your coaching style

Why Your Coaching Style Should Be Intentionally Left Blank…

Every so often, when I receive an important document, there is always This Page Intentionally Left Blank.  

I was naive, so I didn’t bother to figure out why, until I realized the importance!

Imagine if that document had a printing issue, then there might be serious consequences. More importantly, imagine all of the possible inquiries and anxiety from readers if they came across a blank page without it being intentional. 

Coaching is basically the same way.

Nowadays, this term has enter the mainstream and become known as metacommunication. 

Our team, players, family, and co-workers ALL want to know what pages are left intentionally blank.

They want to know the expectations and your coaching style!

Very few people enjoy playing mind games and trying to mind-read.

Remember, it’s not what you KNOW, it’s what they HEAR! 

For instance, I’ve had successful athletes perform way better when I’ve challenged them, “They can’t do a task.” They declare “I’ll show you” and they will do it. 

However, I don’t always like coaching that way and I have to communicate that to them. 

One of the biggest frustrations of numerous coaches in business and athletics is that people struggle with troubleshooting, problem-solving, making adjustments, and thinking on their own. They are usually wonderful at doing what is expected, but not finding a way on their own…

So, we call timeout. We have a meeting to discuss. We call timeout or have meetings so often that people expect you to figure it out for them. 

They need the coaching session, the feedback, and told what to do. Maybe, that’s your coaching style and that is cool, but can you imagine a coach NOT calling a timeout during crucial moments now?

Metacommunication is not always top of mind awareness, but it’s important for successful relationships. 

One of the coolest things during the 1987 national championship game between Indiana and Syracuse was that the last: 20 seconds of the game (before Keith Smart made the iconic last shot), no timeout was called by Coach Knight. 

He prepared for it.

Coaching is coaxing, but the best also know when NOT to coach.

What pages need to be intentionally left blank? 

Metacommunication means to ask good questions. It’s easy to coach others who respond to our natural coaching style, thus it becomes more important to communicate how to be coached… 

When expectations and ground rules are set prior to embarking down a long journey of improvement and betterment, it creates a baseline for performance and communication. 

We leave pages intentionally blank by simply communicating your coaching style and knowing them and how they want to be coached? That’s basically the essence of metacommunication. 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes. Some clients have included three different winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

If you ever listen to a creaky door or gate, it’s not the door or gate at all. It’s the Hinge! So ,what happens when the Hinge becomes Rusty? Chances are that we got away from what got us here, our focus and confidence changed. The Hinge connected, but we let it get rusty…

Here is a 3-minute video on how to prevent the Hinge from getting Rusty! 

The Rusty Hinge

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The Hinge-The Importance of Mental Toughness Dr. Rob BellDr. 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

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

 at least mentality

The Toxic At Least Mentality

I have bad days, I get down.

I lose belief and I’ll feel like I am not good enough.

I also have days where I do well, but for many reasons, I just didn’t perform up to my own standards.

I don’t like feeling like this way, so what occurs when I get like this is I develop the toxic at least mentality.

  • “OH WELL” At least, I ran today
  • “AT LEAST” I am not as slow as that person
  • “AT LEAST” I showed up
  • “OH WELL” at least, we played well

What I am really saying to myself is at least mentality that I am not a loser

But, I am also saying, I am not a winner…

The “at least” mental state is dangerous and systemic. Once it enters our vocabulary either within ourselves or our team, it can easily seep into our core beliefs.

The “at least” attitude means we chose to make an excuse. 

Settling was okay.  Mediocre wasn’t all that bad.

Going through the motions became an option. We chose to live inside the comfort zone. I basically valued my self worth as a “maybe” rather than a “yes.”

The toughest part of winning is the will to prepare.  

Committing to everything that is needed to win, means developing a winner’s mindset as opposed to an “at least” mind-set.  We must instill the belief that we deserve what we are going to achieve because of our preparation, because at no point did we settle.

However, what lacks is the belief…We develop an at least mentality because we wanted, we just weren’t willing… We weren’t really willing to sacrifice, willing to develop the needed focus, or willing to work on our weaknesses. We looked around us and said “I’m not all THAT bad.”

Preparation and motivation involves the belief in oneself and that our goal or vision can be reached!

Setbacks, adversity, and struggle are going to happen, but it is how we overcome these obstacles.

The bottom line is that losing happens way more than winning ever does.

There is always a runner-up finish, a 2nd place team, and second best in show.

The question must be asked,  is an at least mentality an acceptable option for you?


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes. Some clients have included three different winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

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

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 

hinge quarterback

hinge quarterback

This hinge quarterback threw more career interceptions (220) than touchdowns (173).

He completed only 50.1% of his passes and his career QB rating was 65.5. This quarterback also lost more games in his career than he won—68-71-4. (Mark Sanchez would be the hands-down starter compared to these numbers).

However, this quarterback was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985 because it only takes one.

The Hinge…

 There were two leagues during the late 1960s, the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). The winner of each conference played in the “Super Bowl.”

The NFL, however, was vastly superior to the AFL.

In 1969, quarterback Joe Namath and his AFL team, the New York Jets, were 19-point underdogs going into Super Bowl III against the NFL team, the Baltimore Colts; 19 points!

On Thursday night before the game, at the press conference, Joe Namath stated, “We’re gonna win the game, I guarantee it.”

He orchestrated the iconic victory, winning 16-7 and despite not even throwing a touchdown pass, was awarded the Super Bowl III MVP. The win by the Jets and the guarantee by Namath solidified his career and the NFL.

The next season, the two leagues merged.

Joe Namath’s  ONE hinge moment became one of the biggest in the history of the game because of the impact he made. I like Joe Namath and injuries led to much of his later demise as a QB, but his status was cemented because it only takes one! 

It only takes one… Our ability to believe, have confidence, and to trust is the most important mental skill we possess.

dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   

Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.

became the hinge moment


How A Reader’s Digest Became The Hinge Moment

The Hinge connects who we are with who we become.

It is the one moment, event, or person that makes the difference in our lives…We just don’t know when or who that person or event will be. 

I’ve had many Hinge moments, some good and some tragedies. I’ve even shared a Hinge moment with An Olympic Champion. 

This is the earliest of My Hinge Moments, that would take almost ten years before it connected me with who I became. 

As a teenager, my grandmother used to give me the awesome gift of, wait for it, Reader’s Digest magazine…Thanks, Grandma! 

As a fifteen-year-old, Reader’s Digest really didn’t fit my needs.

However, it did become great bathroom material and I would read it while on the porcelain throne.

Well, within Reader’s Digest, I once read a story about the “runner’s high,” the physiological and psychological effect that runners would sometimes encounter during long runs.

It was like “being in the zone.” The study looked at how the personalities of those running long distances may transfer into other areas of their lives. I thought it was cool. This was long before my Marathon and Ironman days. 

Fast-forward nine years to the end of my undergraduate college; I had to choose a research project in my advanced Psychology class to graduate. We were to find a previous research study and replicate it. Well, immediately, the image that came to mind was the Runner’s High story in Reader’s Digest magazine. I tried to do the same study, did okay I guess, and presented it an undergraduate conference and thought no more about it. 

I knew early on that Sport Psychology would become my chosen path in life, so I applied to Temple University’s graduate school, although I never really applied myself in undergrad until my junior year, I was a hinge candidate at best.

The on-phone interview went surprisingly well and, in fact, the Temple University professor who was interviewing repeatedly probed at length my little research project on the Runner’s High.

I was accepted and even received a graduate assistantship that paid for my graduate school. 

The Hinge Moment….

As it turned out, my professor, Dr. Michael Sachs in 1984 was the one who basically coined the phrase, “Runners High” for his research. 

If it weren’t for my grandmother supplying me with Reader’s Digest subscriptions as a teenager, I would not have been accepted into Temple University’s graduate program, nor met my wife, nor continued on to Graduate work at The University of Tennessee, nor caddied on the PGA Tour, or work with so many gifted athletes. I wouldn’t have written a book titled: The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness either. 

We have no idea who or what may be The Hinge Moment. Our role is simply to be prepared. 

My story and this story would have been different. 

Who or what have been hinges in your life?  Share your Hinge moment here.

dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the mental toughness books.   

Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.

Hinge (definition): Noun–A movable joint or mechanism…that connects linked objects. (v): A circumstance upon which other events depend.

The Greenbrier resort in White Sulpher Springs, WV, housed a secretive bunker that was built in the early 1960s. Located about five hours from Washington D.C., this

The Greenbrier

The Greenbrier

underground bunker actually became a part of U.S. defense. It was built to survive an indirect bomb strike, relying on the secrecy of its location and the West Virginia mountains for protection. If needed, it would have housed the entire Congress as a fallout shelter. This secret bunker lasted for 30 some years, only to be revealed in 1992.

The Bunker possessed three massive, blast-proof doors, each weighing over 20 tons. The doors were about fifteen feet high, thirteen feet wide, and 20 inches thick. Despite the enormity of these doors, it only took about fifty pounds of pressure to open and close them.

The reason one person could easily close these enormous doors was the hinge. The stronger the door, the more important the hinge, and the hinge used for the blast doors weighed 1.5 tons. Without the hinge, the massive doors would have been unmovable.


How often have we felt like that door? We felt confident, in control, at ease, and self-assured of what we are doing. We were as strong as the 29-ton door with amazing hinges. Other times, we have felt the opposite. We have been discouraged; lacked confidence, focus, or burnout from our passion. The door has not changed, it has remained strong. What has changed is the hinge…

The hinge is so integral to any door, cabinet, table, or bridge that, without it, these items become useless. The hinge is also crucial to our anatomy: hips, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles. No matter how strong our legs are, if we have a torn ACL, our legs are useless.

The hinge connects. We need the hinge. Connection is why we are here…

The hinge is real. The hinge connects. And it only takes one.  The hinge is moments or opportunities that make all the difference. We are the door, but a door without a hinge is a wall. Since we can’t know when a hinge will connect, it is our role to have mental toughness.

In the 2013 AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots held a halftime lead of 13-7. Nothing extraordinary, except that with Bill Belichick as head coach and Tom Brady as Quarterback, the Patriots were 67-0 at home. After the game they became 67-1.

This defeat unofficially marked the end of the Hinge Dynasty for the New England Patriots.


The Hinge by itself consists of moments and people that make all of the difference. Throw enough Hinges together, with enough time, and there becomes the New England Patriots. The New England Patriots ascension to greatness had been on hinge moments and people. Some people may call it twists of fate; because both fans and non-fans of the Patriots have benefitted from watching the Patriots win and lose.

Depending on our beliefs, The Hinge in part, serves as a proof that things happen how they are supposed to. Let’s examine the Hinge Dynasty….


In 2000, Bill Belichick was the head coach at The New York Jets for just 1 day before resigning to take the head coaching position at The New England Patriots.

In March 2001, Drew Bledsoe, already a pro-bowl quarterback for the Patriots, re-signed a deal with the team for a then record, $103 million. During the second game of that season, Drew Bledsoe was knocked out the game and replaced by, 6th round and 199th overall pick, Tom Brady.

In 2001, the AFC playoff game took place between The Patriots and The Raiders. The game was in the snow at Foxborough stadium and the Raiders led 13-10. Tom Brady and The Patriots had the ball with 1:52 left when Charles Woodson sacked Tom Brady, the ball came loose, and was recovered by The Raiders, which would have sealed the game…“When you see a guy sulk his head, like Tom did, you know he fumbled”- said Raider, Roland Williams.

The Hinge…

The play was reviewed and the infamous, now defunct, “tuck-rule” was put into play and the call was reversed. NO FUMBLE! The Patriots tied the game up, won it in overtime, and won super bowl XXVI against the heavily favored Rams.

To this day, try and find someone outside of the New England area that doesn’t think that Tom Brady fumbled the football.


The Patriots were dubbed a “dynasty”, after winning three Super Bowls in four years; quite the feat. Then in 2007, the infamous “SpyGate” took place, which found that the Patriots illegally videotaped practices and other teams walk-throughs. The details of “SpyGate” still remain controversial about how long the videotaping actually took place. However, many people still clamor that this scandal was a turning point or hinge moment for the franchise as well.


In 2007, the Patriots were undefeated and ready to cap off the “perfect season” by beating the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. A perfect season comes up every year but hasn’t been accomplished since the 1973 Dolphins.

It became one of the best Super Bowls in history with the most miraculous play. Eli Manning somehow escapes the grasp of Jarvis Green and makes the throw. Rodney Harrison was the defender on David Tyree, when he made “the catch.” Was there anyone else in the league better at knocking down passes? Rodney Harrison later said, “Not in a million years does he make that catch again.” He also later commented how David Tyree must have been meant to make that catch.

The Hinge…

One play before “the helmet catch” was even more significant, yet most outside of Boston and New York don’t even remember it. Eli throws an awful pass to David Tyree that All-Pro corner back, Asante Samuel of the Patriots jumps and intercepts… Except Asante Samuel didn’t catch it, as it went right through his fingers. Asante Samuel, (the same corner back who has seven post-season interceptions and four interceptions returned for touchdowns.)

During the rematch, Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots were leading 17-15. It was 2nd and 11 at the Giants 44 yard line, four minutes left in the game, and the Patriots were driving…

The Hinge…

Tom Brady threw a pass to the best receiver on the field, Wes Welker. If there is one person in the entire NFL that catches the ball, it’s Wes Welker. Oddly enough, a wide-open Wes Welker dropped the pass, which would have given them a first down. Chris Collingsworth stated at the time “[he] catches that pass 100 out of 100 times.”

The following play was the best of the game, a sensational 45-yard pass and catch from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham. The Giants win…


The Hinge consists of moments and people that make all the difference. The hinge certainly cannot explain all of the “what if’s” of this dynasty. It just illustrates that these moments made all of the difference. Maybe these events were just coincidences, or the way things work out, or that these were meant to happen. It depends entirely on the belief system that we possess.

The New England Patriots were a Hinge Dynasty, and the loss at home in the 2013 AFC championship marked the end. However, perhaps if we look close enough, all dynasties are formed through hinge moments.