We know athletes need to recover, but what about coaches?
I get to spend most of my days reading the ideas and research around high performance.What I hope to do with this newsletter each week is filter out what I am learning through the lens of my coaching experience, to provide insights and applications to help you.
I’ve read some really cool stuff this week (linked at the bottom) that I am excited to share with you – most all of it centered around one idea. Recovery. And no, not for your athletes. This is for you, coach.
In this week’s 3 Points, I’ll take a look at under-recovery: why it’s important, how to challenge our myths around it, and offer some evidence-based tips to help you recover.
1. Under-recovered is a new term used instead of over-trained because: 1.) the literature on recovery is so powerful and 2.) many performers took pride in the term over-trained, which is not productive for enhancing performance.
Dr. Scott Goldman is the sport psychologist for the Golden State Warriors and recently wrote this article, which I’d encourage you to read. I want to introduce the importance of recovery by summarizing some key points from his article:
Dr. Goldman believes the most critical issue for the mental health and well-being of coaches is that they are under-recovered. The drawbacks of under-recovery for athletes is widely known and understood… but what about coaches? Dr. Goldman explains that under-recovery can impact our reaction-time, and that those who are under-recovered tend to not only make bad decisions, but decisions that are higher risk and more extreme. Further, studies done on people who were under-recovered showed they were often emotionally unstable, and when asked to self-evaluate, they lacked self-awareness.
As Dr. Goldman summarizes:
“Slow reaction times, poor decision making, more risky decision making, emotional instability and lack of awareness to that emotional instability is a recipe for destruction.”
2. Rethinking Rest and Recovery
I get it, it’s easier said than done - we’re so ingrained to think that while we’re sleeping, our opponent is working, and that more is always better. We need to challenge the myths of recovery around us. Here are three quotes from performance experts to do just that:
“For super driven people, not working is the work” — Brad Stulberg, co-author of Peak Performance.
“If a coach is too lazy to pay attention to personal recovery, I know they won’t ever be as good as they could be.” — Dr. Sean McCann, USOPC Sport Psychologist, who has been to 13 Olympic games.
“The data on the fundamentals of high performance is clear. Sleep, nutrition, exercise, and hydration account for a disproportionate amount of our overall functioning. Each of these factors can help us think better, feel better, decide better, act better, and perform better. And yet, these are the very things often sacrificed in the name of ‘work.’” — Dr. Alex Auerbach, Toronto Raptors Director of Wellness and Development
3. So now what? In their book Peak Performance, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness outlined some evidence-based strategies to incorporate rest into our daily lives:
People who don’t get enough (7-9 hours) perform worse on just about everything that requires effort and attention.
The impact of exercise is subtle but important, as regular exercise enhances energy, sleep, immune system response and recovery from stress. The most important benefit of regular exercise for coaches is the proven positive impact on mood.
Walk (Outside if you can)
All it takes is 6 minutes to feel the benefits. Walking requires just enough coordination to occupy the part of the brain responsible for effortful thinking and helps to actually get us to stop thinking about what we’re working on.
Connect with friends
This is only effective if the environment is relaxed. One of the positive effects of social connection is that it shifts the nervous system into recovery mode.
The practice of sitting and focusing only on your breathe can help accelerate the transition from stress to rest. Further, it strengthens the pre-fontal cortex which is the part of your brain that lets you choose how to respond to stress.
* Added from Dr. Sean McCann’s recommendations.
What I’m reading: