it. The worst punishment coach could ever deliver is telling one of their players, “I don’t want to see you after practice.” They got it together pretty quick.

A positive ending is essential because we can’t know the last time we are ever going to see someone. Travis Smith played golf at Ball State and I distinctly remember seeing him at practice before I left for Nashville. I don’t recall saying goodbye… He died in a car accident in 2007. There’s no amount of money his parents wouldn’t have given to spend just a few more moments with him.

Money isn’t the most precious resource, its time. Make sure you end everything with a handshake and a thank you.

 

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

I asked Archie Manning and Andre Agassi to read my next book and provide testimonials, because they would be perfect for its message to parents. I got through to their agents, they said, “no.” Andre Agassi  denied my request three times. I hate rejection, check that, my ego hates rejection.

Dr. Seuss was rejected 27 times, his ego must not have got in the way. What takes place in my mind after losing, or getting rejected is that feeling that I’m not good enough. The setback just affirms that belief, “see, here’s the proof.”

Gym owner and coach, Tyler Miller, of Force Barbell knows when someone isn’t going to make a certain lift, because their approach to the lift is different. Feeling helpless is learned, so is mental toughness. Having limiting beliefs are learned. We set up our own mental barriers about how good we will be.

PIKE syndrome A study was done with Pike fish in a tank, where they released minnows and watched as the Pike gobbled them up. Then , they placed the minnows inside of a jar so the Pike could not get to it. It still went after it, nailing the glass jar time and time again. After a period of time, the jar was removed and the minnows swam freely, meaning the Pike fish could once again feast…This time, the Pike fish did nothing! It stayed there, and eventually starved to death!  The power of nature didn’t allow the fish to survive. The Pike syndrome has to be at least 10x stronger for us humans.

How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man? – Bob Dylan

Self-imposed limiting beliefs are everywhere. For example, “you’re good, but not that good?”  “she’s pretty, but you’re just okay?” If we are unaware of our identity and our mission, then the limiting beliefs will still arise and keep us from reaching our full potential. It’s a mental tether.

Baby Elephants As a means of training an elephant, when they are very small, they are tethered by a thick rope to a stake in the ground. As a baby, it lacks the strength to break free, so eventually, it stops trying. Even when the elephant is large enough and could easily break the rope around its leg, it refuses to do so. The massive size of an elephant learned to be helpless.

Dogs & Electric Shocks Seligman was the first to coin the phrase learned helplessness. I highly recommend his book Authentic Happiness:  His experiment with dogs exposed them to electric shocks, in which they could not escape. After the dogs actually had an out and could escape the shocks, just like the elephant and the Pike fish, they did nothing. The dogs had to be physically removed, no amount of rewards, or praise would get them to leave the shocks. They learned helplessness.

If you want it bad enough, you have to BELIEVE. More importantly, we’ll have to go through our own  shocks, mental tethers, and glass jars. These are the times of non-belief that determine if we will remain steadfast and eventually break free.

 

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

don’t question your mental toughness


 

There is “no question” about it. Did this cliche’ emerge in sports? I’m not sure, it’s just where I hear it most often.

What I’ll hear from competitors is how often they question themselves. “how did I do that?” “what are you doing?” “why am I out here today?” ” What are YOU DOING!?” 

Mental toughness doesn’t ask questions. I don’t hear an athlete playing well, ask themselves “how are you playing so well?”  “How are you so awesome?!” 

Questions during competition emerge after mistakes and they make sense, but they are rhetorical, and they aren’t answered. All they do is lead to more questions or merely go unanswered.

If you want to become more mentally strong then do this instead!

Don’t question your own mental toughness!

Things will go bad, and we aren’t going to always play our best, so we will need to make adjustments. But, questions don’t lead to many positive adjustments, just more questions.

So, we need to give ourselves instructions about what to do NEXT.

Try statements instead.

We are either listening to ourselves or telling ourselves.

“Okay, next play,” “wow, that wasn’t the best,” “stay aggressive,” “find a way.” 

These statements can even be motivational, but I’ve found that the best make slight instructional adjustments.   We don’t need questions about ourselves or our play, we just need to develop a habit of telling  ourselves what to do next.


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness

Dr. Rob Bell true success

Duke basketball fans have one of the most indelible student sections in all of sports: The Cameron Crazies. They epitomize passion, organization, and wittiness. They camp out in Krzyzewskiville for three months prior to games, they hand out cheat sheets for the student cheers, and were the one’s that coined the now famous “air-ball” chant.

Can you imagine that the Cameron crazies once actually cheered for an opposing player?

During one game in 1995, Joe Smith of the Maryland Terrapins was unstoppable. He scored 40 points, had 18 rebounds, and had a tip-in basket as time expired to beat Duke, 94-92.

At the end of the game, after they lost, they truly applauded Joe Smith!

True success is being able to root for everyone.

However, we often feel threatened by others having success, because somehow it means that we can’t be successful too. Inter-team conflicts are based on the belief that success is limited. Therefore, we operate on the actions that not only do I need to be the best that I can be, but remove any obstacle in that path, including anyone vying for my position or record.

We perpetuate this notion and create a culture of it. Whenever we call out someone, put down a coach, or another company, we are doing so based out of fear. I hate it when I notice that I’m rooting against someone or envious of other’s success. It’s just based out of a fear that I won’t reach my own goals.

When we root for others, it means that we are confident. It shows that we are secure enough to actually wish the best for others. That is true success!

When I post this philosophy online, I’ll get questions like ‘even the Yankees?” It doesn’t mean that we have to cheer or root for our direct competition. It just means that we should look for opportunities to cooperate, cross-promote, and learn from them.

Rooting for everyone also means wanting to beat people at their best. I hate it when people make excuses for losing, because it tries to take away the winners success. We should want them to play well, but just for us to perform a little bit better. It doesn’t take away from our own drive or hating to lose.

We actually need others to succeed so we know what we have to do in order to improve. A funny thing happens when others around us have success. It cements the belief in ourselves that it is possible to reach the next level. If everyone around us was mediocre, what models do we have to get better?


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with professional athletes & corporate athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness.  His 2nd book is titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness Follow on twitter @drrobbell  or contact drrobbell@drrobbell.com

Check out the new film & e-book, NO FEAR: A simple guide to mental toughness . 

NO Fear:

When I left the university as a professor and I began my Sport Psychology company, I used to give tons of free talks. I have thankfully been able to stop this practice (although, I still get asked to provide free talks). I literally could speak to groups and teams every day of the week if it was free….

One talk I would give was titled: NO FEAR and I told my wife and business partner that I was retiring the talk. “I want people to understand and capture their HINGE moment!” No sooner had I spoken those words, that a dear friend wanted me to speak to his men’s group. Okay, LAST TIME!

Maybe it was the emotion of the men or the atmosphere of the room, but several, okay three, said that they loved it and I should write a book and make a video about the talk….my reply   Yeah, no thanks. Here is my 2nd book called The Hinge, check this out.” However, one of the guys stayed on it and hence, the next project…

NO FEAR: A SIMPLE GUIDE TO MENTAL TOUGHNESS. 

-Shooting NO Fear

This project will consist of an 18-minute film based on the skills needed for mental toughness. NO FEAR- is an acronym and each letter represents a specific mental skill. Simple, but not easy. More importantly, these are the skills needed to capture our Hinge moment!! Accompanying the film will be an e-book designed for you or your team to not only work on your game, but also yourself!

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

 

Confident people can do this

Confident people can do this skill…


A boat is off-course 99% of the time. A sailboat finds its destination is by tacking. Confident people can do this skill as well.  A series of zigzagging maneuvers, adjusting the sail back and forth and using the wind. Adjusting is how sailboats reach their final destination.

 The best view tacking as the way to sail, while the stubborn view tacking as stressful.

Last year during a tournament round of golf, I actually 3-putted three times….Yeah, brutal. Only after doing an autopsy, I realized something. I lost confidence because I lacked this skill. I never made an adjustment coming down the stretch. Confident people can do this skill!

Confident people can make adjustments!

In the classroom, boardroom, or field of play. Those that can make adjustments will be successful. Stubborn people on the other hand make no adjustments (insert definition of insanity here) and sometimes refuse to make adjustments.

Adjustments can be physical or mental.

It may be a change in attitude or to our routine. Most importantly, however, these adjustments are usually small. The reason why adjustments are small is because

Fundamentals Never Change!

If our foundation and process is solid, then all we need to do is make small adjustments. It may require asking outside people for their help, but the adjustment is usually small.

Confident people can do this skill and make these adjustments because they believe an alteration will make them successful. On the other hand, those that struggle are firmly planted in the belief that a change won’t work. They believe they are only one mistake away from failure. (um, see my putting example from above). 

Mental Toughness is being able to deal with the struggle, setbacks, and adversity. How we make adjustments will determine our success.


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

not successful

Three Simple Reasons You’re Not Successful Enough


The simple reason you’re not successful enough is due to the lack of consistency. You may perform well at times, and the good performances may be GREAT!

But, you are not flourishing because there is no consistency in your performance! The BAD Days are BAD. 

Coaches and bosses love the consistent performer because they KNOW who they are going to get. NO ONE wants someone who is Adam Sandler one day, but Tom Cruise the next.

Playing consistent is tough because- it matters how bad are the bad days.

Most people will tell you that they thirst for the consistent performer over the streaky. So, if you are not successful, it’s usually because you’re not consistent.

Here’s three simple reasons why you’re not successful:

1)             You are not hustling: 

Nothing can replace hustle. Look at the very best at the highest level and I guarantee that they put forth the most preparation.

It is the first step toward building success and consistency because we must know that we have put forth in the effort necessary.

Ghandi once stated “the harder we work, the tougher it is to surrender.” A rule to follow is to look at who works the hardest on your team and outwork them.

2)             You are not preparing the right way:

It pains me when I see the hardest workers not seeing results.

Often enough though, it is because they are not addressing the correct things.

Remember, we play like we train! In order to play consistent, we simply must compete and create pressure during our preparation.  These are the skills that transfer.

3)             You are putting too much pressure on yourself:

Trying harder works in preparation, but rarely works in competition.

When we feel like we are not successful, we are often “getting in our own way.”

Focusing on results as opposed to the execution can cause us to play careful, tight, and trying NOT to mess up.

Pressure stems from a variety of places (expectations mostly) and it slowly creeps into our mentality and performance. Thus, we must completely devote ourselves to the task at hand and staying aggressive.

Peyton Manning summed it up perfectly, “Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.” 


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- 

3 Characteristics of the Best Athletes


People often ask, what are the features of the very best athletes? Having coached, observed, studied, collaborated, spent time  and spoken with athletes for my entire life, here are the three (3) characteristics of the best athletes. Note: I have chosen not to include talent, because talent is a pre-requisite. However, tenacity is more important than talent. 

jeanette cash coldwell banker advantage

characteristics of the best athletes1)  Passion- The best possess an unquenchable thirst to see how good that they can become & they LOVE their sport. 

This passion translates into a willingness and desire for hard work. Dale Earnhardt was once in an accident and could not finish his next race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He started the race, but they had to remove him from the car. Here was the greatest race car driver, basically crying, because they had to take him out of the car. He said, “ Nobody loves anything more than my driving a racecar.”

2)  Competitiveness- The best athletes love to compete and put themselves in situations that test their skills.

The competitiveness is more than just beating others; it is the feeling that they get from testing themselves under pressure. I often witness athletes even outside of their own sport, remain so competitive to win regardless of the event (e.g., checkers, sit-ups, darts, pogo-stick, etc.). They may fear losing, but they don’t succumb to that fear, they have an inner confidence that they continually compete. It’s one of  major characteristics of the best athletes. As Jimmy Connors once stated, “I hate to lose, more than I love to win.”

3)  Another Gear- If you listen to quality sports announcers close enough, they mention how certain players can change speeds.

For example, Emmitt Smith holds the record for career rushing yardage in the NFL, and while few state that he is the best ball carrier of all time, he was nonetheless able to hit the gap successfully and turn downfield—He had another gear. The characteristics of the best athletes are able to muster up the inner fortitude and the “it” factor which allows them to finish strong. They simply have another gear…

These skills may be more innate with the best, but they can be learned and cultivated. Honestly assess your own mental game and answer which of these characteristics do you possess and which one’s need strengthened.

Click here to subscribe to my Friday Mental Toughness newsletter…

top mental toughness coach

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with professional athletes & corporate athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness.  Check out all of our books on Mental Toughness Here.  Follow on twitter @drrobbell  or contact drrobbell@drrobbell.com

Check out the new film & e-book, NO FEAR: A simple guide to mental toughness .

Any successful NFL kicker is the epitome of mental toughness, and Adam Vinatieri is the most clutch kicker of all-time. This is evident in his record four Super bowl victories; three of those as a result of his game winning kicks.www.everyjoe.com

My intention from the beginning of the book was to interview Adam Vinatieri about his mental toughness, but also about his Hinge moment. The Hinge is that one moment, event, or person that connects who we are with who we become.

One of Adam Vinatieri’s Hinge moments occurred while he was a freshman at West Point. Now, I can’t go in depth here, that’s what the book is for, but the mental toughness he displayed during his time at West Point transferred into his kicking and wanting the game on the line.

Okay, so how did I get the interview? For starters, after re-reading Think and Grow Rich, I set my intention to interview him. When any of us set our intention on a target, we find a way to achieve that goal. It’s that simple. It’s never easy, but it is simple.

So, I contacted everyone I knew who might have access to him. I wrote several letters telling him about the book and its premise. I even showed up at the Colts camp. Every single function I was at, I even brought up the topic and inquired if he or she might have an “in.” No luck.

Until, my Hinge came along. The premise of the Hinge includes that one person who makes the difference in our lives. We may know hundreds of people, but it will result in just that one person, who gives us a break, or an opportunity, or introduces us to that right person.

Phil Richards, the awesome columnist of the Indianapolis Star was that Hinge. He made the connection and while at the Outer Banks on vacation with my family, Adam Vinatieri called me up.

Let me be honest, I hope this isn’t the end of the story, because I am still seeking a testimonial from Adam Vinatieri for the back cover of the book. He hasn’t (yet). A lot of it is out of my control now; if it is meant to be, it will happen. In the least, he provided an awesome story in The Hinge: The  Importance of Mental Toughness.

 

Dr. Rob BellDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach based in Indianapolis. DRB works with athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness.  His 2nd book titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness will be released soon. Twitter: @drrobbell