AUGUST 31, 2011

Daegu World Championship Banner

The Hay’s In The Barn

It’s all very cliché, “the hay’s in the barn”.   This could be so far from the truth.  I agree that if you’re waiting until the final days before the biggest meet of the year to make wholesale changes or find fitness then you’re probably in trouble.  It is in these penultimate days before a major championship where the best-prepared athlete can spiral out of control if they venture away from their process.   This happens to athletes in different ways, but it happens non-the less. 

Case in Point:

As I work my way through my daily activities here I am often reminded of how fragile the human psyche is. The “gamesmanship” that the world’s best sprinters play with each other is as interesting as the workouts they are performing.  I find myself at the practice track searching to acquire some technical knowledge by watching the Van Gogh’s of the sprint world workout only to be distracted by the banter among the fastest athletes on the planet.  On the surface it seems like harmless chitchat, but under the surface there is always a protagonist leading the way looking for an edge.  It is typically a veteran mocking a younger understudy as they are walking back between strides down the track.  The mental warfare has begun and I watch for some newbie the take the bait.  Within five minutes a young sprinter is distracted from his workout, as he is unable to resist the temptation to partake in this ritual.

“Hey man you look a little flat, just got off the plane huh”

This small distraction may not become instantaneously viral now but I assure you at some point this athlete will question himself, GAME OVER.  You see Track and Field is one of the few sports where athletes competing with each other share the same venue at the same time for practice sessions.  Could you imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers sharing the same field and workout time before the Super Bowl in Dallas this year?  Welcome to Track and Field.Usain Bolt World Championships

Ace In The Hole

This case in point is a prime example of why the USOC provides an integrated sports performance team at its training centers and at major championships.  My “ACE IN THE HOLE” here and at home is Dr. Ross Flowers, AKA “The Head Doctor”.  Dr. Flowers is not only a sports psychologist, but Ross is a trained clinical psychologist with a track and field background.  Dr. Flowers was a student athlete at UCLA competing in the hurdles at a national level.  I encourage my athletes to take advantage of the opportunity to work with Ross on a weekly basis throughout the year.  Dr Flowers is the resident psychologist on staff at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Ca. The ability to have Dr. Flowers here in Korea is a huge advantage for every American athlete that takes advantage of his services.  Situations like the one described above can quickly be nullified before a year’s worth of hard work is unraveled.  Needless to say Dr Flowers ability to keep me and my athletes focused on our process this weekend will go a long way in ensuring our success here and in London in 2012.

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong attitude." -Thomas Jefferson