SLV Special Olympics Bowling Practices

ATHLETES

MUST BE 8 YEARS AND OLDER AND HAVE A SPECIAL OLYMPICS MEDICAL FORM ON FILE

MUST HAVE SCORES FOR 9 GAMES TO QUALIFY FOR REGIONALS OCTOBER 13 IN PUEBLO

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT PEGGY JOHNSON AT 587-7408 OR pvjohnson@adams.edu

 

Click on the link below for pdf of the flyer

BOWLING FLYER 2018

Resiliency

Author: Neal Palles, MSW, LCSW, Applied Sport Psychology graduate student Twitter: @NealPalles

Growing high in the mountains of the western United States is the bristlecone pine (pictured). The tree looks gnarled and old, often growing out of a small crevice in the rock, in a place that is harsh, winds can be high, and snow accumulates through the fall, winter, and spring, and doesn’t melt until mid-summer- on a good year. Here, a growing season is just a few short months, if that. These trees have been known to live upwards 5000 years.

They are resilient.

Resilience in humans has been described as the ability to use personal qualities to withstand pressure (Fletcher & Sarkar, 2016).

As athletes we have the capability of fostering resilience to overcome adversity, physical and mental challenges, and find success.

Like many athletic endeavors ultra-marathons provide the individual with plenty of opportunity for resilience to show. Conditions can often be harsh. Rain, snow, heat, lightning, hail and altitude are some of the environmental challenges. The physical challenge of moving your body through these conditions running and walking for hours, sometimes days on end requires the individual to be resilient. A recent race in Steamboat Springs, Run Rabbit Run, provided many examples. One woman, Courtney Dauwalter, the eventual winner, slowly lost her sight through the race, stumbling and tripping, hitting her head, struggling to stay on the trail, but persevered finishing 6th overall and winning the woman’s division.

How do athletes do it? How do you keep moving forward after getting hit again, and again? After you’ve fallen. In near blindness? How do you go on to win a game after both of your quarterbacks, your Heisman candidate running back, a receiver and a safety have all left the game like the Oregon Ducks did last night?

Researchers have identified a number of traits in resilient people that may be the keys to their success. These include: Strong social connections, an ability to set long-term and short-term goals, a focus on mastering skills, optimism, positive self-talk, a growth mindset, and strong belief in the self are some of those traits. These have to be combined in a cauldron of adversity. Small challenges a long the way help to build resilience. In order to build resilience you have to be willing to accept the challenge and most of all, learn from it.

Taking a closer look:

Positive social connections means that you have an ability to rely on others. It’s OK to ask for help. Create a network of positive people supporting you. Connect with others. Recent research into well-being recognizes that focusing on the other through kindness and gratitude can have tremendous benefits towards thriving.

Setting long-term and short-term goals allows you to be focused on the future, take for example an ultra-runner, focusing on the short-term, getting to the next tree, the next aid station. One foot in front of the other, gets them down the trail and too the finish line.

The author, Neal Palles, in the early miles of the Silver Rush 50

Mastering skills, may not seem as obvious but provides the athlete a way of improving – by letting go of their ego. You are mastering skills – not people. The better ultra-runner is able maintain a fast pace without getting sick, they know how to contend with problems that appear because they’ve learned the skills to contend with the problem.

You can’t go into an event not being optimistic, “well I have a 50/50 chance of making it.” Is not going to cut it. Optimism has to be realistic, but you have to remind yourself that our mind plays tricks on us.

This is where positive self-talk comes in. You have to be able to manage your self-talk and this takes practice, it’s a skill that has to be learned and practiced. Mental performance coaches can assist athletes in developing techniques to examine and restructure automatic thoughts and beliefs so they become rational, realistic and more positive. The biggest challenge is re-wiring them in the moment when you’re exhausted, and your energy is shot. This is why practicing these mental skills is so important.

Above all, developing a growth mindset is a key component in developing resilience. A growth mindset, discussed in Mindset by Carol Dweck,  is a way of thinking and approaching our goals that recognizes we grow and learn from our failures.

Our failures are temporary, while they may set us back. It’s what we take away and learn from in those failures that allows us to grow. This article in the New Yorker by Maria Konnikova highlights that the growth mindset is a central element of resilience, allowing us to look at how we can grow from a situation as opposed to remaining stagnant.

Here is an example of the growth mindset at work: If an individual starts out in a running program and the first day they’ve gone too far and too fast, they’ll likely be hurting and may not run the next day, or the next. They may think to themselves I am no good at this, my body isn’t built for running, and they don’t run ever again. This is a fixed mindset. The approach from the growth mindset will examine how they ran, and approach it differently the next day, maybe they read a book, or decided to get a coach or talked to a friend that runs, and they keep running, and slowly, keep getting better.

How you believe you have control over a situation is known as self-efficacy. The knowledge that you have control over the situation is another factor allowing you to be  be resilient. Taking ownership for what you can control gives you power. Placing it on outside sources – takes that power away from you.

Psychologist, and researcher on Grit, Angela Duckworth cites it best at 2:40 in this interview: “Angela Duckworth Talks Grit”   Animals are put into challenging situations, where they were have the power to do something about the situation, eventually become resilient.

Creating a cauldron of adversity, and placing yourself into progressively challenging situations, allows you to practice and learn these skills. This is why a football coach will take out their best players for a time during practice. This is why running in all sorts of elements prepares you for a race.  Accepting challenge is how you learn to become resilient. You leave with the experience that you can reflect and grow from.

Resilience isn’t something that comes overnight. It takes practice – and it takes mastery. Put your mind to work as well as your body to build that protective layer called resilience.

References

Fletcher, D. and Sarkar, M. (2016) Mental fortitude training: An evidence based approach to developing psychological resilience for sustained success, Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 7 (3), 135-157, DOI: 10.1080/21520704.2016.1255496

Concentration

Concentration in Sport Performance

Concentration (attentional focus) has grown vastly in literature and research involving sports and has been shown to become even more important for athletes in a developmental stage. Concentration as the ability to direct your individual attention on cues in the environment that are relevant to the task at hand. For example, the field goal kicker on the left may be focusing his attention on a focal point in between the uprights, the ball or even on his own mechanics without specifically thinking about where he is looking. Hopefully this kicker isn’t focused on the defensive players trying to block the ball or a random person in the crowd. Understanding the difference between directing your attention externally and internally focus for concentration, is extremely important for coaches teaching any new skill. Paying attention to external cues has shown to be the most effective with any fine motor skill tasks like throwing a ball, kicking a ball, swinging a bat, jumping, back pedaling, etc. Below is a model (http://www.science.smith.edu/exer_sci/ESS565/MPres1/sld011.htm) created to show the difference between broad-narrow and external-internal attention.

The example of Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton hurdling can provide different examples for each aspect of the model. If Ashton Eaton was concentrated on something external it could be broad and he could be concentrating on the entire straightaway of hurdles. If his attention was narrow, he could be concentrated on the very next hurdle. If Ashton is concentrating on something internally and if it were broad, it could be on his overall form or mechanics and if it were narrow it could be a specific body part like snapping his lead arm back as he comes off the hurdle.

Ashton Eaton World Record Holder in the Decathlon attacking each hurdle (Image from Runnerspace)

Teaching Concentration

Understanding what concentration is and the difference between external and internal attentional control will provide an advantage for coaches teaching the physical skills in sport. Giving athletes a focal point or cue to concentrate on will help them develop a routine in learning a new skill or mastering an already developed one. Concentration is important for fine motor skills but even in endurance sports can be taught by coaches to help athletes improve their running, cycling or swimming economy (energy demand) and improve mechanics for efficiency. Concentration has been shown in research to be the most influential method for improving motor performance and motor learning. Although the athletes do not need to know the literature on concentration teaching them how to improve concentration and pick focal points or cues to improve their skill will be much more effective than just mere repetition alone.

 

One last example of what attentional focus can look like for an athlete

Zachary Holloway

MS Applied Sport Psychology Student

hollowayzj@grizzlies.adams.edu

Steps to Build Confidence in Athletes: A Guide for Coaches

Steps to Build Confidence in Athletes: A Guide for Coaches

By: Riley Robbins

Vince Lombardi once said, “Confidence is contagious.” He also said, “So is lack of confidence.” Herein lies the conundrum that faces coaches across the world. Why is confidence so important in sport? High levels of confidence have been shown to decrease concentration disruption while improving concentration ability as well as improve resiliency and reduce anxiety. In other words, having confidence increases focus and the ability to hold it. It is plain to see why confidence is desirable for an athlete to possess. Every coach wants their athletes to be confident so that they will have the best chance at success, but that implies that an athlete with no confidence will likely not experience success. We find ourselves in a chicken vs. egg conundrum following this type of logic. Basically, the prevailing mindset in sport is that confidence breeds success. But, as I’m sure we all remember from our introductory psych class, Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy suggests that self-efficacy (confidence) is built when someone experiences success in a certain endeavor. So, does confidence breed success, or does success breed confidence?

There is a clear answer as to which direction of causality is correct here. Just as researchers discovered that the chicken did, in fact, come before the egg, we know that success must come before confidence. Okay, great. But how?

Build confidence from the inside → out. Ralph Vernacchia’s “Inside Out” approach to confidence building (see figure) does a great job of demonstrating the link between self-esteem, self-identity, and confidence as they relate to athletic performance. This diagram illustrates how one’s self-esteem and self-identity are the foundation of self-confidence which, in turn, affects athletic performance. Now, picture the arrow in the above diagram pointing the opposite direction, resulting in an outside-in approach. This type of approach causes an athlete’s confidence and self-esteem to be dependent upon success in sport (i.e. winning). Anyone involved in sport knows that winning cannot and will not persist forever. An outside-in approach can provide an athlete with confidence, but it is neither sustainable, nor desirable.Because self-worth hinges upon success in this scenario, an athlete may go to extremes and participate in ultimately self-destructive behavior to achieve success – including cheating or even using performance enhancing substances. Athletes in this scenario may find themselves loathing the idea of competition and possibly even trying anything new, due to a deep fear of failure. An outside-in approach is cultivated through coaching and parenting methods that are based on using fear and guilt as motivators, and sadly, this is far too common in sport culture. Obviously, the inside-out approach is superior for developing robust and sustainable confidence, but how do we coach with an inside-out approach?

  • Build strong relationships with your athletes. An inside-out approach is grounded in social support. According to successful collegiate coaches, social support is key to building mental toughness – of which self-confidence is a major part of. Strong relationships can be cultivated by creating a supportive culture emphasizing personal improvement for athletes. Coaches can build a strong relationship with athletes and cultivate an improvement-oriented culture by making it a habit to provide positive constructive feedback regardless of the outcome of their athletes’ performance. Eventually, your athletes will understand that you care for them and about their development whether they win, lose, or draw. This allows your athletes self-esteem to grow uninhibited. Your athletes will begin to develop a strong sense of identity centered around self-improvement – what we refer to in the sport psychology world as “mastery orientation.” As your athletes begin to center themselves around improving, desiring improvement will become a trait. It will infiltrate everything they do, and they will have more confidence to try new things.

Building a strong relationship gives you credibility with your athletes, which allows you to teach them mental strategies that can increase their confidence. For example, teaching your athletes to practice positive motivational self-talk can help control anxiety, thus improving confidence and subsequently, performance. Your relationships with your athletes will help you discern who is susceptible to negative self-talk or negative thoughts that damage self-confidence. Examples of these should be apparent – you may hear things like “I suck”, or, “I can’t do this.” However, these negative expressions may be less obvious. Be on the lookout for athletes who constantly blame uncontrollable factors for their performance. This athlete may be subject to an outside-in influence outside of sport. Teach your athletes to recognize that negative thoughts are natural, but to dismiss them and replace them with a positive thought instead. A thought that is motivational in nature may work best in sport, but anything positive will do if you allow your athletes to personalize it for themselves. Teaching your athletes to replace negative thoughts with positive ones is rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a widely recognized treatment used by clinicians in which the main goal is to reduce anxiety by slowly changing the way a person views a situation.

The strong relationship you create with your athletes combined with your athletes’ high self-esteem and desire to improve will allow you to hold them to a higher standard of performance. Strong relationships with your athletes permit you to demand success from them. I know what you’re thinking, “I thought you said perpetual winning was not possible?” You would be right, but that assumes success should be defined as how much you win.

  • Redefine success. If I asked 100 coaches how they defined success, I would expect to hear definitions that are centered around winning from most of them. This sort of thinking paradoxically sets you and your team up for failure. Statistically speaking, more seasons end in defeat than victory. Change your definition of success to include high effort, focus, proper technique, and self-improvement. This allows you to be demanding of your athletes while still setting them up for success because, in this context, success is not based on performance outcomes. The advantage to measuring success as completion of tasks based on effort, focus, and technique, is that these things are controllable for your athletes. Controllable sources from which athletes can derive confidence are superior to uncontrollable sources such as performance. To simplify, an athlete can control the amount of effort and hustle they give and their focus upon executing a game plan with proper technique. They cannot control how their opponent performs in a game, or even how their teammate performs in a practice. This is not to say that success should not be measured by performance, but that success should be simply measured in relation to one’s previous performance, not how their performance stacks up against others’. Success should be measured by individual improvement.

If you commit to redefining success, you must logically redefine failure. As a coach, you should only view a performance as a failure if your athletes do not give full effort and are not fully focused. A failure should be an introspective teaching moment for you to use.You should embrace failure as natural, and learn to use it to motivate your athletes to give their best effort and focus the next time. Further, teach your athletes that they should embrace failure as natural, and key to improving. This is crucial to instilling resiliency. You should not blame your athletes for a failure. Instead, use your strong relationship with them to find out why they did not give their best effort or why they were not focused. There may be reasons for this beyond sport (if you have a strong relationship with them, you may find out that they have troubles outside of sport that are affecting their ability to be successful in sport). Be supportive. It is your job to use failures as an emotional reference point to teach your athletes to appreciate success that much more.

  • Set athletes up to succeed, then celebrate success. Use practices as the primary domain for building confidence. Set up drills and tasks that are challenging, but can be achieved by using effort, focus and proper technique. It does not matter what drills or tasks you decide to employ, but here are some guidelines: choose drills that do not involve your athletes standing around much, change the drills frequently to avoid monotony, and always acknowledge high effort. Keeping your athletes engaged by avoiding drills that involve standing around is a way to train high levels of focus. Changing drills to avoid monotony encourages a consistently high level of effort. As a bonus, if your athletes are constantly giving high effort, you will likely have to employ less conditioning as part of practice, which your athletes will appreciate.

A common mistake among coaches comes in the form of criticizing their athletes when they make mistakes. Instead, if your athletes’ performance comes up short due to lack of effort or focus, communicate to your athlete that effort and focus are the most important things you want them to achieve, not a “winning” outcome. Then, use constructive positive feedback to help them get it right the next time. Athletes will certainly struggle achieving some tasks, but do not give up as a coach. Giving up as a coach demonstrates that it is okay to surrender as an athlete and beyond. Instead, be persistent. Finally, when an athlete masters a certain task, celebrate it together. This not only solidifies your relationship, but it teaches resiliency, persistence, and instills confidence because they achieved success. Relay to your athletes that they are loved and appreciated regardless of the outcome of their performance.

           If you follow these three steps, your athletes will experience success and ultimately confidence. Building confidence in athletes is important for you to accomplish as a coach for reasons other than simply improving their sport performance. Depending on the context, you may be coaching athletes who struggle in school. Building confidence in sport allows these youths to take positive risks in school they wouldn’t have taken without it. Because they have strong sport confidence, they have a sort of safety net that they can fall back on should they struggle, and it links back to their strong self-esteem and improvement-oriented self-identity you have helped them build through sport. In other words, their confidence helps remove fear from their decision-making processes.

Conceptually, building confidence in your athletes should be easy. All you must do is build relationships with your athletes, define success as how much effort, focus, and attention to technique your athletes display, and help them celebrate their success. As they celebrate their success, their confidence will continually root itself into their personality. It is your job to maintain this confidence by repeating the steps outlined above. A perk of having a team full of athletes who possess high self-esteem and self-confidence, is that this type of athlete is more likely to set aside their personal goals in favor of giving effort and focus towards team goals. Having many of this type of athlete on your team is one of the first steps towards winning a championship. Not that that matters, anyway.

Riley Robbins

MS Applied Sport Psychology Student

robbinsrt@grizzlies.adams.edu

Damon Martin – Adams State University – Coach to Coach

Interview of Damon Martin (Head TF/XC Coach at Adams State University), conducted by distance coach Mike Hickey.  Over the past 26 years in charge of the women’s program and 19 at the helm of the men’s (including an interim year in 1988), Martin has coached a total of 29 National Championship teams (15 women’s cross country, 9 men’s cross country, 2 women’s indoor track & field, 2 men’s indoor track & field, 1 men’s outdoor track & field), including a stretch of nine straight women’s cross country titles from 1991-99, another stretch of seven straight women’s titles from 2003-09 and two separate runs of three straight men’s cross country national titles (2008-10 & 2012-14). He has also guided athletes to 995 combined all-America honors and 100 individual national championships while coaching eight national championship relay teams

Adam State’s very own Lukus Klawitter to compete at Xterra World Triathlon Championship

Adams State University professor Lukus Klawitter balances extensive triathlon training while teaching multiple undergraduate and graduate level classes. Klawitter has a running background that started back when he was a young kid being raised in Hutchinson, Minnesota. Klawitter followed his brother’s footsteps by joining the cross country team in middle school. While running track and cross country throughout school, Klawitter also played hockey which Minnesota has a rich tradition with. He worked with a local bike shop in high school and found his passion for bicycles then. After high school Klawitter attended Moorhead State University in northwest Minnesota to compete in cross-country and track and field at the NCAA Division II level. While loving the sport and training hard, persistent injuries ended his collegiate running career after his freshman year. These injuries were the start of a four and a half year hiatus from full training. Klawitter finished his education at Moorhead in 2013 and then moved to Alamosa to pursue a master’s degree in exercise science. While continuing through the program he continued to cycle and swim and he then discovered his passion for mountain biking in the San Luis valley of Colorado. Klawitter began to fall back into full time training as he began to run more often.

Once graduating from the Adams State HPPE Master’s program, Klawitter learned from a friend and local physical therapist about Xterra triathlon. After looking into what Xterra was all about he decided to train full time as he was able to remain injury free more often by training for all three events of the triathlon. From there Klawitter found his niche on the Xterra off road triathlon circuit. Last year in his first year as an amateur Xterra athlete he qualified for the World Championships in Maui, Hawaii. Klawitter a year later has qualified once again for the World Championships after winning his amateur age division of the Pan-American Championships in Ogden, Utah. Klawitter finished in a time of 2:50:43 and finished 26th overall among amateurs and professionals.

Klawitter has been working as a full time professor at Adams State and a full time athlete. With aspirations of a professional triathlon career he also plans to pursue a PhD in sport physiology. Here is a little more depth on Klawitter’s story to Xterra, life as an athlete and academic, and his future career aspirations.

Q & A

How did you get into Triathlons, Specifically off-road (XTERRA) Triathlons?

A former Physical Therapist of Alamosa and good friend told me about Xterra while I was seeing him for some running related injuries.  The bike portion is very similar to cross country running and the running portion was on trails.  I was pretty convinced I would enjoy the sport immediately.

What does a typical week of training and teaching look like for you?

This depends a lot on the day of the week.  I time my workouts around my class and office hours’ schedule.  For example, Monday and Wednesday I wake up around 6:00am, make coffee, and take my dog for her morning walk.  From there I prep breakfast and in my office at 8:00am and teach until noon.  I do my pool workout from noon until 2:00 and head home for lunch and my dog’s afternoon walk.  Then back out for either a bike or run workout.  Then finish my day with supper and class prep and grading until bed.  Typically training hours on a weekday are 1.5-3.5 hours.

How do you balance such a heavy teaching load with the heavy volume required from triathlon training?

It is actually not too bad as long as my focus stays disciplined.  My time is focused towards my students then my training, and all other down time is for my dog.  I try very hard to give extra time to my students if they need it and make sure I get all grades and feedback back to them within a timely manner.  I am also very lucky to have good friends like Dr. Zuleger, who like to take my dog for a run or make sure she gets fed some days that I am extra busy.

What have some of your 2017 goals and what goals do you have for the future?

My 2017 goals going into the season last spring was to win my age division and be the top amateur at the Pan American Championships, and be amongst the top amateurs at the world championships.  So far I won my age group at the Pan Am Champs and was the 6th overall amateur and looking to bring my fitness and mix it up at the world championships this October.  Future goals are definitely to turn pro and see how far I can take myself in the sport.  I am sitting in a good position right now as a top amateur or mid pack pro.

Do you have anything planned for the rest of 2017 after Maui?

After Maui I plan on eating a lot of pizza and enjoying a fair amount of beer to relax for a few weeks.  My biggest goal in the off season is to focus on my swimming and really improve going into the 2018 season.  I also will be performing research with my undergrad and graduate students to get ready for the Rocky Mountain ACSM conference.

What are you academic aspirations?
               My academic goals are to pursue my PhD in Sport physiology.  This was the original plan until I started finding success in Xterra, I decided to see how I could progress in the sport and continue my education when I feel I met that point.  I have a lot of motivation to better my academic background thanks to Adams State and the professors I have been able to interact with here. I am very excited to see where both goals take me.

Klawitter will be starting off the World Championship event at 9am October 29th, with a 1.5 kilometer open water (0.93 mile) swim, followed by a 32 kilometer (20 miles) mountain bike on the slopes of the West Maui Mountain and finishing with a 10.5 kilometer (6.5 mile) hilly trail run. You can follow Xterra on social media for live race updates and information coming up to race day. Live results will be available on race day here: Xterra World Championship race day

Check out the links below for more information.

Colorado Athletes on Maui: Dallow & Klawitter

Xterra World Championship

Maui Start List

 

Zachary Holloway

hollowayzj@grizzlies.adams.edu

Mental Training Lab Opens

ASU Mental Training Lab

Riley Robbins

The ASU applied sport psychology graduate program, in collaboration with the ASU athletic department, is thrilled to announce the opening of our new mental training lab! This is an exciting opportunity for all ASU athletes to improve their mental skills in sport and maximize their potential. Many major American professional sports teams, elite Olympic-caliber athletes, and major universities around the world utilize mental skills training as part of their everyday practice routine.

The question many people have is: what are mental skills? Well, they are just that – skills! Some confuse mental skills with personality traits. For example, confidence, attitude, composure, resiliency and concentration are all skills that many believe you either have or you don’t. However, since they are skills, they are things that can be trained! At the mental training lab, our qualified graduate students can provide strategies and techniques for practicing mental skills so that athletes can play at their best.  Dr. Brian Zuleger (click link for bio) an assistant professor in the Human Performance and Physical Education department is a certified consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and a member of the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry and oversees the mental training lab as well as mentoring the graduate students. We highly encourage athletes to come visit us before there is a performance issue, or a slump, so that we can work together to avoid them!

We operate from an educational “build-it” model, rather than the traditional “fix-it” model that tends to simply apply band-aids to issues without addressing the underlying problem. If you are already experiencing performance issues, by all means, do not hesitate to come and see us. We will do our best to meet your needs as we will any athlete. Be aware, there are rarely any easy “fixes” when it comes to mental skills, but that does not mean it is not worth it to address weaknesses or even improve strengths. We ask you to keep in mind that those who work in the mental training lab are not licensed psychologists, and mental skills training is not therapy. If you are struggling with depression, substance abuse, or need crisis intervention or help with an eating disorder, please contact Lis Tomlin (719-587-7746) at ASU Counseling Services immediately.

If you have any questions regarding the mental training lab please contact Dr. Brian Zuleger brianzuleger@adams.edu, 719-587-7404