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When athletes ask me who my favorite team is, my usual response is that I don't have one. I moved around too much as a kid to develop strong regional loyalties, so I find myself to drawn to teams, coaches, and players who have great minds and cultures. For the first time in three years, I'm teaching Advanced Performance and Sport Psychology. With this second year class, we get to delve into topics in greater depth, and I start the year with an examination of team culture. Unfortunately, I don't get to share every one of my favorites, so I'll pass along this one to you. Tom Allen and the Indiana University football team have adopted the mantra L-E-O. See why below.

Over the past three years, Iga Swiatek, the top ranked women's tennis player in the world, has made mental performance a key part of her development. Daria Abramowicz is Swiatek's sport psychologist, and they have made two words - prevail and adjust - the core of her 2022 success. Her growing confidence is based in having the tools to solve problems on the court. Add in the the establishment of solid routines, practicing gratitude, and  using time in nature as a recovery tool, and you have the foundation that has resulted in victories in the French Open ('21 and '22) and US Open ('22). Most importantly, she plays with a freedom that comes from accepting any outcome and being joyful even when not successful. She recognizes that tennis is just one facet of who she is as a person, so she seeks happiness off the court, not in winning. At just 21 years of age, she displays a unique maturity and perspective.

If you have the time, check out her conversation (45:01) with  gold medalist skier Mikaela Shiffrin. It's a masterclass of insight from two of the world's best athletes.

Hollywood has created a stereotype of what an effective coach should do. Coaches coach, and players comply. Centered on the coach and his or her ability to give an inspirational speech in a demanding environment, it makes for great drama. It's also way off base. I've found that the best coaches have high standards, yet they talk far less than the movies suggest. Instead, they ask questions that make their athletes think and problem solve. Brian Decker is a former Green Beret and the Director of Team Development for the Indianapolis Colts. He told me, "The greatest coaching tool we have at our disposal is a question." With that in mind, here are some questions to ask your players and/or yourself.

    Where should your eyes be?
    What should we be looking for?
    What are the cues?
    What should we do here?
    What could we do here?
    What might happen if . . . ?
    In this situation, how might you do . . . ?
    What about . . .?
    What was supposed to happen?
    What actually happened?
    Does everyone know and respect the rules?
    What current things are being done for players that shouldn’t be done?
    What percentage of players actions are self-directed vs coach-directed?
    Do players know exactly what is expected of them - attitude, effort, focus?
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