Helping to Manage the Tears

My daughter’s U13 basketball team recently played in a large tournament.  It was an overnight trip to a major city and the most elite tournament that she has ever played in.  The coaches spoke with the players about what to expect and what they had expected from them. My daughter was edgy and snappy as her nerves were intensifying in preparation of the tournament. 

My daughter played very well. But she faced very challenging opponents.  The team won one of their four games. Watching the games was challenging. Different teammates struggled at different times and the team just didn’t seem to ‘come together’.  The last game of the tournament was probably the best game they played as a team.  It didn’t result in a win, but winning and losing isn’t what youth sport is about, right? My husband and I believe that youth sport is about learning.

My daughter’s struggle was related to her emotions. She hates to lose. She also believes that she should be exceptional and able to deal with what ever her opponent serves up.  My daughter comes by these attributes honestly, as I recognize them in myself.  I’ve probably, unknowingly, modeled these beliefs for her in my own pursuits. She has heard my own stories about my athletics career.  I was known to be very expressive with my anger, frustration, and disappointment, whether it was directed towards myself or towards others or specific situations.  During the third game, my daughter was benched for crying on the floor.  She missed two shifts while she was collecting herself as she was in no position to help the team.

It was so hard to watch my daughter in this state.  I was a bundle of emotions myself! I felt frustration at her behaviour. I felt angry that she let herself get so worked up that she left her teammates a man short. I probably also felt slightly embarrassed that the ‘mental performance’ consultant’s kid was struggling with emotions. I also felt guilty for having these emotions.  I wondered if I should stay or if I should leave the gym? How would that be perceived.  I wondered if other parents were looking at me and could read these emotions in my body language?  I leaned over to my husband and said, I feel angry right now. 

In the moment I knew I couldn’t leave. Her father and I have had conversations with our daughter stating that tears after the game are allowed but not on the bench. But I don’t think that she expected to be so emotional. This was a learning opportunity (for both of us). She needed to see me be calm.  She needed me to show her that I believed in her ability to collect herself.  She needed to hear me be her greatest cheerleader. 

After the game I waited for her to approach me. She didn’t. She needed more time.  I respected that and gave her the space she needed.  After a short while I did approach her.  I was playful. I held her, and I held space for her to express herself however she wanted to.  She was frustrated with herself for her emotional outburst. . I dug into my mental performance bag of tricks and we talked about what to do next.  The conversation went something like this…

Me: “Can you find ONE THING that went well? 

My daughter: Rolling her eyes at me. “That will be impossible. It was horrible. I was horrible”.

Me: “I agree that it is going to be hard to do.  Not because you didn’t do anything well, but because you can’t see it right now. Your emotions are not allowing you to pick out some things that you did really well.  You can choose to continue to feel this way. Or you can choose to see what is going well and build on that.  Your team probably needs you to do that. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, try thinking about your teammates.”

My daughter: “Ok.  I’ll see”.

I left the conversation thinking that it really couldn’t have gone better.  I had controlled my emotions and was her parent. I chose to see the moment as a learning opportunity.  My anger came from my own unrealistic expectations (and disappointment for her) that my 12 year old daughter to be able to manage her own emotions in a situation with all types of triggers (losing, not making her layup shots repeatedly, getting constant feedback from coaches and teammates).  The most important thing I could’ve done was to let go of my own ‘stuff’ and be available to support her in that moment. 

I left the gym after the conversation. I gave her space to be with her teammates without the feeling of being ‘watched’. I went and collected myself.  This was easily achieved as I was able to go for a walk with my new puppy. I also hung out in the car reading a really good novel.  My husband also provided a great sounding board for me and my cheerleader as well.  He gave me a huge hug and high-fived this parenting win.   

Sport Parenting Moment: Unexpected Source of Fun

I’ve encouraged my daughter to take part in school Track and Field since she was in Grade 4.  I’ve tried to convince her to join because track meets are so much fun! She is quite serious about her soccer and basketball. Sport needs to be fun too. In my memory, track meets are about being outside (in the sun), hanging out with friends, and doing your event and getting a ribbon.  In my mind, this is an ideal way to spend an afternoon, or day if you were lucky enough to participate in a city championship meet. 

This year, the day of the city championships did not live up to my promises (of fun). My daughter qualified in three events that included long jump, discuss, and 4X100 m relay.  It was a cold and cloudy day with rain to be expected in the afternoon. I brought a blanket to help keep her (and myself!) warm.  In both the long jump and the discuss she was the only girl from her school to qualify in her current grade.  So much for hanging out will all her friends.   

The save of the day? Her performance in the individual events. Though she had an average day, she placed 7th in both of her individual events.  My daughter came running to me stating: “Look at the beautiful colour of this ribbon!”.  The 7th place ribbon was a deep blue colour.  We both took a pause to take in and appreciate the vibrant colour of this ribbon.

My daughter did have fun at this track meet.  It just didn’t come from a source that I thought it might. Who would have thought that the colour of a ribbon could affect the degree of fun brought to a day of sport participation?  Thank you for the valuable lesson that fun for you comes from a different place than I might expect.

How about you? What was the most unexpected source of fun for your child? Please leave your comments in the comment page below.

Be the Author of your own (Great) Story

“All I need is a really great story” I remember exactly where I was when I uttered these words. It was 1999 and I was pursuing my Ph.D. in sport & exercise psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. I was with my colleague Pat and we were attending a speaking event associated with the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship, The Tournament of Hearts. The speaking event was held in the hockey arena, that at the time could seat about 4000 people, and it was a packed house. Daniel Eugene ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger, was the speaker we had come to hear.

"With a Little Help From My Friends"

In thinking about what to post tonight, the Beatles tune "With a Little Help From My Friends" has been in my head all day.  This post is dedicated to you -- the people who are in my life. It's May 31st.  I have been pursuing a goal to exercise everyday for the month of May to raise money and support for those who are living with Cancer (including their family members).  This goal was important to me to achieve, because my father, George Hoar, passed away 5 years after living with the disease (off and on) for 14 years.  In honor of him and the values that he and my mother helped to instill in me (and my siblings), I've attempted to raise $500 for this cause.  The challenge was called Workout to Conquer Cancer.

Workout to Conquer Cancer

It has been 5 years since my Father passed away from cancer.  To mark the occasion, I am doing something that is deeply important to me -- SERVICE.  I am raising money for Cancer research in British Columbia through participation in the Workout to Conquer Cancer.  I am doing this in service of others who suffer from, who live with, cancer.

My goal is to reach $500.00 ($100 for each year that I have lived without my father).  The task is to workout each day for the month of May. Today is May 10th and I am 25% to where I want to be: I have 21 days to go and $350 dollars to raise. Can you help me?

Introductions

I believe that excellence is learned.  It is not a destination, but rather, a journey.  It is simply, a way of being.  I strive to be the best version of myself in my personal and professional lives through the practice of excellence. My goal in my postings is to provide you with inspiration and to empower you in your own journey of excellence.  It occurred to me, that I haven't really introduced myself to you.  So as we continue down this path together, here are 10 fun facts about me.

Making Peace with Adversity

I love watching the Olympics. Everything in my household stops when the games are on. The computer plays the live feed nearly 18 hours a day (from 6 am to midnight) – whether I am in the office or at home. I really can’t get enough of the drama and human stories. The 2016 Rio Games have been no different for me. This year a major Canadian sport retailer chain used the hashtag #WhatItTakes to describe the journey that our country men and women take for his or her opportunity to attend and perform in this celebrated contest of human capacity. This slogan resonated deeply for me. I thought, "Yes. That is what I love about the Olympic Games --- it is the story of #WhatItTakes!”.

HIGH PERFORMANCE REQUIRES A TEAM

Fact or fiction? Resilience is about the individual and relationships. This is a question that I have presented to at least two high performance client groups that I currently work with. How would you answer this question?

It is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and I am reflecting on what I am thankful for.  What I am most thankful for are the relationships that I have cultivated in my life. My relationships at times have provided me with the highest of highs, and at other times, the lowest of lows.  My relationships are pivotal to who I am and who I aspire to be.

In Search of Balance

In today's rush we all think too much - seek too much - want too much - and forget about the joy of just being.   Eckhart Tolle Accepting that I can’t do everything that I want to do, at the moment that I think about doing it, is really hard for me.  Recently, a picture appeared on my facebook newspage with a caption that read “Keep Calm, and remember that you are Superwoman”.  I laughed out loud reading the caption because it was so relatable. I can’t remember directly calling myself a superwoman, but I’m pretty sure that I do expect myself to behave like one.

My image of superwoman is the female version of the superman character played by the late actor Christopher Reeve in the 1978 movie of Superman.  Superwoman is a leader, she serves others, and she saves the day of mortal human beings. 

Taming My Gremlin

When I was 13 or 14 years old, my mother came into my room with a book that she had purchased for me. The title of the book was “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson.  I remember the book, not because I actually read it, but because of the title.  I remember thinking that my mother was crazy. I did not have something in me and I certainly did not ‘get in my own way’ towards success.  I was a figure skater who needed to perform day in and day out if I wanted to get to the top. 

Adventures in Losing and Finding My Confidence

I have spent the past week working out of town with a client. I’ve felt off and not exactly on my “A-game”. It seemed to me that the client and I just couldn’t connect. This left me feeling frustrated and disappointed. And I began to loose faith in my ability to be effective with this client. I began to think:  Where have I gone wrong? What have I done to cause this response (or lack there of)? Have I missed something? Did I screw up?

Who Says That You Can't?

If you are honest with yourself, it is probably you. This is my challenge to you today.  Choose not to buy into the message that you cannot do what it is that you really want to do (I am assuming here that what you want to do doesn’t involve hurting yourself or hurting others – if that is the case than don’t read a word further – go to your nearest hospital for help!).  It doesn’t matter who that messenger is, ignore the message, and for ONE DAY live with the attitude and belief that everything you want is doable.

ADVERSITY: WHICH PATHWAY WILL YOUR PERFORMANCE TAKE?

How often do you have a day where every event planned for that day is actually experienced according to the plan? 

Personally, I have very FEW of these days. On more days than I would like to admit, I find myself facing and adjusting plans according to the obstacles and detours.  Sometimes the “detours” can be welcome surprises. For example, a phone call from a friend I haven’t heard from in a very long time.  I feel excited and loved when this happens.  These types of unexpected events are welcomed because they charge me and give me the energy I need. Then there are other “detours” that are frustrating and distressing.

TRAINING VERSUS COMPETITION: WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT?

This conversation is pretty typical when I work with athletes.  Competition is viewed to be very exciting and very important.  When I say it is ‘important’ I mean many athletes view competition as the essence of being an athlete.  Athletes choose to be an athlete because they love to compete. Competition is the venue where an athlete gets to publicly demonstrate his skill and provide evidence that he is better than another athlete.  And you get only ONE CHANCE to get it right. And IF you get it right, you can be the hero (of the moment).  You are a winner.

Setting Priorities during Busy Times

If you have been following this blog (oh no!) you have notice that I've been absent again. This wasn't intentional. I really love writing this blog. Like so many of the other bloggers out there this is a personal space for me to express myself to my world. This blog is my creative outlet. Brene Brown Brene Brown says that taking time to creatively express oneself is critical to living authentically.

Happy New Year!

I'm going to buck the trend this month. Rather than start with a new topic, I am going to speak about what I wanted to share last month. Yes. I am going to start the new year with old postings. Or at least, postings that I had composed in my head last month but didn't actually commit to writing them down. I want to write about MAC training in general, and mindfulness, specifically. And so, I will. 

Give Mindfulness a Try

My adventures into Mindfulness and the MAC approach began when a sports team that I work for challenged me to find an innovative psychological method for achieving excellence. I chose to explore the MAC approach. Why? Simply, because good science has demonstrated its utility to maximize one’s access to their mind, and to follow, one’s performance.

Let's MAC it!

Happy Dec. 1st!  I've had my first Eggnog latte of the season, have began to play my Christmas Carol playlist, and officially have my Christmas tree up and decorated. Presents have been purchased.  Some (most) have been wrapped. Let the festivities begin! December is my favourite month of the year.  I confess that I still believe in the magic of Christmas.  I want to believe that there is peace, love, and goodwill in each and everyone of us.

A Change in Perspective

Last week I talked about motivating the elephant (Heath & Heath, 2010) as a critical piece from moving from intention to action.  I still want to talk about motivating the elephant.  Last week the emphasis was on 'Shrinking the Action', so that the action from the intention didn't seem so overwhelming.  This week I want to flip that perspective.  Rather than using tool that help to 'shrink the action',  we can 'grow the person' (Heath & Heath).