David speaks with Jamie Smith, founder and Head Sports Preparation coach of The U of Strength.

They talked about:

🌦️ Impact of Climate on Sports Performance

🌍 Environment’s effects on athlete development

🤸 Effects of early sports specialisation

🤕 Dealing with injuries and burnout in sports

🏀 Coaching and mindset in sports

🧠 How the athlete's psychology affects longevity

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📹 Watch on Youtube:

👤 Connect with Jamie:

Twitter: @TheUofStrength | https://twitter.com/theuofstrength

Ebooks: Agility 3.0, Gameplay 3.0, Speed Toolbox 2.0 | https://www.theuofstrength.com/store/c6/Digital_Education.html

📄 Show notes:

0:00 | Intro

02:30 | Impact of Climate on Sports Performance

05:24 | Environment’s effects on athlete development

09:49 | Effects of early sports specialisation

17:21 | Dealing with injuries and burnout in sports

23:42 | Coaching and mindset in sports

34:30 | How the athlete's psychology affects longevity

🗣 Mentioned in the show:

The U of Strength | https://www.theuofstrength.com/

The Constraints-Led Approach | https://amzn.to/4aY3CLB

Luka Dončić | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luka_Dončić

Nikola Jokić | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Jokić

Jusuf Nurkić | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jusuf_Nurkić

Ben Simmons | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Simmons

Dynamical systems theory | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamical_systems_theory

David Epstein | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Epstein_(journalist)

Range | https://amzn.to/4aY3A6r

Kawhi Leonard | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawhi_Leonard

Michael Jordan | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jordan

LeBron James | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeBron_James

Draymond Green | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draymond_Green

Kevin Durant | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Durant

Zion Williamson | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zion_Williamson

Full episode transcript below

👨🏾‍💻 About David Elikwu:

David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.

🐣 Twitter: @Delikwu / @itstheknowledge

🌐 Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com

📽️ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/davidelikwu

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🎙️ Podcast: http://plnk.to/theknowledge

📖 EBook: https://delikwu.gumroad.com/l/manual

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Career Hyperdrive is a live, cohort-based course that helps people find their competitive advantage, gain clarity around their goals and build a future-proof set of mental frameworks so they can live an extraordinary life doing work they love.

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📜Full transcript:

[00:00:00] Jamie Smith: And the big thing, especially with dealing with injuries for the first time, okay, the tissue is healed. So say it's your Achilles or an ACL, you know, according to the literature, the research, after whatever, six to eight weeks or after three to four months whatever tissue that was that was injured is now healed. So now you are ready to play, you are ready to go back into a chaotic, uncertain, violent environment.

[00:00:27] Jamie Smith: But a big thing that gets missed is that mental state and understanding that yes, that physical system is repaired, it's good to go, but where is the kid's head? Because again, talking about dynamical systems theory, if that psychological is disrupted, that's gonna directly influence your physical, that's gonna influence maybe your risk taking, that's going to influence maybe what made you such a great athlete, that might take that away because now you're second guessing, you're hesitating, you're trying to process.

This week I'm sharing part of my conversation with Jamie Smith, the founder of The U of Strengths.

Jamie is a coach that currently focuses on younger athletes, but previously has coached at a number of institutions including the University of Connecticut where he was part of a championship winning team working with Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier and a bunch of other future NBA players. He's also worked with top level athletes in multiple sports, including the NHL.

So in this part, you're going to hear Jamie and I talking about the impact of environment on sports and athletic performance. Then we talk about the effects of early sports specialization. We talk about dealing with injuries and burnout in sports and how to develop and coach the correct mindset for athletes.

And then finally, we talked about how an athlete's psychology can affect their longevity. Now, this will all apply equally for peak athletes, young people, just trying to be active. And also for anyone else listening and trying to understand some of the principles that perhaps you can apply from some of the world's best athletes to your own life.

So you can get the full show notes, the transcript and read my newsletter at theknowledge.io and you can find Jamie online on Twitter @theUofStrength. And he also has some really interesting coaching eBooks that you can get at theuofstrength.com.

So if you love this episode, please do share it with a friend and don't forget to leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts, because it helps us tremendously to find other listeners just like you.

[00:02:30] David Elikwu: I watch American football, I'm sure you probably do as well. I know you're involved in a ton of sports, right? NHL, NBA, etc.

[00:02:37] David Elikwu: And one thing that I know from football, I'm a 49ers fan, and you see teams going around playing, other teams around the country. And there's always this big thing that people talk about. For example, when you get towards playoff time, if you are used to playing, let's say, either in a super warm climate or in a super cold climate, you usually have an advantage against other teams that are coming up there. And I know a lot of what goes into that is perhaps your training and conditioning. A lot of the, the conditions that you're used to being under.

[00:03:05] David Elikwu: How much of an impact does it actually have in real life? Obviously I see in Buffalo for example, it's always snowing down there and so that you can tell has a massive difference. But then also maybe you get Miami people that go up to play the dolphins. It's quite different there. So I'd love to know

[00:03:20] Jamie Smith: Yeah, it is huge, right. And you'll get, different views, different opinions. I'm a strong believer, and this is how I, this is the backbone to, you know, my preparation process and my program methodology. But this, this idea of the constraints led approach, and when you look at weather that's considered an environmental constraint.

[00:03:41] Jamie Smith: If you didn't play sports, you don't truly appreciate it, but 100%, if you're used to playing in 75 degree, no humidity, sun is shining, and then you go into an environment that it's zero degrees. You know, six inches of snow on the ground, it's slightly getting a little bit warmer. So now it's kind of ice and sleet that's gonna have a huge influence, not only on your movements, but it's gonna have a huge on the whole system, on the perceptual cognitive system.

[00:04:14] Jamie Smith: Yeah, it plays a huge role and that's where it's like I, I was just talking with one of my buddies. We play fantasy football, that's a big thing here in the States. And it's like, at this point of year, I will not play anyone that is playing in a New England stadium. I play all, all of my players are in domes. Everything where the conditions are controlled. It's just, it's weather is such a, it's dynamic, right? And it has such a huge, it can't be overlooked. And it's the same thing with my training. And so the nice thing about being in New England is that I have four seasons.

[00:04:47] Jamie Smith: So, and it's obviously I can't control it, right? It's mother nature. But we take advantage and if you go on my social platforms, you know, we will go out in the snow, we will hit our speed and agility training where the conditions stink. We will also do it where, you know, it might be a hundred percent humidity, the conditions are awful.

[00:05:05] Jamie Smith: But also, on a nice brisk fall morning, you know, it's 60 degrees, the sun's coming up, we'll train during. So what I'm trying to get at is that, there's all these different constraints that we can't overlook in that, it's a very powerful tool that not only from a performance standpoint, but from a motor learning standpoint as well.

[00:05:24] David Elikwu: Okay, interesting. One thing that just came to mind as well, I'm interested to know, okay. So you do a lot of work with, let's say, younger athletes and with kids as well.

[00:05:33] David Elikwu: I remember reading not long ago about some of the impact that the environment can have on learning and development in general. So for example, if you are in an area with low air quality on a day that has an exam, that will impact your exam scores. Not massively, but you know, on some of those days it can impact kids' exam scores, it could impact the way that you perform in lots of different ways. Even something as small as just the difference in air quality. And I can assume that translates to weather as well.

[00:05:59] David Elikwu: But I'm also interested in, I think you see some, for example, let's look at in the NBA, you have lots of international players and I don't know, you tell me whether or not this actually tracks but, if you look at some of the international players that come from very cold climates, so Eastern Europe, you look at Luca, you look at Jokić, Nurkić some of those guys, and then you look at some of the players that come from some of the warmer climates, particularly, I'm thinking of like Ben Simmons as an example coming from Australia. There was another Australian player that I can't remember the name of, but he disappeared from the league for a while and I think he's just come back. He's like a, you know, six man type player on one of these teams.

[00:06:37] David Elikwu: But do you think that is a factor as well in terms of how it changes the players themselves and how they approach the game? Or is that just, I'm making that up.

[00:06:45] Jamie Smith: I have a holistic approach, right. And it's just like you said, all it takes is for one thing to change in my opinion. 'Cause not only would the constraints led approach, I also, and I don't know how familiar you are with, you know, the different motor learning theories, but there's a thing called dynamical systems theory.

[00:07:03] Jamie Smith: And it's just we as a human being, we are systems upon systems. And when one of those things changes, that's gonna directly influence everything else. And so, yeah. Well, 100%. Obviously it's a little bit different with basketball, right, because they're indoors, right? So it's a little bit more controlled.

[00:07:20] Jamie Smith: But the other important thing, and this is where I see, especially with European or any of the foreign players that come over, you know, you look at the sociocultural stuff too, and how that influences, 'cause that's a big thing actually, and I don't talk about this much, but I run The U of Strength, right? It's a very small, small sport performance facility. I'm in a big sports center but I have, I own and operate a, you know, sport performance gym. Basically what I do is I train teams, but I also do very small groups, like four to six kids. And there is, there's a process to signing up. It's not like I just take any kid off the street and I just take their money. But, you know, there's an interview process, and everything is very informal because these are kids, but I'm looking for kids that come from all walks of life. Kids that come from the inner city, kids that come from a ton of money. Kids that haven't, they're interested in sports, but have not taken that leap yet. So I'm looking to get kids from all different backgrounds to interact with one another in whatever we have, you know, whatever is going on for the day. And it's super fascinating and it's not only from a sports standpoint but just from a human level.

[00:08:33] Jamie Smith: Getting kids to appreciate all these little variables and attention to the little details, it's so powerful.

[00:08:40] David Elikwu: Sure. I mean, just following on from that, how do you feel like the integration of sports into these kids' lives changes, I guess the way that they live life? And I think of the US as a very specific example that's very different from, so, you know, I'm in the UK I've been a quote unquote student athlete and I've played sports at university and as an adult. But for example, let's say at university, I think we have them the other way around. In the UK or in a lot of places in Europe, if you say you're a student athlete, the student comes first, you're a student that does sports in the US I think a lot of the time it's an athlete that just happens to be at the collegiate level. There's no correlation between them being dynamically different worlds except for probably the biggest example I can think of is maybe in the NFL, a lot of the plays and the sets that you run at a college level might be slightly different from what people run at A NFL level. But the athleticism doesn't drastically change. But in the US you start getting competitive at such an early stage. You already hear people talking about this is the best 15-year-old in the nation. People start getting their hoop mixtapes together and you know, they're getting game film. They're getting a lot of these things from so early.

[00:09:49] David Elikwu: And I remember in David Epstein's book Range, he talks about this idea of precocity where you have some kids that maybe they show a lot of talent very early on. And so it looks like maybe they are outperforming some of their peers, but then they revert to the mean as they, they grow older.

[00:10:04] David Elikwu: And I wonder what you think of the impact of having such a big focus at a very early age that kind of constrain people into prioritizing, okay, this is my identity. I am an athlete. This is exactly what I'm gonna do from age 13 or 14 all the way through throughout school.

[00:10:20] Jamie Smith: The word identity, that is key. And that's the thing. I mean, I'm having that challenge. I have a 7-year-old daughter and I'm, I'm starting, so you're saying 15 years old. So I've been coaching, this is almost 18 years, okay. And you hear about early specialization, you hear about, okay, I'm an ice hockey player and that's all I do. I play it year round, right. And maybe a decade ago that was happening sophomore, junior year in high school in the States. Now, fast forward 10, 12 years, this is happening at 7, 8, 9 years old.

[00:10:57] Jamie Smith: And so the big thing, so like with my daughter, she's big into cheer. And cheer is just one of those things, it's, it's insane, right? And the big thing, and I was talking with my wife about this, is that I do not want, and it's the same thing with, with my athletes is that, I do not want a kid to identify, say they're eight, nine, and I don't even 18 years old. I don't want them to identify as a cheerleader or as a basketball player. You are Hadley, you are Bobby, you're a human first. And I had this conversation, 'cause like you said, so many of these parents, oh, I have the best 11-year-old, I have the best 12-year-old. He made this, she made this club team, and it's like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's take a step back here and kind of get, and it's almost like you wanna look at the developmental process through a different lens.

[00:11:41] Jamie Smith: Everyone has this lens where it's, it's that short term, it's that immediate result. It's that immediate gratification where it's like, okay, let's have this long-term approach. Let's, instead of microwaving your kids, let's slow cook them and allow them to develop over time instead of having, you know, the best 12-year-old. And by age 14, they're either burnt out, they have some sort of overuse injury, their emotional system is all outta control because they've just been so stressed out for such a long period of time during the most important period of growth, during the maturation process. Let's bring it back to the human level and making sure, are they having fun, right? Are they enjoying? 'Cause sport, and I don't care what the sport is, it is a game, right? And we do it because we love it, we're passionate about it, and we enjoy it. If it's a job and you are miserable at 12 years old, how is that gonna affect you when you're 30? When you're 40, when you're 50?

[00:12:42] Jamie Smith: And so instead of having the short-term, you know, having this long-term approach where it's like, okay, let's look at the human before the athlete, right? Let's make sure this whole identity thing, I'm a basketball player, I'm a volleyball player, I'm a gymnast. No, okay. You are a kid, right?

[00:12:58] Jamie Smith: And that's why like with a lot of my, well, my social media posts, you know, I stole this from my wife, but it's like, I work with a lot of youth athletes, right? They're young athletes, but really they're not athletes just yet. Their body, they're still trying to kind of figure things out. They're still, you know that was just a big thing I've seen and there's a, I'm not sure if that's, I've done some work, you know, in European countries it doesn't seem like it's as crazy, it's still obviously prevalent. But here it's, it's insane, man. It's just the amount of options, right?

[00:13:29] Jamie Smith: So it's very, very this occurs a lot more than you think, but like these kids will be like, okay, I play basketball, but I am on three AAU teams. I'm on my town team, plus I'm trying out for this special other club team, and it's like, holy cow, let's, this is insane, right? You know, these kids, it's very common to see, you know, on a weekend, kids are playing 6, 7, 8 games where like when I was growing up, it's like you'd play maybe a game Saturday, maybe a game Sunday at the most, you know, if it was a tournament style, maybe three at the most. But these, it's just, the amount of volume, the amount of stress placed on these young developing bodies, in my opinion, it's asinine and it's negligent.

[00:14:12] Jamie Smith: And so that's kind of where I step in and it's like, all right, I'm gonna create this new lens. I'm gonna just kinda rethink this whole process. And that's why I love working, you know, I organize all my programs from basically work with every individual and it's built around sports, but it's like I have our fundamentals, which is basically kind of like 6, 7, 8, 9, maybe 10 years old you know, from 12 to 13, 14, we have our next level, and then 15, 16, 17, 18, we have our next level. So everything is all age and experience appropriate.

[00:14:44] Jamie Smith: But yeah, it's very, very non-traditional, and it's all because of what I've seen, right. And it's all, you know, having a child in kind of just having a different perspective.

[00:14:54] David Elikwu: Okay. You mentioned the word burnout. I want to know like practically, how do you deal with that? And also I think one part of it that's connected to it is maybe just the mental conditioning, because again, I'll just give an example from personal experience.

[00:15:07] David Elikwu: So I played sports pretty much throughout my, most of my life, actually. So growing up I played football, which is like soccer. Then I played basketball and then I played American football actually in the UK. And I remember, so it was actually when I was in college or university, I was playing American football and I had a big injury and it's the first major injury that I'd ever had. I'd had some knocks and stuff before, but my entire psyche as a player was just designed around believing that I could do anything. There's no such thing as like, I'm gonna get injured or something's gonna happen. I can always show up, I can always play, I can have a small injury. I remember there was one game we were playing and I don't even remember exactly what happened. I think I went in for a tackle and I injured my hand. My hand was kind of swelling up and I was just ready to go back out and play. And my coach was like, you know, if you can't put your glove on your hand, then you're gonna have to sit out for the rest of the game. And, you know, that's how it was. But then there was one, it was actually a practice.

[00:16:04] David Elikwu: So I know this is gonna turn into a long story, but the point was I had a GB trials that were coming up, so GB for the national team. And so I had these trials coming up and we wanted to be able to send game tape in the new year. So it was just after Christmas. It's cold in the UK so you're coming out to training. And the first training of the new year was like a very tough training. Everyone was going at it and I got injured, it was partly my own fault. We were doing tackling drills, someone was supposed to tackle me. I didn't think they did a good job, so I didn't go down. And then they tried to pull me down and they pulled me over their own body. And so I injured my ankle. I think I like fractured the ankle and twisted some ligaments, but I didn't, I didn't know that at the time. I'd gone down, luckily the, so I was a defensive back, I played cornerback. One of the other cornerbacks, dislocated his shoulder, the same training, so we called an ambulance for him. And then my coach was like, you also should get in the ambulance. And so by the time I get to the hospital, you know, an hour later I'm in a wheelchair and I've got this big cast on my leg. And that was just very psychologically disrupting that entire process for me of having to deal with this big injury that pretty much took me out for the, the rest of the season that never happened before. And I know particularly at a younger age, that can be such a big thing for younger players.

[00:17:21] David Elikwu: And I'd love to know, yeah, like how do you deal with this idea of both with burnout and also with injuries of people that, you know, going back to the trend of identity, they're building this identity, they're building this psyche as competitors around their ability to play sports and to play the game. And what happens when you can't do that? Yeah,

[00:18:26] Jamie Smith: it's huge, right? And that's something, it's definitely becoming bigger now with different psychologists, you know, sports psychologists and kind of really training that, in that mental state, right? And so when I look at sport performance or athletic performance, I look at these four pillars. You got the physical, psychological, emotional and social aspects to movement, to development, to sport, et cetera. And the big thing, especially with dealing with injuries for the first time, and it's, and I'll be honest, it's super frustrating here in the States. Our healthcare system is, it's just, it's bizarre. I guess that's the best word for it. It's like we have such a narrow we have, again, it goes back to the lense. We have such a narrow focus where okay, the tissue is healed. So say it's a, you know, whatever, say it's your Achilles or an ACL, the tissue, according right to the literature, the research, after whatever, six to eight weeks or after three to four months, whatever tissue that was injured is now healed. So now you are ready to play, you are ready to go back into a chaotic, uncertain, violent environment.

[00:19:35] Jamie Smith: And what gets missed is that psychological, right? It's like, okay, we can, like the physical side of things are super easy. That's why you come here in the United States, I mean, shoot, within five miles of my facility, there might be 15 sport performance gyms. There are so many facilities because to get someone stronger, faster is super easy, especially when you're working with young athletes, okay, you know, it's nothing that it's like, there's nothing groundbreaking.

[00:20:03] Jamie Smith: But a big thing that gets missed is you know, that mental state and understanding that yes, that physical system is repaired, it's good to go, but where is the kid's head? Because again, talking about dynamical systems theory, if that psychological is disrupted, that's gonna directly influence your physical, that's gonna influence, you know, maybe your risk taking, that's going to influence maybe what made you such a great athlete, that might take that away because now you're second guessing, you're hesitating, you're, you're trying to process.

[00:20:35] Jamie Smith: I don't like the word processing 'cause I think it's too slow. Where we're trying to build up when we're in sport, we're trying to build up this idea of perceptual attunement. We're trying to use all the different sensory systems and everything is kind of emerging and dynamic. But the minute that you're thinking or you're hesitating or you're not taking those same risks, then it, it changes how you play. And so understanding that right, and building that in, if it's a return to play process during the kind of that rehab stage.

[00:21:05] Jamie Smith: But that's why, like if you, again, if you go on my social platforms, that's why you will see like, when you look at you'll see small sided games, you'll see things where it's, it doesn't look like a strength and conditioning program. And the purpose is kind of what we're talking about is to kind of get the body exposed, get the mind exposed to all these different situations so that we are building up this awareness. We are building up this sensitivity so that when we do go into sport, whatever, you can have success, but the mind is so important and we cannot, it can't be undervalued, especially during the rehab process where it takes time.

[00:21:43] Jamie Smith: And I would argue from personal experience that the mind takes longer than the body. And you need to be more patient with developing the perceptual and the cognitive abilities, you have to have that patience because if you rush that, similar to the physical side of things, if that tissue, you know, from a structural standpoint isn't repaired all the way, and you rush that there's gonna be secondary consequences, there's gonna be some negative aspects to it. But it's the same thing with that mental state.

[00:22:12] David Elikwu: Okay. One other question I'd love to ask you, just sticking on this topic of mental states is just around, is there any work that you do around, I guess like coaching players to think of the game a certain way.

[00:22:24] David Elikwu: I think loads of players have different psyches around how competitive they are, also how they respond to injuries. I'm thinking of, okay, so I'll give one personal anecdote and then I'll give some examples that I've seen maybe in sports. So a personal anecdote was actually just from yesterday. I played this game, it's not a physical sport at all, it's an online game called Overwatch. And I play, you know, occasionally just to de-stress and stuff. But I also, I think I was realizing in this process, have an expectation I'm gonna win every single, I have to win every game that I play. And you know, so there's two modes, there's quick play and there's competitive. And it was a quick play game and we were just playing, it's a team game as well. So that's an important part of it, there's five players on the team. And you rely on everyone to win, and I had this one person on my team that was just tanking, they were just really not playing well and I don't really get angry, but I was, you know, quietly very upset that they were disrupting my ability to, to win this game. And then I think we got to the end of the game and some other people were, you know, shouting at them and stuff and they were arguing and this person was like, it's just quick play. That sentence stuck in my mind. I was just like, what do you mean? Like, what do you mean? It's just, you know, this is just practice or this is just for fun. And you, I just have to remember like, you know, lots of people just play just for fun. Like, they don't actually care whether they win or lose.

[00:23:42] David Elikwu: And so, you know, taking that up to a more professional level, you see lots of different people have different approaches to playing the sports that they do. I think in the NBA, you see some people you see Kawhi Leonard and how people respond to his idea of load management. You know, he's had injuries in the past. I think that there's probably a very legitimate part of him that does not want to, I think you see with Olympians, right? They break their bodies to play their sport and then by the time they finish in their mid twenties or so, they can hardly walk, they can't, they can't do a bunch of stuff for the rest of their lives.

[00:24:11] David Elikwu: And so on one hand there's a lot of players where it makes sense that they're averse to, they don't want get injured, they're averse to being too competitive in a sense. But then maybe on the other side of it, you just have general approach to the game and general mentality. A lot of people compare Michael Jordan and LeBron James as an example. You have Michael Jordan, where he has a very, super aggressive approach to the game. You'll hear him say, I take everything personally. You look at all of the people that played around him at the time, whether it's his own teammates, he's punching his teammates, he's, you know, saying horrible things to people in elevators. A lot of the people around the league, I mean, people respected him, but they also didn't like him as a person necessarily, like he had actual enemies.

[00:24:51] David Elikwu: Whereas if you look at LeBron, every single one of the people that he's had a big rivalry with, they're his best friends. Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, he's, he's sitting in the barbershop with them. He's doing businesses with them. All of his nemesis or you know, those are all also his friends at the same time.

[00:25:06] David Elikwu: And so I wonder how you think about some of those different approaches to the game where some people think in order to compete, you have to be competitive all the time. You have to think about the Cobra Kai mentality, right? You have to go hard every single day. And then there's some people that are like, Hey, actually you can just have fun. And that works for some people where they're not super successful. But it also works for people like LeBron James who are able to perform at the highest level. And actually they get their whole team involved. Almost everyone that they play with, no one can say a bad thing about them because they're always, you know, they're pass first. They're playing for the team first.

[00:25:36] Jamie Smith: Yep. So, you know, early on in my coaching career, everyone that I worked with I coached, I would try to change, change them to have the same mindset as me, I am ultra competitive, right? When we play, so again, this is something that's very common, you know, at The US strength, my facility where, if we're doing some sort of agility or game, whatever I'm hopping in, I will compete with the athletes and I don't care if they're eight years old or you know, if they're 25. I hop in, I wanna do it with them, I want to feel, I want to experience, you know, if I'm creating something, I want to have a sense of it. I wanna have a feel for it, and I hate losing. Again, I don't care if it's an 8-year-old. I don't care if it's my 7-year-old daughter. I like, I just, I love to win, but that's me. Okay?

[00:26:23] Jamie Smith: And so, early days, I wanted everyone to have that, you know, mindset because I thought that's what it takes to be a great athlete. That's what it takes. And I'm giving air quotes to reach your ultimate potential, all right?

[00:26:35] Jamie Smith: Now I go the complete opposite where this, so what you're talking about is their individual or internal constraints. And so what I do is, and this takes time, right? You know, if you are just starting to work with a kid or an athlete, this is a process, it's gonna take time, it might take months, it might take years. But getting to know them and then having them understand and have that awareness of what that is for them. Whether it's ultra competitive, whether it's laid back, whether it's whatever. I wanna exploit that, and I wanna teach them however it is, at such a young age, because I know that there's gonna be coaches down the road that are gonna try and change them, but that's who they are. And I want them to embrace that, I want them to excel with it.

[00:27:26] Jamie Smith: And so instead of trying to change it, cause again, you give a great comparison, you know, Michael to LeBron, right? And it's something, it's, they're both great. I'm more of a Jordan fan 'cause that's when I was growing up, right? Those were my younger days. And I just such a huge from a basketball, not from a personal standpoint, but from a basketball perspective, I think he's the goat. I think he's the best. But again, I'm not working you know, it's very rare, especially with coaches. It's very rare to work with someone like that, right. And it's something where it's I don't know. I think it's something, it's, we can do this at a young age.

[00:28:00] Jamie Smith: Let the kid be the kid. And it's amazing when you let them be themselves and really embrace and be proud and take ownership. It's pretty cool, 'cause then they have confidence, right? And then they have a little swag, it's cool. And then if it does change, right? 'cause the, everything is changing, especially with the level I work with, you know, puberty is nuts, right? And things will change. Let them make that change on their own. Let them have, you know, that mindset, you know, let them do it. And again, just guide them.

[00:28:30] Jamie Smith: And that's just the, the big thing I will, I will share, is before I would change everyone, I wanted everyone to have the same approach as me. Now I wanna get to know, what is your approach, right? And then I wanna exploit the hell out of it.

[00:28:43] David Elikwu: Okay. So I was gonna say, I don't want to turn this into a Jordan versus LeBron discussion, but I will say I am more of a LeBron fan. You can probably see actually behind me on the wall. I've got the, the LeBron book. However, okay, this is one part of it that I find interesting in terms of how do you think the psyche translates into longevity and their ability to play?

[00:29:07] David Elikwu: Because I think, okay, for example, if you were to compare Michael and LeBron, I would definitely concede, I think Michael had a higher peak in terms of how, like his specific individual ability to play the game at a super high level. Yes, absolutely. But it's not very long lived, because I know he had the long run of championships, but he could only do it three years in a row. Had to retire, then he comes back, then you know, switch teams, things like that. That's not taking away from his legacy at all. But I wonder if it plays into this idea that. There is only so long that you can sustain that level of competitiveness, that level of the heat, everything that he brought to the game. You can't do that for 20 plus years, that's impossible.

[00:29:49] David Elikwu: However, the thing that I see some people hold against LeBron is the longevity thing. But I just think, I mean, first of all, you hear about him spending, you know, over a million dollars per year on his, you know, strength and conditioning on his health, these things. But also just the fact that it comes from his psyche to the way that he plays through all of these things, like very carefully engineered, it's not by accident. He's spent all of this time planning how to play for as long as possible and the longevity element comes from that. So he's not necessarily going as hard, he's not gonna bust himself every single year to make sure that he wins that year. Although sometimes he does. I think last year you did see him kind of pushing, but it just means that far later in his career than anyone that we've seen before, he's able to continually compete at, at a high level.

[00:30:36] David Elikwu: So both of those are actually different models, and I don't actually think that one is any worse than the other, especially when Michael's way one in more rings, right? So there's absolutely a case that you can say this is a better way of doing it in the long term just because you end up winning more. However, I'd be interested to see what happens to LeBron when he retires, because Michael, I don't think he was taking as good care of his body either during that time or afterwards. Definitely not now, as an example, you see the same thing with Shaq who was super talented, had everything, and because he didn't have that discipline, all of those extra bits, it kind of wasted away. The same thing perhaps with Zion Williamson. Hopefully that changes, but a very similar thing.

[00:31:18] David Elikwu: How much does the psyche play into, I guess, your nutrition, the way that you carry yourself, your ability to sustain your performance into some of those other areas.

[00:31:26] Jamie Smith: Yeah, it's huge, man. It goes again, it's these individual constraints that are really, they're really important, right? And it's obviously when Michael was playing, it was a different era, right? It was a different time just from a wellness in a athletic performance standpoint. It was just starting to kind of become prevalent, right? And so, but it was really like, okay it was just very weight driven, you know, where, there wasn't all these different options and tools from a force development, from a speed development, et cetera.

[00:31:59] Jamie Smith: But a great, and I think this will be interesting to bring up a great, and this is what I tell my athletes is that, so this analogy of a cup, right? And it's every person's cup is a different size, it's a different shape, right? And every time you put stress on that body, right? And it can be, good stress, bad stress, it could be training, sporting, social, emotional, whatever. Anytime, you know, we put stress on the body. You start to fill the cup, you add a drop of water, you add a drop of water, you add a drop of water, at a certain point, that cup is gonna be filled. All right? And what LeBron does such a good job, right? And you talked about Leonard too. It's all about this management, right? I call it stress management. You can call it load management, but it's teaching at a young age when their cups are really tiny, right? It's teaching them how to pour out the cup in an effective way so that when more water goes in, it doesn't overfill. And when that cup starts to overfill, that's when the body mind breaks down. That's when you have over training, that's when you know you have these chronic soft tissue injuries you have, you know you're just getting frustrated all the time. You're burnt out from playing the sport. So it's kind of using this cup idea and over time, you know, from eight right to whatever, however long you wanna compete, you're just gradually building the cup. You're making the cup bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger so that it can handle more, more, more stress.

[00:33:23] Jamie Smith: And so that's the thing, obviously in this day and age, with the resources and those that take advantage of this, of the resources, the knowledge, the tools, the technology. They are finding ways to dump that cup out so that once that water comes back in, they're not seeing some of these negative consequences.

[00:33:40] Jamie Smith: But the thing, like you talked about, having this competitive mindset, you know, if you're, like a real competitor, you have that ultra competitive mindset. You are constantly in this kinda fight or flight state. You're in this sympathetic go, go, go, go, go. That is stress. So you're still continuously filling that cup, fill that cup, filling that cup. And so it's, it's finding different ways to be able to kind of get rid of the water right? Before the cup overfills and it spills out.

[00:34:11] Jamie Smith: And so that's something that a lot of kids, it's a simple way to kind of explain load management, stress management, and just understanding everything we do, all of your decisions you make, right? There's consequences with those decisions. And depending on that approach, right? That mindset will directly influence that.

[00:34:30] David Elikwu: So, you mentioned earlier that this psyche element was just one of four parts. What are the other parts and how do they come together?

[00:34:36] Jamie Smith: Yeah, so the physical is everything, you know, from a athletic development standpoint, the physical is, force and strength development, right? Speed, coordination. It's what you think about when you're training, right? The psychological, we kind of touched on a little bit, but it's more of how the perceptual and cognitive abilities.

[00:34:55] Jamie Smith: So like, think of like perception as how your visual system, right? Your different sensory systems, and how can we use that to help with, you know, your different movements, your different, I call them movement solutions, right? 'cause sport is a problem solving activity, right? It's just a bunch, it's a series of mini problems that we're trying to solve, to, be successful. And so the perceptual side of things is, you know, how we use the different sensory systems. The cognitive is how your decisions affect those actions, and then how your actions affect your decisions and how that's an interconnected ongoing process.

[00:35:31] Jamie Smith: Then you have the emotional right, and that's just, you know, are you enjoying this? Are you constantly in a bad mood? Are you constantly getting frustrated? Are you or on the flip side, you know, are you enjoying it. Do you have a smile, right. Are you enthusiastic about it, right? And then you have the social side of things where you have this kind of team collaboration. I work with a lot of team sports, right? Basketball, Ice hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, American football. And how do you interact with other beings, whether they're on the same team or on the opponent, but how do you coordinate, collaborate? I call it synergies, team synergies. And it's using those four different pillars and those, you know, get placed into the program in a strategic way. You know, whether it's more traditional tools like acceleration drill or a squatting pattern with a bar, or whether it's with more non-traditional tools where we do a 1 VS 1 small-sided game we're trying to touch on the things that, or uncommon, like the emotional side of things in training. 'Cause the emotional side, it's always no pain, no gain, right? It's always iron sharpens iron and it's this kind of whatever. And so it's using, you know, a lot of my small-sided games, which I think is the missing piece in every strength and conditioning coaches, you know, coaching toolbox these small-sided games give opportunities to tap into the psychological, the emotional and the social aspects, the sport. But the important thing is I don't do that with a basketball, right? Because I get this question a lot. It's like, okay, don't they do some of this stuff in sport? And it's like, it depends on the coach, you know, more of a traditional coach. They operate more in a closed environment, meaning everything is pre-planned, everything is known. Where some coaches, they will put in kind of these uncertain situations. But for the most part, it's I want them to experience a movement problem without the sport specific implement. All right? So without dribbling the basketball, I want them to be able to solve a 1 VS 1 problem from an offensive perspective, where maybe the area they have, the playing area is very condensed. It's very small where they don't have a lot of room to work with, but they need to learn how to create space and win the game, whatever that game might be. Where on the flip side, I also want them learning, I want them to solve problems from a defensive perspective, right? Where okay, they don't have a lot of space, right? And so just using some of these situations, small-sided game situations, it's a very important aspect to the training process. Because it allows, you know, allows the coach, it allows the individual to understand the importance of perception, cognition, emotions, and then the social aspects to development.

[00:38:27] David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time. 

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