Want a sneak peak at my work in progress, a book for coaches and athletes alike?
It’s the first practice. Your back against the cold, dented steel locker, you take your spot on the floor, waiting. A posse of other hopefuls surrounds you. A tense excitement is palpable. Or maybe you’re the coach, and you feel that same electricity. “What will the season bring?” you ponder. “How will these kids perform? How can I lead them and help them find their potential?” Inhaling deeply, you scan the faces and begin.
There is nothing like a new athletic season, full of promise for both coach and athlete. Goals are set, commitments made. But as the season progresses, it’s all too easy to lose focus in the fray. Best Season Yet: 12 Weeks to Train is a book that guides the coach and team to embrace their God-given talents, discover a purpose beyond winning and losing, and spur each other to that place where fear and dreams collide. For a dozen weeks, the entire team will visit themes such as commitment, submission, goal setting, pain and suffering, and pursuing excellence. It offers an opportunity to discuss and journal practical ways to set the principles in motion. The format of five easy-to-read stories is ideal for use in a Monday through Friday school setting. Best Season Yet is a resource for the coach, team member, or individual athlete who desires to experience an exceptional season.
Best Season Yet: 12 Weeks to Train is designed to be used by coaches and athletes throughout a twelve-week training period, typical for many high school, college, and community-based athletic seasons. The sport? It doesn’t really matter. There is application to the runner, the football player, hoopster, gymnast, swimmer—or any other kind of sport. It is equally helpful for the individual athlete or team player.
A theme is assigned to each week-long period. Because this book is well-suited for a Monday-through-Friday school week, each weekly division features five stories to buttress the theme. Though the order of each week relates to the natural progression of an athlete through a season, there is nothing sacred about the ordering. Each group of five, theme-related stories can be pulled out and used to best fit a particular need.
The twelve weekly themes:
- Commitment : True commitment is the cornerstone of every successful venture. The first week lays the foundation for being committed and the responsibilities, ramifications, and rewards of that decision. Both ancient and current real-world examples demonstrate that commitment is not for the timid or weak. Rather, commitment requires attention to the task, regardless of what it is. Divided loyalties undermine commitments, but a sharp, conscious commitment can make the difference between reward and regret.
- Submission:“Submission? You mean subject myself to another, obey, and do what I’m told? I’m not a Marine or in the army. Is this really necessary?” The simple answer is “yes.” We tend not to relate submission to athletics but submission is the first step (after commitment) to the Best Season Yet. It’s vital to understand chain of command and accept our position. Only when we learn to submit to God, coaches, parents, and teammates are we freed to excel.
- Motivation and goal setting: Many an athlete, fueled by excitement at season’s start, finds himself sputtering in complacency just a few weeks in. Running out of fuel is often the result of lack of focus and clear objectives more than lack of talent. Together, we learn to prioritize, set realistic yet challenging goals, and chart a course to accomplish them.
- When fear and dreams collide: “I have a dream…” Sure, we all have dreams. But, how many times has that dream turned into a bloody nightmare? Sometimes we fail to achieve our goals because we become paralyzed by fear: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of the commitment it takes to achieve the dream. This fourth week of life lessons asks the reader to define those fears and put them into proper perspective. She will read real-life stories and see the beauty in that moment when fear and dreams collide, exploding into glorious victory.
- Pain and suffering: There are few things so sure as the inevitable pain and suffering in the life of an athlete. Injuries and exhaustion cloud an athlete’s judgment and often extinguish even the possibility of achieving the goals set early in the season. Discouragement abounds when the season seems headed to an early demise. And yet, pain and suffering—both physical and mental—can be the catalyst for breakthrough performances and renewed focus.
- Perseverance: By mid-season, nearly every athlete feels like he stepped into quicksand and is sinking fast. The pressures of maintaining academic standards, putting in the miles, surviving relentless drills, and keeping frayed nerves from unraveling make the topic of perseverance crucial. Extreme athletes are some of the best at offering a unique yet realistic perspective on taking just one more step. Their stories, along with those of persevering biblical warriors of old, help the athlete to encourage and renew.
- Failure: Don’t you just hate it when carefully-laid plans fall apart with one wobble on the balance beam or a stumble late in a race? Worse yet, you start spending more time sidelined than out in the fray. Failure, when not properly understood, will undermine an entire season—and possibly a career. But failure can groom the athlete for a brighter, better future. This section inspires with the example of others who refused to flounder in failure.
- Opportunities to serve: We’ve all seen professional athletes flaunting their fancy cars and mansions. Many appear to be selfish and ego-centric. What an opportunity they miss to refocus on the needs of others. A team is the perfect venue for service. To recognize and address needs does not come naturally. Just like perfecting a jump shot or a slap shot, it takes practice to hone this skill of serving another. A team that learns to serve well will score points in the game that really counts: the game of a godly life.
- Go team!: “All for one and one for all.” Really? It’s a phrase we like to throw around but do we truly understand what that means in practical ways? How can we realistically support the team and help it flourish? How do we build a sense of community, leadership, and camaraderie among team members, coaches, and interested parties? Learning how to embrace strengths and accommodate and improve on weaknesses is a necessary component of a successful team. Readers learn by example with this look at the characteristics of successful teams.
- In pursuit of excellence: Transitioning from mediocrity to excellence is no easy task. But after nine weeks of learning to commit and submit, establish goals, serve and persevere, the foundation is set to seek excellence, not only in our chosen sport, but in life—becoming a complete man or woman of God.
- Priorities and balance: The line between commitment and obsession is thin—microscopic, even. Unfortunately, we unwittingly step over that line by losing focus on what is really important. We get confused when we allow “single-minded focus” to nudge out the rest of life. The result? Exhaustion, frustration, and failure. Learn to establish priorities and maintain an appropriate balance to make your life pleasing to God in every way.
- Finishing fitness: Physical, emotional, spiritual: There is nothing so dreaded—and at the same time, embraced—as the end of an athletic season. We are tired of the routine, the practice, the competition. We are fed up with the time restraints of holding together a jam-packed schedule. And yet, we look back and are amazed at our progress and accomplishments. The season’s end, however, is really just a springboard that launches us into yet another Best Season Yet of growth, development, and physical, emotional, and spiritual maturity.
Each daily story employs a similar format:
- Title: The title is carefully selected to capture the reader’s attention.
- Body: Each story sets the scene with dialogue, real-life examples, or hypothetical scenarios. The stories draw the athlete and coach together as they read, discuss, and contemplate applications to their own situation. Each offering urges the reader to see how God’s truth can be played out through athletics and applied to every day living.
- “Team truth”: Each story is based on a scripture passage, which is written out for easy reading.
- “Team time”: This is where principle becomes practice. A question is posed that requires contemplation and discussion. Because each person will have his or her own copy of the book, space is given to allow the individual to record a response.