How does mental toughness grow if practice ends early? The secret to success is the ability to do one more. When we are tired and fatigued, the key is to be able to endure one more—one more rep, one more written page, one more review of the test. Just one more builds mental toughness. Often, it is effective. But there is a prerequisite to implementing this strategy, and it is passion.
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Most kids have heard the "one more" mantra. As parents, we push just a little bit (some, unfortunately, a lot) for our son or daughter to give more effort. Add up the number of practices and seasons of "one more," and you have a lot of externally driven passion in the form of nagging or strong-arming our kids to perform.
Hall of Fame tennis coach Jeff Smith used a different technique to help build his son's passion. He ended practice early. First he would tell his athletes how long they would be hitting tennis balls on the court. The time would vary. He might say, "We are going to practice for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour."
How Coach Smith ended practice early was the key. After only 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the time he had announced for practice, he would say, "We are ending."
His son, having fun, didn't want to end early. He would ask his dad to continue, and the seed of passion would slowly grow—without the nagging, pleading or coercion of "one more."
Try it parents. It works.
Another way to end practice better? End it with a handshake.
Coaches Mark James and Brain Satterfield end practice the same way. They shake each player's hand. Simple but powerful. No matter what type of practice or outcome of the game, the ending is always the same. It's a way to get closure. Regardless of whether it was a good or a poor day, it always ends on a positive note.
Players even started looking forward to it. The worst punishment a coach could deliver in the middle of practice was to tell a player, "I don't want to see you after practice." They got it together pretty quick.
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